How to Sew the Traditional Empire Cross Quilt Block - a Free Tutorial

Posted by Elaine Huff on

The easy Empire Cross quilt block is a wonderful traditional block that creates wonderful secondary designs when made into a quilt. With only half square triangles, snowballed corners, and rectangles, the block goes together quickly. The classic block only has two colors and a background but I had to make it my own with four colors! Let's jump in!

empire cross quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Empire Cross Quilt Block:

  • Light/Pink: 4 - 2" x 5" rectangles, 4 - 2" x 3.5" rectangles, and 8 - 2" squares
  • Medium/Green: 2 - 4" squares
  • Dark/Red: 4 - 3.5" x 5" rectangles, and 1 - 3.5" square
  • Dark/Black: 2 - 4" squares

empire cross fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Pointy Units:

Step 1:

This unit is sort of a Flying Geese block only the position of the snowballed squares is different. You can see the first four steps in the picture below.

  • Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of a Light/Pink 2" square.
  • Place the Light/Pink square on a corner of a Dark/Red 3.5" x 5" rectangle and sew along the marked line (or close to the marked line).
  • Match up the corners of the Light/Pink square and press.
  • Trim away the excess seam allowance.
  • Refold the Light/Pink triangle.

empire cross 1

Step 2:

Now repeat Step 1 on the adjacent corner of the short side of the Dark/Red rectangle as shown below.

empire cross 2

Step 3:

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 for a total of four Pointy units.

empire cross 3

Half Square Triangles:

Step 4:

Using a Medium/Green 4" square and a Dark/Black 4" square, sew together two Half Square Triangles. You can find my detailed tutorial for making Half Square Triangles at In the picture below you can see that I've sewn 1/4" on each side of the marked line and cut them apart along the marked line.

empire cross 4

Step 5:

In this picture I've opened up the Half Square Triangle, pressed the seam allowance toward the black fabric, and trimmed/squared up the unit to 3.5" square.

empire cross 5

Step 6:

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for a total of four Half Square Triangle units.

empire cross 6

Corner Units:

Step 7:

  • Match up a Step 6 Half Square Triangle with a Light/Pink 2" x 3.5" rectangle and sew together as shown in the top left image in the picture below.
  • Press the seam allowance toward the pink rectangle - top right image.
  • Sew a Light/Pink 2" x 5" rectangle as shown in the bottom left image.
  • Press the seam allowance toward the pink rectangle - bottom right image. 

empire cross 7

Step 8:

Repeat Step 7 for a total of four Corner units like the ones in the picture below.

empire cross 8

Putting It All Together:

Step 9:

Lay out the Pointy units, the Corner units, and the Dark/Red 3.5" square as shown in the picture below. From here the block goes together like a basic Nine Patch block.

empire cross 9

Step 10:

Sew the units in three rows.

empire cross 10

Step 11:

Press the seam allowance toward the Pointy units as shown in the picture below.

empire cross 11

Step 12:

Sew the three rows together to complete the block.

empire cross 12

Step 13:

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

empire cross 13

Layout Suggestions:

Here's the basic 4 x 4 layout using the classic two-color and a background design:

quilt 1

And the same layout using my block coloring:

quilt 2

And here it is again with a slight variation with an Hourglass unit in the center and two color Pointy units.

quilt 3 

Here's an example with sashing and cornerstones in between the blocks.

quilt 4

And here's an on-point layout. Looks so different!

quilt 5

For this example I've added sashing and cornerstones plus used the red for setting triangles.

quilt 6

A large Hourglass block can make a great alternating block.

quilt 7

And here is a simple chain block alternating with the Empire Cross.

quilt 8


This is a fun, easy block to sew together and goes together quickly. I enjoyed playing with the colors and layouts to see the different looks the Empire Cross can have.

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. Check out my YouTube channel at

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

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