Traditional Turkey in the Straw Quilt Block

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Today let's look at the traditional quilt block called Turkey in the Straw. Of course this block has several other names - Joy Bells, Eight Hands Around, Swing in the Center. The names Turkey in the Straw and Swing in the Center were both coined by Nancy Cabot. This block goes together pretty quick so let's get started!

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Turkey in the Straw Quilt Block:

  • Light/Pink: 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, 28 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium/Aqua Floral: 5 - 4.5" squares
  • Dark/Aqua Plaid: 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, 8 - 2.5" squares

fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Step 1:

Square in a Square Units:

Using the 5 Medium/Aqua Floral 4.5" squares and 20 of the Light/Pink 2.5" squares, make 5 Square in a Square units as shown in the picture below. You can find my tutorial for a basic Square in a Square block at:

square in a square units

Step 2:

Flying Geese Units:

Using the 4 Dark/Aqua Plaid 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and 8 Light/Pink 2.5" squares make 4 Flying Geese units like those in the picture below. You can see my tutorial on sewing together Flying Geese blocks here:

flying geese units 1

Step 3:

More Flying Geese Units:

Now you can piece together more Flying Geese units using the Light/Pink 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and the Dark/Aqua Plaid 2.5" squares. These units are the same fabrics as the first Flying Geese units you made - the fabrics are just switched as you can see from the picture below.

more flying geese units

Step 4:

Chevron Unit:

Lay out one Step 2 Flying Geese unit and one Step 3 Flying Geese unit as shown below. Note that the Dark/Aqua Plaid fabric will make a chevron shape when sewn together.

chevron unit

Step 5:

Sew the two Flying Geese units together as shown in the picture below and ...

chevron unit 2

Step 6:

Press the seam allowance away from the point of the lower Flying Geese unit as shown by the picture below. Repeat Steps 4 through 6 for a total of four Chevron units.

chevron unit 2

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Putting It All Together:

Step 7:

Lay out the 5 Square in a Square units and the 4 Chevron units you just made as shown in the picture below.

turkey in the straw lay out

Step 8:

Now you can sew the units together just like a simple Nine Patch block ( First, sew the units into three rows as shown in the picture below.

turkey in the straw 8

Step 9:

Sew the three rows together as shown below. You may want to pin at the seams to make sure they meet nicely- the intersections are a little thick! 

turkey in the straw large

Step 10:

Press the seam allowances - all done! I've pressed my seam allowances toward the center of the block as shown in the picture below but you could press in whatever direction you prefer.

turkey in the straw 11

In Conclusion:

If you've been following me on this blog, you've probably figured out that I like to do tutorials on traditional quilt blocks. The Turkey in the Straw quilt block is one that I've heard of (love the name BTW) but hadn't made before. I used soft florals and I do like the way the block turned out - very romantic, shabby chic looking.

Turkey in the Straw can also be made entirely of Half-Square Triangles. I found this tutorial from Ludlow Quilt and Sew if you would like to try that out too:

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial! If you like this blog post and want to see more, just click HERE to receive a free PDF quilt pattern called "Chained Weathervane" and to sign up for my newsletter.

Happy Quilting!


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