How to Piece the Alternating Quilt Block for the State Fair Block - a Free Tutorial

Posted by Elaine Huff on

In my last blog post tutorial, we looked at the State Fair Block which was traditionally made with a specific alternating block. Today, we'll sew together that alternating block. While it probably was originally constructed using a center octagon piece with partial seam construction, I wasn't up to figuring out how to do it that way! So while there are more seams to match in my version, it goes together much easier. Let's get started!

alternating block

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished State Fair Alternating Block:

  • Light/White: 1 - 4.5" square, 8 - 2.5" squares, and 8 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
  • Light/Blue: 4 - 2.5" squares, and 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
  • Medium/Peach: 4 - 2.5" squares, and 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles

fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Rectangle Units:

Step 1:

This unit is basically the first half of a Flying Geese unit. You can find my detailed tutorial using the no-trim method for making Flying Geese at

Using the Light/Blue 2.5" squares and Medium/Peach 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, sew together four Peach/Blue units as shown in the picture below. In the picture you can see the four steps needed to complete the unit. Please note the orientation of the diagonal line.

alternating 1

Step 2:

Again, we are making a half of a Flying Geese block. This time, use the Light/White 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and the Medium/Peach 2.5" squares to complete four units. Please note the orientation of the diagonal line.

alternating 2

Step 3:

Repeat Step 2 only using four Light/White 2.5" squares and four Light/Blue 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles.

alternating 3

Step 4:

Using the picture below for a reference, repeat Step 3 only on the opposite corner of the Light/Blue rectangle. Make four units total.

alternating 4

Step 5:

Here's a picture of all of the Rectangle units.

alternating 5

Middle Units:

Step 6:

Sew together a Step 1 Rectangle unit and a Light/White 2.5" x 4.5" rectangle as shown in the picture below. Press the seam allowance toward the Light/White rectangle.

alternating 6 

Step 7:

Repeat Step 6 for a total of four Middle units.

alternating 7

Corner Units:

Step 8:

Sew together a Step 2 Rectangle unit and a Step 4 Rectangle unit as shown below. Press the seam allowance toward the Step 2 Rectangle unit.

alternating 8

Matching the seams in this unit is the most difficult part of this block. I matched up the seams and then marked a black dot where the two seams met (I darkened it for purposes of this photo). Then I made sure to stitch over the dot when sewing them together.

alternating 9 2

Step 9:

Repeat Step 8 for a total of four Corner units like the ones in the picture below.

alternating 9

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Putting It All Together:

Step 10:

Lay out the Light/White 4.5" square, the Corner units, and the Middle units as shown in the picture below. From here the block goes together like a basic Nine Patch block.

alternating 10

Step 11:

Sew the units into three rows as shown below.

alternating 11

Step 12:

Press the seam allowances toward the Middle units as shown in the picture below.

alternating 12

Step 13:

Sew the three rows together and...

alternating 13

Step 14:

Press the seam allowances toward the center of the block. You're done!

alternating 14

Layout Options:

While the first quilt layout below is the classic way to use this alternating block, I came up with a few others too.

Here it is paired with the State Fair Block:

quilt 1

And all by itself. The centers of the block would be a nice place for some applique or embroidery.

quilt 2

And here it is with an interesting sashing and cornerstone treatment.

quilt 3

In this example, I flipped every other block and created another design!

quilt 4


This State Fair alternating block was pretty easy to sew together and quick to finish. I'm glad I figured out an easy way to create the block!

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. In case you missed it, check out the State Fair Block that goes with this block at

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



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