Arkansas Traveler, a Spools Quilt Block Pattern

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    Arkansas Traveler, Perfect for Scrap Quilting

    Arkansas Traveler Quilt Block Pattern
    Janet Wickell

    The Arkansas Traveler quilt block is traditionally sewn with four spool shapes that create a perfect choice for a scrap quilt. The block is made up of four quarters, and each quarter holds a small spool that's flip-flopped in a different way their neighbors.

    Traditional versions of the Arkansas Traveler quilt block are sewn with dark spools and a light background, like the illustration above. The design is just as effective when they contrast is reversed — you might prefer a black background with brightly colored spools.

    As with most quilt blocks, Spools can be assembled in more than one way. Take a look at the miniature spools quilt pattern that's assembled with squares and half square triangle units. That method allows the center portion of each spool to be a different color than its top and bottom.

    We'll use a different technique for this version of the block.

    Feel free to sew this quilt block in an orderly arrangement if you aren't a scrap quilt fan.

    I've included cutting instructions for three sizes of the Arkansas Traveler quilt block. Backgrounds can be cut from either the same or a mixture of fabric.

    To Make One 12" x 12" Quilt Block

    Spools: Cut from Four Different Dark Fabric

    • (1) 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" strip of each color
    • (4) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" squares of each color

    Background: (8) 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" light strips total

    To Make One 9" x 9" Quilt Block

    Spools: Cut from Four Different Dark Fabric

    • (1) 2" x 5" strip of each color
    • (4) 2" x 2" squares of each color

    Background: (8) 2" x 5" light strips total

    To Make One 6" x 6" Quilt Block

    Spools: Cut from Four Different Dark Fabric

    • (1) 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" strip of each color
    • (4) 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" squares of each color

    Background: (8) 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" light strips total

    Continue to 2 of 2 below.
  • 02 of 02

    Sew the Arkansas Traveler Quilt Block

    Arkansas Traveler, A Spools Block
    Janet Wickell

    Assemble the Arkansas Traveler Quilt Blocks

    You'll increase your quiltmaking accuracy if you ​press to set a seam before you press that seam to one side. It's an extra step but isn't a time waster at all, especially when you use chain piecing techniques to assemble your quilt blocks and quilts.

    1. Gather two background bars and four squares of matching (dark) spools fabric.
    2. Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner on the reverse side of each square.
    3. Align a square with one end of a light bar, right sides together — the diagonal line of the square should begin at the upper corner of the bar. Refer to the quick pieced Flying Geese method and to the illustration above. The triangles will not meet in the middle of the bar as they do for Flying Geese, but the technique is the same.
    4. Sew the square to the bar, placing the seam directly on the marked line.
    5. Use the same technique to sew another square to the opposite side of the bar. Trim 1/4" past the seam on each side and carefully press the triangles right side up.
    6. Repeat to make another identical background strip with triangles at its ends.
    7. Arrange two bar/triangle units and a matching dark spools bar as shown, middle left illustration. Sew the three rows together and press seam allowances towards the center bar.
    8. Make three more spools units, using a different dark fabric for each spool.
    9. Arrange four spools into two rows as shown, right. Sew spools in each row together. Press new seam allowances in opposite directions and join the rows. Press the quilt block.
    10. The Arkansas Traveler quilt block should measure 1/2" wider and 1/2" taller than its finished size.