Learn to Make a Cotton Boll Quilt Block

Connector Corners make it Easy!

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.



Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 4x4

The Cotton Boll quilt block is quick and easy to make using the simple Connector Corners technique, sometimes called 'stitch and flip'.

Perfect triangles—but no triangles to cut and no bias edges to contend with. That's the beauty of this method.

If you like the technique, you'll find links at the bottom of this page to several other blocks that use this method of creating triangle-shapes within your quilt blocks—all without any bias edges!




General Instructions


Several abbreviations are used on this page:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together

Seam allowances (SA) are 1/4" unless otherwise noted.

Open toe applique foot

I prefer the open toe applique foot for stitching on the drawn sewing lines. It's just plain easier to see.

I switch to my favorite 1/4" foot with a guide to assemble the units into the Cotton Boll block.

I also like to use a 50/50 mixture of StaFlo Liquid Starch Concentrate and water on my fabric before cutting. 

It's my experience that starched quilt fabric makes cutting and sewing more accurate and finger pressing a dream.


Step 1: Cutting

Cotton Boll quilt block design

Though the sample block is stitched with just two fabrics, there's absolutely no reason why you couldn't make this a scrappy block.

Just be mindful of the contrast between the fabric values so that the patchwork design shows up.

All the numbers in the chart are for squares, i.e. 2-1/2" means cut a 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" square.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Cotton Boll Quilt Block

~ Connector Corners ~

PatchFabric QtyFinished Block Size
4"6"8"10"
1 A 4 2-1/2” 3-1/2” 4-1/2” 5-1/2”
2 Background 8 1-1/2” 2” 2-1/2” 3”
Unfinished Block Size 4 1/2" 6 1/2" 8 1/2" 10 1/2”
Grid Size 1" 1 1/2" 2" 2 1/2”

Click here for Elizabeth Hartman quilt patterns, kits and fabrics available from the Fat Quarter Shop

Step 2: Create the units for our Cotton Boll block

Cotton Boll quilt block units

Make 4

Draw a diagonal line on the backsides of all eight #2 squares. I prefer a mechanical pencil for this. The line remains the same thickness because the lead never dulls and thickens.

Be sure that the line bisects the corners exactly.

With right sides together, position a #2 with a #1 so that the drawn line touches two sides.

Stitch on the line.

Notice how I've alternated the direction of the patches so that they line up nicely at the needle.


Sewing the first connector cornerUsing an open toe applique foot makes it easy to see the line.

Add the second square in the same manner diagonally opposite from the first.


Stitch the second #2.Again, I've alternated the patches as they are fed into the machine so that they snug up to each other.

Press the unit flat as it was stitched.

It's time to trim away the excess and you've a choice to make.

The first option is to trim away the extra from just the smaller #2 patch, leaving a 1/4" SA closest to the corner. (below, left)

Or you can choose to trim away the excess from both layers, leaving behind the same 1/4" seam. (below, right)


Two different ways to trim away the excess fabric.


If you are hand quilting the finished quilt, trimming both layers is your best bet because there is less fabric for you to push the needle through while you quilt.

Since I rarely hand quilt anymore, my preference is to remove just the one layer, leaving behind the perfectly cut larger square. That way, even if I veered from the drawn line a bit, the unit itself is perfectly sized.

After trimming, press the units with the patches opened and in position.


Step 3: Assemble the Cotton Boll quilt block

Arrange the units so that they form an 'X' design.


Arrange the units into rows


With RST, stitch the pairs together matching the seams. Because I chose NOT to cut away the extra layer (you can just see it peeking out in the lower left patch above), I used pins to insure the match through the extra bulk.


Press the seams in opposite directionsSAs are pressed in the direction of the arrows.

The match turned out pretty good! SAs are pressed in opposite directions.

With RST, stitch the rows together. Again, I pinned to guarantee the match at the bulkier seams.


The finished Cotton Boll quilt blockThe finished Cotton Boll quilt block!

And it was totally worth the few seconds worth of extra effort.

This Cotton Boll quilt block is finished!


More blocks that use Connector Corners


As promised, below is a sampling of the free quilt block patterns found on this website that use this simple technique for creating triangle shapes out of nothing more than cut squares and rectangles.

Click each image to go to those instruction pages.

Autumn Leaf quilt block tutorial Big O quilt block tutorial Cotton Boll quilt block tutorial Crystal Star quilt block tutorial Double Necktie quilt block tutorial Evening Star quilt block tutorial Hour Glass quilt block tutorial Indian Hatchet quilt block tutorial Maple Leaf quilt block tutorial Maple Leaf Design quilt block tutorial Mississippi quilt block tutorial Ozark Maple Leaf quilt block tutorial Santa Fe quilt block instructions

For even more patterns, visit our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library.


Share your work!


If you use our tutorials to make your blocks and quilts, there are some easy ways to share your creations so other quilters (including me!) can enjoy the fruits of your labor:

Please share your creations on social media with the hashtag #GenerationsQuiltPatterns. Thank you!
  • On Instagram please tag your blocks and quilts with the hashtag #GenerationsQuiltPatterns..
  • Visit our Show n'Tell page on the website. Click here to share photos and tell your own story, just start typing at 'The name of your quilt is...'. If you'd prefer to submit more photos than the form allows, simply email them to me at julie@generations-quilt-patterns.com.

I love seeing your work!

Our readers do, too!


For even more blocks to make...

Click here to learn about my favorite quilt book resources that inspire my patchwork designs.

For you, are quilt block patterns like potato chips...

...you can't have just one?!!

Check the amazing resources I rely on for all the quilt block designs you see on this website. 

To see if they're worthy of spot in YOUR quilting library, CLICK HERE.



  1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Quilt Block Pattern Library
  4.  ›
  5. Cotton Boll Block

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please let me know by clicking this button - thank you!



Share Your Comments, Tips and Ideas





Quilt patterns, books and kits to tempt you...

Click any image or link for more info


"Pretty Birds"
by Elizabeth Hartman


Also available as a kit that includes the pattern, top fabric, and binding




"Spectacular Savanna"
by Elizabeth Hartman



"Quilt As-You-Go Made Vintage"
by Jera Brandvig



"Christmas Figs"
by It's So Emma



Subscribe to our StashTalk Newsletter