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Hour Glass Quilt Block Instructions

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

Hour Glass quilt block variation instructions

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Grid: 4x4 (four patch)

This Hour Glass quilt block looks nothing like the traditional block by the same name—the one that looks like a quarter-square triangle.

This 3 fabric block is constructed with a Square in a Square (SIAS), Flying Geese and half square triangles (HST) all of which are basic building blocks in quilting.

To construct this block you have the option of paper piecing or using a combination of No Waste Flying Geese and Connector Corners. All the instructions are here, as well as downloads for the foundation patterns.

Information on blocks with similar design structure and then a list of blocks with the same name (and instructions when available) are at the bottom of this page.

We've got lots to stitch, let's get started!





General Instructions


These abbreviations are used on this page:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • HST - half square triangles
  • SiaS - square in a square
  • BAC - background fabric

SA are 1/4" and pressed toward the darker fabric unless noted.


Step 1: Choose the size, technique and cut the patches


Hour Glass patchwork designHour Glass design

The blue chart is for paper pieced blocks. The dimensions in that chart are cut generously to make the assembling the units almost foolproof.

The pink one is for traditional methods that include connector corners and a no waste technique for Flying Geese.

Choose one or the other. Each is a complete cutting chart for the block.

HSTs are quick pieced for both alternatives and the cutting dimensions are exact.

My preference is to add an additional 1/4" to shown dimensions for Patch #1 and #1 (they are marked with '**') to make them oversized, stitch the units and cut them down to the 'Trim HSTs to...' size listed in the chart.

Perfectly sized units make for blocks that nearly put themselves together on their own.

Now that's MY KIND of quilting!


Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for an
Hour Glass Quilt Block

~ Paper Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size Sub
Cut
4”6”8”
1**A21⅞" x 1⅞"2⅜" x 2⅜"2⅞" x 2⅞"Symbol for a half square triangle
2**BAC21⅞" x 1⅞" 2⅜" x 2⅜"2⅞" x 2⅞"Symbol for a half square triangle
CenterBAC11⅞" x 1⅞"2⅝" x 2⅝"3⅜" x 3⅜"--
CornerA22⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅜" x 3⅜"Symbol for a half square triangle
GooseB 13⅝" x 3⅝"4⅝" x 4⅝"5⅝" x 5⅝"Symbol for a quarter square triangle
SkyBAC42⅜" x 2⅜"2⅞" x 2⅞"3⅜" x 3⅜"Symbol for a half square triangle
Unfinished Block Size 4½" 6½" 8½" --
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2"--
Trim HSTs to...1½" 2”2½"--
Trim Flying Geese to...1½" x 2½"2” x 3½"2½" x 4½"--
Trim Square in a Square to...2½"3½"4½"--
**I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #1 and #2 above.

For the 8" finished Hour Glass above, the 'Center' and 'Corner' are both cut 3-3/8" x 3-3/8", that is not a typo.



Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for an
Hour Glass Quilt Block

~ No Waste Flying Geese and Connector Corners ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size Sub
Cut
4”6”8”
1A21⅞" x 1⅞"2⅜" x 2⅜"2⅞" x 2⅞"Symbol for a half square triangle
2BAC21⅞" x 1⅞"2⅜" x 2⅜"2⅞" x 2⅞"Symbol for a half square triangle
CenterBAC12½" x 2½"3½" x 3½"4½" x 4½"--
CornerA41½" x 1½" 2” x 2”2½" x 2½"--
GooseB 13¼" x 3¼"4¼" x 4¼"5¼" x 5¼"--
SkyBAC4 1⅞" x 1⅞"2⅜" x 2⅜"2⅞" x 2⅞" --
Unfinished Block Size 4½" 6½" 8½" --
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2"--
Trim HSTs to...1½"2”2½"--
Trim Flying Geese to...1½" x 2½"2” x 3½"2½" x 4½" --
Trim Square in a Square to...2½"3½"4½"--
**I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #1 and #2 above.


Step 2: Download foundation patterns


If you cut from the pink chart, skip this step. Otherwise print the foundation patterns from the chart below.

You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.

On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

Measure the 1" square on the printed pattern to confirm it is the correct size.

