Tunnels Quilt Block Tutorial

Posted by Elaine Huff on

The Tunnels quilt block is a great block. When you create a quilt with this block, a secondary diamond pattern shows up where the blocks join together. Let's get sewing!

tunnels quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Tunnels Quilt Block:

  • Light/White: 2- 5" squares, 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, and 4 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium/Yellow Print: 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
  • Medium/Yellow Tonal: 2 - 5" squares, and 8 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium/Blue Daisy: 1 - 4.5" square
  • Dark/Blue: 12 - 2.5" squares

tunnels fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Flying Geese Units:

Step 1:

Using the Light/White 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and the Medium/Yellow Tonal 2.5" squares, sew together four Flying Geese patches as shown in the picture below. You will find my tutorial for making a basic Flying Geese block at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-flying-geese-block

tunnels 1

Step 2:

Repeat Step 1 only use the Yellow/Print 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and eight of the Dark/Blue 2.5" squares instead of the white and yellow tonal fabrics. (See picture below)

tunnels 2

Step 3:

Match up one Step 1 patch and one Step 2 patch and sew together as shown in the picture below. Press the seam allowance toward the white/yellow tonal Flying Geese patch.

tunnels 3

Step 4:

Repeat Step 3 for a total of four Flying Geese units.

tunnels 4

Corner Units:

Step 5:

Using the Light/White 5" squares and the Medium/Yellow Tonal 5" squares, sew together four Half Square Triangle units as shown in the picture below. The tutorial for making a basic Half Square Triangle block can be found at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-half-square-triangle-block

tunnels 5

Step 6:

In the picture below you can see the steps I took to make a Corner unit (from left to right, top to bottom).

First - mark and diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of a Dark/Blue 2.5" square and sew to the Step 5 patch as shown.

Second - Fold the Dark/Blue 2.5" square, matching corners, and press.

Third - Unfold the Dark/Blue 2.5" square and trim the seam allowance to about 1/4".

Fourth - Refold and the Corner unit is complete!

tunnels 6

Step 7:

Repeat Step 6 for a total of four Corner units.

tunnels 7

Center Unit:

Step 8:

Using the Medium/Blue Daisy 4.5" square and four Light/White 2.5" squares, make a Square in a Square patch like the one shown in the picture below. You can find the tutorial for making a basic Square in a Square block (also known as a Diamond in a Square block) at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-square-in-a-square-block

tunnels 8

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Putting It All Together:

Step 9:

Now you can lay out the Center unit, the Flying Geese units, and the Corner units as shown in the picture below. From here the Tunnel block goes together like a basic Nine Patch block.

tunnels 9

Step 10:

First you sew the patches into three rows as shown below.

tunnels 9

Step 11:

And press the seam allowances away from the Flying Geese units as shown in the picture below.

tunnels 11

Step 12:

Then you can sew the three rows together...

tunnels 12

Step 13:

And press the seam allowances toward the center of the block as shown in the picture below. You're done!

tunnels 13


This was an interesting block to sew together. Perhaps if I had placed lighter fabrics toward the center and darker toward the outside, I would have gotten a more "tunnel" look to the block. But all in all I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Layout Options:

Here's a simple layout with similar colors that I used for the example block. I like how the diamond shape appears at the intersections.

tunnels layout 1

In the image below I've gone from light to dark with four different colors using the same simple layout.

tunnels layout 2

In this example, I gone from light to dark using monochromatic colors. Interesting.

tunnels layout 3

Here I've used the same colors as the image above but substituted a sagey green for the dark brown. So far this is my favorite coloring.

tunnels layout 4

For the example below I've put the quilt on point. It looks less on point than the simple layout!

tunnels layout 5

So this is on point as well but with an alternating block that mimics the dark brown pattern of the original block.

tunnels layout 6

In the example below I've gone back to a simple layout but alternating the Tunnels block with a block that mimics the green diamond shape. This is my favorite by far.

tunnel layout 8

I hope you've enjoyed this Tunnels quilt block tutorial. If 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 https://www.printfriendly.com/

P.P.S. To figure out yardage for a quilt, check out this post: https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-much-fabric-do-i-need



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