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American Quilting Traditions: 11 Free Quilt Designs, Quilt Blocks, and More Americana

Honor the U.S.A. with American quilting traditions from this FREE eBook! Celebrate the rich history of American quilting with some free quilt designs that are sure to challenge and inspire you.

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20+ Quilt Block Names and Meanings: The Ultimate Guide

Discover the names and stories behind some of the most popular quilting blocks and patterns with our handy guide to quilt block names. Includes fun quilting history and facts!

Updated August 31, 2022
Quilt Block Names and Meanings

While you might expect that learning to quilt comes with a whole new set of skills and techniques, you might not expect the blast of new terms and quilt names that you will learn. Beginners and pros alike will love this page of 20+ Quilt Block Names and Meanings: The Ultimate Guide.

Quilting is a tradition that is hundreds of years old and it comes with its own vocabulary. Just getting to know quilt blocks is a task in and of itself. That's why we have created this block-specific quilting resource!

Our list of quilt block names and meanings is the ultimate guide because it includes names, photos, descriptions, and even a little history of the most popular quilt blocks out there. You'll love this list of quilting types.

Names of quilt patterns can be obvious but there are a few subtle names as well. When it comes to traditional quilt block names, many will be recognizable. Even if you don't know the name, you can get close to guessing. That being said, this page takes the guesswork out of it so that you'll know instantly what the design is called (and why!).

Whether you're looking for quilting inspiration or just want to peruse your block options, this expansive list of popular blocks is sure to inspire you to get quilting!

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Arkansas Traveler Quilt Block

Arkansas Traveler Quilt Block

This popular and traditional block features four diamonds against a solid background. Each diamond is made up of 4 smaller diamonds, generally, this pattern is paper-pieced. It's a creative use of diamonds and can look simple or complex, depending on the fabrics and styles you choose to incorporate.

The Arkansas Traveler block likely originated in America! This traditional quilt pattern is ideal for using up scraps. You can even buy vintage fabric to sew in some history. Check out our article on The History of Quilting.

Shown here: Arkansas Traveler Quilt Block

Bear Paw Quilt Block

Bear Paw Block

Aptly named, a bear paw block looks just like the big claw of a bear! Designed with one square and multiple half-square triangles, this traditional block is actually pretty easy to make and a reader favorite here at FaveQuilts.

You can see the variety by looking at all of our bear paw quilt patterns here. These blocks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You can easily rearrange these blocks to create a unique pattern.

Shown here: Bear Paw Block

Cathedral Windows Quilt Block

Cathedral Windows Quilt Block

This difficult-to-master and stunning quilt block resembles the intricate designs of a cathedral window. The fabric on these patterns is sewn and folded into place, making it challenging to master. 

While this is an intermediate quilt pattern, it is easy to master with some practice. We recommend trying out a simpler version of the block like the remix listed below before jumping into one with more layers.

Shown here: Cathedral Windows Quilt Block

Celtic Square Quilt Block

Celtic Square Block Pattern

Celtic square blocks feature a geometric pattern inspired by Irish and Celtic knot designs. This look is actually pretty easy to achieve as all of the seams are simple and straight.

This classic pattern is charming and makes an amazing wedding quilt pattern, especially for those with Irish heritage. You can create several of these to rotate them for an intricate. Plus, check out more Celtic-inspired patterns on our list of Irish Chain Quilt Patterns!

Shown here: Celtic Square Block Pattern

Chinese Coin Quilt Block

Chinese Coin Block

This design is simple and popular with quilters who enjoy using remnants. The block consists of a solid background with small rectangles (or coins) stacked atop one another.

The name for this block pattern comes directly from the design, the scrappy coins layered atop one another. In fact, many quilt historians believe that the Chinese coin pattern originates from traditional Chinese currency having been stacked and tied together with a string after counting. This is another great scrapbuster.

