Exploding Block Tutorial

I first read about how to make this block in a book but I then came across this video, Exploding Block,  by Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. It’s fast and fun, however I use a different cutting technique that is easier for me so I thought I’d share.  Watch the video first, then you’ll understand the difference.

In the video to begin the block you sew two squares right sides facing, stitching all around the outer edges. After drawing diagonal lines on one of the squares you then pinch it up and cut it with scissors to fold it out for your first “exploding” layer.

Here’s my technique:  BEFORE I sew my first two squares together,  I mark the square that will be cut on it’s back side, drawing a line 1/4″ from the edges and then two diagonal lines from each corner, like below:

Tut 04

Using a rotary cutter and ruler, I cut on my diagonal lines starting and stopping a “scissor snip” length from the corners (about one inch), like so:

Tut 05

Then, I sew my two squares right sides together all around the edges.  Doing it this way requires only one short snip to be made before folding out the edges.   Less chance to accidentally cut through the front square or cut wonky, longer lines.

Tut 07Tut 08

Tut 09

For every additional “layer” I add, I cut this same way first, before sewing it face down to my other pieces and folding out.  If you decide to make blocks using the “exploding” technique I hope my cutting tip helps you out!

Exploding Pineapple Quilt Block


39 thoughts on “Exploding Block Tutorial

  1. Angie Bowling

    I agree with your version of cutting the one square before sewing them together. It is too easy to make a mistake and cut through and them ruining the square.

  2. Judy

    Thank you for this great idea. I have been wanting to make this block and now I will have more success thanks to you. 😊

  3. Lesley Gilbert

    I made a quilt top last year using something like this method, but not cutting the squares before sewing each block together – I shall try this method next time, thanks 🙂

    1. denmck Post author

      The block pictured ended up approx. 13 x 13 which includes the 2 1/2″ strip border. I believe I used a 4″center and another 4″ block for the first “layer”. After that was cut and folded out the block became about 5 1/4″. So I cut the next block to equal 5 1/4″ and after sewing, cutting, and folding out the block equaled about 6 3/4″. I added one more layer and ended with a total of about 8 3/4″ before adding my border.

    1. denmck Post author

      This block was designed to have blunt points. If you would prefer sharp points you may want to make a Square-in-Square, or Economy Block instead.

  4. Patti Cobbin

    OMG this could very well be my next quilt project….continue growing the one block until it’s large enough to be a quilt top! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tutorial! 😀

  5. betty frye

    I made a baby quilt using pastel solids.from the square in square block you cut from corner to corner to get squares in middle then you mix them all up and sew back together. Makes a beautiful colorful quil

  6. CraftALife

    Wouldn’t doing this mean you will always cut off your corners of the inside square when you sew the next pieces on!?

    1. denmck Post author

      If I understand the question, that is right. You don’t get “points” on your corners, they are blunted, which is the way this block was designed to be. A standard “square-in-square” block gives you a sharp corner. Like the examples I show on the Economy block comparison post from January, 2014.

  7. Joy

    I’ve just stumbled across your site (I love google meandering) and this tip you’ve shown is brilliant. I think this will be my next quilt fix!

  8. Anonymous

    Great idea! I just saw that tutorial and wanted to try it, wasn’t looking forward to the cutting like they did it! This makes it much easier!


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