Finished Block vs Unfinished Block – Understanding the Difference

Finished vs Unfinished Quilt Block

If you are new to quilting, you may come across some terms that you may not be familiar with. That’s understandable since the quilting world has a language all it’s own and it can be a little confusing when you first start out. One question we get asked often is: “What is the difference between a finished and an unfinished block?”. It’s a good one to get a handle on because and understanding of the differences can help immensely especially when following a quilt pattern.

Most patterns will give you both the unfinished size and the finished size of the block. This helps you keep track of how big your block should be once you have sewn your fabric bits together.

Some patterns will only mention a size such as 5″, 9″, 12″,  and in this case it is usually referring to the finished size of the quilt block. So unless the pattern mentions the word unfinished, it usually means that only the finished block size has been included.

Finished and Unfinished Quilt Blocks

What is the Unfinished Size of a Block?

  • The unfinished size is the size after you have sewn all your fabric pattern pieces together to form a block, and before it has been added to any other blocks.
  • So it is a block with raw edges on all four sides.
  • The block in this video tutorial is a 9″ unfinished block.
  • You will generally make a stack of unfinished blocks before you start constructing your quilt.

What is the Finished Size of a block?

  • The finished size is the size of the block once other blocks have been added on each side.
  • This can also be sashing pieces added to a block
  • It can also be where you have sewn the block to other blocks and a border piece.
  • So anytime the block is enclosed by other components on all sides, it becomes the finished block.

What is the Difference in Size?

  • When you sew two blocks together you lose a ¼” inch seam allowance on the side where you have sewn the blocks together.
  • So when you sew a block to each raw edge of your original block you lose a quarter of an inch on each side. This means that you are going to lose a ½” from the size of your original block once all the other blocks have been added.
  • In this example the finished block will measure  8½” (9″ – 1/2″)

This applies to all blocks regardless of their size.  If you start out with a 5″ unfinished block, it will become a 4 1/2″ finished block once its has been enclosed with other blocks.


Crumb Quilt Technique Tutorial

crumb quilt tutorial

If you are anything like us, you probably have loads of small scraps of fabric that you just don’t know what to do with. You don’t want to toss them out but they are too small to actually do anything with. That’s where the crumb quilting technique comes into play. With this technique you can use up all of those small bits of fabric to make beautiful, colorful fabric that you can use to make quilts, cushion covers, applique, bags, table runners and more.


Our crumb quilt tutorial video goes through the steps in detail but in a nutshell it involves sewing together all of those little bits of fabric together to form one big piece of fabric that you can then cut down to size to suit your project.

  • You start by taking two bits of fabric and as long as both of those bits of fabric have at least one straight edge, you simply sew them together. You can see in the image below that the two pieces both have a straight edge, so I can sew the two together. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t the same length so don’t think too much about lining things up perfectly. I also don’t worry about ironing the fabric at this point.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • Continue to sew two pieces together until you have around 10 to 20 pieces. To speed things up make sure you chain piece.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • You can also sew multiple scraps onto one long strip.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • You can see an example of this in the image below. It looks a bit odd at the moment but we will trim these up further on in the process.

  • Now you just need to take those pieces your just sewed and trim them. (I do press the seams to one side before trimming.) The goal is to form as straight line that will allow you to sew it to another piece. You can trim along the side like in the image below.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • Or you can cut straight through the middle. This will give you two crumb pieces to sew to use.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • For the long piece of fabric, you can see below how I trimmed this piece.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • I even cut some on an angle to create interest.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • Once you have trimmed each of these two patch pieces, you are ready to sew them together. Back at your sewing machine, simply take one piece and sew it to another. Again, you don’t need to worry that they aren’t the same size or length. As long as you have two straight edges, you can sew them together.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • See how nice it is starting to look already with just four pieces of fabric sewn together.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • You can even use a long strip again, like in the previous step. Simply lay out the strip and attach pieces to it.

crumb quilt tutorial

crumb quilt tutorial

  • This is what it looks like once the pieces have been sewn on.

crumb quilt tutorial

  • Once you have finished sewing the two patches into four patches, come back to your cutting table and trim them all once again to form a straight edge, just like you did with the first lot of pieces. You can also cut on an angle – just go with what suits you but don’t think too much about it as you cut.