Shown here: Chinese Coin Block

Churn Dash Quilt Block

Churn Dash Quilt Block

This popular design is one of the most traditional and common for quilters to make. It's also a beginner-friendly pattern that is created out of four rectangles, 4 half-square triangles, and solid background color.

The Churn Dash Pattern is another historical quilting pattern, so you've probably seen it often online or at quilting shows. It is part of the well-known American quilting tradition. If you're looking for some Americana, this is the pattern for you. See it in action on the Shenandoah Quilt below.

Shown here: Churn Dash Quilt Block

Diamond in a Square Quilt Block

Diamond in the Squares Block

This quilt block's name says it all! This classic and beginner pattern features a diamond shape at the middle of the block. It is created by rotating a square piece before adding the four corners. It's basically a square in a square (learn about it below) but the square is turned. Some view them as interchangeable.

This super easy quilting pattern is perfect for panel quilts or quilts designed specifically made to show off the fabric. Consider making a baby quilt spotlighting adorable animals or a favorite character with this pattern.

Shown here: Diamond in the Squares Block

Dresden Plate Quilt Block

Dresden Plate Block

This is one of the most gorgeous and distinctive designs. An often-challenging quilt block, the Dresden plate is made out of a single circle at the center that is surrounded by multi-colored and patterned tie-like shapes. This is traditionally a paper-pieced pattern.

While traditionally paper pieced, many quilters have created patterns that manage to skip that process. You can either create a Dresden plate block or add one atop simpler quilting patterns as an applique or accent.

Shown here: Dresden Plate Block

Drunkard's Path Quilt Block

Drunkard's Path Block

This name might make you chuckle. This quilt block is one of the most famous (and difficult) patterns to master. This quilt features a quartered circle at the center with corresponding background pieces. Knowing how to sew curves is essential for this pattern.

Yet another historical quilt pattern, this charming pattern is named after the design it creates when many of them are combined, showcasing a weaving, twisty pattern. If you've ever had a few too many cocktails, you'll probably understand!

Shown here: Drunkard's Path Block

Flying Geese Quilt Block

Flying Geese Quilt Block

The flying geese design is one of the most common and popular quilt block styles. Rightly so! Made out of multiple squares that are constructed of two half-square triangles of 2 different colors, the flying geese quilt block comes in many variations. 

The flying geese pattern gets its name from the design itself. The HST pieces look like a formation of geese in the sky. It's a fantastic beginner project but even seasoned pros love this one. Find even more in our list of Flying Geese Quilt Block Patterns.

Shown here: Flying Geese Quilt Block

Half Square Triangle Quilt Block

Half Square Triangle Block

A half-square triangle quilt block is a design created entirely out of half-square triangles. often, these are beginner block patterns that showcase 2 or more fabrics.

HSTs are the building block of a ton of quilting blocks. These charming pieces are easy to combine to create all sorts of gorgeous designs and gorgeous blocks. Make sure to explore the rest of our Half Square Triangle Patterns.

Shown here: Half Square Triangle Block

Hourglass Quilt Block

Hourglass Block

Don't let another minute pass by before trying this block! The hourglass block is another great beginner pattern. Featuring four triangles of two colors, this traditional block features an hourglass at the center. It is easy to create a bold quilt with this pattern when you use contrasting patterns. 

Hourglass patterns are super simple in design and can be rotated to make bright and beautiful checkerboard-like designs. If you're looking to make a big impact with minimal effort, this is the way to go.

Shown here: Hourglass Block

Lattice Quilt Block

Lattice Quilt Block

Lattice quilt blocks are often complicated designs that feature a diamond at the center that is surrounded by one or two colors. These blocks are then combined to create the lattice block design, just like a beautiful garden might have.

Often, lattice quilt blocks are combined with solid pieces of fabric and blocks in order to create a chain link design that spans the whole quilt. The integrated blocks create a unique look that truly features and perfectly highlights this technique.

