Traditional Housewife Quilt Block Tutorial

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Today let's take a look at the traditional quilt block called Housewife. Maybe we should rename it "Work from Home (for no pay)" to keep up with the times! LOL! Anyway, the block has a lovely pinwheel in the center and flying geese around the outside edge. Let's get started!

housewife quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Housewife Quilt Block:

  • Light/Ivory: 2 - 5.5" squares, and 8 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
  • Medium/Peach: 4 - 5" squares, and 4 - 2.5" squares
  • Dark/Green: 2 - 5.5 squares, and 16 - 2.5" squares

housewife fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Boxed Pinwheel Unit:

Step 1:

Using the Light/Ivory 5.5" squares and the Dark/Green 5.5" squares, sew together four Half Square Triangles and trim/square up the HSTs to 5" as shown in the picture below. You will find the tutorial for making Half Square Triangles at

housewife 1

Step 2:

Draw a diagonal line on the back of the Medium/Peach 5" squares and match one up with one of the Step 1 Half Square Triangle as shown below.

housewife 2

Step 3:

Match up the two 5" patches with the seam line of the Half Square Triangle and the marked line on the Medium/Peach square perpendicular to each other as shown in the first image in the picture below. Sew on the marked line. Fold the Medium/Peach square on the seam line and press as shown in the second image. 

housewife 3

Step 4:

Now you can unfold the Medium/Peach square and trim off the seam allowance as shown in the picture below. Refold the Medium/Peach fabric and trim/square up the patch to 4.5" square. Repeat Steps 2 - 4 for a total of four units. Be sure to have the same orientation of the Half Square Triangle and Medium/Peach square for each of the units.

I didn't get a picture of this next step but, on two of these units, I want you to press the seam allowance going away from the Medium/Peach fabric.

housewife 4

Step 5:

Now you can lay out the four Step 4 units as shown below in preparation of sewing the pinwheel portion of the block together. Arrange the units so that the seam allowances nest with each other.

housewife 5

Step 6:

Sew the units together just like a basic Four Patch. First sew into two rows as shown in the picture below. Your seam allowances should all nest together to make for easier sewing.

housewife 6

Step 7:

Press the seam allowances in the same direction as the other seam allowances. In the example below the seam allowances are all going in a counterclockwise direction around what will be the center of the block. 

housewife 7

Step 8:

Next you sew the two rows together as shown below. (This is a cute little block all on its own.)

housewife 8

Step 9:

Press the seam allowance. In the picture below you can see that I used the tweak/twirl/furl method for pressing. You just need to separate that last seam allowance at the center and press so that you continue that counterclockwise motion.

housewife 9

Step 10:

Here's a closeup of the center. The seam allowance at the center of the unit creates it's own little pinwheel. Pressing this way does help the block to lay flatter.

housewife 10

As an aside, I think we are too critical of our own work. In the Step 8 picture, the center looks perfect. And even the closeup below looks pretty darn good but it's not perfect. Do the best you can and with practice those points will get better - meanwhile no one else sees the slight imperfection!

housewife center closeup

Flying Geese Units:

Step 11:

Using the eight Light/Ivory 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and 16 Dark/Green 2.5" squares, sew together eight Flying Geese patches. You can find a tutorial for making Flying Geese at

housewife 11

Step 12:

Next, sew together two of the Step 11 units and press the seam allowance as shown below. The direction of the seam allowance is important in future steps! Repeat to make a total of four Flying Geese units.

housewife 12

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Putting it All Together:

Step 13:

Lay out the center Pinwheel unit, the four Flying Geese units, and the four Medium/Peach 2.5" squares as shown below.

housewife 13

Step 14:

From here the Housewife block goes together just like an uneven Nine Patch block. Sew the units into three rows as shown below.

housewife 14

Step 15:

Press the seam allowances away from the Flying Geese units as shown below.

housewife 15

Step 16:

All that's left is to sew the three rows together and...

housewife 17

Step 17:

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

housewife 17


I enjoyed putting the Housewife block together although I made some mistakes at the start. There are a lot of steps but it's not terribly hard to piece together. I encourage you to give it a go!

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial for this Housewife quilt blockIf 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 A reader and I tried it out and it worked great.

P.P.S. To figure out yardage for a quilt, check out this post:


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