Posted in Quilting

Making 4-Patch Quilt Blocks One at a Time

Making 4-Patch Quilt Blocks One at a Time is an essential skill to have. It really is one of the foundation skills that you will require when completing patchwork and quilting projects.

Being able to make 4-patch quilt blocks one at a time is useful as you may have a project that calls for just one block in this style. Alternatively you might be working on a sampler style quilt where you are using multiple colours in an individual 4-patch, or you may simply like the satisfaction of making each block in turn (there’s something nice about seeing the fruits of your labour as you go along).

What you will also discover is that many quilt block styles are constructed in the very same way as an individual 4-patch block!

It therefore really is a great skill to have and this tutorial will tell you everything that you need to know about this method.

You can scroll through this tutorial in order, or you can click on any of the buttons below to jump right to the section you are most interested in.

What is the One at a Time Method?

The 4-Patch Quilt Blocks One at a Time method is a simple way of making 4-patch quilt blocks (as the name suggests) one at a time!

You essentially take 4 equally sized squares (or patches) and join them together in two rows of two squares and then join these two rows together to form a single 4-patch quilt block.

Pros and Cons of the One at a Time Method

Knowing the One at a Time method of making 4-patch quilt blocks is definitely a skill that you need to know but if you are making lots of blocks it may not be the most efficient method!

Here are some pros and cons of the One at a Time method:

  • a key foundation skill (as many blocks are based on a 4-patch layout)
  • perfect for smaller projects when only one 4-patch is required
  • ideal for 4 colour 4-patch blocks
  • great when working with scraps
  • a slightly more time consuming method, especially when making multiple blocks
  • more individual squares to cut out initially if making multiple blocks

If you would also like to learn about the Two at a Time method or the Strip Piecing method, keep an eye out for some forthcoming video tutorials and blog posts.

How to make a 4-Patch Quilt Block - One at a Time Method

You can follow this illustrated step by step guide, or you can jump straight to the demonstration video…

Size of Squares

When making an individual 4-patch you will need 4 squares of fabric. The size of each of these squares will be half of your finished block size, plus half an inch for the seam allowances.

for example:

finished block = 8″ square

unfinished block = 8.5″ square

individual squares = (8″ ÷ 2) = 4″+ 0.5″ = 4.5″ square

Colours/Fabrics required

4-patch quilt blocks can be made from 2, 3 or 4 different fabrics/prints/colours. This tutorial shows how a 4-patch is constructed using just two colours. If you would like to see what 4-patch quilt blocks can look like with three or four colours, read The Ultimate Guide to 4-patch Quilt Blocks for some great inspiration!

Regardless of the number of fabrics that you are using, try to aim for a good level of contrast in your block for the most effective results.

Steps to Sewing an Individual 4-patch Quilt Block

Step 1 – lay out the squares so that fabrics with the same print are diagonally opposite to each other. If you are using more than 2 fabrics, remember to maximise contrast.

Step 2 – with right sides together, make two rows by sewing pairs together using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press seam allowances in the same direction. This is normally done towards the darker fabric.

Step 3 – place the two rows on top of each other with right sides together. You will be able to nest the seam allowances at the centre seam. One will go in one direction the other will go in the opposite direction. Sew together with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step 4 – from the wrong side press the seam allowances on this horizontal seam in opposite directions*. You may need to loosen some of the threads at the centre of the block to allow the centre to swirl/spin. This will create a mini 4-patch in the centre of the block. Flip the block over to the right side and press again.

* swirling the centre seam will allow the block to sit flatter however you can press the horizontal seam open or in one direction if you prefer.

In this image you can see how the two vertical seams are pressed in alternate directions (as per step 2). The horizontal seam is then separated at the centre of the block so that the seam can be pressed with half going up and the other half going down (see step 4).

This is a close up picture of the centre seam after it has been ‘swirled’. A few stitches were loosened so that the seam allowances could be spread evenly around the centre point.

Video Demonstration

How to make a 4-Patch Quilt Block – One at a Time Method

Below you can watch a full length video of me demonstrating the 4-Patch Quilt Blocks One at a Time method. You will see that I am using two different fabrics but you can of course use three fabrics or even four. As always, just remember to lay your fabrics out in a way that gives you the best contrast!

I hope that you found this tutorial on making 4-Patch Quilt Blocks One at a Time useful and that you have picked up a new tip or two along the way!

If you would like a deep dive into the 4-patch quilt block (exploring layout styles, the effect of colour and different construction methods), then check out The Ultimate Guide to 4-Patch Quilt Blocks.

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