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Southern Belle Quilt Block Tutorial

From our Free Quit Block Patterns Library

Southern Belle quilt block tutorial

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 2x2 (4-patch)

The Southern Belle quilt block is a close relative of the Whirlwind block in that both use nothing but quarter square triangles in their construction. The only difference is a third fabric is added.

This time, we'll use the paper piecing technique to make the block instead of traditional piecing.

The results are perfection every time!

Quick and simple to construct, this block would be fun for a quick baby quilt.

On this page you'll find cutting instructions for 3 block sizes, a piecing tutorial, as well as, a number of other related blocks for color placement ideas. And finally there are free downloadable paper piecing patterns for your use.

Let's get piecing the Southern Belle block!

Construction Instructions

Southern Belle quilt block design

Block Size: 6"(6-1/2" unfinished)

Grid size: 3"

All seam allowances (SA) are 1/4" unless otherwise indicated.

When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front. You may want to reduce or eliminate the use of steam for pressing these paper pieced blocks. Steam tends to curl the paper.

Take a minute to review our favorite 'secret' technique to getting the flattest quilt blocks you'll ever see. It works even with the paper attached. Now THAT'S sweet!

Click here for cutting instructions for additional Southern Belle quilt block sizes.

Step 1: Download free paper piecing patterns

The Southern Belle quilt block is made from 3-patch quarter square triangle units that are paper pieced.

You'll need Adobe Reader installed on your computer in order to open and print the patterns. You can get Adobe Reader here (a new window will open so you can download it without leaving this page) if you need it.

Click here for our free downloadable PDF pattern for the 3" finished 3-patch quarter square triangle units. Print 1 copy per block.

In order to print, open the downloaded file, and select the "Print" option.

Remember, you must set 'Page Scaling' to 'None' in your printer's setup menu to ensure these blocks print at the proper size.

Optional: Other unit sizes to download:

Step 2: Cutting

Pre-cutting patches instead of just using 'hunks' of fabrics guarantees that the outside edges of the finished unit are all on the straight of grain. This adds stability to your finished Southern Belle quilt block.

These patches are generously sized so that placement is virtually fool-proof. Make a few blocks. Then with that experience decide if you need to increase or decrease the size of the patches according to your needs. Note those change on a separate copy of the pattern and save it for future reference.





Quantity and Dimension

One 4-3/4" square, sub cut twice diagonally
One 4-3/8" square, sub cut once diagonally
One 4-3/4" square, sub cut twice diagonally
One 4-3/8" square, sub cut one diagonally

And these are the cut patches:

Patches cut for the Southern Belle quilt block

Step 3: Assemble the units

With a light dab of Elmer's Glue Stick(goes on purple, dries clear), adhere Patch 1 in place to your pattern—wrong side of fabric to unprinted side of paper. When it is properly place the edges of the patch line up with the dotted lines surrounding #1 on your pattern.

Postion and glue Patch 1

With right sides together (RST), match the edges of a small dark triangle with #1.

Align Patch 2

From the printed side of the pattern, sew the seam between #1 and #2, starting before and stopping after the solid line.

Stitch the seam between Patches 1 and 2


Next align the bias cut edge of a medium #3 triangle with the long edge of the unit, RST.

Align Patch 3 with the long edge of Patches 1&2

Stitch on the solid line between #1 and #3, again starting before and stopping after the printed line.


Repeat for the remaining three units. Two will have large dark triangles; two will have large medium-value ones.

After stitching, trim all the units to size by placing the quarter inch line of your ruler on the solid outside line of the block. I find it much easier to do this than try to line up the edge of my rotary ruler with the outside dotted line.

Remove the paper and give each block a final press.

Step 4: Assemble the block

Lay out the units into rows.

Lay out the units into rows

You Have a Choice

The order of the paper piecing dictates the direction in which SAs are pressed.

However, once the paper is removed you ARE ABLE to press the last SA away from the large triangle...if you choose..

You may find easier to stitch the units to each other because the seams will then nest. The choice is up to you. (In this example, I chose NOT to re-press them, but instead used a pin to hold things in place.)

Stitch the units into rows or columns.

Stitch the units into rows or columns

Press with the SA towards either towards the dark or the light—just be consistent for both pairs so that the seams will nest.

Stitch the rows or columns together.


Congratulations! Your Southern Belle quilt block is complete.

Finished quilt block

Cutting Chart for Other Block Sizes

Finished Block Size
Light#113-3/4”4-1/4”4-3/4”Symbol for a quarter square triangle
Medium#313-3/8”3-7/8”4-3/8”Symbol for a half square triangle
Dark#213-3/4”4-1/4”4-3/4”Symbol for a quarter square triangle
Dark#313-3/83-7/8”4-3/8”Symbol for a half square triangle
Grid Size2”2-1/2”3”n/a

Common Variations

Several other blocks use this 3-patch quarter square triangle block pattern. They include:


A two fabric, 3-patch quarter square triangle.


Simply the Turnstile above with an extra fabric.


Swapping fabrics around.

Double Pinwheel

Click here for instructions to make the Double Pinwheel quilt block using traditional methods.

Another Whirlwind variation

Just two patches away from a Southern Belle quilt block!

Click here for traditional piecing instructions (i.e. no paper piecing) to make this block.

Double Star

Just add a center square and side rectangles.

Click here for instructions for this puzzle pieced Double Star quilt block.

I Do Declare, There's Even More Blocks!

Put down that Mint Julep! There's quilt blocks to make.

Just check out our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library to find a beauty for your next quilting creation!

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My favorite paper piecing paper...

Both are light weight—making them easy to tear away!

Carol Doak Foundation Paper

Carol Doak's Foundation Paper comes in two sizes:

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