Rocky Mountain Chain Quilt Block, Part 2

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

If you've accidentally come to this page first, click the 'Back' button above to find the cutting instructions, free paper piecing pattern downloads and first assembly steps.

Several abbreviations are used throughout this tutorial (and website):

  • HST - half square triangle(s)
  • SiaS - Square in a Square unit(s)
  • SA - seam allowance(s)
  • RST - right sides together

Below we finish up the sides units, continue on to the HSTs and then assemble our block.

And finally a link to several design ideas using our Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block.

That about covers it. Let's get back to sewing!

The newest quilt fabrics to tickle your fancy...

Click the images below to see the full collection. We share any commercial and/or free patterns that showcase them, too. (For inspiration, of course!)

Step 2: Constructing the Rocky Mountain Chain units, con't...

Side unit designMake 4

Make 4

If you have an open toe applique foot currently installed on your machine, switch back to your favorite quarter inch foot for the rest of construction.

Return to the stitch length you prefer for traditional piecing.

To complete the sides for your Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block, with RST add a #6 rectangle to one pair of opposite sides as shown.

Repeat for the 3 remaining SiaS.

Press with SA toward #6 to reduce bulk.

Complete the sides by adding a #6 to each side of the SiaSI prefer to remove the paper BEFORE adding the #6s.

Half Square Triangles (HST)

Make 8

The 8-at-a-time method for making our HST is exactly what we need.

Install an open toe applique foot if you have one for this technique.

To insure accurate units, the patches are cut oversized. After sewing, we trim them to perfection.

For this sample, I used my Quick Quarter Ruler and my Bohin mechanical chalk pencil to draw a diagonal line from both sets of opposite corners. I then drew a line a quarter inch from each side of both diagonal lines.

Click here if you'd like more details on using the Quick Quarter Ruler.

Install an open toe applique foot if you have one. Set your stitch length to your normal piecing length.

You may want to pin the squares together like I did to keep them from shifting.

Stitch on the four outside drawn lines.

Sewing on the drawn lines with my open toe applique foot.Sewing with an open toe applique foot on the drawn line. Makes the line easy to see, doesn't it!

If you don't have a Quick Quarter ruler...

...mark the two diagonal lines instead with your everyday ruler. Install your favorite quarter inch foot and stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of the two lines you drew for a total of four lines of stitching.

Again, pin to keep the layers together if it helps you.

After stitching, use the chart below to find the Midpoint Measurement that corresponds to the finished size of your Rocky Mountain Chain block. We use this number to cut the sewn unit in half diagonally and vertically to create four equal squares.

Block Size
10" 3 1/4"
15" 4 1/4"
20" 5 1/4"

For our 10" sample block, the Midpoint is 3-1/4". 

I prefer to do my cutting on a smaller 12"x18" mat for this unit. Then I can turn the mat and not disturb the patches.

Align that mark on your ruler with the edge of your block to cut it in half vertically. (below)

Cut the block in half top to bottomThe 3-1/4" mark in the ruler is aligned with the left-hand edge to cut the block in half north to south. (It'd be on the right-hand side if you cut left-handed.)

Turn your mat and repeat to cut it in half again using that same 3-1/4" measurement. At this point you have four equal-sized  3-1/4" squares.

Now cut each in half diagonally to create 8 HST.

8 half square triangles ready for pressing and trimming

Press these units with the SA toward the dark fabric.

Block Size
Trim HST to...
10" 2-1/2" x 2-1/2"
15" 3-1/2" x 3-1/2"
20" 4-1/2" x 4-1/2"

Trim to size using the chart above.

Trimming HST to sizeHappiness is a perfect-size HST. Makes assembly a breeze!

Helpful Hint

For more in depth instruction on this 8-at-a-time method of making half square triangles, click here. (This link opens in a new window so you can get back to this spot in the tutorial easily.)


Make 4

Now to assemble the units for the corners.

Pair each #9 with an HST (below). Stitch. Press SA toward #9.

Stitch a #9 to the light side of an HSTPressing toward the #9 solid square helps to reduce bulk.

Stitch pairs together as shown below. The seams nest to make matching the center SAs much easier. Pin if needed.

Join pairs of #7/#8/#9 together to form corner units

And finally, to reduce bulk, twirl the seams by releasing a few of the stitches in the SA at the center.


A corner unit as seen from the front and back.Our twirled SA forms a four patch on the back of this unit.

Step 3: Assemble the Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block

Arrange the units as shown below. Dark #9 squares are in the outside corners and touching the inside center square (see arrows).

Lay out the patches.Double check that the units are laid out properly—it's too easy to get them switched when you sew.

Sew the units into rows. Press SA towards the SiaS side units. This simple trick for pressing will help you tame the lumpiness.

Rows are stitched togetherUse pins to help hold the patches together and get a good match at the seams.

Sew the rows together. I use pins to help control the patches while stitching. There are detailed instructions here to help you pin for perfect points.

Use pins to hold the rows together for sewing.All you see is the head of the perpendicular pin in this picture.

This time press the SA away from the SiaS unit. That way if you choose to make an entire quilt out of this block, the SA between blocks will nest for easier assembly.

Here is the finished Rocky Mountain Chain quilt block. Spectacular, isn't it!

The finished Rocky Mountain Chain quilt blockVoila! It's Done!

And a view from the backside...

Rocky Mountain Chain from the back side

You can see the twirled SAs as well as the direction of the SAs that join the rows together.

If you choose to make a Rocky Mountain Chain quilt with blocks set edge to edge, all the seams will nest. That makes matching all those SAs easy as pie!

Did you notice?????

Several of the pictures for this tutorial look as if they were taken in a few different places.

They were—sort of.

This block was made during a Sunday-Sew-In with my bee—a terrific group of gals if I do say so myself.

There was more difference in the light between the front and back cutting tables than I noticed.

My bad!

Then the last picture in the tutorial was taken after I got home...yet another cutting mat.

Now you know my secret! :D

What about a different quilt block?

For a list of all the 220+ quilt block patterns on this site, start here.

If you know the name of the block, shorten your search by using these links:




Click here if you're looking for blocks with at least some paper piecing.

Click here if you're looking for the basic building blocks of quilting, i.e., Flying Geese, half square triangles, quarter square triangles, etc., along with several techniques to make each.

And finally, use these links to find blocks in these finished sizes:

  1. Home
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  3. Quilt Block Library
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  5. Rocky Mtn Chain, Pt 1
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  7. Pt 2

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