Free and Easy Quilt Block Tutorial for the Memory Block

Posted by Elaine Huff on

This classic quilt block called Memory Block goes together easily to make a beautiful quilt. It uses just half square triangles, hourglass patches, squares, and one rectangle to make a delightful block that creates a wonderful secondary design when multiple blocks are sewn together. Let's get sewing!

memory block quilt block

Traditionally, memory blocks were made so that people could sign the center of the block. Then the signatures were embroidered. The quilts were often made for women who were moving and were signed by friends and family who were staying behind.

I knew I wasn't going to be making a typical "memory" block so I substituted a print for the white rectangle in the center of the block.

Fabric Requirements for a 10" Finished Memory Block Quilt Block:

  • Light/White: 2 - 3.5" squares, and 8 - 3" squares
  • Light/Print: 2 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium/Green: 4 - 3" squares
  • Dark/Red: 2 - 3.5" squares
  • Dark/Black: 4 - 3" squares
  • Light/White OR Light/Print: 1 - 2.5" x 6.5" rectangle

memory block fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Half Square Triangle Units:

Step 1:

Using a Light/White 3.5" square and a Dark/Black 3.5" square, sew together a Half Square Triangle unit.

  • Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of one of the Light/White 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 Dark/Black fabric.
  • Trim the unit to 2.5" square.
For a detailed tutorial check out my blog post at

memory block 1

Step 2:

Repeat Step 1 for a total of eight White/Black Half Square Triangle units like the ones shown below. 

memory block 2

Step 3:

Repeat Step 1 only substituting the Medium/Green for the Dark/Black. Make a total of eight White/Green Half Square Triangle units like the ones below. 

memory block 3

Hourglass Units:

Step 4:

For a super detailed tutorial for making a basic Hourglass block, check out the tutorial at

Using the two Light/White 3.5" squares and the two Dark/Red 3.5" squares, sew together four Half Square Triangle units as shown in Step 1 above. Do NOT trim these units.

memory block 4

Step 5:

  • Mark a diagonal line perpendicular to the seam line from corner to corner on the back of one of the units.
  • Match up two units with seam allowances nesting and sew 1/4" on each side of the marked line.
  • Cut along the marked line.

memory block 5

Step 6:

Open up the Step 5 units and press the seam allowances.

You can see that I've used the tweak/twirl/furl method of pressing which is wrong for this block. The seam allowance should be pressed to one side.

Trim/square up the units to 3.5" square.

memory block 6

Here's a picture of the correct way to press the seam allowance.

memory block 6 2

Step 7:

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for a total of four Hourglass units like the ones shown in the picture below.

memory block 7

newsletter signup

Putting It All Together:

Step 8:

Lay out the White/Black half square triangles, the White/Green half square triangles, the Hourglass units, the two Light/Print 2.5" squares and the White 2.5" x 6.5" rectangle as shown in the picture below.

memory block 8

For my block I substituted a Light/Print 2.5" x 6.5" rectangle for the White one.

memory block 8 2

Step 9:

Sew the units into five rows as shown below.

memory block 9

Step 10:

Press the seam allowances away from the Hourglass units and the White/Black Half Square Triangle units. It's kind of confusing but I hope you can see it pretty clearly in the picture below.

memory block 10

Step 11:

Now you can sew the five rows together. The seams should nest nicely.

memory block 11

Step 12:

All that's left is the pressing. I found it easiest to press the seam allowances toward the center of the block. However, if you are making a quilt with this block and wanted the seams to nest, I would suggest pressing half the blocks with the seam allowances going away from the center of the block.

memory block 12

Layout Suggestions:

Here's a typical 4 x 4 layout using similar colors to my block. I love the diamond shapes that appear!

quilt 1

Here's the same layout in fall colors and with sashing and cornerstones added.

quilt 2

And this is an on-point layout with alternating plain squares. Great place for some fancy quilting or embroidery!

quilt 3 

In this example I added in orange sashing and cornerstones for a different look.

quilt 4


The Memory Block went together quickly and I love the secondary design that appears when multiple blocks are sewn together. I probably should have used a slightly darker print in the center but overall I'm happy with how it turned out.

If you liked this post and want to see more quilting tutorials, simply click HERE to sign up for my newsletter and also receive a free PDF downloadable pattern called "Chained Weathervane".

Happy Quilting!


P.S. Looking for some star quilt blocks? Click on this link: for some inspiration.

P.P.S. Need a quilt pattern in a hurry? Check out my easy downloadable PDF patterns at


Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →