Rolling Stone Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The Rolling Stone quilt block is a kissin' cousin of the Rolling Square. The only difference is it's drawn on a 3x3 grid; a Rolling Square is drawn on a 5x5 grid.

Two different methods are shown below—paper piecing or Connector Corners— for making the corner units. The sides are constructed with strip piecing techniques.

It's a simple block to make.

A popular one, too! You may also know this patchwork design as 'Letter O' or 'Wedding Ring'. 

After the tutorial are several different blocks—all using this same design. The only differences is the fabric placement.

It's time to Cut Up and Sew!

General Instructions

Pin this Rolling Stone tutorial for later

Several abbreviations are used on this page. They are:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • SiaS - square in a square
  • C.2, C.3, C.4, C.5 - Corner.2, Corner.3, etc.

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.

SA are pressed to the dark unless otherwise noted.

Optional: Download and print paperpiecing pattern

If you choose to make the Square in a Square units using the Connector Corners method, skip this.

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.

Choose your block size from the chart below and print the # of copies listed.

Print the SiaS Units

Block Sizes
# of copies Link to PDF
5" 1 2"
7-1/2" 1 3"
10" 2 4"
After printing, follow the information on the printed page to make sure it printed correctly.

Then cut out each unit a bit outside the printed line. There's no extra points here for perfect cutting. The excess will be taken care of after the SiaS is complete.

Step 1: Cutting for a Rolling Stone quilt block

Rolling Stone patchwork designRolling Stone design

Sample Block:
  9" finished
  9-1/2" unfinished

Grid: 3x3, 9-patch

Choose the blue cutting chart below if you printed paperpiecing patterns for the SiaSs.

Choose the yellow if you prefer to use connector corners.

Each chart is complete. Use one or the other.

Includes some paper piecing

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Rolling Stone Quilt Block

~PaperPiecing and Traditional ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block SizesSub
6" 9" 12"
Center.1 L 4 1⅞" x 1⅞" 2⅝" x 2⅝" 3⅜" x 3⅜" --
C.2, C.3,
C.4, C.5
D 8 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅜" x 3⅜" Symbol for a half square triangle
6 D 1 1½" x 11" 2" x 15" 2½" x 19" --
7 L 1 1½" x 11" 2" x 15" 2½" x 19" --
8 D 1 2½" x 2½" 3½" x 3½" 4½" x 4½" --
Unfinished Block Sizes 6½" 9½" 12½" --
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2" --

Traditional Piecing

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Rolling Stone Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing w/Connector Corners~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Sizes
6" 9" 12"
Center.1 L 4 2½" x 2½" 3½" x 3½" 4½" x 4½"
C.2, C.3,
C.4, C.5
D 16 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½"
6 D 1 1½" x 11" 2" x 15" 2½" x 19"
7 L 1 1½" x 11" 2" x 15" 2½" x 19"
8 D 1 2½" x 2½" 3½" x 3½" 4½" x 4½"
Unfinished Block Sizes 6½" 9½" 12½"
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2½"

Step 2: Create the Rolling Stone units

Square in a Square Units

Make 4

Paperpiecing Technique (blue cutting chart)

I love the accuracy of paperpiecing. And for this block, if I was making a lot of them, there'd be a lot of fabric savings, too.

Click here for the instructions for this technique —skip down to Step 3: Sewing Machine Setup.

After trimming your blocks, remove the paper pattern.

Trimming a paperpieced SiaS

When you are done, hit the back button on your browser bar to return here.

Traditional Piecing with Connector Corners (yellow cutting chart)

Click here for the instructions to make these patches using the Connector Corners technique—skip down to Step 2: Assemble the Blocks.

Below is a SiaS made with connector corners. The excess fabric that was trimmed away is to the left.

Click the back button on your browser bar to return here when you are finished.

Regardless of the technique you chose, your finished SiaSs look like this:

Completed SiaSs

Rail Fence UnitMake 4

Sides (both cutting charts)

Make 4

With right sides together, sew the long edges of the #3 and #4 strip together. (They're a bit longer than needed.)

Sewing with a quarter inch foot with a guide on the righthand sideMy favorite combination for sewing strip sets is heavily starched fabric and my quarter inch presser foot with a guide on the righthand side(blue arrow).

Press, first with the strips as sewn to set the seam. Then with the seam allowance pressed either open or to the darker fabric.

If you choose to press the seam open, I find it much easier to get a good press when I use my thumbnail to open it before applying the iron.

Check yourself.

The chart below shows the measurement of strip set after pressing for the finished block sizes. Make any necessary adjustments before subcutting.

Block Sizes
Dimensions after stitching Subcut
6" 2-1/2" x 11" 2-1/2"
9" 3-1/2" x 15" 3-1/2"
12" 4-1/2" x 19" 4-1/2"

Straighten one short edge of the stripset.

Straighten one edgeAlign a line on your ruler with the seam line and trim away somethig less than 1/4".

Subcut the strip set into four equal widths using the far right column in the chart. Here are our Rail Fence units for the sides.

Rail Fence units

Step 3: Assemble the the Rolling Stone quilt block

Arrange the units as shown with the lighter fabric in the strip pieced sides towards the outside edge.

Arrange the patches into the Hidden Star design

Stitch the units into rows. I do use pins to make sure the points on the SiaS units match the seamline of the side.

Units stitched into rows

Press the seams away from the Rail Fence units.

Stitch the rows together. Again, pinning helps to match those points and seamlines exactly.

And this is the finished Rolling Stone quilt block.

Rolling Stone quilt block frontAnd if you were wondering...Yes. The center is fussy cut. It wasn't an accident. :)

And this how it looks on the back.

Rolling Stone quilt block - backside

Variations on a Rolling Stone design

Broken Wheel

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

Mrs. Miller's Favorite

This variation is also know as Broken Wheel.

Rolling Square

This is drawn on a 5x5 grid.

Click here for instructions to make it.

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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