Darting Minnows Quilt Block Tutorial: 5", 7½", 10", 12½" and 15" finished

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

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Looking for an eye-catching quilt block that comes together quickly?

Meet our Darting Minnows quilt block—with its bold angles and fluid movement, this lively star pattern is sure to brighten up any quilt.

The best part?

You can whip up this unique design in just a few easy steps. 

Before you know it, you'll be making waves with this striking block!

Stitch up some magic and let Darting Minnows bring pops of color dancing across your next quilt.

The Darting Minnows quilt block

As always, beginner-friendly, illustrated instructions are the backbone of the tutorial. There's more free goodies available for you to download to help you. They are:

Cut. Sew. Press. Turn your fabric into MAGIC!

General Instructions

Several abbreviations are used on this page. They are:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • DR - Diamond Rectangle

A 1/4" SA is used in this tutorial.

Highlighted in yellow, pressing instructions are easy to spot.

To press, first press the patches in the closed position as they came off your sewing machine. This sets the seam, melding the fibers of the threads into the fibers of the fabric.

Then press the SA to the dark unless otherwise noted.

Download and print the paper piecing patterns and template

Print the paper piecing patterns you need

To download the pattern, use the most current version of Adobe.

For accurate results, on Adobe's Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100%. Then print.

Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

Find your finished block size from the chart below. Print the corresponding number of pages for a total of 4 Diamond Rectangle (DR) units.

Print Diamond Rectangle
Paper Piecing Patterns & Template

Pattern Templates
Print 1 copy
Darting Minnows
Finished Block Size
# of Copies to PrintDR Finished
5" 1 1"x2" Print 1
7½" 1 1½ x 3"
10" 1 2"x4"
12½" 2 2½"x5"
15" 2 3"x6"

After printing, use the 1" square graphic on the printed page(s) to double-check that your patterns printed at the correct size.

Then cut out the required number of patterns from your copies. A rough cut is good enough—an 1/8"-1/4"-ish away from the outside dashed rectangle.

Read my review of 6 paper piecing papers available on the market

Not sure which paper to use?

Take a look at my review of several of the most popular brands available to us quilters on the market.

You want a super-easy paper to tear away—less stress on the stitches. 

The newest quilt fabrics to tickle your fancy...

Click the images below to see the full collection. We share any commercial and/or free patterns that showcase them, too. (For inspiration, of course!)

Step 1: Cut the patches for your Darting Minnows

Darting Minnows quilt block designDarting Minnows quilt block

Sample Block Size:  15" finished / 15½" unfinished

Grid:   5x5 

Design Type:   Uneven 9-patch, small center  |  Paper Piecing  |  Star

I'd gone fabric shopping on a Friday afternoon, and lucked into one of our local quilt shops offering $1 off EVERY fat quarter. So I treated myself...like any quilter would. Seriously, you know how it goes, when it's a good deal, you just start pulling fabrics.

When I got home, I saw this one and really fell in love with the colors and the pattern and knew I needed a block with some big patches to showcase it. The tutorial for the Diamond Rectangle had gone up just that week and I wanted to have a block for you to have a reason to make some of those units. 

That's how Darting Minnows came to life. :)

BTW, the print is from the Deja Vu Nightshade collection by Tula Pink, called Equinox Spider Blossom. (Did you catch the little skull and cross bones?)

Label your patches, you'll use them throughout this tutorial.

To print a copy of the block design and cutting chart to use at your cutting table, click here.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Darting Minnows Quilt Block

~ Paper & Traditional Piecing ~

(Patches shown Width x Height)
PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
5'' 7½'' 10'' 12½'' 15''
1, 2, 3, 4 Medium 8 2⅜'' x 2¼'' 2⅝'' x 2¾'' 2⅞'' x 3¼'' 3⅛" x 3¾" 3⅜'' x 4¼''
5** Light 4 2½'' x 2½'' 3½'' x 3½'' 4½'' x 4½'' 5½'' x 5½'' 6½'' x 6½''
6 Light 1 1½'' x 1½'' 2'' x 2'' 2½'' x 2½'' 3'' x 3'' 3½'' x 3½''
Diamond Light 4 1½'' x 2½'' 2'' x 3½'' 2½'' x 4½'' 3'' x 5½'' 3½'' x 6½''
Unfinished Block Size 5½'' 8'' 10½'' 13'' 15½''
Grid Size 1'' 1½'' 2'' 2½'' 3''

**For our sample block, I made an executive decision and used a dark for the #5 patches. Remember. YOU are the designer.

Shop ElectricQuilt.com

Subcutting the Diamond Rectangle patches

Layer the eight #1-#4 rectangles in pairs of RST. Line up all the edges into a neat stack.

With a pencil, make a mark 5/8" in from the top left and bottom right edges (red arrows). Double-check that the width of the rectangle is at the top and bottom.

NOTE: Only the #1-#4 patches for the smallest, 5" finished block, are shorter than they are wide by an 1/8".


Line up the edge of your ruler with these marks and cut all four in half.

Cut the patches in half using the markings as guides

You should now have 4 groups of mirror image patches that look like this:

You end up with pairs of mirror image side triangles

Cut out the Diamond template—exactly on the short straight lines at the top, bottom and side edges. Along the diagonals, neatness doesn't score you any brownie points. A rough cut will do.

Layer the Diamond fabric rectangles. They can be right or wrong side up. This patch is symmetrical, so it doesn't make a difference for this shape.

I've used some removable tape to help hold the template in place while cutting. It's easy to peel off the mat when you're finished.

