Jacquelynne Steves

How to Trim Hourglass Blocks- tutorial


I am really fan of making units a little larger than you need them, and then trimming them down to size- I find that no matter how careful I am with cutting and sewing, it’s hard to get them perfect. I like to do this with flying geese units, HSTs, and hourglass squares.

It is important to get your units accurately trimmed- if they’re not accurate after you trim them, then what’s the point, right? For hourglass squares, you really need those diagonal seams to be lined up in the corners of your squares, or your block won’t go together as well and your points will be weird. Nobody wants that!


I will show you 2 different ways to do it. First, I’ll show you how to do it with a square ruler. Then I’ll show you how to do it with a regular ruler, relying on the lines on your cutting mat.

To use a square ruler- Your ruler should be at least as big as your hourglass square, and it needs to have a 45 degree line marked on it.

I want to trim this square to 3 1/2″ (the finished size in the quilt will be 3″). I need to figure out what my center point is, so I divide 3 1/2 by 2:

3.5 divided by 2= 1.75

So now I know that 1 3/4″ is the center point of my square. I place the ruler on my square so that the center point of the square is at the 1 3/4″ mark, and the diagonal seam is lined up with the line on the ruler.e copy

Then I trim the top and right edges:


Now I need to trim the other edges- easy peasy! Just flip the square around so your 2 untrimmed edges are at the top and right side, just like before. The edges which have already been trimmed should be lined up with the 3 1/2″ marks on the ruler (since 3 1/2″ is the size we want our trimmed square to be.) The center point will once again be at the 1 3/4″ mark, and don’t forget to line up your diagonal seam with the 45 degree mark on the ruler (this is crucial!) Now I just trim those 2 remaining edges:


Perfect hourglass square:


Now, let’s trim our square without the use of a square ruler. For this, you will be relying on the lines on your cutting mat. It’s a little more complicated than the first way.

Once again, you need to figure out the measurement for the center of your trimmed square. We will use a 3 1/2″ trimmed square, with a center point of 1 3/4″, again.

Place your hourglass square on your cutting mat, lining up a diagonal seam with the 45 degree line on your cutting mat, and lining up the vertical and horizontal center points with lines on the mat as well:


Trim 1 3/4″ away from both sides of the vertical center line (this will give you a square which is now 3 1/2″ across):


Then, trim 1 3/4″ away from each side of the horizontal center line:


That’s it! Another perfect hourglass square!




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    Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Your pictures and labels are wonderful. They help “seal the deal” with the written directions. This will surely help those little blocks make a perfect “presence” in the quilt!

  • Lori Smanski
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY; Sounds like you had a great trip. the little stud looks fun

  • Joyce
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Excellent tutorial. I really like the one using the square ruler.

  • Gay Lee
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    The first way to trim the square is definitely going to be my favorite. Thanks for the good pictures.

  • Sarah Edwards
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday Jacquelynne. Sounds like you enjoyed the beach. So relaxing. I did Maggie’s block 3 and sewed white center and was going to do embroidery but now I can’t find it. I do wonder if my dog ate it, but it was large. So I’ll have to remake. I’m still plugging along and working on appliqué and embroidery and will post a few. Oh, tried foundation piecing too. Still behind and out of order but learning. Love your stud. Glad your a/c is fixed.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Oh my- the dog would have an upset tummy if he ate it, LOL! I hope you find it!

  • Hilda Havenga
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial. Can we get one for flying geese please. I did the one with the square ruler for HSTs and it works perfectly. Did use your Cheat Chart for it.

  • Anonymous
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:08 am | Permalink


  • Becky Thompson
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve been quilting for years and this is one of those basic, simple tasks I’ve never figured out. Thanks for the simple and great instructions!

  • Doris
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Is there a way to print these directions.

  • Yoka Bazilewich
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for the tutorial.have never tried this before.
    It will be hard for me to do having a visual problem but will give it a good try.
    Thanks for making the pictures large also it will be very helpful.
    Happy Quilting,

  • marti chapman
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I so enjoy your blog and free patterns. You are blessed when you help other people with your wonderful ideas. Happy birthday, blessings for many more. I am over 65 and still work part time so am looking forward to more sewing projects. Regards Marti

  • Rosiey71421@Comcast.net
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    How can I print this protect. All my stuff is in storage right now so I have been printing every pattern to put in with all my other quilt patterns

  • Charito Osorio
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink


    Un abrazo desde Guatemala.

  • Merry
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday and it’s never too late to get your nose pierced. Great tutorial.

  • Julia Kolb
    Posted November 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Just found your site and I must say THANK YOU. Iam 70 and just learning to quilt so I have been reading and watching every tutorial I can get my hands on. The pictures and instructions are clear and concise. Thanks again and I will be visiting often.

  • Posted September 16, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I will go and see if I understand how to trim the hour glass blocks I have made. Thank you

  • Posted October 3, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the free patterns. I still work full time as an activity director so dont have much time to sew. Thanks for your website. Beverly a Coleman

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