Learn To Make A Stunning Mariner’s Compass Quilt With These 13 Patterns

If you are a fan of traditional quilt patterns, you know quilts with a large center star were famous “back in the day.” 

There were carpenters stars, lone stars, and the pattern we’re going to focus on today, the mariner’s compass.

Mariner compass quilts are well-known in the Amish community and modern quilting guilds since they have a timeless design.

Let’s discuss what makes the mariner’s compass such a unique pattern, and then we will look at 13 beautiful examples of this ageless quilt pattern.

What Is a Mariner’s Compass Quilt?

The mariner’s compass quilt pattern is one of the oldest known patterns dating back to 1726. 

This pattern was likely designed to look like…you guessed it, a mariner’s compass. However, the pattern didn’t carry the name “mariner’s compass” until the mid-1800s. 

For a quilt pattern to be considered a mariner’s compass design, it needs to have a circular center with anywhere between 16-32 points radiating out of the center circle. 

Traditionally, quilters would place a large mariner’s compass quilt block in the middle of a quilt top with several decorative borders. 

In modern quilt designs, you will see varying placements of the mariner’s compass block with bold, vibrant colors. Let’s look at some gorgeous examples of the mariner’s compass.

The Mariner’s Compass Quilt Pattern: 13 Stunning Designs to Try

This collection of quilt patterns and examples will show you the variations you can make with the mariner’s compass as the featured quilt block. I tried to find an easy mariner’s compass quilt pattern, but to create this quilt pattern does take quite a bit of skill.

I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner; however, I encourage beginner quilters to take note of these examples and know they ARE possible once you have some experience. 

1. Anne’s Mariner’s Compass Quilt

Here is a fabulous example to start our mariner’s compass journey. This is a perfect rendition of the traditional mariner’s compass quilt pattern with a smaller compass block in the center and a larger compass surrounding the center block.

The gorgeous custom quilting of this quilt makes the quilt pattern look stunning.


2. Peace After the Storm

Here is a gorgeous modern take on the mariner’s compass pattern. The designer wanted to mimic the different water depths, so they used varying shades of blue.

The pattern features a large compass in the center and two smaller compasses at each point of the large compass. This pattern contains instructions to create a 104” square quilt. 


3. Harlequin Stars

Wow, this quilt is quirky and gorgeous with these amazing mariner’s compasses covering the quilt top. This pattern is by Emma Jean Jansen and is best suited for advanced quilters.

You will need to know how to use the foundation paper piecing technique. Emma also chose to use flying geese for the sashing, which I think is genius; it pulls the whole quilt together. The finished size of this quilt is 81”x81”.


4. Queen Mariner’s Compass Quilt

Here is a queen-size (100”x119”) quilt that features a unique “starburst” mariner’s compass in the center. The maker also included a fun border of partial compass blocks that look like fans.

They chose to use a more straightforward quilting design to allow the fabrics and quilt pattern to shine, which is an excellent option if you use a large print fabric as the designer did. 


5. Mariner’s Compass Pattern with Templates

Suppose you are searching for a mariner’s compass pattern that includes acrylic templates. This pattern includes all instructions on piecing this beautiful 28”x28” block and two templates to help make it a bit easier. The pattern also includes instructions to piece a table runner, lap quilt, twin, and queen/king quilt. 


6. 1847 Mariner’s Compass Quilt

Here is an absolutely gorgeous mariner’s compass quilt made in 1847 by Barbara Ann Miller in Pennsylvania. She used cotton and linen to create the quilt and handstitched the entire project. The finished size is 108”x107 ½”.


7. Mariner’s Compass Block

This design is a great closeup shot of a simple mariner’s compass quilt block. Suz from Patchwork n Play pieced the block using the book Showstopping Quilts: To Foundation Piece by Tricia Lund and Judy Pollard.

You can use a block like this for a “one block” quilt top where you use one block to make the entire quilt top, or you could use this for a sampler quilt. 


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8. Mariner’s Compass Ginny

The colors in this quilt are phenomenal and striking with that black background. I don’t know if you noticed, but the maker of this quilt used the same pattern as the maker from #1 in this collection. It’s amazing how different two quilts can look just because of fabric selection. This quilt pattern is by Judy Niemeyer.


9. Succulent Garden

Each succulent flower has a beautiful mariner’s compass in the center. This modern pattern from Robin Ruth Design shows how it’s possible to take a traditional quilt pattern and bring it to the 21st century. The pattern gives instructions to make a 51”x68” quilt.

Robin also sells templates to use alongside her patterns that are specifically for mariner’s compass blocks. 


10. Tarnished Star

This quilt pattern is breathtaking! This is another Robin Ruth design you will need to purchase her templates to be able to use correctly, but it would be SO worth it to make this masterpiece. The finished measurements of this quilt are 92”x100”. 


11. Circular Mariner’s Compass Quilt

In many patterns, the mariner’s compass is pieced in a circle, so why not leave it that way and make a circular quilt? That’s precisely what this quilt maker did. She also added several fun flying geese borders, which adds more movement to the quilt top.

I am guesstimating that the size of this quilt is five feet in diameter, judging by the pictures I found. 


12. 32-Point Mariner’s Compass Block

Here is a unique pattern to make a 32-point mariner’s compass block. Instead of using paper piecing like most patterns, this pattern will teach you how to do the “flip and fold” method.

The only catch is you need an embroidery machine to be able to use this PDF file. Looking closely, you can see each block piece is stitched down using embroidery thread. The finished block will measure 8” square.


13. Memories of the Titanic II

This beautiful quilt features a simple mariner’s compass in the center, moves out to fun wonky star blocks, and finishes with an impressive wave border.

This pattern includes all necessary templates to make all the different blocks for this quilt and instructions to create a 72” square or 94” square quilt. You will need to know how to use foundation paper piecing to use this pattern. 


I love how you can use the mariner’s compass quilt block as one huge centerpiece of a quilt, as smaller blocks all over the quilt, or as just one element for a much larger design.

It is truly a wonderful, timeless quilt pattern, and I hope this collection has inspired you to try to make one or, at least, put it on your “someday” quilt pattern list. 

As a fan of traditional quilt patterns, one unique and fun quilt to make is a mariner's compass.  Discover some mariner's compass quilt patterns in this post.

About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she’s not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.

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