Introduction: Quilting Basics : 4 Patch Block

About: Wife of one, mother of three & now a grandmother too! I enjoy making things and cooking edible things and eating them. aka on IRC as AstroMom

The four patch block is one of the simplest pieced quilt blocks.  It is made by sewing 4 squares the same size together to make a larger square.  Four patch blocks can be made using 2, 3 or 4 different fabrics depending on the effect you are after.

The 4 patch block is a good starting place to make sure your 1/4" seams really are 1/4" and to get to grips with learning to align seams where they meet.  In this instructable I also show how to press your seams in opposite directions so you don't get a big lump when you sew the sections of the block together.

Step 1: Requirements

4 squares of cotton fabric the same size

sewing machine

or needle and thread if you hand piece (i.e. no sewing machine)

Ironing board

Rotary cutter (not absolutely necessary, but makes cutting squares much faster)

My sewing instructions will all be for machine piecing, but the basic idea, cutting, pressing and layout are the same for hand piecing.

Step 2: Sewing the Block

Take 2 different fabric squares and put them right sides together, matching the raw edges.

Sew along one edge with a 1/4" seam.

Repeat for your other 2 squares.

Step 3: Press the Seams

Heat your iron up to cotton setting (3 spots), or a lower setting if you have used polyester thread. Most quilters recommend a dry iron for this i.e. no steam.

Put your pairs of squares on the ironing board with the darker fabric on top and then place your iron on the seam and press the iron down on the seam for a few seconds without sliding the iron around.  Remove the iron from the fabric and press the seam of your other pair of squares the same way.

Now open the squares up like a book by folding the dark fabric over the seam and press it back in place, again try not to slide your iron about more than necessary as this can distort the fabric.  You want the fold of the fabric to be as close as possible to the stitches.

Step 4: Finish the Block.

Take your first pair of squares and put it down with the right side upper most and the dark fabric nearer you (the seam should be underneath and pointing "towards" you). Now take your second pair of squares and put them on top of the other so that the right sides are together (inside) and you do not have the same fabrics facing each other.  Match the raw edges and nestle the seams snugly up against each other.

Sew a 1/4" seam down the right hand side of your squares.  When you get to the seam feed it gently under the foot so that it doesn't flip and try to keep the seams butted right up against each other.

Take you sewn block to the ironing board and press the seam flat, then open as before (you can't only press to the dark side this time) and there is your completed 4 patch block.

Step 5: Note on Sizes

For a 4 patch block you need to cut your individual squares half the finished size of the whole block plus 1/2" for seam allowances

...for a 4" finished block ( 4 1/2" unfinished) your squares need to be 2 1/2"
...for a 6" finished block ( 6 1/2" unfinished) your squares need to be 3 1/2"
...for a 8" finished block ( 8 1/2" unfinished) your squares need to be 4 1/2"
...for a 12" finished block ( 12 1/2" unfinished) your squares need to be 6 1/2"

Hope that helps!