From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
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!
These abbreviations are used in this tutorial:
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.
Sample Block Size:
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.
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.
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|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"|
| **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.
Learn more about my favorite, new quilting tool, the Magic Pressing Mat. A valuable addition to your quilting tools—regardless of the piecing technique you use.
We'll use the Quick Pieced method for making HSTs for our Prairie Queen block. (For more detailed instructions on this technique, click here.)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
|Trim HST to…|
After trimming, your HST look something like this.
Four-Patch Side 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.
Press, first flat to set the seam and then open with SA to the dark #4.
| Stripset Width|
| SubCut Width|
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".
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.
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.
After chain stitching them together...
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.
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.
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:
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.
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...
...and like this from the back. See how all the SAs nest.
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!
The only way to whittle it down is to MAKE MORE QUILTS!!!
Look to our free Quilt Block Patterns Library for inspiration for your next quilting project!
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.
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.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!
Click any image or link for more info