Monday, December 20, 2010

Disappearing Four-Patch Tutorial

When I purchased a charm pack of 10 inch squares of batiks, I put it aside in the hopes that I'd find something to do with it.  That was at the beginning of the summer, which I spent mostly helping my dad to care for my mom since she had cancer.  I didn't have much time to think about quilting, although I did manage to get into the studio on occasion.  It made for a great stress reliever.  

Then suddenly I had plenty of time for quilting.  Although we knew she was terminal and her time was short, I really believed that mom would last through the holidays.  She passed away on November 2, and I didn't know what to do with myself since I had a difficult time focusing on any one project.  I finally decided over the Thanksgiving holidays that I would have to get a handle on my depression.  So I finished a quilt I had loaded on the longarm and began looking for a new project.  I found the tutorial for a disappearing four-patch on the Quilting Board and decided it would be perfect for the pack of batiks.  Rich and I went to Borne Quilter and I picked up a few yards of a neutral batik that would calm the colors and patterns down.  I've working on it fairly regularly since.  Yesterday I decided to take a few pictures and post them in a tutorial-style essay.  And here goes....

Start with any size squares--mine are 10 inch squares--just make sure that all the squares are exactly the same size.  It also helps if they are rather large, I think at least 6 or 8 inches because they will be cut down.  They should, of course, be cut on grain since they will be more stable.  

If using a neutral, which I recommend, stitch a neutral to a color using a 1/4 inch seam allowance and press.  I did all these in one run of chain piecing (do not cut the threads, instead add the next block and keep going).  Then stitch each two-patch to another two-patch to form a 4-patch.  

 Again I chain-pieced the two patches together in one run.  Just make sure that when putting the patches together you

  • put them right sides together
  • have the neutral touching the color
  • lock the seams (the seam allowances are going in different directions)
  • use a 1/4 inch seam allowance

Once you've stitched all of your four-patches (4p), you're ready to begin cutting.  You will make four cuts--two in each direction.  Since I was using 10 inch squares, I had a large 4p.  I decided to cut my 4p 3 1/2 inches from the center seam.  The 1/2 inch would leave me enough for 1/4 seams, the three inches would divide the 4p so that I'd get different sized squares.  This adds interest and adds to the look of a complicated block.

Now decide how you want to arrange your new block.  Watch as the 4p disappears into what looks like a very complicated block.  Here are two arrangements:
With all the colors still close together and a diagonal feel to the new block.
 This is the one I decided to go with.

With the colors all across the new block.  This one has a sort of X going for it.  

Treat your new block like a nine patch.  Sew the blocks into rows then sew the rows together.

 Keep going, make more blocks and before you know it you'll have enough for a quilt!
Now you get to make more design decisions--how will you arrange the finished blocks?  I'm putting mine into rows of four across and five down.  This will give me enough for a center.  I'll use more of the neutral for a wide border so that I can add some appliqued flowers--my signature quilts generally have a center of pieced blocks surrounded by flowers.

Here are a couple of arrangements I've played with on the design wall:
Trying to put colors together, but it won't work since I didn't pre-plan that.  Sure looks good, though.

With all the blocks facing the exact same way.  Adds a more scrappy feel to the quilt.

I will use the first one, but there's bound to be others available.  I've just already chosen a quilting motif that will look best if the colors are touching and the neutrals are also touching.  I also like the result of the small squares encircling the larger squares.  Gotta get more blocks sewn so I can get to that quilting motif!  Happy quilting!

1 comment:

needlesandpins said...

Thank you for the pretty tuto. It looks so nice and fast. I will give it a try!
Greetings, Brigitte