Rolling Square Quilt Block Tutorial

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

Rolling Square quilt blockRolling Square design

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 5x5

The Rolling Square quilt block is made from 2 fabrics.

Its 5x5 grid is sometimes referred to as an uneven nine patch. It is made with Square in a Square and strip pieced units.

In this tutorial you'll find: 

Let's begin our Rolling Square block!

General Instructions

Sample Block: 5"(5-1/2" unfinished)

Grid: 1"

These abbreviations are used on this page:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • SiaS - square in a square unit

SA are 1/4" unless otherwise indicated.

When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front. Seam allowances are pressed to the dark fabric unless otherwise noted.

Step 1: Download paper piecing patterns

Print the paper piecing patterns you need

You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download  the pattern.

On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

Print your chosen block size from the table below.

Print the SiaS Units

Block Size
# of copies Link to PDF
5" 1 2"
7-1/2" 1 3"
10" 2 4"
Measure the patterns to confirm they printed at the correct size.

My favorite paperpiecing papers are:

Step 2: Cut patches for a Rolling Square

Rolling Square patchwork designRolling Square design

Patches #2 thru #5 are generously cut to make placement foolproof.

After making a couple of blocks, make any needed adjustments to the measurements and note for future reference.

The strip piecing strips are cut a bit longer than needed to allow for some straightening cuts.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Rolling Square Quilt Block

~PaperPiecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block SizeSub
5" 7½" 10"
1 D 4 1⅞" x 1⅞" 2⅝" x 2⅝" 3⅜" x 3⅜" --
2, 3, 4, 5 L 8 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅜" x 3⅜" Symbol for a half square triangle
6 D 1 1½" x 7" 2" x 9" 2½" x 11" --
7 L 1 1½" x 7" 2" x 9" 2½" x 11" --
8 D 1 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½" --
Unfinished Block Size 5½" 8" 10½" --
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2" --

These are some of the supplies I use to prepare and cut my fabric.

Step 3: Assemble the units


Make 4

SiaS unit

Cut four patterns from the downloaded pattern sheet. A rough cut it good enough; no need to spend time cutting on the dotted line.

Reduce your stitch length to 15-20 stitches per inch for paper piecing.

With a dab of Elmer's Glue Stick—the kind that goes on purple and dries clear—stick the wrong side of a Patch Center.1 to the unprinted side of the pattern, centering it as shown below.

Glue Patch 1 in place

The center square is quite dark with much lighter corners.

To prevent the darker fabric from 'shadowing through' to the top of the block, position your Corners.2-5 so that their edge extends just a wee bit past that of the Center.1. That way you won't need to go back and trim the darker seam allowance.

Position Patch 2

Stitch a light Corner.2 and Corner.3 to two opposite sides of #1, starting before and stopping after the solid stitching line.


Stitch the Corner.4 and Corner.5 to the two remaining sides. Remember to start before and stop after the black stitching line for secure seams.

Stitch the Patch 2s

To reduce unnecessary bulk trim away any dog ears and then press.

Repeat for the three remaining SiaSs.

In this pre-trim photo notice that the outside thread tails are still intact. There was no need to cut them off during construction because they'll be addressed when the blocks are trimmed to size.

No duplication of effort!

Stitched square in a square units

Trim the patches with your rotary cutter and ruler.

Trim the Square in a Square units to size with a rotary cutter

For a more detailed description of paper piecing this Square in a Square unit, click here.

Strip Pieced Sides

Make 4

With right sides together, sew the light and dark 7" x 1-1/2" strips together along the long side.

Strip set ready to be subcut

Press with the SA toward the darker fabric. This stripset for the sample Rolling Square is 2-1/2" wide. Use the chart below to check your stripset for accuracy.

StripSet Widths

Block Size
Stripset Width after stitching SubCut Width
5" 2½" 1½"
7½" 3½" 2"
10" 4½" 2½"

Straighten one short edge with your rotary cutter and ruler.

Subcut as directed.

Subcut strip set into 4 sections

Step 4: Assemble the Rolling Square quilt block

Remove the paper from the SiaS units. Arrange the cut and pieced units into the Rolling Square design.

Lay out your patches in rows

Stitch the units in each row together. Press SA in the direction of the arrows below to reduce bulk.

Stitch the rows together

Stitch the rows together. The SA nest to make matching them easier.

It is helpful to use pins particularly where the point of the SiaS unit meets the seam line of the strip pieced one.

Press with the SAs away from the SiaS to reduce bulk.

Your finished Rolling Square quilt block will look like this.

The finished Rolling Square blockOur Rolling Square quilt block—ready for a quilt!

Common Variations

More often you'll see the Rolling Square quilt block design drawn on a 6x6 (aka Nine Patch) grid like the patchwork designs below.

Broken Wheel

A two fabric block. Notice that the dark center is gone. This version is drawn on a 6x6 grid.

Other names include: Block Circle, Johnnie Round the Corner, Single Wedding Ring, Squirrel in a Cage and plain ol' Wheel

Click here for instructions to make this block.

Squirrel in a Cage

The dark center is back!

Mrs. Miller's Favorite

All color placement is reversed.

This variation is also know as Broken Wheel.

Rolling Stone

Different fabric placement really changes the look.

Other names include: Letter O and Wedding Ring

Click here for instructions to make this block.

Ready for More Blocks?

Now that you're Rolling Square quilt block is finished, check our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library for more hip-to-be-square blocks to make!

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

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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