Easy Uncle Sam's Hourglass Quilt Block

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Today let's sew together this easy traditional quilt block called Uncle Sam's Hourglass. It goes together fast and can showcase that larger scale print you don't want to cut into little pieces. Let's get started!

uncle sams hourglass block

Traditionally, this block was made with just a light and a dark fabric. But that center square just begs for a focal print! You could also use it to showcase embroidery or applique. 

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Uncle Sam's Hourglass Quilt Block:

  • Light/White: 4 - 4.5" squares, and 4 - 3.5" squares
  • Focal: 1 - 6.5" square
  • Accent: 4 - 4.5" squares

uncle sams hourglass fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Hourglass Units:

Step 1:

Using the Light/White 4.5" squares and the Accent 4.5" squares, sew together eight Hourglass units. You will find my tutorial for making Hourglass blocks at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-hourglass-or-quarter-square-triangle-block I pressed my seam allowances using the tweak/twirl/furl method. Trim/square up the units to 3.5" square.

uncle sams hourglass 1

Step 2:

Sew together two of the Step 1 units as shown in the picture below. If you match up two Step 1 units where the seam allowances twirl in the same direction, then your seams will nest together nicely. I decided to press this seam allowance open so it lays flatter which you can also see in the picture.

uncle sams hourglass 2

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Putting It All Together:

Step 3:

Arrange the Step 2 units, the four Light/White 3.5" squares, and the Focal 6.5" square as shown in the picture below.

uncle sams hourglass 3

Step 4:

From here the Uncle Sam's Hourglass block goes together just like an uneven Nine Patch block. Sew the units into three rows as shown below.

uncle sams hourglass 4

Step 5:

Press the seam allowances away from the Hourglass units as shown in the picture below.

uncle sams hourglass 5

Step 6:

Now you can sew the three rows together and...

uncle sams hourglass 6

Step 7:

Press the seam allowances toward the center of the block as shown in the picture below. You're done!

uncle sams hourglass 7


This was a fun and easy block to sew together. I times myself and it took me 1 hour 15 minutes to pick out fabric, cut, sew, and take pictures along the way to complete the block! Pretty fast for me.

While "Uncle Sam" is a personification of the U.S. government made popular in various military propaganda (remember the recruiting posters?), I'm not sure how it relates to this quilt block. And perhaps it isn't named after the caricature at all, but some quilter's uncle. Who knows?

hope you've enjoyed this Uncle Sam's 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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