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New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Welcome to my world where I try to figure out what I'm going to do next! These days, it is mostly quilting, but you never know what it might be... come find out with me!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Disappearing 4 patch - with a twist

If you use this tutorial to make a quilt, I would love to see a picture!

Edit - see the end of the post for some great information on what size squares to start with and what size block you'll end up with - thank you to Beverly for providing this info.  As with every new block,  it is always a good idea to make a sample block first to confirm size and technique before cutting into your "good" fabric

Disappearing 9 Patch and Disappearing 4 patch blocks are pretty popular and easy to do, giving you a very interesting result.  At my "Little Group" of quilting friends here in New Westminster, we were given the challenge to use a disappearing 4 patch in a project, that we would show at our wrap up dinner in June.  What a great group of ladies, and oh what fun we have!  Thank you Colleen for coming up with this challenge.

I thought I'd like to see what happened if I changed up the cutting pattern a bit.  What do you think?  
from this

to this

Here's how I did it.
I started with 6" squares - for each block you will need 2 squares of 2 contrasting colours.  (I've chosen to work in linens).

Stitch them together to make a regular 4 patch block.

Now the fun part - instead of vertical and horizontal slicing, you need to do diagonal slicing.
Mark 2" in from each corner, all the way around the block.  I used a yellow pencil, but use whatever works and shows up best for you.  The marks will be in the seam allowance.

The cutting - this is where it is really nice to have a rotating cutting board, your cutting board on a table that you can walk all the way round, or use a small enough cutting board that you can turn it without disturbing any of your cut pieces, until you are finished all the cutting. 
Take your ruler and line up the top upper left mark with the right hand side bottom mark.  Cut.

cut diagonally from mark to mark on adjoining sides

The next cut will be from the Left side bottom mark to the Top Right mark.  You will need to make 4 cuts in total to make all your cuts.

you can see the cuts on the burgundy, similar cuts run through the polka dots

The magic begins! The next step is to pick up and replace the centre edge triangle with their adjoining neighbour so that the polka dot and solid pieces switch sides.

The final step is to give that centre square a quarter turn.

the final layout - all pieces moved and turned 
To sew this together, I split it into three sections

the sewing plan

partially sewn - on the outer pieces I pressed the seams towards the burgundy,
in the middle section I pressed towards the polka dots
When sewing the three pieces together into your final block make sure you line up your centre seams as the outer edges will not necessarily match, butting those seams together snuggly.

Square up your block and trim to the largest size possible - I was able to trim to a 9 1/2" square.

I chose to make my squares into potholders, so I sandwiched and simple stitched in the ditch, and bound them by machine, with the finishing touch being adding grommets to hang them.

I've also got a plan to make a quilt using these blocks, but that is somewhere down the bucket list right now!

Edit - If you use this tutorial and make a project, I would love to see a picture!

I've had a couple of questions about how far from the corner to make your diagonal cuts when using 5" charm squares.  It is entirely a matter of personal choice - you could leave the cuts at 2" from the corners, or move them in a little closer.  I would probably try 1 3/4" in from the corner and make a test block to confirm I liked the proportions.  There really is no wrong answer!

The following information was sent to me by Beverly - thank you!  While I have not worked through the math, reading it through, the math seems to make sense.  Make a sample block to be sure, but this could save you same grief and wasted fabric. Have fun!

I'm trying to figure out the general formula for what size to start with to get what size finished block (w/o seam allowances).  Since you are cutting each diagonal twice, you should lose twice the amount you would when making quarter square triangle blocks, right?
   E.g. you made a four-patch of 6" squares to get an 11 1/2  inch square.  You lose 2 1/2" (2 x 1 1/4) to get a 9" block, or 9 1/2" with seam allowance. So to get an 8" finished block, you need a 10 1/2" four patch, which you would get by sewing 4 5 1/2" squares.  or similarly making a 9 1/2" four patch from 5" squares would get you a 7" finished block.  A 12" finished block starts with a 14 1/2" four patch made of 7.5" inch squares, and a 6" finished block starts with an 8 1/2"  four-patch made of 4 1/2" squares.

Happy quilting!

edit June 2014 - I've had a request to see a picture of a finished quilt - so far I've only finished this small one
Twisted 4P Baby
2x2 layout ~15" blocks - super quick baby quilt

Here is an image of what a 4x4 layout using blocks that finish around 9" would look like (a nice baby size with a bit more going on then the 2x2 that I did finish with blocks that ended about 15") 
(The following images were created using EQ6)

although I have plans to make a much larger one!  This layout would be 8x8 with blocks that finish roughly 12", so approximately 96" square

I really like the pattern that is created with these repeating blocks, and will get around to making it sometime!