  • The goal is to keep sewing the pieces together until you form a piece of fabric big enough to use in a project of some sort.

crumb quilt tutorial

Here’s some ideas for what you can do with the crumb quilt fabric:

  • Iron on some fusible adhesive to the back and cut applique shapes.
  • Cut the crumb fabric into squares to create a quilt.
  • Create a cushion cover.
  • Use the crumb fabric to create a tote bag.
  • Create a dog bed.
  • Create a table runner, placements or coasters.

The Scrappy Stash Jelly Roll Race Quilt Variation



What do you do with all those pretty left over pieces of fabric from your projects?  I have made bags, runners, and all manner of other projects and finally I decided to make a variation to the Jelly Roll Race quilt using my scraps.

What you Need:

So take your scraps and left over fat quarters and cut a number of strips 2½” wide. The length doesn’t really matter but I wouldn’t go below 5″. It just makes it easier if you are going to sew the quilt with the 45º angle seams.  If you are just going to lay one strip on top of the other and sew a straight seam then you can use even smaller strips.

To make a quilt that measures approx 50″ x 60″ you need a super looooooooong, strip that measures approx 1600″.


Sew the Strips Together Randomly:

  • Take your first strip and lay it right side up, on the work surface.
  • Take the next strip and place it right side down, across the first strip so that it forms an inverted L  shape.
  • Leave an overlap of fabric as shown below.


  • You can place a couple of pins pointing in the direction you need to sew. This can help when you are starting out.
  • Put your needle in the down position and place the needle in the centre of the V of your two pieces of fabric.
  • Sew diagonally across the strips and make sure you start and end your sewing in the middle of the V at the opposite ends.


  • The  piece you have just added will be face down at the moment, so before you add the next strip, turn the strip so it faces right side up.
  • Place the next strip across the last strip, right side facing down.
  • Sew from V to V as you did with the first piece.
  • Continue in this manner until all the strips are sewn together.
  • You can chain stitch the strips together.


  • When you think you may have a long enough strip. Remove it from the machine and cut all the chain stitches.
  • You now have one long strip.
  • Measure your strip. I have a 36″ mat so I just measured the strip across the mat to see how long my strip was. On the first go I found that I had 39 passes of the mat, this meant I only had approximately 1400 inches of fabric.  ( 39″ x 36″ = 1404″). I need at least 1600″ so I went back to the machine to sew some more strips.


  • Once you have the required number of inches, trim off the excess fabric where the strips join. Make the cut about ¼” from the seam. It’s not critical but don’t trim it too close. Trim off the dog ears as well.


  • An easy way to measure the strip is to anchor it by popping one end under your cutting mat, it helps to keep it secure. Run the strip through your hand to make sure all the strips the right way up. If you find any strips that have been sewn on with the wrong side facing up, then just unpick those strips and resew them correctly.
  • Continue running the strip through your hands to un-kink any tangles.
  • Bring the two ends together and lay one on top of the other. Sew the two strips together with a ¼” seam. Sew all the way down to the end where you will find the strip folded.


  • Cut across the fold.
  • If you have ended up with a tangle at the folded edge, simply cut across as close as possible to where the fold would be and sew the ends of the strips together if required.


  • Now anchor the strip again and run it through your hands to take out any tangles and bring the end of the strip up to join the beginning of the strip.  Lay one strip on top of the other and sew together with a ¼” seam.
  • When you get to the other end, cut across the fold.
  • Repeat this process until your quilt has 32 strips in length.


Your quilt is now ready to trim.

You can finish it how you want. Either adding the batting and backing and using the same method as our ‘Easiest Quilt Ever‘ tutorial, or add your batting and backing and have the quilt quilted, then add biding.

These quilts look lovely and are an ideal way to use up your scrap stash.


The Curves for Squares Quilt – Creative Grids Curves for Squares Ruler Review

I just love this ruler. It has given a whole new look to my layer cake quilts. The gentle curves add movement and dimension to the quilt.  The Creative Grids Curves for Squares Ruler lets you add curves to fabric squares measuring 5″,  6″,  7″,  8″,  9″ or 10″.


Where Can I Buy the Creative Grids Curves for Squares Ruler?

You can find these great rulers at Amazon.

