Prairie Queen Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library

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Simple is best for a Prairie Queen quilt block.

Quick pieced HST.

Strip pieced four patches.

Easy Peasy. 

On this page you'll find instructions to make this as a 4-1/2", 6", 9" or 12" finished block.

You may also know this patchwork design as 'True Blue'.

It's time to cut up and sew!

Construction Instructions

These abbreviations are used in this tutorial:

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

All SA are 1/4" and pressed towards the darker fabric unless noted otherwise. 

For the best pressing results, first press the seams as they were sewn, in the closed position.

This sets the seam and melds the fibers of the thread into the fibers of the fabric. Then open the patch and press again.

To create the flattest blocks ever, try my 'secret' technique

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Step 1: Cutting for a Prairie Queen

Prairie Queen quilt block designPrairie Queen design

Sample Block Size: 4-1/2" finished / 5" unfinished

Grid: 6x6

Attribution: Ruth Finley

AKA: True Blue (Hearth & Home)

Design Type: Even 9-patch

The value contrast in my fabrics is more between the pattern in the fabric than the actual value.

For clarification, I'm treating the green print fabric in the sample as my 'dark'.

As usual, the fabrics were starched before cutting. 

I prefer diluted StaFlo (1:1 water:  to starch) over Best Press because I can control the stiffness of the fabric.

Best Press makes them crisp.

StaFlo makes them stiff.

While just two fabrics are used in the sample block, there's no reason that you couldn't make it scrappy.

Simply separate your scraps into two piles—lights and darks. Just make sure that each fabric is definitely a light or definitely a dark.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Prairie Queen Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
4½" 6" 9" 12"
1** L 2 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅞" x 3⅞" 4⅞" x 4⅞"
2** D 2 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅞" x 3⅞" 4⅞" x 4⅞"
3 L 1 1¼" x 11" 1½" x 13" 2" x 17" 2½" x 21"
4 D 1 1¼" x 11" 1½" x 13" 2" x 17" 2½" x 21"
5 L 1 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½" 3½" x 3½" 4½" x 4½"
Unfinished Block Size 5" 6½" 9½" 12½"
Grid Size 3/4" 1" 1½" 2"
**I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HSTs, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #1 and #2 above.

There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.

Step 2: Create the Prairie Queen units


Make 4

HST units

We'll use the Quick Pieced method for making HSTs for our Prairie Queen block. (For more detailed instructions on this technique, click here.)

If you plan to make many blocks, you may want to use another half square triangle method like 8-at-a-time or triangle paper.

Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner on the backs of the two #1 squares. 

Here are the #1s after marking. (I used my favorite Bohin Mechanical Chalk Pencil for marking.)

Mark the squares for HSTSee my note below...

A funny thing happened on the way to making this block...

Seriously. I must have had a brain-fart, for when I set up my sewing machine my quarter inch foot was nowhere to be found. And since this was made on my Sunday Sew-In with my bee, there was no going home to retrieve the foot.

So I just marked the stitching lines a 1/4" away from the center line on both sides and went about my business.

Always remember! There's more than one way to get things done in quilting.

With RST, layer the #1 and #2 squares. Sew a 1/4" away from the center marked line. Repeat for the second pair.

Sewing HSTAn open toe applique foot makes it easy to see the sewing line.

Press flat to set the seam.

Cut both pairs apart along the center line (pink arrow).

Press with the SA toward the darker #2.

Here one pair of squares is cut in half and pressed.

Making HST unitsOne pair cut in half, one more to go!

Now check that your HST are the correct size using the chart below. If they're not (either because your stitching was a bit off or you cut larger patches as I did) trim them to the size shown in the chart below.

If your stitching is perfect, simply trim off the dog ears for neater patchwork.

HST Dimensions

Block Size
Trim HST to…
4½" 2"
6" 2½"
9" 3½"
12" 4½"

After trimming, your HST look something like this.

Trimmed HSTLook, Ma! No more dog ears.

Four-Patch Side Units

Make 4

Four patch units

The four patches are strip pieced—so much faster (and more accurate) than stitching four individual squares together!

With RST, sew a #3 strip to a #4 along the long edge.

Create the #3/#4 strip set

Press, first flat to set the seam and then open with SA to the dark #4.

StripSet Widths

Block Size
Stripset Width
after stitching
SubCut Width
Cut 8
4½" 2" 1¼"
6" 2½" 1½"
9" 3½" 2"
12" 4½" 2½"

Using the chart just above, check that your stripset is the correct width after stitching. Make any necessary adjustments now.

Straighten one short edge of the stripset by aligning a line on your ruler with the seamline (pink arrow). Cut off no more than a 1/4".

Straightening one short edge before subcutting

Subcut eight units from it at the width that corresponds to chosen block's finished size.

For the 4½" finished sample block, the subcuts are 1¼" wide. There's approximately 1" of scrap leftover.

The subcut patchesAfter subcutting...

With RST, sew each pair together. Feed them all through the sewing machine the same way—dark #4 patch on top through the machine first. 

You get a better match if the cut edge of the SA on the top patch feeds into your sewing machine first. It tends to push the seams together.

Sewing four patchesThe pink arrow points to the SA as if feeds into the machine

After chain stitching them together...

Chain stitched four patches...all fed through the machine the same way!

Press the four patches flat to set the seam.

Then twirl or spin the seam allowance. This reduces the bulk in the center of the patch.

Twirled SAThe SA all 'twirl' or 'fan' in a clockwise direction around the block. This creates a little four patch in the center (blue circle) of the unit.

If you feed all your units into the machine the same way, the seams all twirl exactly the same.

The 'twirl' direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) doesn't make much difference in a single block like our sample.

It's a whole other story if you choose to make a quilt of nothing but Prairie Queen blocks and set them edge to edge.

In that scenario, seams that twirl all in the same direction will all nest. Putting that quilt top together is so much quicker. So much easier.

Step 3: Assemble your Prairie Queen quilt block

Arrange the patches into the Prairie Queen design. The light side of each HST is in the corner.

Lay out the four patches with the light #3:

  • In the upper LEFT corner in the top and bottom row.
  • In the upper RIGHT corner twice in the middle row.
Patches arranged in the Prairie Queen design

With RST, stitch the HST and four patches in each row together, pressing SA in the direction of the arrows—away from your four patches.

Stitch the units into rowsSA are pressed in the direction of the arrows

To finish the block, stitch the rows together. Use pins to help match the seams if you need them.

From the front our Prairie Queen quilt block looks like this...

Finished Prairie Queen quilt block

...and like this from the back. See how all the SAs nest.

Finished Prairie Queen, backside of block

The immediate result of twirling or fanning the SA is reduced bulk in the center of the four patches. 

An additional benefit reveals itself if you choose to make a quilt of only Prairie Queen blocks. The SA of the four patches automatically nest with adjacent ones when blocks are set edge-to-edge.

Nested SA make assembling the quilt top a breeze!

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