Master the Crow's Foot Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The Crow's Foot quilt block is quite dynamic!

Not because the piecing is difficult, but rather due to its use of color.

The colors in each quarter of the black are inverted from the ones right next to it.

Other than that, all there is to it are half square triangles (which we'll make 8 at a time to streamline the process) and a simple four patch.

Truly, it's that straight forward. Just as the crow flies.

Let's begin!

General Instructions

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1/4" seam allowances are used throughout.

Seams are pressed toward the darker fabric unless other wise noted.

Several common abbreviations are used in this Crow's Foot tutorial:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • HST - half square triangle
  • RST - right sides together

HSTs can get a bit lumpy. You may want to try out my favorite pressing technique to bend them to your will!

It's simple. It's quick.

And you'll have the flattest quilt blocks with virtually no effort!

Step 1: Cutting

Crow's Foot quilt block designCrow's Foot design

Choose two fabrics with nice contrast.

For this sample's red and black fabrics, shadowing of the black fabric through the top of the red wasn't a problem.

However, if you're using a white or other light-neutral, you may want to grade the seam allowances a bit to ensure the darker fabric doesn't show through the top—especially where the seams are 'twirled'.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Crow's Foot Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
6" 9" 12"
1 D 2 2½" x 2½" 3½" x 3½" 4½" x 4½"
2 L 2 2½" x 2½" 3½" x 3½" 4½" x 4½"
3 D 2 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½"
4 L 2 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½"
5 D 2 4¼" x 4¼" 5¼" x 5¼" 6¼" x 6¼"
6 L 2 4¼" x 4¼" 5¼" x 5¼" 6¼" x 6¼"
Unfinished Block Size 6½" 9½" 12½"
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2"

Learn more about my favorite, new quilting tool, the Magic Pressing Mat. A valuable addition to your quilting tools—regardless of the piecing technique you use.

Step 2: Create the units for the Crow's Foot quilt block

Four Patch

Four patch centerMake 1

Make 1

With RST and your favorite quarter inch foot installed, stitch a #1 to a #2.

Repeat for the second pair.

Press each pair as stitched, then open and press again with the SA to the dark.

Sew a #1 and #2 square together, press the SA to the darker fabric

With RST, sew the pairs together alternating the colors. 

I prefer to feed my patch into the machine with the SA on top pointing into the needle area (white arrow). There's less chance of it flipping over that way.

Pin if it helps you get a nice match where the seams meet.

Feed the dark square of the four patch into the machine first.

To reduce the bulk, loosen the few stitches on the backside of the block in the SAs. (Don't cut off their thread tails, they are just a 1/4" long and won't be in the way. You need them for the stability of the block.)

Press again with the SA 'twirling' around the center in the same direction. Twice it goes to the light fabric—that's where you'll need to check if the darker fabric shadows through to the top.

The SA of the four patch is twirled to reduce bulkThe Crow's Foot four patch is complete.

Half Square Triangles (HST)

Make 16

Half square triangle unitMake 16

For blocks like our Crow's Foot with multiples of 8 HSTs, the 8-at-a-time method is my hands-down favorite. [For more detailed instructions on this technique click here.]

Draw a diagonal line through both pairs of corners on the back side of the two #6 squares.

With your favorite quarter inch foot installed, stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of both lines for both pairs of #5/#6 patches.

After stitching your patches look like this.

The completed sewing for the HSTsIf you're using a white or light chalk marker, it might be easier to mark the diagonals on the darker #5 patches instead. Choose whichever is easier to see as you sew.

Give the patches a quick press to set the stitches.

Now from the chart below find your MidPoint Measurement for the finished block size you choose.

Block Size
Trim HSTs to...
6" 2⅛" 1½" x 1½"
9" 2⅝" 2" x 2"
12" 3⅛" 2½" x 2½"

Align that ruler mark with the edge of the #5/#6 patch. Cut the unit in half from top to bottom.

For our 6" sample block, the measurement is 2⅛ (white arrow).

Cut the sewn HST patches in half once top to bottom

Now cut the #5/#6 in half using the same measurement from side to side.

If you can turn your mat, excellent. If you can walk around your cutting table, even better. If you must move your patches to turn them, just be careful lining them back up again before cutting in half again.

After this second cut, you now have four pairs of sewn #5/#6 squares that are equal to the Mid Point Measurement. (For the 6" sample that means four 2-1/8" squares.)

Cut each in half  between the two diagonal lines of stitching to create 8 half square triangle units.

HSTs, half before and half after trimming to size

Repeat for the second #5/#6 pair for a total of 16 HST.

Referring back to the chart just above, find the 'Trim HSTs to' dimension that corresponds to your finished block size and trim all 16.

For the 6" sample that number is 1½".

Top, Bottom and Side Units

First we need to join pairs of HST together.

Use the diagram to join them correctly. It's easy to mistakenly get them swapped around.

Make 8
Make 8

After stitching, press toward the dark #5 patch.

Next join two pairs as shown below. The one on the right below is flipped from its position above.

Put these aside for the sides of your four patch.

Make 2 side units

Join the remaining four pairs in the same manner. Press.

Add a #3 dark square to the #6 HST. Add a #4 light square to the #5 HST. (The colors are alternating all the way across this unit.

Make two top and bottom unitsPress with the SA toward the outside edges

Step 3: Assembling the Crow's Foot block

Arrange your patches into the design. The smaller outside corner squares are the same fabric as the corresponding corner of the inner four patch.

Patches laid out ready to sew

With RST, stitch the units in the center row together.

Sewing the units in the center rowUse pins to help hold the patches together for perfect points.

Press the center unit, SA toward the center to reduce bulk.

HSTs can be a bit lumpy in the seam allowance. This is the perfect time to try my secret pressing technique.

Click here to see how easy it is to make your seams lie wickedly flat!

Rows ready to sew together

Stitch the rows together, pinning as needed—there's lots of points to match. 

I chose to press these final two seams in towards the center, too.

The finished Crow's Foot block, back

From the front, this is our completed Crow's Foot quilt block.

Isn't it amazing how simply playing with the color placement can have such a big impact?!!

The finished Crow's Foot block, frontCrow's Foot quilt block

Another block that plays with color in much the same way is the 'Massachusetts'. 

Massachusetts quilt block designMassachusetts block

Again, nothing but standard units. This time it's HSTs, quarter square triangles and two cut squares. Click here for the instructions to make it.

Easy Peasy!

And finally.

Just because the sample was set up as a two fabric block doesn't mean you can't make all your blocks totally scrappy.

Simply make sure that's there's plenty of contrast between your light and dark fabric selections.

It'll be stunning.

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

For even more blocks to make...

These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas. 

Can you see the library sticker on the spine of Jinny Beyer's book? Yep. I check this copy out of our local library every few months for research.

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

Can you tell?

It's in color.

It's got a ton of blocks.

What's not to love?

Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.

This book is no longer in print.

If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on

UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020. 

However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.

BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.

It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.

In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.

UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.

This is terrific news.

Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.

Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.


Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.

And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!

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