Accidental Quilt Block Tutorial- Updated

I realized I did not sew and show the block the way I originally intended when I wrote this tutorial!  So I updated it with some new pictures and text.

A couple of years ago I became fascinated with the Disappearing Nine Patch quilt block and decided to experiment with it.  I loved how you could take one block, sub-cut it, and sew it back up to make a different block.  So I took that concept and went a little farther resulting in this block OR this block (depending on how you sew sub-cut triangles together):

Accidental Quilt Block Correct



Here’s how I made it:

I started with a Charm Pack (pre-cut 5 1/2 inch squares) and made a nine patch block.  To end up with the green and red partial “frames” around the block, it’s important that you lay your colors out as pictured here.


I then cut this block in half vertically down the center, then horizontally across the center.



To find your centers line up your ruler with the 2 1/4 inch mark running along the left seam vertically, make your cut, then without moving the block, switch your ruler to horizontal with the 2 1/4 inch mark running along the horizontal seam (as pictured above) and make that cut.  You now have four squares.


Time to sub-cut those squares one more time.  Each square should be cut diagonally as follows to achieve the same result I got:

The bottom left square should be cut from the right lower corner up to the left top corner as pictured below.


The bottom right square should be cut diagonally from the left bottom corner up to the right top corner as pictured below.


The top left square should be cut diagonally from the left bottom corner to the right top corner as pictured below.


The right top square should be cut diagonally from the right bottom corner to the left top corner as pictured below.


You end up with a diamond-shaped cutting pattern as below.


Using the four center triangles, take one top and one bottom triangle put them right sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam along the diagonal edge to form a square. Take the other two triangles and sew them together as well.  You now have two “accidental” blocks.

Depending on the block you desire, you can sew the triangles together in two different ways.

Block One is my favorite, as I do not know how you can achieve this look in an easier way:

Accidental Quilt Block Correct

Block Two can be constructed using just squares and triangles, but is also another result you can get:


The blocks measure about 6 1/2 inch square.  There will be a couple of dog ears you should trim off before sewing your blocks together.

I have taken images of these blocks and tried out the two following layouts as example quilt patterns that could result from the blocks.  The “cross” one is kind of wonky due to the images not fitting together really well, but I think you get the point.

Here is an example using Block One:

Sample Quilt2

Here is an example using Block Two:

Accidental Quilt Example 2

The four outer triangles can also be sewn together to make squares that look like this:

Accidental Quilt Block Tutorial Secondary blockAccidental Quilt Block Secondary 2

Examples of a couple of quilt layouts using only these blocks are below (again, these are just block images pasted together so not perfect):

Secondary Quilt Example1

Secondary Quilt Example2

I haven’t tried combining all four examples of blocks together, but I think this shows there are several options for making quilts from blocks cut from this technique.  A little more thought into the fabric chosen rather than what I just threw together might result in some really interesting quilts!

If anyone makes quilts from this technique I’d love to see them.

115 thoughts on “Accidental Quilt Block Tutorial- Updated

  1. Christine King

    So so so clever ~ THIS one is a DEFINITE for me… well done you and a great BIG “thank you – 10 times over”

  2. Mary Lou Lion

    Love it, I’m definitely going to try this. I’ve made 3 Disappearing Nine Patch Baby Quilts and it will be great to change them up a little.
    Thank you Mary Lou:)

  3. Adele Aiken

    I love your pattern but I have one? In the photo of the 9 patch, the upper left-hand square and the lower right-hand square seem to be a print of gift boxes. These 2 squares still show in the photo indicating how to cut. But in the photo of the quilt using “block 1”, that fabric doesn’t appear at all. Would that mean that half of the center triangles weren’t used to create the quilt as shown?

  4. Lewis ( Rocky) Vance

    Just wanted to say thank you for showing how to make the tumbling blocks.. all the ones I’ve found wouldn’t show you anything.. can’t wait to try them..
    Thank you again

  5. Donna Morgan

    I did this block. Block 1; and want to do the cross quilt. However, when i put these together, the green is with the green and the red with red..(I used different colors) Your picture of the cross quilt shows the green with the red..This can only be executed if i turn the one triangle to wrong side. Did you by any chance reverse one triangle in the computer? TIA

    1. denmck Post author

      The only thing I can do with the block photo on my word document is rotate it. I can’t actually flip it over and reverse it. So I’m not sure how they are not lining up correctly for you. I tried it again and it worked just fine by rotating the block.

        1. Donna Morgan

          It does not work. Was going crazy so I cut the paper, 2nd sub cut, and it does not work.rotating the two blocks.. (block 1) ..

  6. Nancy

    I think it’s great how you can get so many different quilts out of one 9 square block!! You can make 4 quilts at once with enough blocks!

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  8. Margi Laipply

    I just ran across this pattern and decided to give it a try. First question is about using charm packs, which you say are 5 1/2 x 5 1/2, but everything I read says they are 5 x 5, So does it really matter as long as they are all the same size? I am trying to stay with the same color values that you show, which is 4 dark fabric and 5 lighter fabric. Would it matter if you did the reverse, 4 light and 5 dark. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. I am using just what I have on hand to try this. Thank so much.

    1. denmck Post author

      As long as the squares are all the same size it should not matter how big or small they are. That just impacts the final size of the quilt. Switching the light and dark fabrics won’t “hurt” anything. It’s purely personal preference. Have fun!

      On May 22, 2015 10:17 AM, “Beyond Sock Monkeys ~ My Quilting Adventures” wrote: > >

      1. Anonymous

        Definitely. You could really change this up by using all different scraps to make several sets of nine patch sections.

