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Tag: Classic

Traditional block designs passed down over time (Public domain)

Cotton Reels Quilt Block

Technically a cotton reel is a spool of cotton thread, but the Cotton Reels Quilt Block is not to be confused with the Spool Quilt Block. The Cotton Reels Quilt Block is an entirely different motif.

The Cotton Reels Quilt Block is made up entirely of alternating squares and half square triangles. As the blocks alternate, the color motifs are kept consistent along the diagonal, so that the top HST is always the same color, but the bottom HST in each diagonal line is a different color. As you can see in the grouping image below, this creates a beautiful ribbon/pennant effect when the blocks are assembled straight set.

I am not sure why this design is named Cotton Reels, but I have a theory. Before there were transformers and Star Wars action figures, a common toy in the home was the Cotton Reel tank.  This contraption was made with a spool of cotton thread, a matchstick, a rubber band and a pencil. You can find out how to make it yourself at this link. Or watch the video below to see them in action.


Notice how when the tanks are "racing" they are staggered. I think that's what someone had in mind when they named this block. I think the consistent upper HST's represents the pencils on the tanks (which many moons ago would have most certainly all have been yellow) and the lower HST's represents the different colors of thread on three different cotton reel tanks that are racing. Or perhaps different colored spools. Again, it's just a theory, but I think it makes sense.

Illustration of a Grouping of Cotton Reels Quilt Block
Grouping of Cotton Reels Quilt Block

Block Construction

Illustration of the Exploded version of Cotton Reels Quilt Block
Exploded version of Cotton Reels Quilt Block

Grape Basket Quilt Block

Block Construction

Image of the Exploded version of The Grape Basket Quilt Block
Exploded version of The Grape Basket Quilt Block

Eccentric Star Quilt Block

The Eccentric Star Quilt Block is actually a simple nine path.  If you've made a "Friendship Star" you'll notice that this design builds on that one by adding a few more half square triangle units into the mix.

Skill level: easy

Block Construction

Image of Exploded version of The Eccentric Star Quilt Block
Exploded version of The Eccentric Star Quilt Block

Patches Required


Patch Dark Triangle-Icon Dark Square-Icon
# to cut 4 4 8 1

Basic 3x3 Grid Block Patch Sizes

Block Size
Patch ShapeShape to cut
to make patch
Size to CutSubcut?
3"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon1" x 1 1/2"no
3"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon1 7/8"

Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon1 1/2"no
3"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon2 3/4"
4"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon1 3/8" x 1 7/8"no
4"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon2 1/8"
4"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon3"

Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon1 7/8"no

Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon2 1/8"no
5"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon3 1/2"
5"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon1 1/3" x 2 1/8"no
5"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon2 1/2"
6"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon1 1/2" x 2 1/2"no
6"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon2 7/8"
6"Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon2 1/2"no
6"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon4 1/4"
8"Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon3 1/8"no
8"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon1 7/8" x 3 1/8"no
8"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon3 1/2"
8"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon4 1/2"
9"Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon3 1/2"no
9"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon3 7/8"
9"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon4 3/4"
9"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon2" x 3 1/2"no
12"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon4 7/8"
12"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon2 1/2" 4 1/2"no
12"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon5 3/4"

Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon4 1/2"no

Dark Square-IconDark Square-Icon5 1/2"no
15"Quarter Square Icon - DarkDark Square-Icon6 3/4"
15"Dark Triangle-IconDark Square-Icon5 7/8"
15"Dark Rectangle-IconDark Rectangle-Icon3" x 5 1/2"no

Curvy Log Cabin Quilt Block

Block Construction

Image of Exploded version of the Curvy Log Cabin Quilt Block
Exploded version of the Curvy Log Cabin Quilt Block

Flying Geese Units

The block pictured above is constructed with 8 flying geese units in a 2x4 grid. Flying Geese units are a foundational unit in many quilt blocks and can be put together in a myriad of ways to create beautiful borders and unique sashings.

Some examples of blocks that use flying geese units are:

Dutchman's Puzzle Quilt Block

Tobacco Leaf Quilt Block

Pinwheel Geese Quilt Block

Image of Flying Geese Unit

There are at least four methods for making Flying Geese Units. The two most popular are the Quick Corner Method and the Traditional Method (which has no fabric waste). Both are explained below.

Quick Corner (Sew/Cut/Flip) Method

Flying geese step 7

The Quick Corner Method for Making HST's

  1. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each of your smaller squares. (Figure 1)Flying geese step 1
  2.  With right sides together, align one marked smaller square with one edge of the rectangle as shown in Figure 2. Stitch one thread width to the outside of the diagonal line.Flying geese step 2
  3. Cut 1/4″ outside the stitching line as shown in Figure 3. Press the  triangle open and the seam allowance toward the triangle. Flying geese step 3  Flying geese step 4
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other side of the rectangle to complete the unit.Flying geese step 5Flying geese step 6Flying geese step 7


When you use the Quick Corner Method for making Flying Geese save the corners you clip off and use them as "leaders" and "enders" as you chain piece to turn them into small HST units. Accumulate a pile of these over time, then you can assemble them to make blocks in other projects. 

Traditional (no waste) Method

Traditional (No Waste) Method

Determine the finished size you require, then cut your triangles using the chart below.

To assemble a goose unit, take one of the smaller "sky" triangles and align the long edge with one of the shorter edges of the "goose" triangle. Sew with a 1/4" seam.

Gently press smaller triangle open, with seam pressed towards the smaller triangle.

Repeat for other small triangle on the other side of the goose unit.


Rotary Cutting Chart
for Traditional Method for Flying Geese Units

(Makes 4)

Finished Size of Flying Geese Unit Unit Large "Goose" Base
Cut 1 Square Size indicated below
Then cut twice diagonally as shown

Corner Triangle Units
Cut 1 Square Size indicated below
Then cut twice diagonally as shown

1" x 2"3.25"1 7/8"
1.5" x 3"4.25"2 3/8"
2" x 4"5.25"2 7/8"
2.5" x 5"6.25"3 3/8"
3" x 6"7.25"3 7/8"
3.5" x 7"8.25"4 3/8"
4" x 8"9.25"4 7/8"
4.5" x 9"10.25"5 3/8"
5" x 10"11.25"5 7/8"
5.5" x 11"12.25"6 3/8"
6" x 12"13.25"6 7/8"