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Scrappy Swimming Fish Quilt Block

I have always been a huge fan of scrap quilts and the majority of my pieces are done this way. My scrappy swimming fish quilt block is no exception. It is a whimsical block that is fairly easy to make.

I came up with this block while I was designing the quilt “Swimming Upstream”. I had a large stash of coral fabrics and, for some reason, they reminded me of salmon. The fish has a long body and I added background sashing around it to make it look like the fish was swimming in water.

In the quilt I made using this block, each fish is made up of one coral fabric and the beige sashing is from various fabrics. For a different look, you can easily make the fish out of various fabrics and keep the sashing one fabric, or you can change it any other way you would like to.

Whatever fabrics you choose, here is how you make the block. If you would prefer to print out the pattern, you can find the pdf version here.

Block Specs

  • Finished block measures 4 ½ inches by 9 ½ inches
  • Scant ¼ inch seam allowance is used

Supplies Needed

  • Various fabric scraps
  • Basic sewing supplies

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Cutting Instructions (For One Block)

For the fish:

  • Three – 2 ¼ inch squares
  • One 2 ½ inch by 4 ½ inch rectangle

For the background:

  • Two – 1 ½ inch by 4 ½ inch rectangles
  • Two – 7 ½ inch by 1 ½ inch rectangles
  • Three – 2 ¼ inch squares

Assembling the block

Making the Half Square Triangles

Note: I made the fish tail and head using half square triangles and these instructions are for that method. If you would prefer, you can easily use a flying geese unit for the head and two for the tail. The flying geese unit should measure 2 ½ inches by 1 ½ inches.

First, make the half square triangles for the head and tail. You will need the 2 ¼ inch squares.

Making the half square triangles

On the back (wrong) side of one of the squares for the background, draw a diagonal line.

With right sides facing each other, take one of the squares for the fish and line it up with the square you just drew the diagonal line on.

Using a scant ¼ inch seam allowance, sew along both sides of the drawn line.

Cut along the drawn line and press open. To avoid bulk when sewing these units together, press one of the half square triangles towards the dark and the other towards the light. You will have two half square triangles.

Trim down to 1 ½ inch squares.

Repeat two more times. You will end up with a total of 6 half square triangles.

Finishing the Block

Lay out your block pieces as shown.

Laying out the scrappy swimming fish quilt block

First, sew together two half square triangles to form one unit. It should resemble a flying geese unit and measure 1 ½” by 2 ½”.

Repeat with the remaining half square triangles.

Take two of the units you just made and sew them together, with the points matching. It will look like an hourglass block.

Attach this to one of the short ends of the 2 ½ inch by 4 ½ inch rectangle.

Assembling the fish block

Next, attach the remaining half square triangle unit to the other short end of the rectangle.

You now have your fish and it should measure 7 ½ inches long.

Adding the Sashing

First add the longer strip to one of the long sides of the fish. Press open.

Assembling the fish block

Next, add the other long strip to the other side of the fish. Press open.

Lastly, add the two shorter strips to the block, one at the top, and one at the bottom. Press open.

Scrappy Swimming Fish Quilt Block - Free Pattern

Scrappy Swimming Fish Quilt Block

Scrappy Swimming Fish Quilt Block - Free Pattern

The block does have a number of smaller pieces, but with precise cutting and sewing, it comes together easily and looks great.

In the quilt I made using this block, I offset the columns with some extra squares to give it a little bit more movement. The beautiful longarm quilting was done by Adria Good Longarm Quilting.

Swimming Upstream - Free Quilt Pattern by Create with Claudia

If you would like to make this quilt, my free pattern can be found here.

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