Hour Glass Block tutorial

This project starts with squares. You can use any size square you want, depending on what size you want your hour-glass block to be. I started with 5″ squares -a perfect project for Charm Packs – and ended up with a 3 1/2″ (finished) block. So the finished hour-glass block will be about an inch and a half smaller than your original square.

This little table topper measures 24″ x 24″. I wanted it 7 blocks x 7 blocks. The number of pre-cut squares is the exact number of finished blocks you will have. That part is easy. I needed one charm-pack consisting of 40 different squares + 9 more 5″ squares. I actually added a 50th square, because I wanted an even number of lights and darks, but if you’re going super scrappy, even numbers don’t matter. Does that make sense? Are you still with me?

I promise that the block itself is super simple.

Okay, let’s start:
Pair-up the 5″ squares, right sides together, and draw a diagonal line on the back side of one square. I used half lights and half darks, so I drew on the back of the light block.
When assembling these blocks, I’ve found things go a lot faster if you do the same step on all the blocks at once. For instance, mark all your backs at once. Sew your seams all at once, etc. If you are doing 100’s of the same little block, you may want to break it up into groups of 50 or so, just so you feel like you’re seeing progress and not totally bored, but on the whole, mass-repetition of the same step at once saves a lot of time.
Now sew a 1/4″ away from both sides of the drawn line.
I used lovely dark brown thread so you could see both seams.
Now using your rotary cutter and a ruler, cut on the drawn line.
Press open both blocks. Consistently press the seam toward the dark fabric.
(This will be important later.)
Now comes the fun part! Using a ruler and your rotary cutter, cut another diagonal line perpendicular to your seam.
You will end up with two pieces like this!
At this point I just throw all of these pieces into a pile to match-up after all the cutting is done.
Match-up different sets of triangles where lights and darks sit opposite of each other.
Or where it just makes you happy.Then place them right sides together and sew with a 1/4″ seam.
This is the part where the previous pressing makes a difference. If you’ve pressed them all towards the darker fabrics, then the seams should butt right next to each other, making all those triangle points meet up.

This part is purely optional!! Now, if you want to get really technical, here is a pressing method where four seams intersect, to make it not so bulky where all that fabric overlaps each other in the middle. Once again, this is purely optional. So if this sounds confusing, don’t stress about it.

Before you open up the block, pull the right side and left side of the folded blocks in opposite directions. This will loosen up the seam a little.
Now press the four intersecting seams in a rotating pattern. This will create a little mini four-patch on the back side of the block where all the seams meet. This just makes the block flatter and less bulky to quilt through later. Okay, we are done with that little trick.
Once you have pressed all your blocks from the front to make sure they lie flat, now is the time to square-up. I know some people think this is tedious and unnecessary. I used to be one of those people. But now I am a squaring-up convert. It makes the quilt come together so much easier and look SO much nicer in the long run.

I squared these blocks up to 4″ exactly. A ruler with a diagonal line really helps in this case. You can line-up the diagonal line on your diagonal seam. Then put the middle measurement of the size you want to square it to on your center point. So, for example since we are squaring this block to 4″ I centered the 2″ mark on the center of my block and trimmed the sides. Then I rotated the ruler and trimmed the other two sides. If I was squaring-up a 6″ block, I would place the 3″ mark at the center of my block, etc.

And that is how you make a quick Hour-Glass block with no pre-cut triangles. Pretty nifty, huh? From there you can assemble them or do with them any thing you want! I’d love to see if you do something. Be sure and let me know! Also, PLEASE tell me if something needs clarification in this tutorial. I’m so happy to do it.And now, we are off to celebrate Pioneer Day today – our state holiday here in Utah. It commemorates the first Mormon pioneer settlers arriving in a barren wasteland. People celebrate with parades, 10K’s, rodeos, BBQ’s, and fireworks. Our family is going with friends to some nearby mountain lakes to relax for the day and get out of the heat. Yee-haw! We should celebrate by having to walk barefoot over the sagebrush in ankle-length skirts, just to make us more grateful. Or spend the night in snake-infested dug-outs with no air conditioning. Or making quilts. [I should suggest this to my husband.] Pioneers did that too. I think that’s why it’s in my genes.