  9. nellie1951

    I like how you can set these blocks in different ways ,and get 3 looks with same sewn blocks wonderful block for the quilters who like to change there blocks just by cutting and turning them around good thinking

    1. denmck Post author

      That’s the “magic” of quilting sometimes, LOL. A simple turn of the block can give such a different look. Thanks for the feedback!

  10. Kathie Martin Wroblewski

    i just finished this block and i want to know if BOTH center blocks are to be the same!!! i have tried to put them in the order u have for the quilt and i can not get them to work.:[………HELP . i love this block and want to make more A LOT MORE thanks Kathie how can we post a picture of what we have made ??

    1. denmck Post author

      Kathie, I’m not sure I understand what you mean about both center blocks being the same. Are you referring to the big nine patch BEFORE you cut it, or sewing together the triangles that make the 6 1/2″ block? You can e-mail me a picture at denmck55 at gmail dot com and I can upload them, however I can also look at what you are doing to give you some clarity.

      1. Kim Sellers

        I had the same issue. I got two different “block 1” designs. I used the opposite triangles – upper left and bottom right – but they don’t come out the same. I’ve got pictures if there’s a way to send them to you. I can’t get them to look like your layout. Almost seems like you only get one usable “block 1” out of each nine patch. Of course you can always use the other one to make a different quilt or table runner. Have torn it apart twice already thinking I made an error. Can’t figure it out.

        1. Elaine

          I made this. I ended up with 4 different wall hangings because to get the look with all the same color combination, you can only use one block from each nine patch in the quilt. I had 2 similar but not exactly alike like the first example and 2 similar but not exactly alike from the corner pieces . Finished wall hangings were 29 x 42 after I added 2 1/2″ border all around.

  11. Jackie

    Hi patterns are excellent and look great. I am trying to make block 1, but I can’t seem to get it all to match the same as yours ( I am just learning how to quilt/patchwork so it is probably me). Could you please send me more information? I need help😱

      1. Jackie

        Hi no I mean the fabric colours that you used. I have used the same fabric colours as you have in the same places in the nine square block 1. Then when I cut them down into squares then into triangles I can’t get the same pattern as you have. With the same colours/pattern next to each other as you have. i hope you understand.

        1. denmck Post author

          Working only with the four triangles from the center of the nine-patch that you’ve cut up, you use the triangles opposite each other on the diagonal. So for block one you are taking one triangle from the top left and one from the bottom right, that are diagonal from each other, and sewing those two together. Then taking the two left over and sewing them together. You ignore the triangles on the far outer edges. Does that make sense? I wish I could attach a picture to the reply but I can’t. If you look at the picture that shows the entire diamond shaped cutting pattern you work only with the four center triangles.

        2. Pauline M Moll

          Jackie: You have to use the center triangles that are diagonally opposite each other in order to get Block 1. (Top left with bottom right) If you use the ones that are next to each other you will get matching corners in the new block. The same thing will happen is you use a top triangle with the bottom one from the same side. The principal behind the fractured blocks is using the diagonally opposite unit to create a new pattern.

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  13. Joyce Miller

    These blocks are terrific. I can’t wait to sew the designs. I don’t need to shop. I discovered the 24 hour bargain sales at Fat Quarter Shop and Missouri Star Quilt shop. Thank you for sharing your design talents.

      1. Marlene

        having a problem – the top left block and the bottom left block don’t show up in your example of block one, are you using six different fabrics

        1. denmck Post author

          Actually 7 – 2 green, 2 red, 3 polka dots but they were different color dots, 2 squares with the same print but different background color. But you don’t have to use that many colors if you don’t want to. I truly put these colors together with very little thought just using some extra charm squares I had laying around.

  14. ayearofwishing

    Hi Denise. I was going to share disappearing 9 patch with our textile group and then I found your version. Would you mind if i shared your link with the group in their notes?. Your twist on the basic techniques is so simple and yet results in amazingly difficult looking blocks.

  15. Pauline M Moll

    I just finished a block using your pattern, and I love it!!!! I’ll be making three more blocks to complete a table topper.After I saw your tutorial last night, I spent many hours on my QuiltPro drawing up different layouts using the pattern. Thanks so much!!!!!

  16. jessica

    Just saw this on Pinterest… I love this Quilt Block! My daughters are looking for interesting quilt designs and this one will be going into the To Do list.

      1. jessica

        Dear Denise, Just got to shop for fabric! This will be fun.
        You’ll notice more traffic to your blog… loved the tutorial so much that I shared it with the Quilters on the HGTV Quilting Forum. There is excitement with all the possibilities!
        Once we get our quilts started, we’ll share with you!
        Thanks so much.
        ~ Jessica

    1. denmck Post author

      Robert. I would be happy to allow you to use my patterns in class with credit provided back to me. Let me know if I can provide any additional details to help you in your class.

      1. Robert Baker

        Sorry for my lateness in reply had some trouble and was in the hospital. I truly appreciate your letting me use your patterns. I will show pics from the students. Peace, Robert.

    1. denmck Post author

      I take pictures of the block and save them as a .jpg to my computer. I then open Microsoft Word (I have version 2010), open a blank document, then using the Insert function place my block picture in the document. I then resize the inserted image, then copy and paste the resized image multiple times in my document. You can then grab and rotate the block pictures to see what patterns may result. I use Word at work all of the time, so I’m pretty comfortable with it. I actually find this technique a fast and easy way to try out what I can do with a block without having to sew a bunch of them. I could write a tutorial on it if you would find that helpful.

    1. denmck Post author

      When I first learned how to quilt I felt like I was learning magic, LOL. There are so many different blocks and construction techniques that result in a variety of designs. I love experimenting. I hope you have fun trying this out on a quilt of your own.


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