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Quilt Block Sizes for Alternate Grid Layouts

I use standard quilt block sizes for almost all of my quilts – a simple 10-inch square grid.

Parliament of Owls quilt pattern - grid of applique owls in lots of fun colors.

That makes it super easy to mix and match blocks between my patterns.

Want to combine the Playful Puppies with the Cuddly Cats patterns? No problem.

Want to add the Benjamin Badger block to the Woodland Critters pattern? No problem.

When I say 10-inch square – that means that’s the FINISHED quilt block size. After you sew it all together, then the block is ten inches square.

To get those finished 10-inch squares, I like to cut my blocks 11 inches square. That way I have a little wiggle room – and I LIKE wiggle room. I quilt my block, then applique it, and then trim it down to 10 1/2 inches square so that when I sew the blocks together using a quarter inch seam allowance, my finished blocks are ten inches.

Easy peasy. Cut all blocks 11 inches square.

But what about half blocks? And double blocks?

Varying quilt block sizes is a great way to break up that straightforward grid.

Here’s the Noisy Farm quilt pattern with lots of fun half blocks.

Noisy Farm quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World - applique farm animals with varied quilt blocks sizes and animal sounds.

And here’s the Sea Creatures quilt pattern with some fun double blocks.

Sea Creatures quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World. Applique sea creatures on varied quilt block sizes to create a broken grid.

See how that breaks up the grid?

You can do that with any of my quilt patterns! Half blacks are an especially easy way to add words to the layout using this free alphabet applique pattern.

Here’s the basic Bunches of Bears quilt pattern in the standard grid layout the pattern calls for.

Bunches of Bears quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World - grid of applique bear faces.

And here it is with added “noisy” half blocks.

Bunches of Bears - easy applique quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World with sounds added using a free alphabet applique pattern and varied quilt block sizes.

Add lots of woofs, barks, snuffles, and howls to the Playful Puppies!

Add a bunch of zzzzzzs to the Silly Sloths.

Add a name and birth date to a baby quilt.

It’s easy! This post has tips for sewing up those alternate grids, and this one has tips for quilting.

There’s also a tiny little trick to cutting these different quilt block sizes.

If you cut the square blocks 11 inches square, you might think you just cut that in half for a half block – but you have to remember to allow for a seam allowance!

To do that we need to start with the finished block size.

So. . .

Your half block will finish at 10 inches x 5 inches.

Cut your starting block 11 inches x 6 inches.

After you do your applique and quilting, trim to 10 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches.

All set!

Do the same thing for double blocks.

Your finished size will be 10 inches x 20 inches.

Cut your starting block 11 inches x 21 inches.

After you do your applique and quilting, trim to 10 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches.


Now that you’ve got some different quilt block sizes you can use to play with – try breaking up the grid on any of your standard quilt patterns!

Find links to all the posts about pattern size and layouts here.

Quilt Sizes and Supplies Needed

Play with Your Layouts – Multiple Possibilities for One Quilt Pattern


How to Make Applique Bust Out of Its Frame

Alternate or Broken Grid layouts (adding half and double blocks)

How to Make an Applique Rag Quilt

How to Make a Polaroid Quilt

How to Make a Wonky Churn Dash Frame for Any Block

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about choosing your fabric.


  1. Ann Ryan SAYS...

    Have finished quilt top made of jelly rolls. Should I wash it (by hand) before adding batting and backing ir after it’s s quilted