Easy Chain and Hourglass Quilt Block Tutorial

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Today let's look at the Chain and Hourglass quilt block. This quick and easy block is great for beginners. You only need two fabrics (a light and a dark) but I think it would be nice as a scrappy block as well. Not sure where the "chain" part of the name comes in but oh well. Let's get sewing!

chain and hourglass quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 9" Finished Chain and Hourglass Quilt Block:

  • Light Green: 1 - 6" square, and 3 - 2" x 5" rectangles
  • Dark/Green: 1 - 6" square, and 3 - 2" x 5" rectangles (Oops, I made a mistake in the picture - too used to needing 4 Hourglass patches in a block - you only need one 6" square of each color.)

chain and hourglass fabric requirements

If you want to make a 12" block instead, increase the squares to 7.5" and the rectangles to 2.5" x 6.5".

Sewing Directions:

Hourglass Unit:

Step 1:

Using the Light Green 6" square and the Dark Green 6" square, sew together two Hourglass units like the one shown in the picture below. Trim/square up the patch to 5" square. This is the hardest part of this block and my tutorial at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-hourglass-or-quarter-square-triangle-block makes it easy.

chain and hourglass 1

Roman Stripe Unit:

Step 2:

Next you will sew together two Roman Stripe patches using the Light Green and Dark Green 2" x 5" rectangles - one will be Light/Dark/Light and one will be Dark/Light/Dark - as shown in the picture below. I have a tutorial for the Roman Stripe block at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/free-pattern-for-a-basic-roman-stripe-block

chain and hourglass 2

Step 3:

Press the seam allowances whichever direction you prefer. In the picture below you can see that I pressed mine toward the outside of the block but it really doesn't matter.

chain and hourglass 3

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Putting It All Together:

Step 4:

Lay out the two Hourglass units and the two Roman Stripe units as shown below. Notice that the units go in opposite directions!

chain and hourglass 4

Step 5:

From here the block goes together like a simple Four Patch. Sew the patches together into two rows as shown in the picture below.

chain and hourglass 5

Step 6:

And press your seam allowances in opposite directions. I found it easier to press away from the Hourglass units as shown below.

chain and hourglass 6

Step 7:

Sew the two rows together and you're done! Easy peasy!

chain and hourglass 7

Step 8:

Here you can see that I've pressed the seam allowances using the tweak/twirl/furl method. Pressing this way makes the block lay flatter and the seam allowances will nest together when sewing blocks together to make a quilt.

chain and hourglass 8


Here's what the two-color block looks like in a quilt.

chain and hourglass quilt 1

And a scrappy version.

chain and hourglass quilt 2


This block is quick to sew together! I had fun with it. I can imagine it was a popular block with our grandmothers (or great-grandmothers) to use up fabrics from old clothes or other sewing projects. 

I hope you've enjoyed the Chain and Hourglass quilt block. If you liked this post and want to see more quilting tutorials like this, simply click here to sign up for my newsletter and also receive a free PDF quilt pattern called Chained Weathervane.

Happy Quilting!


P.S. To print a PDF of this tutorial, check out the free app at https://www.printfriendly.com/

P.P.S. To figure out yardage for a quilt, check out this post: https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-much-fabric-do-i-need

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