Depression Quilt BlockDepression is a quilt block made entirely from half square triangle units, sometimes called triangle squares. Each unit is made up of two triangles, and each triangle occupies half of the square. Triangle square units are probably the most common patchwork component, so expect to see them in a large percentage of quilt patterns.
We'll avoid handling individual triangles with stretchy bias edges by assembling the triangle squares with a quick piecing method. Once you're sure that units are accurate, use chain piecing to speed up the assembly process.
The Depression quilt block is perfect for scrap quilts, but can be designed using a controlled color scheme if you prefer that look.
To make a scrap quilt, pay as much attention to color value as you do to color itself, because contrast makes the block's design emerge. Choose an assortment of fabrics in light shades and dark shades. The light stack and dark stack should be somewhat close in value, but it isn't necessary for values to be exact. In fact, you can create more visual interest if values are slightly different.
Choose your own starting points for lights and darks. In the block above, the dark triangles in each corner are warm -- shades of red. Most of the dark triangles that make up the block's interior are cool colors, but with a few warm colors mixed in.
Do become familiar with the color wheel, especially the elements of color warmth, because a warm color can pop out in the design to become a dark.
Most backgrounds are cut from a single neutral fabric, but in the center, where four light triangles meet, a second neutral is used to add a little more variety.
Alter color and values in any way you choose.
For our quick piecing method a light square and and a dark square are sewn together to create two identical half square triangle units, and each block requires sixteen completed units. Make additional units from different fabrics and mix them up to avoid placing identical triangle squares in every block.
Finished Block Size: 12" x 12"
You'll find cutting instructions for additional sizes at the bottom of the page.
For each 12" quilt block, cut:
(8) 3-7/8" x 3-7/8" light squares, and
(8) 3-7/8" x 3-7/8" dark squares
I like to cut my squares a bit oversize, and then trim my completed triangle squares to the exact size needed before sewing them into a quilt block. That technique is very helpful when working with small squares, such as the squares used to make the 4" finished blocks listed in the optional sizes below.
Optional Depression Block SizesBlocks finishing at 16" x 16"
cut (8) 4-7/8" x 4-7/8" light squares and the same size and number of dark squares
Blocks finishing at 8" x 8"
cut (8) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" light squares and the same size and number of dark squares
Blocks finishing at 4" x 4"
cut (8) 1-7/8" x 1-7/8" light squares and the same size and number of dark squares; for tiny units, it's usually best to cut oversize squares, and then trim-back the units to the exact size after assembly (1-1/2" x 1-1/2" for this mini block)