Propeller Quilt Pattern

Propeller quilt

Propeller quilt

The propeller quilt block is a simple enough one and I have just added a bit more for the eye to follow by changing the colours in a few of the blocks to create an inner red diamond.

The quilt measures 46″ square and I have used a yard each of the black and white fabrics with 3/4 yard of red.  The black requirement is exactly 36″, so you might be safer to buy a bit more than a yard to be safe.  There are thirteen quilt blocks and they are laid out in a diagonal setting.

Cutting requirements for the propeller quilt

4.7/8″ squares:  twenty six each in black and white

2.1/2″ squares:  sixty five white, thirty six black and sixteen red – don’t cut these yet as they can be strip pieced

7.7/8″ squares: two red cut along one diagonal for the corner triangles

10.7/8″ squares:  four red cut along one diagonal for the infill triangles

For the border you will need four 2.1/2″ strips of red fabric cut across the width of fabric

Make half square triangles

Make half square triangles

Making the half square triangles

Use the 4.7/8″ squares to make half square triangles.  Place a white square with a black square and mark a line along one diagonal.  Sew a seam 1/4″ either side of the marked line and cut along the line.  This will produce two half square triangle units for each pair of squares.

Press the seam allowance towards the black and trim the corners of the squares.  These should now be 4.1/2″ squares.

Strip piecing the small squares

Strip piecing the small squares

Strip piecing the small squares

Some time can be saved by strip piecing the 2.1/2″ squares.  Sew together lengths of white with either black or red.  Press the seam allowance towards the dark fabric and cut at 2.1/2″ intervals to make strips which are 4.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ of white and either black or red.

For the entire quilt you will need to do this with one strip of white/red and three strips of black/white.

Making the propeller quilt blocks

Propeller quilt block layout

Propeller quilt block layout

You need three slightly different versions of the same propeller block within the quilt.  Make five of the first one, which is entirely black and white.  Lay the squares out as shown in three rows.  Place a half square triangle in each corner, a white square in the middle and a black and a white square together in each of the remaining spaces.  The black squares are placed around the central square with the white squares on the outside.  Note that all the half square triangles are placed facing in different directions from each other.

Sew the patches together across each row.  Finally sew the rows to each other to complete the propeller quilt block.

Second and third versions of the block

Second version of the propeller quilt block

Second version of the propeller quilt block

The second and third versions of the quilt block both have two of the black squares replaced by red ones.

For the second version, replace the two black squares to the right and below the central square with red squares.

Sew the squares together across the rows as for the first version and then sew the rows to each other.

You will need four of this version of the block.

Third version of the propeller quilt block

Third version of the propeller quilt block

Three completed versions of the propeller quilt block

Three completed versions of the propeller quilt block

For the third version, replace two of the black squares with red squares again, but this time replace the ones to the right and left of the central square, so that they are in line along the central row of the block.

Sew the squares and rows together as before.  You will need to make four of this version of the propeller quilt block.

On the right you can see all three versions of the propeller quilt block completed.

First row of the propeller quilt

First row of the propeller quilt

Assembling the propeller quilt

As this quilt is set on the diagonal, the layout begins in the top left corner of the quilt with a corner triangle – that’s one half of a 7.7/8″ red square.  Beneath this place a black and white propeller quilt block with an infill triangle on each side of it – that’s one half of the 10.7/8″ squares.  Sew the quilt block and two triangles together and then add the corner triangle above the quilt block.

Second row of the propeller quilt

Second row of the propeller quilt

The second row is made with three quilt blocks and two infill triangles.  This time the central quilt block is the third version, with a second version of the block on either side and then the infill triangles outside these.  Check the photo to see which way the red squares should be placed.  Just rotate the block until your red squares match up with the photo.

Third row of the propeller quilt

Third row of the propeller quilt

The third row is the middle row of the quilt and it is made using five quilt blocks and two corner triangles.  I couldn’t fit the entire row in a photo, but the first, third and fifth quilt blocks are the plain black and white blocks while the second and fourth blocks are the third version, placed so that the red squares are in a downward line.  You can see that they are continuing the red line begun in the second row above them.  Note that the corner triangles are sewn on to the blocks by the longest edge of the triangle.

Fourth row to the end

The fourth row of the propeller quilt

The fourth row of the propeller quilt

The fourth row contains three quilt blocks and two infill triangles.  The quilt blocks are the third version in the middle of the row with a second version on either side of it.  See how the blocks are rotated so that the red squares now complete the outline of a square.

This photo is probably the best one to  show which way the infill triangles should be placed.  In the first and second rows, the infill triangles are placed so that the longest edge of the triangle is on the outside (forming the edge of the quilt) and the right angled corners (the square corners) are sewn to the bottom of the quilt block.  After the central row, in rows four and five, the infill triangles are still placed so that the longest edge is on the outside, but this time the square corner is sewn to the top of the quilt block.

