If you've accidentally come to this page first, click the 'Back' button above to find the cutting instructions, free paper piecing pattern downloads and first assembly steps.
Several abbreviations are used throughout this tutorial (and website):
1. HST - half square triangle(s)
2. SiaS - Square in a Square unit(s)
3. SA - seam allowance(s)
4. RST - right sides together
Below we finish up the sides units, continue on to the HSTs and then assemble our block.
At the end of this page you'll find links to some of my favorite products used during construction.
And finally a link to several design ideas using our Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block.
That about covers it. Let's get back to sewing!
If you have an open toe applique foot currently installed on your machine, switch back to your favorite quarter inch foot for the rest of construction.
To complete the sides for your Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block, with RST add a #6 rectangle to one pair of opposite sides as shown.
Repeat for the 3 remaining SiaS.
Press with SA toward #6 to reduce bulk.
Half Square Triangles (HST)
The 8-at-a-time method for making our HST is exactly what we need.
Install an open toe applique foot if you have one for this technique.
To insure accurate units, the patches are cut oversized. After sewing, we trim them to perfection.
For this sample, I used my Quick Quarter Ruler and my Bohin mechanical chalk pencil to draw a diagonal line from both sets of opposite corners. I then drew a line a quarter inch from each side of both diagonal lines.
Install an open toe applique foot if you have one. Set your stitch length to your normal piecing length.
You may want to pin the squares together like I did to keep them from shifting.
Stitch on the four outside drawn lines.
If you don't have a Quick Quarter ruler...
...mark the two diagonal lines instead with your everyday ruler. Install your favorite quarter inch foot and stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of the two lines you drew for a total of four lines of stitching.
Again, pin to keep the layers together if it helps you.
After stitching, use the chart below to find the Midpoint Measurement that corresponds to the finished size of your Rocky Mountain Chain block. We use this number to cut the sewn unit in half diagonally and vertically to create four equal squares.
For our 10" sample block, the Midpoint is 3-1/4".
I prefer to do my cutting on a smaller 12"x18" mat for this unit. Then I can turn the mat and not disturb the patches.
Align that mark on your ruler with the edge of your block to cut it in half vertically. (below)
Turn your mat and repeat to cut it in half again using that same 3-1/4" measurement. At this point you have four equal-sized 3-1/4" squares.
Now cut each in half diagonally to create 8 HST.
Press these units with the SA toward the dark fabric.
|Trim HST to...|
|10"||2-1/2" x 2-1/2"|
|15"||3-1/2" x 3-1/2"|
|20"||4-1/2" x 4-1/2"|
Trim to size using the chart above.
For more in depth instruction on this 8-at-a-time method of making half square triangles, click here.
Now to assemble the units for the corners.
Pair each #9 with an HST (below). Stitch. Press SA toward #9.
Stitch pairs together as shown below. The seams nest to make matching the center SAs much easier. Pin if needed.
And finally, to reduce bulk, twirl the seams by releasing a few of the stitches in the SA at the center.
Arrange the units as shown below. Dark #9 squares are in the outside corners and touching the inside center square (see arrows).
Sew the units into rows. Press SA towards the SiaS side units. This simple trick for pressing will help you tame the lumpiness.
Sew the rows together. I use pins to help control the patches while stitching. There are detailed instructions here to help you pin for perfect points.
This time press the SA away from the SiaS unit. That way if you choose to make an entire quilt out of this block, the SA between blocks will nest for easier assembly.
Here is the finished Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block. Spectacular, isn't it!
And a view from the backside...
You can see the twirled SAs as well as the direction of the SAs that join the rows together.
If you choose to make a Rocky Mountain Chain quilt with blocks set edge to edge, all the seams will nest. That makes matching all those SAs easy as pie!
Several of the pictures for this tutorial look as if they were taken in a few different places.
They were—sort of.
This block was made during a Sunday-Sew-In with my new bee. There was more difference in the light between the front and back cutting tables than I noticed.
Then the last picture in the tutorial was taken after I got home...yet another cutting mat.
Now you know my secret! :D
Ready for some design inspiration? Click here...
Return to the beginning of the Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block tutorial