Summer Sampler Series : Rocky Road to Kansas

Our eleventh quilt block for the Summer Sampler Series is the Rocky Road to Kansas. It can be found in Chapter 16, Page 361, Block 2979 of Barbara Brackman’s The Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

Some quilt blocks are named after the time or event when they first appeared. The Rocky Road to Kansas is such a block, referring to the period of early settlers in late 1800’s and their difficult traveling conditions.

I loved this block as soon as I saw it. One of the first quilts I made was a string quilt, and it felt so “modern” and “hip” to me. Well this quilt block just shows that strip and string quilts are not a new design, but have been around for a long time. They were used as a way to use up leftover fabric scraps, let nothing go to waste. So go ahead, channel your inner pioneer, and let’s get started on the Rocky Road to Kansas!

Rocky Road to Kansas Quilt Block Tutorial

Please note, all seams are 1/4″; Final block size 12.5″ unfinished
Reduce your stitch length so that the paper template will perforate easily. I used 1.5 stitch length.

Paper Piecing Templates
Print 4 of the Paper Piecing Template below. Be sure to print them at 100% and check the scale icon with a ruler before starting.

Rocky Road to Kansas Paper Piecing Template

Prepare the templates. Cut out the templates around the seam allowance line.

Step 1. Cut your fabric. When cutting fabric for paper piecing, you will be cutting rectangles that will be larger than needed.

I recommend cutting 1 of each piece below, making a block, and ensuring it is enough fabric for your sewing style. Then you can make adjustments later for the rest of your blocks. These are the fabric sizes I used for my paper piecing.

Pattern Piece Fabric Color
1 – Star Cut 4 6″ x 7.5” Strips sewn together to required size* -or- single piece of fabric cut to size
2 – Background Cut 4 4” x 7.5” White
3 – Background Cut 4 4” x 7.5″ White
4 – Center Square Cut 4 3.5” x 5.5” Purple

* I decided to go for the scrappy look, so I cut strips 6″ long, and random widths ranging from 1.25″ and 2″.

Step 2. If you cut strips for your star, sew the strips together until they are 7.5″ tall.

Step 3. Take your fabric cut for Piece 1 and place it right side out on the back of your template, making sure to cover the entire template space 1. Pin into place.

Step 4. Take your fabric cut for Piece 2. Place it right side together to Piece 1 which you pinned into place in Step 3. Hold your template up to the light and make sure at least 1/4″ of the fabric overlaps into template space 2.

Step 5. Sew along the seam line on the template between pieces 1 and 2. Remove your pins.

Step 6. Flip your block over. This is what your seam will look like.

Trim your seam allowance to 1/4″.

Press your fabric open.

Step 7. Repeat this process and sew background piece 3 and center square piece 4 into place.

Step 8. Turn your block over and trim the excess fabric from around the template. Before trim:

After trim:

Step 9. Now repeat these steps for the other 3 templates. Once you have all four squares pieced, remove the paper from the back. This should perforate easily as long as you remembered to shorten your stitch length before sewing.

Step 10. Sew your squares together to create your quilt block. You’re done!



  1. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    I can’t wait to try this one!! Thanks!

  2. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    Wow. Cannot wait to make this one! Lovely!

  3. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    Gorgeous! Can’t wait to make it. I’m going to miss this little quilt along when it’s over!

  4. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    I LOVE this block. It looks so easy and is so pretty. I love your color choices.

  5. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    love this block! it’s much easier than it looks and can’t wait to make it! thanks for the tutorial!

  6. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    Indeed!!! You’re work is so cool! This is such an inspiring block with the stripes, it is so great for clearing out the scrap box.

  7. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    Can’t wait to make this! I, too, will miss this Quilt Along! It has been so much fun! And the tutorials and bloggers couldn’t have been better! Thank you for all of your hard work! I have learned so much!

  8. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    I love this! And it doesn’t look nearly as hard as I though it would! 🙂

  9. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    Thank you for all the great tutorials you have shared!
    I have learned so much in this QAL. Now I can look at this blocks and think: Paperpiecing? I can totally do that! 😉

  10. Reply


    August 3, 2011

    I’m not big on the look of string quilts, but this block looks like it is traditionally strip-pieced as one, so I’ll give ‘er a go as just that! Thanks for the tutorials, and the QAL!

  11. Reply

    Gail B

    August 3, 2011

    Great tutorial! Love the colors and you make it look sooo easy!

  12. Reply


    August 4, 2011

    What a beautiful block!

  13. Reply


    October 19, 2011

    After a “short” break from my summer sampler blocks, I got to this one last night. It was so easy and looks so great! Thanks for a great tutorial and paper piecing template, Faith. Also, I just pieced my strips directly onto the paper so I knew exactly how long and how wide I needed the stripped section to be. It just added a few more seams to rip around at the end.

  14. Reply


    January 11, 2012

    for some reason the template is not loading for me… is it still active?

  15. Reply


    September 20, 2012

    this was a really fun block to make. I actually sewed strips together insuring they were the same when I cut them and the star is amazing. Thanks for a great block.


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