Block 2019: Storm At Sea Block & Variation


Storm at Sea quilt block

Storm At Sea

Welcome to Block 2019! We’re exploring classic quilt blocks all year, and the tenth block is Storm At Sea. We’ll be making 2 blocks this month: Last week we made Pineapple, and this week we’re making Storm At Sea. We are making both blocks using Foundation Paper Piecing to celebrate Paper Piecing Month this September!

Click Here for an in-depth photo tutorial on Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP)

Fabric Requirements

Gray (Includes quilt-as-you-go backing) — 3/8 yard
Aqua — Fat Eighth
Dark Blue — 1/4 yard
Coral — 1/8 yard
Batting — 12″ x 12″ (For quilt-as-you-go method only)

Cutting Instructions

From the gray fabric, cut:
(1) 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ (For the quilt-as-you-go method only, do not cut otherwise.)
A2, A3, A4, A5 – (2) 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ squares, cut in half diagonally once
B2, B3, B4, B5 – (16) 2 3/4″ x 4 1/4″

From the aqua fabric, cut:
A6, A7, A8, A9 – (2) 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ squares, cut in half diagonally once
C2, C3, C4, C5 – (8) 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ squares, cut in half diagonally once

From the dark blue fabric, cut:
B1 – (4) 4 1/2″ x 7 1/2″
C6, C7, C8, C9 – (8) 3″ x 3″ square, cut in half diagonally once

From the coral fabric, cut:
A1 – (1) 3 3/4″ x 3 3/4″
C1 – (4) 2 1/4″ x 2 1/4″

Cutting Guide

Pattern Printing

CLICK HERE to download the Storm At Sea Foundation Paper Piecing Pattern


The letters and numbers on the FPP pattern match the fabric pieces as labeled in the cutting instructions. Sew the pieces on to their corresponding place in the FPP patterns. Refer to the Foundation Paper Piecing photo tutorial linked above for step-by-step instructions for sewing an FPP pattern.

Make (1) A unit and trim to 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ unfinished, (4) B units and trim to 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ unfinished, and (4) C units and trim to 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ unfinished. Remove the paper backing and sew the units together as shown below.

Block measures 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ unfinished.

Finishing Touches

To prepare the block for quilt-as-you-go, sandwich the 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ backing square, 12″ x 12″ batting centered on the backing square, and your block. Baste using preferred method. Quilt as desired inside the 12″ finished size of the block. We’ll be sharing ideas for quilting the block later in the month.


Before diving into Storm At Sea variations, we need to get to know the Storm At Sea block a little better. Let’s start by look at the original.

Traditionally, the Storm At Sea is actually a setting design set around a larger Square In A Square block as shown above. The diamonds and smaller Square In A Square unit frame the block and when set next to each other, they create the Storm At Sea we all know.

This mini Storm At Sea quilt made by Janna Markle features a traditional 2-color Storm At Sea layout.

Doris’ Delight – Storm At Sea Variation

Doris’ Delight is a contemporary of Storm At Sea, with its first known appearance in the Farm Journal, which began publishing in 1877, according to Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. With this block, one can set the blocks next to each other without sashing to create a similar look to Storm At Sea, as shown below.

Block Cutting

C1 – (1) 3 3/4″ x 3 3/4″
B2, B3 – (8) 3 1/4″ x 5 1/2″

A1 – (2) 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ square, cut in half diagonally once

Dark Blue:
A2 – (2) 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ square, cut in half diagonally once
B1 – (4) 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″

C2, C3, C4, C5 – (2) 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ square, cut in half diagonally once

CLICK HERE to download the Storm At Sea Variation Foundation Paper Piecing Pattern

Block Construction

Sew the FPP units, trim, and sew together into a 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ unfinished block.

More Variations

Let’s take a look at some contest quilts from QuiltWeek to learn more about this block and its variations.

THE COMET by Jan Beckert

This quilt uses a block Similar to Doris’ Delight, but with Four Patches in the star center. This variation has maximum capacity for creating a scrappy gradient.

CELEBRATION by Ann Clare Novak

This quilt uses a pieced border to complete the repeating pattern created by blocks similar to Doris’ Delight.

KOKORO by Atsuko Kuwada

This quilt also uses a Doris’ Delight style block, but some blocks are distorted to varying degrees, compressed and stretched to create a variety of effects.

JEWEL BOX by Kayoko Mosu

This edge-to-edge traditional Storm At Sea quilt uses color to create the illusion of a dark frame, and of multiple jewels, even creating overlap and transparency.


This Storm At Sea quilt uses color placement to create stripes and rounds with a consistent use of white that creates uniformity.

SHATTERED by Amy Allen

The dramatic use of color and applique in this quilt also shows off that it is possible to create a heart shape from traditional Storm At Sea blocks. Also notice how the setting units of small Square In A Square and Diamond units are repeated in a pieced border to interesting effect.

PEACE AT SEA by Holly Casey

The Storm At Sea blocks in this quilt evoke an aquatic environment that create the backdrop for a beautiful, large scale applique.

DREAM WEAVER by Christine Summers

The Storm At Sea blocks in this quilt have Square In A Square units with only one square. This simplified version allows for the coloring we see in this quilt, creating ribbons that loop back on themselves.

RED SKY AT MORNING by Becky Weiland

This quilt is a great example of how to use color placement to emphasize different shapes in the Storm At Sea pattern. Here there’s even the illusion of an inner border with red on-point squares, which are actually part of the small Square In A Square units.


The blocks in this quilts are similar to the simplified Storm At Sea blocks in DREAM WEAVER, but in this quilt, the blocks are distorted, like in KOKORO. Finally, the color placement creates waved stripes like a sea bed under a rolling, stormy sea.

And you’re all set!

Check back next week for ideas of how to quilt your Storm at Sea & Pineapple blocks. You can always find links to all the previous Block 2019 blocks and see when the next installment is coming out in the main Block 2019 article, just click here.

As you finish your Storm At Sea blocks, share them 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 do!

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Jan Rhinehart

I am glad people are celebrating paper piecing. I find nothing to celebrate in it and am struggling here. Traditional blocks were traditionally pieced. I think it would be cool if we could have a choice between paper piecing and traditional piecing.