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Bonfire BOM Year End Giveaway

Bonfire BOM Year End Giveaway
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Apr 17, 2013

An Hourglass Figure: Hourglass Block Tutorial

Apr 17, 2013
Pin It Hourglass

Here is a tutorial for a fundamental quilt block, the Hourglass block.  Such a classic!  Bet you can't guess what block will be May's Sisters' Ten block??  Hee hee.  The block for the BOM will build upon this hourglass block... but I love having the basics separated out into it's own tutorial.  Here we go...

1.  Cut 2 squares the same size.  One from Fabric A and one from Fabric B.
Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the Fabric A square.

2.  Layer the Fabric A square atop the Fabric B square with right sides together.  Sew pairs together, stitching 1/4" on each side of the drawn line.

3.  Cut the pair apart using your rotary cutter along the drawn line.


4.  Without moving the blocks you just cut, place your ruler over the opposite diagonal and cut.  There are now four triangle units.  Each unit has one A triangle and one B triangle.
5.  Press the seams toward the dark side and match up pairs of triangles that form the hourglass block together.
6.  Pin triangles in place and sew.  Now I admit, I am a bit of an anti-pinner (unless we're talking Pinterest), but this is one case where I do like to pin.  When sewing triangles with bias introduced, the simple act of pinning can help from your triangles getting distorted.

7.  Press the block open.
8.  Square up the block.

In this case, I was lucky that this block needed to square up to 4 1/2" and I happened to have a 4 1/2" ruler.

Mark the center of the block on your ruler.  Lay the diagonal of the ruler on top of one of the diagonals of the Hourglass, making sure the center dot is at the intersection of the block.  Trim excess fabric on all sides.


8.5.  If your ruler is not exactly the same size as you need, I like to mark off the unfinished size I am going to trim the block down to.  I lay post-its on the ruler so I can see the unfinished size without getting confused.  (In this example, I have gridded off a 2 7/8" x 2 7/8" square.  Mark the center of the square also.

hourglass 5. mark required unfinished size
8.75.  Now you can continue as above (in step 8) by laying the diagonal of the ruler on top of the diagonal of the hourglass, making sure the center dot is at the intersection of the block.  Trim excess on all sides.  (For further details on squaring up with the marked off ruler, see this tutorial.)
Finished! Pin It


  1. What is the math formula for creating a finished block to a given size? eg what size squares do I need to start with to get a finished block of any given size.

    1. I would add 1" to the UNFINISHED size of your block. So for example, for this tutorial, I wanted 4 1/2" unfinished (4" finished) blocks. I cut my squares 5 1/2", made them into Hourglasses, then squared up to 4 1/2". Super question!

  2. I wish I had known this when I made my quilt from men's dress shirts! All those triangles...

  3. Nice tutorial - the large photos are very helpful! Try this: only cut the first diagonal, press the HSTs open, then put them face to face and sew the opposite diagonals before cutting them apart. No pinning needed, and no exposed bias edges.

    1. Now that sounds interesting! And nice not to have the exposed bias edges. I'll have to give it a shot.


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