How to Make the Fifty-Four Forty or Fight Quilt Block - Free Tutorial

Join me again this year as I provide instructions for how to make a different quilt block each month. Eventually, all these blocks will turn into a great quilt! For the month of May, we are making an awesome classic, the Fifty-Four Forty or Fight Quilt Block. 

54-40 or Fight Quilt Block in blues and white  

For a 12 inch finished block (12.5 inch unfinished), you will need to cut the following: 

Background Color 

- 10 of 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch squares  

- 4 of 5 1/4 x 3 1/4 inch rectangles 

Light Color

- 8 of 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch squares

Dark Color 

- 2 of 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch squares

- 4 of 5 1/4 x 3 1/4 inch rectangles

 Block pieces all cut out and ready to be sewn together


Make the half rectangle triangles as follows. 

Cut two of the background color 5 1/4 x 3 1/4 rectangles, corner to corner, top left to bottom right. On the other two rectangles, cut corner to corner, top right to bottom left.

Diagram for cutting out triangles

White fabric with lines drawn for where to cut.

Repeat with the dark colored rectangles of the same size. Match up a dark color triangle with a background color triangle as shown in the picture. All three corners will not line up.

Triangles matched up and ready to be sewn together

Stitch a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance along the bottom edge. Be careful not to stretch the fabric as you are sewing along the bias.

Open and press to the dark side. 

Trim to be 4 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches square, making sure the seams line up in the corners.

Sew together two alternating half rectangle triangles to create the points of the star. Repeat to make four sets of star points. 

Two half rectangle triangles sewn together to create points of the star

Using the 2 1/2 inch squares, make 5 sets of 4-patches. Four of them with light color and back ground color and one with dark color and back ground color. 

This is a great time for chain piecing.

Chain piecing squares together

Sew two different colored squares together, and press open.

Two sets of squares sewn together

Then match up another set, nesting seams, and sew together to make the 4-patch.

4-patch all sewn together

Layout the half rectangle triangles and the 4-patches to match the picture and stitch them together in rows. Press each row in alternating directions. Then, stitch the rows together. Press again. 

54-40 or Fight Quilt Block all sewn together

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Check back each month for a new How-To of quilt blocks! To see the other blocks, just search my blog for Quilt Guild Block of the Month.

If you would like a PDF digital download of these instructions, check out Group #7 of the How-To Quilt Block of the Month.  Also, please check out the other blocks that are available for download here.

(This is classic block that has been designed by many people but these instructions are written by me.)  

Have fun quilting!


  • Thanks so so much I was doing the fight quilt using templates wo what a drama.

  • Thank you, thank you so, so much I was sewing the 54 40 fight block using templates what a drama I nearly threw it out, got so frustrated with the whole template thing.

  • Hi Debra!
    I don’t have any plans right now, but keep checking back!

  • I wish kept going. I had a lot going on. Life get in way. Are you going start a new quilt along? I can plan my colors and get fabrics. Thank you.


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