Getting the perfect center on a simple four patch quilt block can be tricky. See how to get it with step-by-step pictures for this traditional block!
Each square may be made up of a single piece of fabric. Or, for more variety use several patches of fabric to make up one square.
The four patch is an almost perfect block in that it can be made in any size.
In the traditional simple four patch each square is the same size.
So, you can cut each square in odd or even numbered sizes - 2 inch, 3 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch, etc. to get the block size you want.
For example if you want an 8 inch finished block, cut four 4 1/2 inch squares. If you want 9 inch finished block, cut four 5 inch squares.
Use two different color fabrics, commonly a light and a dark.
In this tutorial I have designated the fabrics as follows
Here's a simple calculation to determine the size to cut the squares...
finished block size divided by 2 plus 1/2 inch seam allowance = cut square size
Here's a chart to use for cutting squares for some common block sizes
Finished Block Size
Square Size (Cut 4)
3 1/2 inches
4 1/2 inches
5 1/2 inches
6 1/2 inches
This block is laid out on a 2 x 2 grid - 2 rows and 2 columns.
The patches that make up the block are
Using fabrics A and B, cut four squares and lay two squares side-by-side in row 1 and two in row 2.
Sew the block row by row.
Row 1: With right sides together, place the square from column 2 on top of the square from column 1.
Sew the squares together using a 1/4 inch seam along the right side of the squares.
Sew a few stitches beyond the squares. Do not remove squares from sewing machine. Leave the needle down on your sewing machine.
Row 2: With right sides together, place the square from column 2 on top of the square from column 1.
Place these squares under the press of foot. Sew the squares together using a 1/4 inch seam.
You have just chain pieced the two rows of squares.
Using scissors or your rotary cutter, clip the thread between the squares to get ready for the next step.
Now we're going to prepare to achieve that tricky perfect center of the block where all four patches meet.
Don't stress! With careful preparation it's easy to achieve. :-)
Finger press the seam in both rows towards the darker fabric. See the back side of the rows in the photo below.
Press the seams with an iron and use an alternative starch solution, if desired.
Turn the rows of squares face up. Make sure that the squares are in the position that you want them to be when sewn together.
Place row 1 face down on row 2. Do this by bringing the top edge of row 1 down to the bottom edge of row 2.
Nest the seams together. Snuggle them up to one another nice and snug :-)
Of course, your edges will be lined up together. Here, mine are showing both fabrics so that you can see how they will nest together.
Pin the rows together on each side of the seam. Pinning helps to keep the fabric from shifting while it's under the pressure foot.
Put a pin at each end the row.
Take the block over to the sewing machine and sew the rows together with a 1/4 inch seam.
Open the rows apart to reveal the perfect center. All four corners meet up nicely (there's no gap where they meet)!
Finger press the seam (between the rows) upward or downward.
When using this block in a quilt be sure to press the seam of each block in opposite directions so that they will nest together.
Give all of the seams a final press with the iron. For this block I pressed the seam downward. Here's how the block looks on the back.
The perfect simple four patch quilt block is done. Easy peasy! :-)
If you are making multiple blocks for a quilt press as follows...
When the rows of the quilt are joined together the seams will nest.
For an interesting and dynamic take on the 4 patch, try the disappearing four patch quilt block.