Easy Lost Ships Quilt Block - a Free Tutorial

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Today let's create this traditional Lost Ships quilt block. There are similar quilt blocks that are also called Lost Ships but I chose this one for the tutorial. Plus it's super easy to put together with only Half Square Triangles. Let's dive in!

lost ships quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Lost Ships Quilt Block:

Traditionally, this is a two-color block but, of course, I had to make it scrappy. 

  • Light/White: 1 - 9" square, and 10 - 3" squares
  • Medium/Dark: 1 - 9" square, and 10 - 3" squares
  • 7/8 yard of each should be enough to make 8 blocks.

lost ships fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Small Half Square Triangle Units:

Step 1:

Using the Light/White 3" squares and the Medium/Dark 3" squares sew together Half Square Triangle (HST) units.  

The picture below shows the four basic steps to making a Half Square Triangle.

  • Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of one of the squares and sew 1/4" (or a little less) on each side of the line.
  • Cut along the diagonal line.  You will have 2 half-square triangle patches.
  • Open up the patch and press the seam allowance toward the darker fabric.
  • Trim the unit to 2.5" square.

For a detailed tutorial check out my blog post at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-half-square-triangle-block. If you are making a two-color block/quilt, you can check out how to make eight HSTs at a time at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/two-easy-methods-for-making-half-square-triangle-quilt-blocks

lost ships 1

Step 2:

Repeat Step 1 for a total of 20 small Half Square Triangle units.

lost ships 2

Large Half Square Triangle Unit:

Step 3:

Repeat Step 1 except use the Light/White and Medium/Dark 9" squares. You will have two units but you only need one for each block. Trim the unit to 8.5" square. 

lost ships 3

Strip Units:

Step 4:

If you are doing a scrappy version I recommend that you lay out all the Half Square Triangles and rearrange them to get a pleasant look. Notice that all the units have the same orientation.

lost ships 4 2

Step 5:

Based on the Step 4 arrangement, sew together six of the small Half Square Triangle units for the top strip, six for the bottom strip, and four each for the side strips. Press the seam allowances which ever direction you desire.

lost ships 4

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Putting It All Together:

Step 6:

Using the picture below for a reference, sew the two short strips to the large Half Square Triangle unit.

lost ships 6 

Step 7:

Press the seam allowances toward the large Half Square Triangle unit as shown in the picture below.

lost ships 7

Step 8:

Sew the top and bottom strips to the Step 7 unit. You may want to re-press a seam allowance or two so that you have nesting seam allowances at the corners.

lost ship 8

Step 9:

Press the seam allowances toward the center of the block. All done - that was fast!

lost ships 9

Layout Options:

Here is the basic 4 x 4 layout using scrappy small HSTs and identical large HSTs.

lost ships quilt 1 

In this example of a two-color block, every other block is rotated to create a diagonal stripe effect.

quilt 2

And here the blocks have been rotated to create a diamond pattern.

quilt 3

To avoid matching all those seams, here's the same layout as above but with dark sashing and cornerstones added.

quilt 4

Back to a two-color block and rotating to make a chevron pattern appear on the quilt.

quilt 5

Here's what an on-point layout with alternating applique blocks looks like. 

quilt 6


This block went together so quickly! I think I took longer picking out fabrics than actually sewing! 

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. 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. You can learn how to piece the basic quilt blocks at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/tagged/basic-blocks-tutorials

P.P.S. Check out my patterns I have for sale on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/fabric406

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