The block is said to be associated with the story of the Underground Railroad. There are lots of different variations. Blocks can be placed facing the same way as we have done here, or spun around to give a different look. For a 1930s version, make a quilt from floral scraps for the bow ties and a single colour for the background, then finish with tie quilting. In recent years there have been more versions made that manipulate the fabric in the centre to make a 3D bow tie, which can look effective when used for table runners and cushions as well as quilts.

This block is excellent for beginners, and provides an alternative to sewing with plain squares. The version here uses an easy stitch and flip technique to make the corners, and can be completed in an evening.



Finished size:16in (40.5cm) square






  • 10in (25.4cm) square dark grey fabric
  • 10in (25.4cm) square pale grey fabric
  • 6 x 10in (15.25 x 25.4cm) blue fabric
  • 6 x 10in (15.25 x 25.4cm) teal fabric
  • 6 x 10in (15.25 x 25.4cm) light yellow fabric
  • 6 x 10in (15.25 x 25.4cm) gold fabric
  • Fabric pencil
  • A4 sheet of sandpaper (optional)



Before starting

Wash and press all fabrics, and read through all the instructions.

All measurements include 1/4in seam allowance.


Cutting instructions

1 From both of the grey fabrics cut four 4½in squares.

2 From the blue, teal, light yellow and gold fabrics cut:

Two 4½in squares

Two 2¼in squares


Making the block

1 Take the following pieces:

Two dark grey 4½in squares

Two blue 4½in squares

Two blue 2¼in squares

2 On the wrong side of the two small blue squares draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. The pencil can ‘drag’ the fabric and stretch it. To prevent this, you can place the fabric on a sheet of sandpaper. 

3 Place one of the marked blue squares on top of a dark grey square, wrong sides together, lining up the sides. Pin, then sew along the marked line. 

3 Trim the seam allowance to 1/4in beyond the sewn line. 

4 Flip the corner open and press. 

5 Repeat steps 2 to 4 to make a second unit. This complete a quarter of the block. 

6 Repeat steps 2 to 5 with the following fabric pairs:
Pale grey and gold
Dark grey and teal
Pale grey and light yellow

7 Following lay out the squares.

8 Sew the squares into four rows then press, alternating the direction of the seams. 

9 Sew the rows together, pinning at the seam intersections to ensure they align.

10 Carefully press the block and remove any stray threads.

If you enjoyed making this block, why not make a Bow Tie quilt?

The design above is made from sixteen identical blocks.


The fun doesn’t end here…

Each month we will introducing you to a different block, with easy to follow instructions.

This is the third of nine 16in square blocks for you to make, with the final design appearing in our March 2018 issue. As you make the nine blocks, we would like you to come up with your own quilt design. You can add more blocks or borders, experiment with colour ways and fabrics, and make the finished quilt as large or as small as you like. Anything that takes your fancy! The only rule is that it must include all nine of the blocks from the magazine.

There are great prizes to be won, including a fabulous sewing machine, courtesy of Bernina, for the winning design. Full details of how to enter will be given in the March 2018 issue, so watch this space and don’t forget to keep us posted on your progress.


The previous blocks are:

July 2017 Old Tippecanoe/Crossed Canoes

August 2017 Pinwheel Cross

September 2017 Dutchman's Puzzle
 2017 Spools

November 2017 Windblown Square

December 2017 Hunter's Square

January 2018 Point Squares
February 2018 Sawtooth



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