Free Classic Quilt Block Pattern: the Yankee Puzzle


Sew quilt full of pinwheels with this classic quilt block pattern: the Yankee Puzzle. I love sewing classic quilt designs with fresh new fabric becaue everything traditional becomes modern again!

In case you are catching this blog series, we’re spending a year making gorgeous quilt blocks using the classic patterns and fresh modern fabrics! So far we’ve made Spinning Spools,  the Rail Fence Block,  the Variable Star, the Sailboat Block, the Dutchman’s Puzzle Block, the Churn Dash Block,  the Friendship Star, and the Snowball and Nine Patch blocks together! You can see more below this post too.

Each post includes an easy to follow tutorial in one or two different block sizes. This time I’ll share cutting instructions for the 6” block (like I made) and a 12” block.

Buy the way, this adorable Lucky fabric from Blend is the same fabric that I used for my Bedside Pockets Organizer!

I’ve seen another quilt blok design that’s called the Yankee Puzzle too but one is simpler, and I like it because if you sew many of them together, you end up with pinwheels all over your quilt.

Plan your fabrics carefully. I used three fabrics in each block: a background fabric (white) and two pinwheel fabrics. When I piece all of these together, 1/2 of my pinwheels will be super scrappy, the other half will have 4 ‘petals’ the same color. I can’t wait to see it!

So let’s go!

This Yankee Puzzle block is broken down into a four-patch and each unit is made up of 4 quarter square triangle units (QST’s).

Quilting math tells us that to make QST’s you should cut squares 1 1/4” larger than you want the finished QST. I cut my squares 1 1/2” larger to give myself more room for error, then I trimmed them to the perfect size later.

Cutting instructions for a 6” block:

  • With the background fabric, cut 2 squares 4 1/2”

  • With 2 other fabrics, cut 2 squares 4 1/2”

Cutting instructions for a 12” block:

  • With the background fabric, cut 2 squares 7 1/2”

  • With 2 other fabrics, cut 2 squares 7 1/2”

First use the squares to make half square triangle units (HST’s).

Draw a diagonal line down the center of the lighter fabrics. Stack one background fabric with each print fabric, right sides together. Sew 1/4” on either side of the line.

Cut the units apart along the line you drew. Press the seams in the same direction on all the units (either toward the background or the print fabrics). I pressed toward the print fabrics because my background is light.

Use the HST units to make quarter square triangle units.

Draw a diagonal line down the center of two of the same units. Stack these two units on top of the other two, with the print sides facing the background sides. Sew 1/4” on either side of the line.

Tip: to make the centers of your units match up perfectly, don’t worry about lining up the outer edges of the HST squares. Instead, ‘nest’ the diagonal center seams tightly (first picture). I pinned mine (second picture) and then held the center seams securely with my finger until they were sewn (third picture).

Feel free to peek to make sure your corner seams look nice. 🙂

After you finish all 4, trim them down to the correct size.

For a 6” block, trim each QST unit to 3 1/2”.

For a 12” block, trim each QST unit to 6 1/2”

Arrange the 4 units as shown, making a pinwheel in the center. Stitch into rows, and then stitch the rows together.


Check out more of my classic quilt block patterns below…

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