  1. says

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I love your red,white and blue table topper. I have a long list of projects but I want to make something using these blocks someday.

  2. says

    Thanks for being kind enough to share the tutorial. I'm a newbie to quilting, but have learned very quickly that quilters are so willing to share & help us beginners. Thanks so much!!

  3. says

    My oh my….what are you trying to do to me…..I'm already doing the a zig zag and I have to finish FMQ two others and between you and several other quilt blogs I am going crazy with wanting to try so many of these great tricks!:) Thanks so much for the tutorial…I'm going to put it in my favorites!!! Have a great weekend….I'll attending a wedding and watching my daughter as a

  4. says

    Wow! Thank you so much for going to all that touble -I can&#39;t wait to try this block. Would be a great way to use up Charm Packs! Keep the tutorials coming!! Love them!<br />Have a great day! Paulette

  5. says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just, just started quilting and this makes complete sense to me. I love that is a relatively simple block that really shows off the pattern of the fabric.

  6. says

    Hello! I found you by accident but am soooo glad that I did, your tutorial for the hourglass block quilt is the best I&#39;ve ever seen 😉 so easy to understand! I&#39;ve always wanted to try making one and now you&#39;ve given me the confidence to have a go…thankyou! Glad you enjoyed your Pioneer weekend, my neice in California did a mini pioneer trek/camp and was exhausted..lol! We don&#39;t

  7. says

    I realize this post is over a year old, but I just found your blog today! I really love and now follow it so I can keep up with what your doing! I love this tutorial!!! I have two different charm packs awaiting me, and now I know for sure what to di with one of them!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to share this tutorial with us all!

  8. says

    Good Morning Amy.<br />Thank you so much for pointing me to your tutorial. This is extremely helpful. :o) And I too square everything up. It takes a little longer but the result is much nicer. :o)<br />Have a great day.<br />Sincerely ~ Tricia

  9. says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am so glad I found this and your blog. Your saving me from the mundaness of my job, but at the same time I wish I was at home getting busy on my projects. This was so wonderful and I was so excited that my points matched and everything. I was doing the happy dance when my hubby came home from work cause it came out so well.

  10. says

    Grazie,<br /> trovo molto interessante questo tutorial,<br /> più tardi do un&#39;occhiata anche agli altri….<br />anzi metterò questo blog tra i preferiti…<br />Ciao Domenica

  11. says

    bit delayed but wanted to say thanks for this. I am working on a tutorial and they mentioned opening up the seams on the rear of the hourglass block and I looked at the picture looked at mine and then went what the? after reading yours and fidgeting a bit that last &#39;optional&#39; bit finally came together :) appreciate it!

  12. says

    I know you posted this project like forever ago but I LOVE the fabric. Do you by chance remember what it was called, my husband is in the military and I have been searching for cute red white and blue fabrics that match and I just love all of the fabric you used for this quilt! I will be using it to make quilts for some of the soldiers that are deployed.

  13. says

    Lacey: The fabric is from a Moda collection called Nantucket, I think. Some may still be floating around out there somewhere!<br /><br />What a great project you are working on! Now is a good time of year to find patriotic prints as all the pre-4th of july stuff is available. I hope that helps a little! Thanks so much for saying HI!

  14. says

    I just wanted to pop in and thank you for these specific directions on how to square your Hour Glass Blocks. I made a link to my blog – so others might hear about you (if they read my post). My sister learned well, looking at your photos and reading your directions. Thanks again.<br />Debi <br />Look here to find your link:<br />http://debi-peacebypiece.blogspot.com/

  15. says

    Thank you so so much for the how-to on squaring such! I&#39;m a newbie at quilting and this REALLY helped!! <br /><br />Best regards from Eva Mari in Norway :)

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