Oklahoma Twister Quilt Block

The first of two variations

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

NEXT: 3-fabric
Oklahoma Twister

The Oklahoma Twister quilt block, done in two fabrics here, has a modern kind of feel to it, doesn't it?

For a more traditional feel, there's a 3 fabric variation for you to consider.

The 8-at-a-time method to make half square triangles simplifies block construction. Tutorial includes cutting chart,  step-by-step instructions in 3 sizes: 6

We'll use the 8-at-a-time method for making our HSTs to simplify construction. It doesn't get much easier.

In this tutorial you'll find:

It's time to cut up and sew!

General Instructions

Several abbreviations are used on this page. They are:

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

1/4" SA are used through this tutorial. 

When instructed to press, first press the patches in the closed position just 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.

Starching your fabric before cutting makes it easier to cut and your sewing more accurate. Learn more about how to do it here.

I use a 50/50 mix of StaFlo Liquid Starch and water.

Step 1: Cut fabric for an Oklahoma Twister

Oklahoma Twister quilt block patternOklahoma Twister block design

Sample Block Size:
   12" Finished
   12-1/2" Unfinished

This two color block requires fabrics with very strong contrast.

It's this contrast that makes the design visible as you look at the block. 

If the fabrics are too close in value, it'll be harder to see the pattern that emerges.

Click here to download a coloring page of this 2-fabric option.

For a more traditional approach to this block, click here to find the instructions for a three fabric block.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for an
Oklahoma Twister Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
6" 9" 12"
1 L 2 4¼" x 4¼" 5¼" x 5¼" 6¼" x 6¼"
2 D 2 4¼" x 4¼" 5¼" x 5¼" 6¼" x 6¼"
3,4 L 8 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½"
5 L 4 1½" x 3½" 2" x 5" 2½" x 6½"
Unfinished Block Size 6½" 9½" 12½"
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2"

My go-to thread for all my piecing is...

Step 2: Assemble the units for your Oklahoma Twister

Half Square Triangles (HSTs)

Make 16

HST units

We use the  8-at-a-time to make our HSTs. If you plan on making tons of these blocks, you may want to consider using triangle paper for even more efficiency.

To start, on the backside of either the #1 or #2 patches draw a diagonal line from each pair of corners. (You'll just barely be able to see my lines on the photo below.)

Mark whichever fabric is easier to see the lines on. I love my Bohin Mechanical Chalk Pencil for this.

With your favorite quarter inch foot installed, stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of both lines.

Due to their larger size, I chose to pin the patches together to keep them for shifting during sewing.

Sewing HSTsHere, I've already stitched a pair of lines (blue arrows)

Repeat for the second pair of #1/#2 squares. Press the units flat to set all the seams all at once.

The patches after sewing and pressing.Blue arrows point to the stitches—they're there, just hard to see in this picture.

Now it's time to cut these patches in HST. I like to use a small rotating rotary mat for this next bit. You're less likely to disturb the patches as you cut.

From the chart below, find the "Center Measurement" for the block  you cut.

Hst Dimensions
Block Size
Trim HST to…
6" 2⅛ 1½"
9" 2⅝ 2"
12" 3⅛ 2½"

For our sample 12" Oklahoma Twister the center measurement is 3-1/8".

Align that mark on your ruler (blue arrow) with the edge of your block. Since I'm righthanded that's the lefthand edge. If you're a lefty, that'll be the righthand edge.

With your rotary cutter, cut through the center of the block.

Cutting the patches into individual units

Without moving the patches, turn your mat a quarter turn. Using the same measurement, cut through the center again. 

You've now got four equal pairs of sewn square like this.

A #1/#2 is cut into four equal squares

With either a scissor or rotary cutter, cut each pair in half along the original mark you drew.

Here are your 8 HST from just 2 patches.

#1/#2 is subcut into eight HSTs

Press the units with the SA towards the darker fabric. 

The pad that my pressing on in the picture below is my new favorite quilting tool—The Magic Pressing Mat—read my review on it here.

It's really helped me up my pressing game...by simply pressing on it! :D

Pressing HST on a Magic Pressing MatHalf of the needed HST, now to repeat the process for the second pair of #1/#2 patches.

And finally trim the HST to size. Use the chart in this Step 2. Find "Trim HST to..." dimension. For this 12" sample it's 2-1/2" x 2-1/2".

Trimmed HSTPerfectly sized HST for our Oklahoma Twister quilt block—now to trim the final eight.

Finish trimming the remaining HST units.

Quarter Blocks

A quarter Oklahoma Twister block

Make 4

To construct the blocks, we'll need to assemble the units into quarter blocks—it's impossible to stitch rows of 6 units together for this patchwork design.

With RST, join a #1/#2 HST to both sides of a #3 square.

Press the SA towards the #3 square to reduce bulk.

Join two #1/#2s and one #3Press SA in the direction of the arrows.

Repeat for a total of four units.

With RST, add a #1/#2 HST and a #3 square to each side of a #1/#2 HST paying particular attention to the orientation of the HSTs.

SA are pressed in the direction of the arrows, out from the center.

Join two #1/#2s and one #4

Repeat for a total of four units.

To complete the quarters, arrange the sewn and cut units into rows.

Stitch them together, pressing the SA out from the center (blue arrows).

Stitch the quarter block rows together

Here it is from the back side so that you can easily see the pressed SA.

Backside of a quarterThat's it. We're just 3 seams away from a finished Oklahoma Twister!

Step 3: Assemble your Oklahoma Twister quilt block

Arrange the quarters to create the Oklahoma Twister design.

Starting from the upper left corner, as you place the units rotate them a quarter turn clockwise from the previous one.

Arrange the quarters into rows

Stitch the pairs in each row together.

If you followed the pressing instrucgtions, the SAs nest to make matching the seams easier, but you still may want to use a couple of pins. (I do—but choose what matches YOUR quilting style!) 

Press the SAs you just stitched in opposite directions.

Sew the two rows together to complete the block.

And here it is!

The completed blockThe finished Oklahoma Twister quilt block

And from the backside for one final check to see how the SAs are  pressed.

Oklahoma Twister block from the back so show the seam allowances

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 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!

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