Block of the Month

Old Maid's Puzzle
Sometimes a block has many names and this is one of them. It was called Old Maid's Puzzle in the American Farmer's Magazine in ladies section called “The Farm House” when it was published in 1895. Other names include Jacks on Six, Double X, Three and Six, Cat's Cradle, Kindergarten Block.

For a two color 6 inch finished block you will need:
From a background (white) cut three 2 7/8 inch squares and three 2 1/2 inch squares
From a medium or dark (blue) cut three 2 7/8 inch squares

We will be making triangle squares for this block. (Triangle squares, diagonal half squares, or half square triangles. They are all the same thing, just different names.) You may use which ever method you like to make these, this is my favorite.

We will make two blue and white triangle squares first. Carefully draw a line corner to corner, (diagonally) through the white 2 7/8 inch squares. This will be a cutting line when you are finished. Place red and white 2 7/8 inch square right sides together. If you have a true 1/4 inch foot on your machine, you can sew on either side of the drawn line.

If not, you will have to draw a second line on either side, exactly 1/4 inch from the first line. They will be your sewing lines. After you have sewn on your sewing line, 1/4 inch on either side of your corner to corner to line, you will cut this square in half on the drawn cutting line. Clip off the corners as shown.

You will now have two triangle squares, which should measure exactly 2 1/2 inches.

Repeat with the remaining 2 7/8 inch squares, you need a total of six triangle squares.

Make two units that look like this.

And one unit that looks like this.

 Follow this diagram to put your Old Maid's Puzzle block together. Your finished block should be 6 1/2 inches.
 Here is a wall hanging I made with Old Maid's Puzzle blocks Another variation of the block has a different color for the solid squares. For a three color 6 inch finished block you will need:       From a background (white) cut three 2 7/8 inch squares       From a medium or dark (blue) cut three 2 7/8 inch squares       From a third color (gold) cut three 2 1/2 inch squares

By turning alternating blocks you get quilts which look like this.

Do you know what happens when an Old Maid gets married? She becomes a
Contrary Wife. Not really, but when you combine the two blocks you get a cute quilt.

Here are the cuts needed to make Old Maid's Puzzles in many different sizes (smaller & larger):
Cutting your squares 1 1/2 inches (1 7/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 3 inches.
Cutting your squares 2 inches (2 3/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 4 1/2 inches.
Cutting your squares 2 1/2 inches (2 7/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 6 inches.
Cutting your squares 3 inches (3 3/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 7 1/2 inches.
Cutting your squares 3 1/2 inches (3 7/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 9 inches.
Cutting your squares 4 inches (4 3/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 10 1/2 inches.
Cutting your squares 4 1/2 inches (4 7/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 12 inches.
Cutting your squares 5 1/2 inches (5 7/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 15 inches.
Cutting your squares 6 1/2 inches (6 7/8 for triangles) will give you a finished block of 18 inches.
Finished means after the block is sewn into a quilt.

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Updated July 2014