Creative articles about quilting

Old Block Quilt-Along, Part 30: Turkey Tracks

I would like to introduce the 30th block for the Old Block Quilt-Along, which I bring to you as a herald of spring! It is called “Turkey Tracks”.

Like many of the blocks presented here, “Turkey Tracks” dates back a long way before it was first published. It was probably created around 1850 – perhaps even earlier. It then became well-known from newspapers in the 1920s and 30s. It was featured in The Kansas City Star in 1936, and there are also very similar designs under the following names: “Iris Leaf”, “The Swallow”, “Bible Tulip” and “Burr and Thistle”. But what I find most interesting is that the name of this block was initially “Wandering Foot”!

“Colonial Boys Were Never Permitted to Sleep Under ‘Wandering Foot’ Quilt” was the title of Nancy Cabot’s column in the Chicago Tribune. The superstition was that if a little boy slept under a “Wandering Foot” quilt, he may be afflicted with a “wandering foot” and run away from home. “The name was changed to ‘Turkey Tracks’ in the hope that the curse would be lifted,” she writes. This quilt block was also known as “Devil’s Footprints” and “Aunt Dinah’s Hunt” at the time. (Source: More about Nancy / Nancy Cabot Sew Along, Wandering Foot Quilt Block, 5.2.2013)

Ruth Finley said about this pattern, “But wanderlust, the craving for change … rose among the men and boys of America to the pitch of emotional disease.” (Source: “Wandering Foot Quilt Pattern – Reflecting the Rush for Gold and Land”,, 2007 Judy Breneman)

We are sewing the “Turkey Tracks” patchwork block

Turkey Tracks is a 9″ block (9.5″ including the seam allowance) and is made using pattern templates.

Download the patchwork templates

For cutting out, I have created two PDF documents to download:

  • The first is a coloring sheet. This allows you to try out colors and designs for this block to see what they look like.
  • And on the second you will find the templates.

On the PDF with the templates, I have put a control square with a side length of 1 inch so that you can check whether your printout of the templates is the right size. It is important to set your print options to “Actual size”.

Here are the downloads:

Coloring sheet “Turkey Tracks”

Templates “Turkey Tracks”

Cutting out the pattern pieces

You will need to cut out the following number of pieces:

  • Template A: 1 x patterned fabric 
  • Template B: 4 x background fabric
  • Template C: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template D: 4 x background fabric
  • Template E: 4 x background fabric
  • Template F: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template G: 4 x patterned fabric

Sewing the Turkey Tracks patchwork block

The block involves a combination of curves and Y-seams. As you have already had plenty of practice, these should no longer be too much of a challenge for you!

First, take a careful look at my instructions and lay out your cut out pieces. Then you can get started.

Start with the middle piece A and the corresponding large background B pieces. Mark the points of intersection of the seam allowances on the back of the fabric.

Then, first of all sew two opposite B pieces onto the middle piece. You can then attach the two other B pieces.

As you can see in the picture below, I ironed the seam allowances open. While doing this, I carefully cut into the seam allowance of the middle piece several times using a pair of sharp scissors. This makes it easier to iron the curve open and you don’t have as many seam allowances on top of each other.

Now it’s time to sew the “turkey tracks” – although they look more like flowers to me…

As with the “Sunbeam” block last time, we again have something like Y-seams here. First, you have to close the panel seams between the pattern pieces D + F and E + G.

Then mark the seam points and points of intersection on the back of pattern piece C.

The next steps are the same as I described for the “Sunbeam” block.

As a result, you now have these 4 sections to insert into the curves of your middle piece.

I showed you how to sew curves for the “Friendship Knot” block.

And once you’ve done that, it’s finished! It doesn’t matter whether you see flowers or feathered footprints. Either way, it’s a really nice-looking block, don’t you think?

Here are some examples of quilts using this block:

(Source: The Quilt Index / Turkey Tracks  Springston, Marie – L, ca. 1850-1875)

(Source: Turkey Tracks – International Quilt Museum, Lincoln Nebraska – Handpieced – ca. 1860)

(Source: Joanne Noragon – Cup on the Bus: Mom’s Turkey Track Quilts, 23.10.2011)

These are very traditional quilts made from this block and I am curious to see if you come up with more modern interpretations of this block!

Make your own “Turkey Tracks” block and post it here on the BERNINA blog in the Community area, on Instagram or Facebook – wherever you want to present your beautiful creations. Don’t forget to tag your picture with the hashtag #BERNINAOldBlockSampler!

New here?

Have you only just discovered the quilt-along? No problem! You can join at any time. Registration is not required, and you can win a BERNINA 570 QE! All the posts will remain permanently available:

In the first post, which was the invitation to participate in the quilt-along, you will find the important initial information about our joint project:

Old Block Quilt-Along – who’s in?

You can find the rest of the blocks from the quilt-along that have already been published here:

Old Block Quilt-Along – overview of all the posts

I’m glad you’re taking part and I hope to see more wonderful pictures of your blocks!

See you soon for the next block,

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  • Vicki Leslie EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Thank you for posting this pattern! This was the last pattern my grandmother quilted over 50 years ago. I had looked and looked for this pattern but didn’t know the name of it. Thankfully my cousin found it. I’m excited to give it a try! I will do mine as EPP. I have a question. What is the name of piece A?
    Thanks again,
    Vicki in TX

  • doggieeyes EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I like the story/legend behind this one! how many more patterns can we expect? I remember reading 34 at some point – is that correct?

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