How to Sew a Thirteen Squares Quilt Block

Posted by Elaine Huff on

The Thirteen Squares pattern is easy to sew together and creates a wonderful design across a quilt top! The block can be made with yardage or scraps (or both)!

thirteen squares quilt block

When made the traditional way, there are 13 squares in the block - 12 little ones and another is formed where four of the small squares meet in the center. Let's get started!

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Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Thirteen Squares Quilt Block:

  • Light/Ivory: 4 - 2" x 3.5" rectangles, and 28 - 2" squares
  • Medium/Tan: 8 - 3.5" squares
  • Dark/Purple: 12 - 2" squares

thirteen squares fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Four Patch Units:

Step 1:

Using eight of the Light/Ivory 2" squares and eight of the Dark/Purple 2" squares, sew together four Four Patch units as shown in the picture below. If you are making several blocks, I would recommend using the strip piecing method for constructing these units. You can find both methods in the tutorial on the basic Four Patch block at

thirteen squares 1

Partial Square in a Square Units:

Step 2:

Using the picture below and the instructions for the first two corners of a basic Square in a Square block, sew together eight Partial Square in a Square units. You can find my tutorial for the basic Square in a Square block at

thirteen squares 2

Three Patch Units:

Step 3:

Sew together a Light/Ivory 2" square and a Dark/Purple 2" square as shown below. Press the seam allowance toward the Dark/Purple square.

thirteen squares 3

Step 4:

Sew a Light/Ivory 2" x 3.5" rectangle to the Step 3 unit and press the seam allowance toward the rectangle as shown in the picture below. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for a total of four Three Patch units.

thirteen squares 4

Putting It All Together:

Step 5:

Lay out two Partial Square in a Square units, a Four Patch unit, and a Three Patch unit as shown in the picture below.

thirteen squares 5

Step 6:

Now you can sew the four units together just like a regular Four Patch block. First sew the units into two rows and press the seam allowances away from the Partial Square in a Square units.

thirteen squares 6

Step 7:

Then sew the two rows together and press the seam allowance. You can see the tweak/twirl/furl method of pressing the seam allowance in the picture below. Repeat Steps 5 through 7 for a total of four units.

thirteen squares 7

Step 8:

Lay out the four units as shown below. Again, we'll be sewing these together just like a basic Four Patch block.

thirteen squares 8

Step 9:

Now you can sew the units into two rows as shown in the picture below.

thirteen squares 9

Step 10:

And press the seam allowances in opposite directions so that the seams will nest together nicely.

thirteen squares 10

Step 11:

Sew the two rows together, and...

thirteen squares 11

Step 12:

Press the seam allowances. You're done!

thirteen squares 12


I really like the look of the Thirteen Squares block and the cross-hatch designs it makes when made into a quilt. The units are easy to sew together, but there are a lot of pieces! However, if I had it to do over again, I would use a Dark/Purple 3.5" square surrounded by Dark/Purple 2" squares and Light/Ivory 2" x 3.5" rectangles instead of four Four Patch units in the center. Fewer seams to match up that way. Here's what I mean:

thirteen squares gray scale block 

Of course, that would change how the block gets put together!

Layout Options:

Here's the standard 4 x 4 plain and simple layout. I love the diamond shapes that appear!

thirteen squares quilt 1

Of course, I had to do a scrappy layout. I would keep the background the same throughout the quilt as well as what is green in the example. This helps keep a scrappy quilt from becoming too "busy". 

thirteen squares quilt 2

So I played around with the block design in this one - technically it is no longer a "Thirteen" Squares block. I changed the Three Patch unit to a Four Patch unit.

thirteen squares quilt 3

Here's the same block variation done in a on-point setting. Still amazes me how it can look so different being on-point.

thirteen squares quilt 4

For this on-point setting, I added in sashing and cornerstones. This is lovely!

thirteen squares quilt 5

hope you've enjoyed this Thirteen Squares quilt block. If you liked this post and want to see more quilting tutorials like this, simply click here to sign up for my newsletter and also receive a free PDF.

Happy Quilting!


P.S. To print a PDF of this tutorial, check out the free app at

P.P.S. To figure out yardage for a quilt, check out this post:


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