Block 2019: Dutchman’s Puzzle Variations


Welcome to the Block 2019 Creative Challenge! We’re exploring different classic quilt block each month all year long. Before we get to the Dutchman’s Puzzle variations, we want to be sure you get to see the Block 2019 Sampler Quilt!

It’s 72″ x 72″ and suitable for quilt-as-you-go. Get fabric requirements for the sampler or look at the kit. It’s another fun way to participate in Block 2019. Okay, back to Dutchman’s Puzzle variations!

Last week we met Dutchman’s Puzzle. This week, we’re going to play with variations of Dutchman’s Puzzle and learn along the way what essential parts from Dutchman’s Puzzle must exist in its variations. Let’s start by look at the original.

Dutchman's Puzzle variations

According to Barbara Brackman in Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, the traditional Dutchman’s Puzzle block traces back to the Ladies Art Company, a mail order quilt pattern catalog, appearing around 1895. The block features pairs of Flying Geese set in a 2 x 2 grid, or Four Patch. There are several variations that use this rectangles in a 2×2 grid layout, and there are variations that focus on the Flying Geese shapes. Let’s take a look.

Return of the Swallows

Don’t check your eyes. This variation is very similar to the Dutchman’s Puzzle, but the points of the Flying Geese consistently point down and to the right instead of consistently outward from the center. This variation creates a very orderly quilt when set together in rows.


I love this breezy take on the Dutchman’s Puzzle! Skip adding the outer corner to the inner Flying Geese to make this block. It emphasizes the windmill motif in the center of the Dutchman’s Puzzle block while the placement of the background color creates open spaces that imply a lazy spinning movement in the block.

Double Dutchman’s Puzzle

Dutchman's Puzzle Variations Block

This Dutchman’s Puzzle sets the block within itself while utilizing the 2×2 grid. Half Square Triangles in the outer ring imply larger Flying Geese units cut off by the smaller Dutchman’s Puzzle Block.

The Flying Dutchman

Dutchman's Puzzle Variations block

The Dutchman’s Puzzle is sometimes also called the Flying Dutchman, so named after the doomed ship of lore. (Don’t think I didn’t spend all week saying Flying Dutchman when I meant Dutchman’s Puzzle.) This Flying Dutchman block uses the same idea of two rectangles in a square on a 2×2 grid. It uses four Quarter Square Triangles, four Flying Geese, and four narrow rectangles.

In a quilt, using a dark value for the background creates negative space full of depth between the block centers. This allows the shape of the blocks to sparkle.

dutchman's puzzle variation flying dutchman

Ready to make your own variation on Dutchman’s Puzzle variation? We have instructions for The Flying Dutchman to get you started, but there are many ways to take the elements of Dutchman’s Puzzle and reinterpret them your way!

dutchman's puzzle variation

Brush up on the No-Waste Flying Geese Method below or click here to see the Quarter Square Triangle (QST) in action.

Check back next week March 20th for quilt-as-you-go ideas for quilting your Dutchman’s Puzzle block.

Show us your Dutchman’s Puzzle blocks and variations in the AQS Project Parade Facebook group, or use the hashtag #Block2019 and tag us @aqsonline because we can’t wait to see what you make!

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