Tall Ships: An Easy Patchwork Quilt Block Pattern

  • 01 of 03

    How to Make Tall Ships Quilt Blocks

    Completed Tall Ship quilt block
    Janet Wickell

    The Tall Ships quilt block pattern explains how to make a rectangular quilt block that finishes at 12" x 14". The block is easy to sew and is made up mostly of quick pieced half-square triangle units and other easy to sew patchwork.

    Sewing the Tall Ships Quilt Block

    Take care when constructing the half-square triangle units used for the boat's sails. No matter which method you use to sew the units it's best if you make them a bit oversize and then trim back to the exact unfinished size before sewing the squares into the block. 

    A Few More Boat Quilts and Quilt Blocks

    Fabrics for One Tall Ships Quilt Block

    Our quilt block is shown against a starlit sky. Feel free to transform your own Tall Ships quilt block to a daytime scene.


    • (1) 4-1/2" x 10-1/2" strip
    • (1) 2-1/2" x 10-1/2" strip
    • (1) 2-1/2" x 6-1-1/2" strip
    • (1) 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" rectangle
    • (5) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares for half square triangle units that finish at 2" square. Cut larger squares and trim after assembly to improve accuracy.
    • (2) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" squares


    • (1) 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" strip


    • (1) 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" strip


    • (3) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" squares
    • (5) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares (or cut to match the size of sky squares listed above)
    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Sew Patchwork for the Tall Ships Quilt Block Pattern

    Illustration of pieces of block
    Janet Wickell

    Sew Patchwork for the Sky and Boat

    The three bars cut for the sky are assembled with the same technique we often use for Snowball quilt blocks and quick-pieced Flying Geese quilt blocks. If you're unfamiliar with the technique, look at a Snowball quilt blocks tutorial. The difference―we're only sewing a square to one corner of the sky bars.

    1. Grab the 4-1/2" x 10-1/2" sky bar and one 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" background square. Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner on the back of the background square.
    2. Refer to the illustration, first three drawings, top. Align the background square with the lower right edge of the sky bar as shown, top left, right sides together. Make sure the drawn line is oriented as shown in the illustration.
    3. Sew a seam directly on the drawn line. Clip through both layers about 1/4" past the seam.
    4. Press to set the seam.
    5. Flip the new triangle right side up, pressing carefully to avoid stretch.
    6. Use the same method to sew a 2-1/2" square to each of the remaining two sky bars.
    7. Bottom illustration left. Sew a 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" sky square to each end of the long boat fabric in exactly the same way. Note that seams run in opposite directions on each side.
    8. Pair each 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" (or larger) sky square with a background square of the same size and sew together as instructed in my quick pieced triangle squares tutorial. Each unit should measure 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" after assembly (2" x 2" finished).


    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Finish Sewing the Tall Ships Quilt Block

    Illustration showing how quilt pieces fit together
    Janet Wickell
    1. Arrange the upper portions of the sky/background patchwork (the bars with triangles at their lower right edges and the triangle squares) into five rows as shown, left.
    2. Sew the components of the rows containing half-square triangle units together. Press seam allowances in adjoining vertical rows in opposite directions where possible.
    3. Join the rows, taking care to match all seam intersections. Secure fabrics with straight pins as you sew.
    4. Sew the long strip of water below the boat/sky unit. Press the seam allowance towards the water. Join this new unit to the top section of the Tall Ships quilt block.
    5. Press the quilt block. It should measure 12-1/2" x 14-1/2".