Like all Creative Grids rulers this ruler has grips on the back so that you can move it freely around on the fabric until it is in the position you want it to be, then when you apply pressure with your hand, the ruler grips onto the fabric and doesn’t slip or move.


We keep getting asked about the pressing mat used in this video. It is the Magic Pressing Mat which you can get from Amazon here.

Watch the video here on how to use this ruler. We show you how to cut and sew curves for squares.

How to Make a Curves for Squares Quilt Using a Layer Cake or 10″ Squares.


  • Take 1 layer cake or cut 42  x 10″ squares from fabrics of your choice.  For this quilt I used the Simply Style by V & Co for Moda layer cake.
  • Lay the squares out on the table and sort them into contrasting pairs. It is entirely up to you how you match your fabrics.
  • Take one square and place it on your work surface with the right side facing up.
  • Take another square and place it on top of the first square also with right side facing up.


  • Line up the edges and the diagonal corners.


  • Place the ruler with  on top of the squares, making sure that the black 10″ runs along the top edge of the squares and down the left hand side of the squares.  The point where the line runs off the edge of the ruler needs to be exactly on the diagonal corners.
  • I have played around with this ruler and find it easier to work with if I lay my fabric on the mat, on point rather than  square on. But this is just a personal choice, I am short and it suits me best.


  • Take a rotary cutter, I use an Olfa 28mm cutter (I prefer the smaller cutter for cutting curves), and carefully cut along the curved line of the ruler.



  • You now have 2 curved half square triangles.


  • Take one of the top pieces from one square and match it to the bottom piece of the other square. You now have a curved half square triangle with contrasting colours.


  • Take the two squares and lay one on top of the other, right sides together. You will notice that nothing lines up, but that’s okay.

curves-for-squares-quilt, creative grids curves for squares ruler, review,

  • Line up the pointed ends  and the edges of both pieces and place a pin about ½” from the end. You will remove this pin once the material is caught in the machine.


  • Have your sewing machine needle in the needle down position.
  • Use your left hand to control the top fabric and you right hand to control the bottom fabric. Do not pull or stretch the fabric. Manipulate the fabric, keeping the edges together as you sew. Take your time.


  • Finger press the seam to one side.
  • Press along the seam line and finally press the square flat.


  • Trim the square to 9″ inches. As yo don’t have a straight seam line to lay your ruler along, just make sure to lay the the 45º line so that it matches the diagonal corners.
  • (Note: in the video I have used 5″ squares and trimmed them to 4½”) This was just to demonstrate the ruler, but the principle is the same for whatever size squares you are using.
  • I find it handy to use a rotating mat but it’s not a requirement if you don’t have one.

Trim as per a normal half square triangle. See our tutorial here.


As you can see below, you can lay the blocks out in rows, as curved diamonds, as a curved pinwheel, or as curved flying geese or arrow heads. There is plenty you can do with this block.

Curves for Squares – Diagonal Rows.


Curves for Squares – Curved diamond

Curves for Squares – Pinwheel


Curves for Squares – Curved Arrow Head


More views of the quilt

Close up of the squares and the beautiful quilting which was done by Chris from Sew ‘n’ Sew Sisters.

curves-for-squares-quilt, curves for squares ruler, quilting, sewing, craft, curves for squares ruler review, creative grids

The backing is a dark grey with light grey stars and you can see  how lovely the quilting pattern stands out on the back.

Strip/String Quilt for My Grandaughter Ce’Nedra

The quilt I made for Cedie was made from our How to Make a String Quilt  tutorial. This one was made some time ago but I just didn’t get around to finishing it.

So as her birthday was approaching it was time to get it out of the cupboard and finish it off.

Although the blocks and sashing were made using the techniques in our String Quilt tutorial, the backing was done using the same method as our Easiest Quilt Ever tutorial.

  • The outer edge of the quilt was topstitched to catch in the opening that had been left to turn the quilt through to the right side.
  • I ditched stitched between the outer edge borders.
  • The next thing was to quilt it to hold everything together. I did some linear quilting, which I quite like on this sort of quilt.
  • The lines are 1″ apart and I drew the lines onto the quilt to keep them straight.
  • I sewed from the top to the bottom, turned the quilt and sewed back in the opposite direction. You can see an example of linear stitching on our Triangle Table Runner tutorial.