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Drafting Quilt Blocks

While working on my first book, Patchwork Patterns, I kept finding designs that were based on a 5 x 5 grid. Since I did not know how to fold a piece of paper to get five equal divisions I set them aside and was not going to use them. But before long there was a stack of those designs. Someone had shown me how to fold a square and get a five pointed star, so it seemed logical to me that there must be a way to fold a square and get five equal divisions. I sat down with a stack of squares and started experimenting and finally found a way!

The following day I was leaving on a trip and figured the airplane ride would give me a good opportunity to write down what I had discovered. Working with a paper napkin, I folded and wrote, folded again and wrote some more until all the steps were explained.

Finally a man sitting next to me asked “What are you doing?” I proudly answered that I had just figured out a way to fold a square and get five equal divisions and proceeded to show him. He looked on with interest and when I was finished with my demonstration he said, “That is very interesting, but there is a much easier way to do it.” He showed me in 30 seconds how easy it is. I was dumbfounded and have used the technique ever since, not for just five divisions, but for any number of equal divisions. Here it is:

If I want to divide a 7¾” square into five equal divisions, it would be hard to do the math and count off all the tick marks.  If my square were 10 inches then it would be very easy to do. I would simply mark a division every two inches. Well, all you have to do is to pretend that the square is 10 inches.

Step 1. Angle the ruler across the square so that zero is on the left side of the square and 10 inches falls on the opposite parallel side.

Step 2. Make a mark every two inches and you will have five equal divisions.


Step 3. Using a ruler or triangle with a 90 degree angle, line it up to the dots and draw the lines as shown

Step 4. Turn the paper 90 degrees and repeat steps 1-3 to get the lines going in the other direction. It is best to use a different colored pencil for the dots so that you do not get the first set of dots mixed up with the second.

For a more detailed explanation of this technique see The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns, pages 29-32.

1 thought on “Drafting Quilt Blocks

  1. Hi Jinny,
    Thank you for sharing this! I was up till very late last night and tried racking my brain for a very long time over a 5 grid block. My dad used to be an engineer. After he passed away I thought I had been given his slide rule and was frantically looking for it at 11:00 pm ! Could I have figured out how to use it? No 😂! Just now while waking up I started web searching and you came to my rescue!!!! Also, I got tears in my eyes because years ago I purchased your book that you say to reference this information. I haven’t really gotten to use it. It has been on the shelf .I will go and look it up toot sweet! Also wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed watching your video series on Blue Print as you are working on your quilt from a couple of years ago. You have taught me several new things and I have enjoyed you as a teacher and a new quilting friend. Thanks for your kindness in teaching so many people like me that are eager to learn. I appreciate you and you giving of yourself and your time. God bless you Jinny and thank you!

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