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  • Diane Pebley

Fast & Fun Scrappy 4-patches

Variation #1 is on top. Variation #2 is on bottom.

This fast and fun sewing technique (not a specific project pattern) for the basic 4-patch is great for busting up those scraps of fabrics while reducing the time it takes to cut, align, and sew them together. Use the 4-patches as a border around a panel or fill the quilt field with nothing but awesome scrappiness and then add some borders.

  1. Use a 1/4” seam throughout the entire process.

  2. Choose one of these two variations and stick with it throughout the entire project.

  3. Variation #1: All squares start off at the exact same size. It does not matter what size just remember by the time the 4-patches are sewn together, the smallest square will be one quarter the size of the starting square. For example: If you start off with 5” squares, each square in the 4-patch will be 2 inches square.

  4. Variation #2: Different sized squares can be used provided the finished piece sizes are multiples of each other. For example: 1 1/4” (not advisable), 2 1/2”, and 5” are finished sizes that are multiples. For another example: 1 1/2”, 3”, and 6” finished sizes. Since, these are finished sizes, remember to add the seam allowances before cutting them. This variation looks particularly stunning when there are just a few 4-patches in the smallest and largest sizes and most of the quilt field consists of the middle size.

  5. Use one light fabric square and one dark square. With right sides together, align the two squares around all four sides. This makes one pair. (If correctly aligned, the bottom fabric won’t be seen as in Figure 1.)

  6. Figure 1:

  7. Chain-piece along two OPPOSITE sides of each pair (dotted lines). Do not snip them apart. Set the seams with an iron.

  8. On a cutting mat, align several pairs into a single line end to end just as they were chain-pieced together. The seams of one pair should touch the seams of the next pair so that the seams make two straight lines of stitching.

  9. With a long rotary ruler, cut through the center of the pairs (solid line) then snip them apart at the chain. Or, if you prefer, It may be easier to first snip them apart at the chain and then to cut them through the center one at a time. The choice is yours.

  10. Open and press the seams to the darker fabric.

  11. This next step can be accomplished using one of two different methods for either variation. Choose only one method and be consistent throughout the entire project.

  12. This is the most scrappy of both these methods, Figure 2:

  13. Randomly mix up the pairs.

  14. Sew all the pairs into one very long strip matching and sewing through the seam intersections at each seam. Be sure to alternate the light and dark fabrics as you go so that the seam allowances will also alternate at each seam.

  15. Cut half way between each seam to separate the 4-patches. For example: if you started with 5” cut squares, then half way is at 2 1/2” and it is measured from the raw edge of the seam. That means the seams remain closed, not pressed open, while measuring. See Figure 3.

  16. This method makes left-right reverse 4-patches, Figure 4:

  17. Repeat steps 3 and 4 above matching and sewing through seam intersections on both sides for all 4-patches, Figure 4.

  18. Leave the seams unpressed until the 4-patches are sewn together to form the quilt field.

  19. Arrange and sew the 4-patches into a quilt field or around a panel as a border.

Figure 1: Pairs of Squares Chain-pieced Along Opposite Sides and Cut Through the Middle

Figure 2: Darker Fabrics Alternate So Pairs are Ready to be Sewn Into a Very Long Strip

Figure 3: The Long Strip is Sewn and the First Pair is Turned Right Sides Together to Reveal the Raw Edge of the Seam

Figure 4: Two Pairs Aligned at Seam Intersections + Seams and Cut = 2 Left-right Reverse 4-patches

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