Five Patch Quilt Block Instructions

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

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Five Patch quilt bock tutorial

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 9x9

The beginner-friendly Five Patch quilt block is made with strip-pieced 9 patches.

Like all blocks with a nine patch in the corner, you can easily create a chain design with the addition of a simple alternate block. Cutting instructions for that alternate block are found at the end of this page.

So what does it look like in a quilt? Six different quilt designs using this block are shared to inspire you!

Not quite the 'chain' block you were looking for? Click here for more blocks that form chain designs.

General Instructions

These abbreviations are used in this tutorial:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • Bac - background fabric

Seam allowances (SA) are all 1/4".

Unless otherwise indicated, SA are pressed toward the darker fabric.

Step 1: Cutting

Five Patch quilt block design

Five Patch design

Choose fabrics with enough contrast between them so that the chains show up in the design.

For a 4-1/2" block, fabrics that read as solids are the best choice due to the small patch size. Save the large scale prints for larger blocks.

Patches #1-#6 are used in strip sets and are cut a bit longer than needed.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Five Patch Quilt Block

~ Traditional Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size
4 1/2" 9 "
1 Bac 2 1” x 9” 1 1/2” x 13”
2 M 1 1” x 9” 1 1/2” x 13”
3 M 2 1” x 5” 1 1/2” x 7”
4 Bac 1 1” x 5” 1 1/2” x 7”
5 Bac 1 1 1/2” x 9” 2 1/2” x 15”
6 D 1 1” x 9” 1 1/2” x 15”
7 Bac 1 2”sq 3-1/2”sq
Unfinished Block Size 5 " 9 1/2"
Grid Size 1/2" 1 "

Step 2: Create the units for the Five Patch

Five Patch quilt block - nine patch units

Nine Patches

Make 4

With right sides together (RST) stitch a #1 to a #2. Stitch a #3 and a #4 to each other. Press.

Stitch the #1 and #2 together.The guide on my quarter inch foot makes sewing strip sets together virtually foolproof!

Alternating fabrics, add the second #1 to the #1/#2 strip set; add the second #3 to the #3/#4 pair. Press.

Straighten a short edge on each by lining up lines on your ruler with the seam lines (arrows)—this is also a quick double check that your SA was accurate.

Straighten the short edge of both strip setsStraightening the edge of the #1/#2/#1 patch

Use the chart below to subcut each strip set. Cut eight units from the #1/#2/#1 unit and four from the #3/#4/#3.

Nine Patch Units
Finished Block Size Stripset Width Subcut
4-1/2” 2” 1”
9” 3 1/2” 1 1/2”

Arrange the subcut units into nine patches. This design has the lighter, background fabric in the corners. (below, left)

Stitch the nine patches.

With RST, join pairs together and press. Add the third unit to each pair (above, right) for a total of four 9-patches.

Five Patch quilt block - nine sides units


Make 4

With RST stitch the #5 and #6 together along the long edge. Press.

Stitch #5 and #6 together

Use the chart below to check that your stripset is the correct width after stitching.

Straighten a short edge with your rotary cutter.

Cut four units equal to the 'Subcut Width' below.

Side Units
Finished Block Size Stripset Width Subcut
4-1/2” 2” 2”
9” 3 1/2” 3 1/2”

You now have...

The finished side unitsThere is a bit leftover on purpose.

Step 3: Assemble the Five Patch quilt block

Arrange the units to create the Five Patch design.

Arrange the units into rows

With RST, stitch the patches into rows. The SA nest nicely to make matching them a breeze.

SAs are pressed toward the Side units, i.e. away from the 9-patches and towards the solid center square.

The units are sewn into rows.

To finish the block, stitch the rows together. Press.

Your Five Patch quilt block looks like this!

Designing with the Five Patch quilt block

I've switched to a monochromatic color scheme for the patchwork designs that follow. The same exact coloring of the block is used for all six examples.

In this first one, Five Patch blocks are stitched edge-to-edge in a straight set. A nice secondary pattern appears at the corners of the blocks.

Five Patch, straight set

A simple sashing made of background fabric and a cornerstone in the medium value fabric is added to our design. Naturally, the secondary pattern changes. This design is a bit more open and airy.

Five Patch quilt design, straight set with sashing

Next, the blocks are turned on-point and set edge-to-edge with no sashing.

Five Patch quilt design, diagonal set

This time when the sashing is added, a dark value cornerstone is used.

Five Patch quilt design, diagonal set with sashing

In this last design, it's interesting to see how the sashing reduces the dominance of the dark square. I didn't expect that!

Note, too, that for all the quilt designs so far it doesn't matter whether there are even or odd numbers of blocks in the rows and columns. The design is symmetrical either way. That gives you more options when you're designing a quilt to fit a particular bed.

Adding an alternate block

Five Patch quilt design, alternate block

When paired with this simple alternate block a traditional-looking 'chain' design is created.

It's shown here first in a straight set. To maintain design symmetry you need odd numbers of blocks in the rows and columns.

Five Patch quilt design, straight set with alternate blocks

And now with the blocks on-point.

Five Patch quilt design, diagonal set with alternate blocks

Here the quilt is symmetrical regardless of the numbers of blocks in the rows and columns.

Cutting Chart for an Alternate Block

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Five Patch Quilt Block

~ Traditional Piecing ~
Alternate Block Only

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size
4 1/2" 9"
1M41” x 1” 1 1/2” x 1 1/2”
2 Bac2 1” x 4” 1 1/2” x 7 1/2”
3 Bac14” x 5” 7 1/2” x 9 1/2”
Unfinished Block Size 5"9 1/2"
Grid Size1/2”1”

Alternate quilt block

With RST sew a #1 to both ends of a #2, pressing SA toward #2. Repeat for a total of two.

Stitch one #1/#2/#1 to each long side of #3.  Press.

The alternate block is complete.

Click here for more blocks that form chain designs.

For more blocks to make, visit our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library.

For even more blocks to make...

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

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.


BlockBase is the computerized version of the Encyclopedia.

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

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.

It does make a fabulous coffee table book though.

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