Southern Belle Quilt Block Tutorial

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

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Southern Belle quilt block tutorial

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 2x2 (4-patch)

The Southern Belle quilt block is a close relative of the Whirlwind block in that both use nothing but quarter square triangles in their construction. The only difference is a third fabric is added.

This time, we'll use the paperpiecing technique to make the block instead of traditional piecing.

The results are perfection every time!

Quick and simple to construct, this block would be fun for a quick baby quilt.

On this page you'll find cutting instructions for 3 block sizes, a piecing tutorial, as well as, a number of other related blocks for color placement ideas. And finally there are free downloadable paperpiecing patterns for your use.

Let's get piecing the Southern Belle block!

General Instructions

Sample Block: 6"(6-1/2" unfinished)

Grid: 3"

All seam allowances (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. You may want to reduce or eliminate the use of steam for pressing these paper pieced blocks. Steam tends to curl the patterns.

Take a minute to review our favorite 'secret' technique to getting the flattest quilt blocks you'll ever see. It works even with the paper attached. Now THAT'S sweet!

Step 1: Download free paperpiecing patterns

The Southern Belle quilt block is made from 3-patch quarter square triangle units that are paperpieced.

You'll need Adobe Reader installed on your computer in order to open and print the patterns. You can get Adobe Reader here (a new window will open so you can download it without leaving this page) if you need it.

Choose your finished block size and print the pattern. After printing, measure the 1" square to confirm the page printed correctly.

Print the QST 3 Patch Units

Block Size
# of copies Link to PDF
4" 1 2"
5" 1 2-1/2"
6" 1 3"

My favorite paperpiecing papers are:

Step 2: Cutting for the Southern Belle

Southern Belle patchwork designSouthern Belle design

Pre-cutting patches for paperpiecing instead of just using 'hunks' of fabrics guarantees that the outside edges of the finished unit are all on the straight of grain.

This adds stability to your finished Southern Belle quilt block.

These patches are generously sized so that placement is virtually fool-proof.

Make a few blocks.

Then with that experience decide if you need to increase or decrease the size of the patches according to your needs. Note those change on a separate copy of the pattern and save it for future reference.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Southern Belle Quilt Block

~ Paper Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block SizeSub
4" 5" 6"
1 Light 1 3¾" x 3¾" 4¼" x 4¼" 4¾" x 4¾" Symbol for a quarter square triangle
2 Dark 1 3¾" x 3¾" 4¼" x 4¼" 4¾" x 4¾" Symbol for a quarter square triangle
3 Med 1 3⅜" x 3⅜" 3⅞" x 3⅞" 4⅜" x 4⅜" Symbol for a half square triangle
4 Dark 1 3⅜" x 3⅜" 3⅞" x 3⅞" 4⅜" x 4⅜" Symbol for a half square triangle
Unfinished Block Size 4½" 5½" 6½" na
Grid Size 2" 2½" 3" na

And these are the cut patches:

Patches cut for the Southern Belle quilt block

Step 3: Assemble the units

With a light dab of Elmer's Glue Stick(goes on purple, dries clear), adhere Patch QST.1 in place to your pattern—wrong side of fabric to unprinted side of paper. When it is properly place the edges of the patch line up with the dotted lines surrounding #1 on your pattern.

Postion and glue Patch 1

With right sides together (RST), match the edges of a small dark QST.2 triangle with QST.1.

Align Patch 2

From the printed side of the pattern, sew the seam between QST.1 and QST.2, starting before and stopping after the solid line.

Stitch the seam between Patches 1 and 2


Next align the bias cut edge of a medium QST.3 triangle with the long edge of the unit, RST.

Align Patch 3 with the long edge of Patches 1&2

Stitch on the solid line between them, again starting before and stopping after the printed line.


Repeat for the remaining three units. Two will have dark QST.3 triangles; two will have medium ones.

After stitching, trim all the units to size by placing the quarter inch line of your ruler on the solid outside line of the block. I find it much easier to do this than try to line up the edge of my rotary ruler with the outside dotted line.

Remove the paper and give each block a final press.

Step 4: Assemble the Southern Belle

Lay out the units into rows.

Lay out the units into rows

You Have a Choice

The order of the paper piecing dictates the direction in which SAs are pressed.

However, once the paper is removed you ARE ABLE to press the last SA away from the large triangle...if you choose..

You may find easier to stitch the units to each other because the seams will then nest. The choice is up to you. (In this example, I chose NOT to re-press them, but instead used a pin to hold things in place.)

Stitch the units into rows or columns.

Stitch the units into rows or columns

Press with the SA towards either towards the dark or the light—just be consistent for both pairs so that the seams will nest.

Stitch the rows or columns together.


Congratulations! Your Southern Belle quilt block is complete.

Southern Belle quilt blockOur Southern Belle is ready for a quilt

Variations on the Southern Belle design

Several other blocks use this 3-patch quarter square triangle block pattern. They include:


A two fabric, 3-patch quarter square triangle.


Simply the Turnstile above with an extra fabric.


Swapping fabrics around.

Double Pinwheel

Click here for instructions to make the Double Pinwheel quilt block using traditional methods.

Another Whirlwind variation

Just two patches away from a Southern Belle quilt block!

Click here for traditional piecing instructions (i.e. no paper piecing) to make this block.

Double Star

Just add a center square and side rectangles.

Click here for instructions for this puzzle pieced Double Star quilt block.

I Do Declare, There's Even More Blocks!

Put down that Mint Julep! There's quilt blocks to make.

Just check out our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library to find a beauty for your next quilting creation!

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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"50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars: CD included"
by Carol Doak

"Arcadia Avenue"
by Sassafras Lane

"Trim the Tree III"
by Foundation Paper Piecing

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