Shown here: Lattice Quilt Block

Log Cabin Quilt Block

Log Cabin Quilt Block

What's more nostalgic and vintage than a log cabin? The log cabin quilt block pattern is one of the most well-known and popular quilt block patterns. Resembling a classic log cabin in fabric form, these blocks are created with layer rectangles.

The log cabin quilt block is extra famous, extra traditional, and extra beloved by quilters. The nice thing about this time-honored quilt block is that it allows for tons of variation. You can easily add a modern twist with more modern fabric and colors.

Shown here: Log Cabin Quilt Block

Nine Patch Quilt Block

Nine Patch Quilt Block

Comprised of nine different squares, the 9-patch quilt pattern comes in many different varieties. Multiple variations of this block are combined to create disappearing nine patch quilt patterns. It's one of the easiest quilt designs you'll ever see and yet so pretty.

Nine patch patterns come in a ton of variations. They often use HST and flying geese designs to accomplish their geometric designs. If you quilt, you'll definitely want to explore this design and have some fun with the different ways you can work this style.

Shown here: Nine Patch Quilt Block

Pineapple Quilt Block

Pineapple Block Pattern

Pineapple quilt block patterns are a chic and relatively modern take on the log cabin quilt block. Instead of simple rectangles surrounding a square center, these patterns layer up paper pieces designs to achieve a pineapple-like design. This design is exactly why it's called a pineapple quilt.

These designs are intricate and take quite some time to complete. If you're making a quilt with this modern, bright, and colorful design, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete the project.

Shown here: Pineapple Block Pattern

Rail Fence Quilt Block

Rail Fence Quilt Block

This block is comprised of skinny rectangles that are combined into 4 squares to achieve its dynamic design. These patterns are often called basket weave patterns, as well. They're an excellent way to achieve a uniform design without having to sew too complicated of a block. 

Rail fence quilts are a popular easy quilt pattern, but you can easily be combined them with other blocks for stunning patterns. Check out the Rail Fence Picnic Quilt pattern below for an example.

Shown here: Rail Fence Quilt Block

Snail Trail Quilt Block

Snail Trail Quilt Block

A snail trail pattern looks just like its namesake (though not quite as gross). This intermediate quilt block is a layer variation of a diamond quilt block. The spiral design is achieved by layering square pieces and multi-sized half-square triangles.

Either combine these adorable quilt patterns with more solid and less complicated patterns or make a full snail quilt for something extra groovy. Unfortunately, it's one of the more rare designs and isn't as easy to find. Start with this one and see where it goes!

Shown here: Snail Trail Quilt Block

Snowball Quilt Block

Snowball Block

The snowball block is, surprisingly enough, not a pattern that features a round shape. instead, this block is a variation of the classic diamond in the square shape, featuring a larger diamond that is later trimmed to a shape that resembles a snowball. This block only requires four seams.

Snowball blocks are simple to achieve. Consider combining them with a patchwork look like the nine-patch pattern below. Find even more Snowball Block Quilt Patterns here.

Shown here: Snowball Block

Star Quilt Block

Star Quilt Blocks

Twinkle, twinkle, little star...block! Who doesn't love stars, especially on quilts? There are tons of variations of this simple design. From Texas to Virginia star quilts, the variations of this classic block include different star sizes, number of points, and construction. Try them all before choosing a fave.

The most popular star quilts utilize HST pieces to achieve their stellar look. Many popular star blocks are listed below, but we have a ton more listed on our site! Find even more Star Quilt Patterns on our newly updated list.

Shown here: Star Quilt Blocks

Square in a Square Quilt Block

Square in a Square Block

This quilt block looks just like its name! Simple to create, this pattern features a solid square in the middle of the block. This design is perfect for showcasing fabric designs that you love as the pattern itself takes center stage.

A square in a square in a block is easily transformed into something more modern and complicated by choosing the right fabric. You can go with a monotone look with just two colors or use up tons of gorgeous fabric for a bright and bold look like the example below.

Shown here: Square in a Square Block

Up Next:

A Brief History of Quilting in America >>

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