Cut away the excess fabric with your rotary cutter.

Position the Diamond template over the rectangular patches

Voila! The Diamonds are ready, too.

Trim away the excess fabric to create the Diamond patches

General Sewing Machine Setup for Paperpiecing

  • Reduce your stitch length to 16–20 stitches per inch (1.3-1.6 mm). This perforates the paper and stabilizes the seam when you remove the pattern. [Learn more about stitch length here.]
  • Reduce your machine's speed or just plain slow down. Sew only as fast as you can stay on the stitching lines.
  • Install an open toe appliqué foot (sometimes called an 'embroidery' or 'satin stitch' foot) if you have one (it's easier to see where you're stitching with one installed). 
  • If your machine has a needle stop up, use it. The stitching goes faster when you don't have to lift the presser foot with every seam.
  • As you stitch each seam, start and stop a generous 1/4” before and after the solid stitching lines. ALWAYS. Future lines of stitching secure the ends.

After adding each patch, press the unit as it was sewn to set the seam and then open. The SA is automatically pressed towards the last patch added.

Before adding the next patch, take a look to make sure the one you just added covers the space plus seam allowance that it is supposed to.

Steam is optional and usually curls the pattern. 

If that bothers you, don't use steam. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.

It truly depends on my mood.

Remember, as you follow this paper piecing tutorial, the printed and the fabric sides of this block are mirror-images of each other.

At last!

Let's sew!

Step 2: Assemble the Diamond Rectangles

Make 4    

Diamond Rectangle unitDiamond Rectangle

Use a dot of Elmer's Washable Glue Stick to hold the Diamond patch in position between the dashed guidelines on the unprinted side of each pattern.

You can just make out the shadow of the patch in the photo below.

Position the Diamond patch on the unprinted side of the pattern

With RST, match the long bias edge of #1 with the corresponding side of the Diamond. The patches you cut are generously sized to make it as foolproof as possible to position them correctly the first time. Note the overhang of the #1 below.

With RST, match the long bias edges of #1 to the Diamond

Stitch from the printed side, starting and ending (red arrow) past the outside dashed rectangle that surrounds the patch.

Your stitching started outside the dashed line and ends outside the dashed line

Since these seams run from one edge to the other, you can chain piece these seams. A time-saver for sure! (Who knew there was chain piecing in paper piecing, eh?!!)

For the smaller DRs you'll want to press after adding each one—they're too small to get your iron into.

But with this large 3"x6" DR in our sample, add the second side triangle, #2, to the opposite side of the Diamond. Stitch as before.

Add #2 just like you added #1


Repeat these steps for #3 and #4.

Add patch #3 after pressing

Once all four side triangles (#1-#4) are stitched, give all your DR a good press.

At your cutting mat, position the 1/4" line of your ruler over the solid line that surrounds the DR (red arrow) and trim away the excess.

Trim the excess fabric away from the DR, one side at a time

Repeat for all the sides on all four units.

Here's an untrimmed (below left) versus a trimmed (below right) DR. They sure clean up nice, don't they? 

Since we took the time to stitch on the line, all those pointy-points are exactly 1/4" away from the edge. That'll make putting our block together easy-peasy!

An untrimmed versus a trimmed Diamond Rectangle

Remove the paper from all the DRs. 

Since the side triangles were subcut from rectangles, all the outside edges of our units are on the straight of grain. They are a stable edge just as on any traditionally pieced block.

The paper no longer serves a purpose. 

Return your sewing machine to your everyday settings.

We stitch the remainder of the block with traditional techniques.

Install your favorite quarter inch presser foot. Adjust the needle position if needed. Increase to your normal piecing stitch length.

Step 3: Assemble the Darting Minnows quilt block

Arrange the cut patches and DRs to form the Darting Minnows quilt block—solid square in the corners.

Layout the pieced DR and cut squares into the Darting Minnows design

With RST, stitch the units in each row together.

Press the SAs away from the DRs, and towards the #2 in the center row.

The Darting Minnows units are sewn into rows

Finally, sew the rows together, pinning as necessary to help keep the edges even. 

The finished Darting Minnows quilt block

Here's the block from the unfinished side. SAs all nice and neatly pressed.

The back of the block

With just some basic tools, a bit of fabric, and our easy tutorial, you'll be stitching up the lively Darting Minnows block in no time! No specialty rulers required—this beginner-friendly block comes together with simple cutting and piecing.

Just follow our illustrated steps for painless paper piecing.

Before you know it, you'll have a stack of striking diamonds ready to dart across your quilt.

With our handy cutting chart to guide you through sizing, getting the perfect fit is a cinch.

Whether you're new to quilting or an experienced stitcher, Darting Minnows is a fun, budget-friendly way to wow with movement and color.

So grab some scraps and let this electric star inject your next project with pops of pizzazz!

Looking for something truly stellar?

To browse all the star quilt block patterns in one place, click here

You've finished your star quilt block, and you're ready for more!

Browse our collection of 50+ stellar star quilt block patterns. All have instructions and cutting charts in multiple sizes. If templates or paper piecing is used in the tutorial, there's a free download for you of those materials.

Eeny. Meenie. Miney. Moe.

Which star quilt block will you sew?

There's more quilt blocks to make

For EVEN MORE blocks to make, visit our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library, with over 220+ blocks to choose from in multiple sizes.

Free downloads are included in all sizes for any blocks require paper piecing patterns or templates.

This article was printed from Generations-Quilt-Patterns.com

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