Chart for Printing Paperpiecing

Per BlockFinished
Hour Glass Quilt Block Size
Unit# of
Units
Copies
to Print
4”6”8”
Flying Geese4 11" x 2" 1½" x 3"2" x 4"
SiaS112"3"4"


Step 3: Assemble the units for your Hour Glass


Flying Geese

Make 4

Click the link below for detailed instructions to make these units based on the patches you cut:

Hit the 'Back" button on your computer's browser bar to return here when you are finished.

Use the Cutting Chart in Step 1 to check that your Flying Geese are the correct size—the rows are highlighted in yellow. Trim as needed.

Irrespective of the technique you used, you will end up with four Flying Geese like this...


Four finished Flying Geese units, trimmed, pressed and ready for a block


HSTs

Make 4

Draw a diagonal line on the back of the two #2 squares. (I switch fabrics around all the time. So...if these are not the lighter of your #1 and #2 patches, then mark the backs of the lightest fabric so it's easiest to see the line.)

With RST, layer a #1 and #2 patch. Sew a 1/4" away from the drawn line on both sides.


Stitch a quarter inch away from the drawn line on both sides


Cut along the drawn line.

Press.

Repeat for the second pair.

Use the Cutting Chart in Step 1 to check that your HST are the correct size—the rows are highlighted in yellow. Trim as needed.

If you need more detailed instructions, click here to go to Half Square Triangles - Technique #1 Quilt Pieced. Hit the 'Back' button on your browser bar to return here.



Square in a Square

Make 1

Choose the method to match the patches you cut for detailed instructions:

Hit the 'Back" button on your computer's browser bar to return here when you are finished.

Use the Cutting Chart in Step 1 to check that your SiaS is the correct size—the rows are highlighted in yellow. Trim as needed.

This finished unit looks like this.




Step 4: Assemble your Hour Glass quilt block


Arrange the pieced patches into the Hour Glass design.

You've noticed, of course, that even though this Hour Glass is drawn on a 4x4 grid, we put it together like an uneven 9-patch.



Stitch the rows together with 1/4" seam allowances. Press with the seams in the direction of the arrows (below) to distribute the bulk.


After stitching the units in each row together, press the SA in the direction of the arrows


Stitch the rows together with 1/4" seams.

After a final press (check out our 'Best Pressing Technique' for the flattest quilt block you'll ever make), your Hour Glass quilt block looks like this...


Your finished Hour Glass quilt blockHour Glass quilt block. Ding! Ding! Ding! DONE!


Variations on the Hour Glass design


The following blocks are all based on this basic Hour Glass quilt block design, though none are called an 'hour glass'.


Connecticut quilt block


Connecticut

A two color block with some of the lights and darks reversed.

AKA: Mosaic #16


Signature quilt block


Signature

The SIAS is swapped out of the center for another unit, the perfect place to put, what else?

A signature!



The Cypress quilt block


The Cypress

The SIAS is replaced with a solid patch. As an 8" block, this would be the perfect place to showcase some of your 4" machine embroidery designs.



Canadian Gardens quilt block


Canadian Gardens

A fourth color is added to the original patchwork design.



Same name, different block


'Hourglass' is a unbelievably common name for quilt blocks. The ones shown below are know as Hourglass quilt blocks, too.

Use your cursor to click on the colored illustrations to go to instructions on how to make that particular version of the Hourglass or additional names for the block.

Hourglass quilt block variation 1 Hourglass quilt block variation 2 Hourglass quilt block variation 3 Hourglass quilt block, Cat's Cradle variation 4 Hourglass quilt block variation 5 Hourglass quilt block, Economy variation 6 Hourglass quilt block, Old Maid's Puzzle, variation 7 Hourglass quilt block, Big Dipper, variation 8 Hourglass quilt block variation 9 Hourglass quilt block variation 10 Hourglass quilt block, Buckeye Beauty, variation 11 Hourglass quilt block variation 12


Like sands through the hour glass,
These are the days of our lives...


...and they're filled with all kinds of quilt blocks to make. Find more in our Free Quilt Block Patterns library by clicking on the image below!




Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library


For even more blocks to make...


Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs is my all-time favorite!



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