Construction of Grandmother's Puzzle block
Figure 1:Construction of Grandmother's Puzzle block

This block is based on a five patch grid. It looks complicated to draw but once the corner sections are in, the rest fits into place. If you design and sew the block in a size divisible by five, it makes the maths much easier.

Often, the best way of approaching a block where the piecing is not obviously in rows is to cut out paper shapes for each piece and then slide them around until you find groups that join together to make larger shapes.

When you analyse a block with inset seams in order to work out the piecing order, consider sub-dividing certain squares into two triangles. This may eliminate the need to inset seams (or at the very least, ease the order of construction). For a suggested piecing order for this block, see Figure 1.

Method 1

The important step with inset seams like this is to make sure you stop sewing before the seam allowance at the corner points. When you are adding the inset piece, use a smaller stitch than usual and sew to the inner corner. Stop with the needle down, lift the presser foot and twist the fabric so the next seam is facing you.

Make sure at this point that there are no tucks or wrinkles, lower the foot and continue the seam to the edge.

Method 2

Alternatively, start at the inner corner seam and sew first to one edge, then start again in the corner and sew to the second edge. If you have not sewn an inset seam before, you can practise using plain calico cut to size.

Try both the above methods and see which you like best before tackling the block. For hand sewing, method 2 is probably the most logical.

Block Layout

In Figure 2 the blocks have been rotated with the outer rectangles changing colour to create a new pattern and the block itself becomes insignificant.

Figure 3 shows the same arrangement of blocks as Figure 2 but this time the colours remain the same and narrow sashing has been added.

Two totally different looks by just making simple changes.

Figure 2: The dramatic effects of block rotation
Figure 2: The dramatic effects of block rotation
Figure 3: Dividing the blocks with sashing strips
Figure 3: Dividing the blocks with sashing strips

It really is worthwhile experimenting with blocks before you join them together. These designs were originally drawn on QuiltPro but if you do not have access to a computer, making lots of paper copies and then moving and rotating on a plain background is equally effective.

Davina says,'I love the name of this block. Can't you just imagine a grandma and grandchild looking at the block and the child trying to work out the piecing sequence? It certainly had me foxed for a while'.