Monday, August 10, 2015

{Tutorial} Herringbone Block... the new one!

In 2011, I wrote a Herringbone Block tutorial based on 1.5" finished strips.  Well, my quilting skills have come a long way since then!  I want to revisit the herringbone style, this time with 2" finished strips and using the angle on my ruler to cut the blocks more consistently.  Both tutorials will work, but I do think this one is the better!

Herringbone tutorial

Herringbone Block Tutorial

*Finished size 12" x 20" (12.5" x 20.5" unfinished)
*Supplies: 2.5" wide strips and 6" x 24" rigid quilting ruler

Step 1:  Cutting

You might use jelly rolls for this block, since they are already 2.5" wide.  Segment your fabric strips to 2.5" x 10.75" pieces.

If you're cutting from yardage, this tutorial is designed to minimize waste.

First place your fabric on the cutting mat, aligning the fold with a horizontal line.  Cut 2.5" wide strips the full width of fabric.  How many?  I don't know!  Depends on how big of a quilt you're making and how many fabrics you're using.


Remove the excess yardage, but leave the cut strips in place.  Using your ruler, expose just the tiny fold at the bottom edge of your strips.  Cut off the fold.  Also, cut off the selvedges at the top of the strips.


Last, cut across all your strips at about 10.75"-11" long.  You'll be able to cut 4 pieces from each width-of-fabric strip.


Step 2:  Layout

The Herringbone block is worked in two separate halves. For your first block half choose 11 pieces of fabric.  Arrange them in a pleasing order.  Make 5 pairs, with 1 leftover loner at the bottom.  (You can actually use a shorter strip for that piece at the bottom.  After you start making blocks, your trimmings can be used this way!)  Now, stagger them on your work surface in pairs, spacing each pair about 2" to the right of its neighbor, like so:


Step 3:  Sew Pairs

At the sewing machine sew your pairs together, matching the long side of each strip with right sides together.  Use the standard 1/4" seam allowance now and throughout the tutorial.  If your fabric pieces are of uneven length, match them flush on the right end consistently, so that just the left ends of the pairs are uneven.  This will increase your accuracy for the trimming stage.


You do not have to press fabrics after this step, but I did so that you can see what's happening clearly.

Step 4:  Sew Stagger

Lay out your strips again on your work surface.  It's time to sew them all together, maintaining the staggered spacing.  To start, use a ruler to measure 2.25" at the right end of the first pair.  Flip the loner piece (bottom piece) onto the first pair, right sides together and flush with the 2.25" measurement.  Sew the loner piece to the first pair with this staggered arrangement.


Continue joining pairs, working your way up the block. Always join pairs with a 2.25" stagger.


After pressing seams, you'll have one long, funny-looking piece!


Step 5:  Trim

Place your ruler over the work, matching a 60 degree angle line on the ruler with a seam on the block.  This will establish a 60 degree angle when you trim the long edge of the block.


Before cutting, find the 1" crosshair at the bottom of your ruler.  This is the point 1" high and 1" across on your ruler.  Match this point to the bottom seam of your block, while keeping the 60 degree angle line on or parallel to a seam.  Also, slide your ruler all the way to the right, so that you are trimming off just triangle-shaped scraps all along the long side of the work. You want to keep the work as wide as possible!


Now trim the bottom edge and right edge of the work only.


Move the work-in-progress so that the trimmed edges are flush with mat lines.  Measure and trim the block 6.5" wide...


and 20.5" tall.


Step 6: Make Opposite Half

Great, you've made 1/2 of a Herringbone block!  I think you know what comes next.  Repeat Steps 2-5 working with 11 new fabric pieces.  This time, stagger and sew your strips in the opposite direction, towards the left.  After trimming, you'll have two mirrored halves, each 6.5" x 20.5".


Match and pin each seam to join them at center!  Or, you can also opt to keep your halves independent until final quilt top assembly.  This would allow you to arrange and rearrange them before committing to the perfect layout.


As always, if you make any Herringbone blocks, I'd love to see them Stitched in Color on Flickr.  Thanks for sewing with me!


  1. Great tutorial Rachel! Love seeing your fabric pull in action too!

  2. Great instruction Rachel. Very clear.
    One question--how do you make a quilt bigger than 20"? I don't see how you can can add to this in this example, as the top and bottom strips are only partials. I assume that to make the quilt bigger you would have to start again and join strips without those short bits. Wouldn't this get difficult to handle? Thanks.

    1. Ah, I'm actually enjoying the way those short bits interact when the blocks are staggered. I will have pictures to share when I post about my progress. So, short answer - just accept the little bits =)

  3. :) Sew that's what you're up to!!! Neat tutorial, and I love seeing all your fabrics all together!

  4. Oh my! It's gorgeous! When I saw your fabric pull, I just couldn't imagine them working together. It's beautiful! I guess that's why I'm still I. The stage where I use fabric lines. I just don't have the magic eye that you do. I can't wait to see it completed!

  5. Thanks for sharing this tutorial with us! I never made a herringbone quilt but now it's on my list. And I love the fabrics you choose for your quilt:-)

  6. This is what you were choosing fabrics for!! Thank you for sharing a tutorial with us. And your fabric selection process, too!

  7. Wonderful tutorial! After seeing an old post you did on how you sort and store scraps, I was inspired to tackle my boxes of fabric. I'm so glad I did! I've already pieced one quilt from what I found. (So much more than what I'd thought when it was just jumbled together.) And I'm thinking a herringbone quilt might just be the next one that springs from my now accessible stash. (Haha - I never even thought of my remnants as "stash" before.)

  8. Thanks for the lovely tutorial! This seems like a great way to use scraps and jellyroll strips!

  9. Thank you, Rachel! You are such a good teacher, this tutorial is easy to follow.

  10. Great to see how your are using your pretty fabric pull! Thanks for the tutorial!

  11. Great tutorial. I have a ruler that is actually 61/2" wide so I could cut one side and just walk around the table and cut the other. In my head this works but wanted to double check with you :-)

  12. Very nice! Now what do you have planned for all the scraps?! ;)

    1. Oh, oh, I do have a plan!!! I think I'll be making a tiny squares border to add onto opposite ends of the quilt. We'll see if it looks like I imagine it will...


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