Ocean Waves Quilt Pattern

  • 01 of 03

    The Ocean Waves Quilt

    Ocean Waves Quilt Pattern
    Janet Wickell / The Spruce

    The ocean waves quilt pattern isn't difficult, but it is time-consuming. Once it all comes together, though, your efforts will pay off. The final quilt has tons of geometric movement and you can make it as orderly or as scrappy as you like.

    To make this quilt, individual ocean waves quilt blocks are constructed from a group of four smaller blocks. These are rotated to create an angular "O" opening where the blocks meet.

    The ocean waves quilt blocks are made from a combination of half-square triangle units (HST) and individual half-square triangles—lots of them. This quilt has a total of 800 half-square triangle units and bunches of singly cut triangles.

    It sounds like a lot of work, but once you get going, it's just a bunch of repetition. One way to approach this quilt is to assemble small batches of half-square triangle units whenever you have the time. Accumulate them until you have enough patches for a quilt.

    Quilt Size

    The smaller sub-blocks in the pattern finish at 10 inches by 10 inches. Finished groups of four blocks measure 20 inches by 20 inches.

    The entire quilt measures 80 1/2 inches by 100 1/2 inches. You can alter the size by changing the number of blocks across and/or down.

    Stay Accurate

    Check your unit and block sizes regularly as you work. This will help ensure that everything fits together as it should when it's time to assemble the quilt.

    Scrappy or Orderly

    Ocean waves quilts look good sewn in an orderly fashion with just a few coordinating fabrics. It's also stellar when sewn as a scrap quilt.

    The background areas in this quilt are the same, but those patches can be scrappy, too, just like the dark triangles. It's a good project to employ some basic knowledge of color values if you would like to use a variety of background fabrics in similar values that flow together nicely.

    Material Estimates

    You will need these:

    • Dark fabric(s) for HSTs: 4 1/2 yards (estimate)
    • Light fabric(s) for HSTs: 4 1/2 yards (estimate)
    • Medium-light fabric(s) for block corners: 2 1/4 yards
    • Backing: 6 3/4 yards will allow for about a 4-inch excess on the quilt sides. Make it wider if you plan to do extensive quilting. A single piece of wide backing fabric might be more economical.
    • Batting: 90 inches by 110 inches (estimate)
    • Binding: About 390 running inches of double-fold binding to finish at a 1/4-inch wide binding strip

    It's difficult to estimate fabrics for a scrap quilt. The yardages given assume you will construct your quilt in an orderly fashion, but the information can be used to estimate scrap needs as well.

    The single small triangles that fill in the gaps around half-square triangle units are cut by slicing squares in half once diagonally.

    The instructions assume you will use an easy, quick piecing method to make HSTs. Alter the cutting instructions if you plan to use another method, such as the magic 8 technique. 

    HSTs should finish at 2 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches—in other words, measure 3 inches by 3 inches before sewing them together.

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Make the Quilt Blocks

    Ocean Waves Quilt Block Pattern
    Janet Wickell / The Spruce

    As with any quilt pattern, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort if you cut only enough fabric for a sample block.

    To assemble one (four-part) ocean waves quilt block:

    1. Cut (4) 5 7/8-inch by 5 7/8-inch squares of medium-light fabric for the corners of individual blocks. Cut each square in half once diagonally. You'll find it easier to align the triangles later if you trim their tips now. (You'll need 80 squares for the entire quilt; cut from (12) 5 7/8-inch wide strips, cut from selvage to selvage.)
    2. Cut (20) 3 3/8-inch by 3 3/8-inch dark squares and (20) light squares of the same size. Pair a dark square and a light square. Use the easy sandwich method to turn the pair into two half-square triangle units (HSTs). When complete, each of the 40 units should measure 3 inches by 3 inches.
    3. Cut (4) 3 3/8-inch by 3 3/8-inch dark squares and (4) light squares of the same size. Cut each square in half once diagonally. It isn't necessary to trim the tips of these triangles.
    4. Arrange (10) HST units, (2) dark triangles, and (2) light triangles into four rows as illustrated in the upper left. Individual dark triangles are on the left ends of the first and second rows; individual light triangles are on the right ends of third and fourth rows.
    5. Sew the components of each row together. Press the rows. Clip the "dog ears" where individual triangles were joined to HST units.
    6. Join the rows. Trim new dog ears.
    7. Center and sew a large triangle (cut by dividing a 5 7/8-inch by 5 7/8-inch square) to the angled edge of each partial block as shown in the top right. Press seam allowances towards the larger triangles. The block should measure 10 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches square. If it does not, square it up.
    8. Repeat, making three more sub-blocks.
    9. Arrange the four sub-blocks into two rows as shown, in the lower left. Sew the small blocks in each row together, matching seam intersections carefully. Press. Join the rows. Press. The ocean waves quilt block should measure 20 1/2 inches by 20 1/2 inches. If it does not, square it up.

    Make 19 more ocean waves quilt blocks (from 76 smaller sub-blocks).

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03


    With a total of 20 ocean waves quilt blocks complete, you're ready to start assembling the quilt:

    1. Arrange the large quilt blocks in five rows, each row containing four blocks. Sew the blocks in each row together, matching seam intersections.
    2. Join the rows, again matching seam intersections. Press the quilt carefully, checking to make sure it is not skewed. Add a border if desired.
    3. Mark for quilting if necessary. Sandwich with batting and backing and quilt. Bind the quilt with double-fold binding.