Circling Swallows Quilt Block

Circling Swallows with the free Inklingo shape collection

When I posted this photo of my Circling Swallows quilt block on Facebook this week, some quilters asked how to make it.

Good news! It is surprisingly easy and uses the shapes in the FREE Inklingo shape collection. If you have some freezer paper and some fabric, you can make one right now. Monkey says, It’s fun and an easy way to impress your friends.

layout for Circling Swallows

Circling Swallows may look complex but it is just an 8-pointed star with eight 45° diamonds.

Fabric Selection for Circling Swallows (Beyer 303-10)

I only used two contrasting fabrics in my blocks but it also works if you choose a different fabric for each “swallow.”

I want all of those lovely points to look great, so contrast is important. This might mean choosing a dark fabric. There are tips for printing on dark fabric in the Top 10 Tutes.

print QST and diamonds for Circling Swallows

Print the free shapes on fabric

Each pieced diamond is made up of 3 Diamonds and 4 Quarter Square Triangles. I know the triangles should be QST instead of HST (half square triangles), so there is straight grain on the outside edges of each pieced diamond.

For 24 diamonds and 32 QST for 8 pieced diamonds just print TWO sheets of contrasting fabric.

  • 24 diamonds (Layout A) in 6.25 x 13.75 Portrait
  • 32 QST (Layout A) in 6.75 x 13 Portrait

All the info is included in the Catalogue of Shapes in the free shape collection, so you know what size to cut the freezer paper. Easy peasy.

If you are new to Inklingo, be sure to review the first chapter of The Inklingo Handbook—which is included FREE in the Diamond Triangle Square shape collection. (Pages H5 – H48) You will be off to a great start!

Continuous stitching by hand

A Choice of Methods for Circling Swallows

By hand, I can sew crosshair to crosshair. Continuous stitching means that I plan my route (above), so that at the end of every seam, I can turn a corner and keep on going.

By machine, I can sew crosshair to crosshair. Every seam is the same length (1.32 inches), so a little practice will help you the way it does for the hexagons in one of my YouTube videos: How to sew Hexagons by Machine. It goes fast.

Circling Swallows press and trim

If you intend to finish by hand, there is no need to press until the end. Trimming is optional.

If you intend to finish by machine, press each diamond identically. I pressed so the seam allowances will all go clockwise where the blue diamonds intersect (example above).

Add matches on long seams

Sew the 8 Pieced Diamonds

You might find it helpful to use a freezer paper template to mark an extra match before you sew the 8 Pieced Diamonds into the star shape.

Circling the Intersection in Circling Swallows Quilt Block

Just like other 6 and 8-pointed stars, I circle the intersection when I sew by hand. It ensures a nice, tight intersection at the center of the star (below).

Circling Swallows quilt block

The rest is just like sewing any LeMoyne Star or 8-pointed star by hand or by machine.

You also need 4 QST (4.48 inch) and 4 Squares (3.18 inch) to finish the block. Monkey says, there is good news and bad news.

Circling Swallows quilt block with Inklingo

Bad News: For a star this size, the QST not Inklingoable and difficult to measure accurately. The required Square is inklingoable but it is not in the free shape collection. (Index of Shapes)

Good News: Everything you need is included in the free Diamond Triangle Square shape collection to make freezer paper templates for these two shapes, so you can finish the block by hand or by machine. NO tricky measuring!

Whenever a shape is not inklingoable (yet), I recommend using freezer paper templates. If you are interested in a short article about making the freezer paper templates, please leave a comment. If there is enough interest, I will do that next.


I have not written about Circling Sparrows before but the same topics come up over and over:  8-pointed stars, sewing crosshair to crosshair by hand or machine, continuous stitching, circling the intersection, pressing and trimming, freezer paper templates, printing on dark fabric. Wow. I have written about these many, many times over the years, so you might want to browse other articles on the blog too. (Searchable)

Thank you for circling around to see my Circling Swallows.

Now I’m going to fill up the bird feeder (again) and settle down to a little piecing, okay?

Linda & Monkey in Canada

11 thoughts on “Circling Swallows Quilt Block”

  1. I’ve always admired this block and have wondered how it goes together. I’m confused on the piecing. Step by step photos of each piece would be helpful. A cutting guide would be nice, too. Are there “Y” seams? I don’t know anything about printing on fabric, other than hand marking. I guess I need my hand held first time around. I call myself an ambitious beginner to quilt top piecing, even though I have been doing this type of sewing for seven years. I love learning new techniques. Thank you.

    • Hi Caroline, Thank you for writing. Welcome to Inklingo! Circling Swallows is a lovely block. It is just an 8-pointed star and yes, it does have inset seams. Each of the 8 large diamonds is pieced, as shown in the diagram (blue and white). Once the large diamonds are pieced, it is exactly the same as sewing any 8-pointed star. The best news is that you can practice 8-pointed stars with the FREE Diamond Triangle Square shape collection PDF. It includes step-by-step instructions for sewing 8-pointed stars, inset seams, AND pressing with the added bonus of instructions for printing on fabric. You can order the free PDF here:
      If you have questions about ordering, please ask. I am happy to help.

  2. Hello Linda, I love this block. It’s easy to sew and makes a beautiful quilt.
    Thank you for always adding new ideas for us to work on.

  3. One of my favorite patterns!
    It’s so beautiful, from such simple shapes!
    Seems I have seen it mostly in solids or little prints. It’s lovely in your florals, Linda!

    • Hi Karen, You re right. I’ve been experimenting with more fabric combinations and there are even more possibilities. I’m glad you like it too.

  4. Love this new pattern. I am looking forward to making it. I am also working on learning your system. I believe it will make a world of difference.
    Viki B.


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