Quilt Blocks, Sewing + Quilting

How to Make an Hourglass Quilt Block: Essential Building Blocks of Quilting

Hourglass Quilt Block

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If you’ve ever wanted to dive into the world of quilting but didn’t know where to start, let me introduce you to a project that’s as timeless as it is exquisite – the hourglass quilt block. This easy quilt block is not just a joy to look at; it’s a delightful project that works perfectly with layer cakes and charm packs and serves as one of the foundational building blocks of quilting.

The hourglass quilt block dates back to the 19th century, so to say that it is tried and true would certainly be an understatement.  



Whether you’re a beginner quilting enthusiast like me, or an experienced quilter looking for a quick project, the hourglass block offers the perfect blend of simplicity and elegance. Its versatile design opens up a myriad of possibilities for creativity, making it ideal for personal projects or gifts. Let’s explore how the hourglass quilt block can transform your quilting journey.


Supplies for the Hourglass Quilt Block

The Hourglass quilt block is a perfect fit for precuts like Layer Cakes and Charm Packs.  Hourglass blocks can be very specifically patterned, very scrappy or even somewhere in between.  In my video below, I’ve chosen to use the Chelsea Garden Layer Cake by Moda.  The colours are stunning and it makes me feel like Spring is coming!  For even more gorgeous fabric selections, be sure to visit the Fat Quarter Shop!



Here is a list of basic quilting supplies that you’ll need for this project:


You won’t believe how simple it is to put together an Hourglass quilt block – you can watch my YouTube tutorial here:



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For the full written instructions, continue reading below.


Hourglass Quilt Block: Step-by-Step Instructions

Start by deciding what size block you would like to make.  If you are starting with a 10″ layer cake, your finished blocks will be 8 ½”.  A 5″ charm pack will give you 3 ½” blocks when finished. 


>> Be sure to download my FREE Hourglass Quilt Block Sizing Guide using the form at the top or the bottom of this page! <<


Choose two squares and lay them right sides together.  I like to use a very light or white fabric with a fun pattern so that the hourglass shape is very distinctive when the blocks are complete.


Hourglass Quilt Block
The hourglass quilt block works best with high-contrast fabrics, but you can make them as uniform or scrappy as you like!


Draw a diagonal line across the lighter-coloured fabric.  Stitch a ¼” seam on each side of the line.


Hourglass Quilt Block
Be sure your line is diagonal from corner to corner.


Once your stitching is complete, cut along the line diagonally.  


Hourglass Quilt Block
Cut along the line you drew once you have stitched each side.


This will give you two large HSTs, or Half Square Triangles.  Press your seams and then press the squares open toward the darker fabric.


Hourglass Quilt Block
HSTs for the win – again!


Next, layer your two HSTs together by placing the opposite fabrics on top of each other.  The pressed seam will allow you to nest the two pieces perfectly.  You should have one light triangle right sides together with the dark, and vice versa.


Hourglass Quilt Block
An easy way to check if your fabrics are layered correctly is to fold back a corner.


Again, draw a diagonal line that crosses the seam, not in the same direction.  Stitch a ¼” seam on each side of the line and cut along the line.  


Hourglass Quilt Block
Be sure that your line crosses the seam.


Press your seams and press open your new hourglass block!



This is most definitely a block that you will come back to time and again.  It’s a great filler and it’s even better when you’ve got a bunch of them together!


Hourglass Quilt Block
You can change the look of your projects by mixing and matching fabrics and the layout of your blocks!


For more of my Essential Building Blocks of Quilting tutorials, check out these posts:



Want to remember this?  Save “How to Make an Hourglass Quilt Block: Essential Building Blocks of Quilting” to your favourite Pinterest boards!


Hourglass Quilt Block


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Hi! I'm Tanya

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