From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
The Lady of the White House quilt block is a variation on the simple pinwheel design.
Simple strip piecing techniques and quick pieced half square triangles makes it a cinch to create it's whirly-twirly goodness.
On this page you'll find instructions for three different block sizes, as well as links to our favorite quilting supplies and quilt block resources.
Time to cut up and sew!
These abbreviations are used on this page:
SA are 1/4" and pressed towards the darker fabric unless noted otherwise by a blue arrow.
I like to starch my quilt fabric with a 50/50 mix of water and StaFlo liquid starch. Stiffer fabric is easier to cut accurately. Easier to press#8212;especially the strip sets.
If you prefer fabric with body, without so much stiffness, then use Best Press.
Sample block size: 12" (12-1/2" unfinished)
Grid: 12x12, 4-patch
I've used a solid and a batik for this block. A benefit of using batiks is that you can usually use either side. This print was no exception.
During block construction I worried there wasn't enough contrast in the fabric values. That the points would get lost.
This time, my worries were unfounded.
Batik fabric has a higher thread count that your standard, every-day quilting cotton. For that reason I prefer Schmetz's Microtex Sharp needle. The result is better stitch quality. (If you have a Singer sewing machine, you must use Singer brand needles.)
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||D||2||1½" x 14"||2" x 19"||2½" x 24"|
|2||L||1||1½" x 14"||2" x 19"||2½" x 24"|
|3||L||2||1½" x 4"||2" x 5"||2½" x 6"|
|4||D||1||1½" x 4"||2" x 5"||2½" x 6"|
|5*||L||2||3⅞" x 3⅞"||5⅜" x 5⅜"||6⅞" x 6⅞"|
|6*||D||2||3⅞" x 3⅞"||5⅜" x 5⅜"||6⅞" x 6⅞"|
|7||L||4||3½" x 6½"||5" x 9½"||6½" x 12½"|
|Unfinished Block Size||12½"||18½"||24½"|
| **I prefer to cut my squares extra large for HST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for #5 and #6 above. |
There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.
These are some of the supplies I use to prepare and cut my fabric.
We use the Quick Pieced method for making our HSTs.
Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the backside of the lighter #5 square. (I used my favorite Bohin Mechanical Chalk Pencil for this.
With RST, layer the #5 and #6 patches, aligning the edges. Stitch 1/4" away from both sides of the line.
Cut the patches in half between the stitching lines. Press.
Use the chart below to check the accuracy of your sewing. Trim if necessary.
|Trim HST to…|
Make 1 each: #1/#2/#1 and #3/#4/#3
With RST, sew a #1 to a #2 along the long edge. I like to start my stitching on a 'spider' (see blue arrow below). The first stitch onto the strips is always better!
Pressing stripsets is easier when you do it as you add each strip—it's just so much easier to get at the SA.
With RST, add the second dark #1. Press.
Use the chart below to check the accuracy of your stitching. Make any necessary adjustments before subcutting.
| Rail Fence|
| Nine Patches|
| Nine Patches|
Straighten one short edge of each stripset.
Subcut these stripsets as indicated in the chart above.
These are the patches after subcutting.
Set aside the two big units until Step 3—they are our Rail Fence units.
The four narrower patches are used to make nine patches.
Arrange your units to create two four-patches with dark corners and center.
With RST, stitch the units together, pressing out from the center after the addition of each one.
A Lady in the White House block is simply a pinwheel block with a little extra.
Create two of each unit shown below, pressing the joining SA in the direction of the arrow.
And two of these...
To complete the quarter blocks, add a #7 rectangle to the left side of each pair.
All that's left is to assemble the quarters.
Arrange the quarters into the Lady of the White House design shown below. Nine patches and RF units alternate around the outside edges of the block. A pinwheel forms in the center.
Stitch the units into rows. All the SA in the seam nest to make matching seamlines easier.
Press SA toward the #7 rectangles.
Once the rows are joined, this is the Lady of the White House from the front.
From the backside, you can see that seams joining the quarters have been twirled or fanned around the center.
The beauty of this 'twirling' technique is that for a quilt made of only this block pattern, all the seams nest.
Putting a quilt like that together is a piece o'cake!
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
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 Amazon.com.
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!