Birds in the Air Quilt Block Pattern

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Let’s learn how to sew a Birds in the Air quilt block! This easy block is used in making lots of other blocks. Hmm, if you put it on point, it could be called Fish in the Sea!

I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of the fabric pieces needed to make this block, but they are pretty easy.

birds in the air quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 4" Finished Birds in the Air Quilt Block:

  • Light: 1 – 3″ square; 2 – 2.5″ squares
  • Medium/Dark 1 (Green): 1 – 3″ square
  • Medium/Dark 2 (Red): 1 – 4.5″ square

Sewing Directions:

Half-Square Triangle (HST) Unit:

Step 1:

Cut the 3″ Light square and the 3″ Medium/Dark 1 square diagonally in half from corner to corner. Pair up one of the Light triangles and one of the Medium/Dark 1 triangles and sew together on the bias cut edge (longest edge).

I find it VERY helpful to spray starch the bias edge of pieces to make the pieces more stable and help prevent stretching.

Square up the HST to 2.5″ square.

I usually made HSTs using a different method – you can find that tutorial here:

L-Shaped Unit:

Step 2:

Now you can sew a 2.5″ Light square to one of the Dark/Medium 1 sides of the HST you just made. Press the seam allowance toward the Light 2.5″ square.

birds in the air 3

Step 3:

Next you sew the other 2.5″ Light square to the other Dark/Medium 1 side of the HST. Press the seam allowance toward the Light 2.5″ square. Interesting looking little unit!

birds in the air 2

Completing the Block

Step 4:

Take the 4.5″ Medium/Dark 2 square and mark a diagonal line on the back from corner to corner as shown below.

birds in the air 4

Step 5:

Lay the 4.5″ Medium/Dark 2 square on top of the L-shaped unit and sew on the marked line. I prefer to sew right next to the marked line as you can see in the picture below. This method takes into account the thickness of the fabric and thread when opening up the block.

birds in the air 5

Step 6:

Fold the 4.5″ Medium/Dark 2 square along the stitching line. Line up the corners and press.

Here’s what the back of this step looks like.

birds in the air 7

Step 7:

Unfold the 4.5″ Medium/Dark 2 patch and trim away the excess seam allowance.

birds in the air 8

Step 8:

Open the block back up and there you have it! A Birds in the Air block! Trim/square up the block to 4.5″ square if needed.

birds in the air 8

Layout Ideas:

Here's the basic 4 x 4 layout:
quilt 1
For this example I've rotated every other block a half turn.
quilt 2
This version rotates blocks so they form squares when sewn together.
quilt 3
And this example has rotated blocks alternating with plain blocks. I think this is my favorite.
quilt 4
Here's an on-point layout that shows how the block can look like fish swimming.
quilt 5
Another on-point layout with narrow sashing and cornerstones added.
quilt 6


The Birds in the Air block is mostly used as part of a larger block but it looks good all on its own too! You can play around with placement and get some interesting designs.

I hope you have enjoyed this Birds in the Air quilt block. If you like it and want to see more, just click HERE to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free PDF quilt pattern called "Chained Weathervane".

Happy Quilting!


P.S. Check out my patterns I have for sale on Etsy at

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