Square and Compass Quilt Block Pattern

These instructions are for a finished 12-inch-square Square and Compass quilt block. To make a queen-size quilt, it’ll take at least 30 blocks.

| Summer 2019

Quilt-Square
Photo by Amanda Barnwell

Depending on who designed them and how and where they were modified over time, quilt patterns can have different names. This pattern is called Square and Compass in The Collector’s Dictionary of Quilt Names & Patterns, but that book also pictures another block by the same name that doesn’t look at all like this one! We may never know why these two dissimilar patterns share a name.

These instructions are for a finished 12-inch-square block. Measurements for each piece include a 1/4-inch seam allowance. The total number of blocks you’ll need to make a bed quilt will depend on how many borders you add (and their width), how far you want the quilt to extend over the edges of the mattress, and whether you frame each block with fabric strips in a style known as “lattice.” Typically, a quilt made of 30 12-inch blocks with no lattice will fit a queen-size bed with a drop of 10 inches over the edges of the mattress.

Cut the Pieces

The Square and Compass block design is made up of 32 triangular pieces of the same size. The pieces are arranged in four rows of 8 pieces each. For every 12-inch block, you’ll need 16 “A” pieces and 16 “B” pieces. In the photo of the finished block, “A” is a red print and “B” is plain beige.



“A” and “B” are the same dimensions. Although you’ll have to cut a lot of pieces to assemble a block, those pieces are all the same size, so you’ll be able to batch-cut them fairly quickly. To batch-cut the pieces, start with a strip of fabric measuring 3-7/8 inches wide and about 32 inches long. Beginning at one end of the strip, making sure its edges are true, cut off 3 7⁄8-inch squares. When you’re finished with the strip, you should have 8 squares. Take up each square, and mark a diagonal line from corner to corner. Cut along the line to produce 16 triangular pieces in the first color. Repeat with the second color of fabric.

If you’d prefer not to batch-cut, you can create a cardboard or plastic template with the triangle’s legs on either side of the right angle measuring 3 7⁄8 inches, and trace and cut each triangle individually. Remember to cut 16 triangles for “A” and another 16 for “B.”






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