Fifth row of the propeller quilt

Fifth row of the propeller quilt

Finally the last row is another corner unit the same as the first row – one plain black and white propeller quilt block with an infill triangle on either side and a corner triangle beneath it.  Sew all the squares together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.

Add the border

Propeller quilt border

Propeller quilt border

As all the outside edges of this quilt are cut on the bias (the diagonal cut across the squares) they are liable to stretch so it’s a good idea to get the border on as quickly as possible to stabilise the edge.  I have used 2.1/2″ strips of black fabric for this.  You will need two lengths of 42.1/2″ for the first two edges and two lengths of 46.1/2″ for the remaining two edges, but do check your own measurements before you cut these lengths.

The propeller quilt top is now complete and ready for layering, quilting and binding.  You can find full details of these steps in the beginner quilting section.

Here’s the video:


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  1. Jane Clarke says:

    I have been looking for a quilt for my 90 year old Dad who flew Lancasters for the RAF in WW2 (stationed at Mildenhall, Suffolk) – this will fit the bill nicely. Thank you Rose. Only hope I can manage it as to date I’ve only tackled fairly straight forward quilts. Cheers, jane (Adelaide)

  2. Hi Rose,
    You have used my favorite colors in another one of your beautiful quilts. I never got to use the Synthrapol because I was told by a gal who worked for the company that the product was NOT a fixative but that a fixative is what I needed to use. Well, I bought a dye fixative and the red (floral) fabric turned orange. It dried and ended up a khaki color w/pink flowers. I learned from a quilt forum that the product to use is Retayne.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    • Hi Claire. What a time you’re having with that fabric. Can you use it the colour it is now or are you going to have to use a different fabric altogether? I’ve never heard of Retayne before – we probably don’t get it over here.

  3. Lovely quilt. Enjoy midsummer day. Here we have winter in Queensland Australia. I say winter but not too cold yet. Only need a jumper a early morning and evenings. Enjoy your weekend

  4. Jean Ransome says:

    Hi Rose, I love the quilt this week. The bold colours really show up the pattern well. Another quilt on my list to do.! Hope you are enjoying this lovely sunny weather. We are off on holiday tomorrow, hope this weather will last into next week. Have a lovely weekend.

  5. Sandra Barnett says:

    Another great lesson. Love the colors. Love the way you explain so easily. Never tried a diagonal quilt but that is next on my list. You won’t mind if I copy your colors.Finished my Minnie quilt for my granddaughter’s birthday party tomorrow.I was going to save it for her sister to be born in August, but the theme of her party is Minnie Mouse, so she gets it instead. Will have time to make a different one for her sister. Have a nice weekend.

  6. Printed directions are not clear on amount of fabric to use. You stated white a second time although you said red in the video. I enjoy your tutorials and keep them in file as I cannot work them as fast as you come up with them. I work with others including beginners and we have them as a reference file.

  7. Hello Rose .

    Very pretty as always , thank you for all your hard work .
    Sounds like you planned a great week-end ,enjoy . I
    will as well
    Regards Linda

  8. Rose,
    Love this one. When I got the first glimpse of it I went “Yikes”
    not for the beginner but as usual you did a great job
    with your tutorial.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Mary. Sorry – you’re not the first to say that. I’ll go for a definite beginner quilt next week.

      • Rose, I meant that your tutorial is so understandable
        that a beginner could feel confident about trying
        it out. How are you getting on with Minnie?

        • Thanks, Mary. You’re very kind. I’m still struggling with the tension on Minnie – I’m almost tempted to put my old sewing machine on the frame because I never have any trouble with the tension on that!

  9. Hi Rose, I like your quilt this week. The colors are great.
    Have a nice weekend

  10. I do love this quilt, it is quite something to see how a little change of colour in a block can make a really big change over all.

    • Thanks, Isabel. It’s such a lovely way of making your quilts individual – just play around with the colours.

  11. Rosie, that is a good tutorial – I have been following your quilts for a while, and wanted to say thanks for inspiring me to get going again! Just finished a king size cream and white quilt for my son and his girlfriend and they were very pleased with it.

  12. Hello Rose I love the colours you have chosen for this quilt. It stands out and makes the pattern a bit clearer to see. Your tutorials are great as you seem to simplify them and take it step by step for anyone to understand and not too daunting. Thank you. I’m off to do a bit sewing now! Enjoy your longest day.

    • Thanks, Dianne. You’re right – bold colours definitely show up the pattern clearly. Glad you like the pattern.

  13. hai is a fentastic design. i think its little bit tough design.(not for beginners )thanks for tutorials.

    • Thanks, Vani. Diagonal settings aren’t too bad once you’ve tried it once. They just require more concentration when you’re putting the blocks together.

  14. Carolyn says:

    A perfect quilt for leaders and Enders.
    I keep a supply of two and a half in squares,wrong sides together and sart any sewing I do with one and end with another. I have a nice stash of scrappiest sewn together for another project like this

    • Hi Carolyn. You are much more organised than I am – I just use fabric scraps, which aren’t nearly so useful!