Knowing how many of you have pinned this tutorial, I'd really like to see what you've created with it!


sherry said...

my friends, who is africaans for south africa, always calls them screwed up nine patches...must be a direct translation...those blocks are nice janet

Arita said...

Great job Janet and thanks for sharing the process.

elle said...

Pretty clever!

Beth said...

Wow. I never would have figured that out, but I love the block and how it comes out. I really have to try it out. Thanks for the tutorial.

LynCC said...

Whoa! That is awesome. Thanks for sharing your terrific experiment. Need to pin this. :D

felicity said...

Wow - disappearing is right! I love your twist!

Renate said...

OMG!! How ingenious! Gotta try this out with all my Moda Charm packs!!

upstateLisa said...

I love it but that is some serious piecing!!!

Quilter Kathy said...

Fun idea and great tutorial! It would be fun to try out at quilt retreat!

Helena Silva said...

Perfeição, cores lindas!
Atelie Patch Com Amor

P. said...

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing that.

Maggi said...

Amazing what you an do with a 4-patch. Very striking colours.

Gina said...

Great tutorial Janet! And such perfect piecing and quilting you do!

Kelsey said...

How awesome! Thanks for a great tutorial :)

stitchedbyme said...

Thank you for the amazing tutorial. The finished square looks much more complicated. I plan to try this one soon!

Marjo B-W said...

I made one right away, it's really very easy and with such great result! Thanks for sharing!
Best regards from the Netherlands,
Marjo B-W

MaryAnne Kingston said...

I came here from your quilt on Quilting Gallery's Geometric Quilt contest. I love your quilting on it by the way! I have made the disappearing 4 patch before and can't wait to try your twist on it
Mary Anne

Jan said...

This is marvelous.

Heather said...

Excellent variation> Great choice of colours.

Regina said...

Great idea, I might have to try making some right away! Thank you for the explanations and pictures.

Lauren M. said...

Having finished a D4P quilt, now I want to do another this way! Really great idea. Thanks for putting it up.

Roxanne LeBlanc said...

Love your D4P. Would you mind if I shared this with my Guild? Thank you. (

Janet said...

Hi Janet! Love this block - I was directed to your blog from the Quilting Board I wish I had found you when I lived in Richmond BC not now when I am in Los Angeles Ca. Thanks for the tutorial I have some perfect fabric for this!

Amy DeCesare said...

Such a great block! I never would have figured out that it was made this way! Very clever.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan said...

How very ingenious . . . so much more interesting than straight line cuts.

Elizabeth said...

Wow! That is sew clever! I have a layer cake which I could try with, the blocks are larger so should be easier to learn with. Thanks for sharing. Happy stitching

julie said...

I love this twist. I am wondering if you still mark 2" from corners if using different size squares. My aim is to use 5" charm squares from my stash.

the mrs said...

I have the same question! Any help is apreeciated. I'm thinking about making this into a much larger quilt.

Aj Farro said...

Very nice. Visually dynamic, but there's no way I'd do that with an entire quilt. Too many pieces. I'm afraid I'd get bored and it would end up in the UFO pile. However, it would be doable as a mug rug or pot holder. Call me lazy.

Unknown said...

Really great block!! So visual!! I'm in North Delta.
Just found it on Pinterest

Elly Mclean said...

What a fabulous way to 'twist' the four patch block! Thank you. I found it on Google :) I will certainly use that. A great block for table runners too.
Thanks, Elly from Australia

Cody Thomas said...

Okay. So I used your block and put it onto my computer and it looks SO cool. However, I didn't get enough fabric to make the size I want in a full front, so I will be doing a "chain" of it. However, it will still look pretty neat. Once I get it done I will send a pic. Just got my squares done now.

Cody Thomas said...

Just got my squares cut, and it figured out on the computer. Don't have enough to do a full front, but I am doing a "chain" of it. Hopefully I can do it justice!

What Comes Next? said...

good luck with it Cody - I'd love to see a picture when you're done1

Silvinha said...

Hello your work is beautiful thanks for sharing

Carla said...

Wow I had just learned last week how to do the disappearing 4 patch using vertical and horizontal cuts but this one is sew cool.

Thanks for sharing

Linda Opal said...

Could you post what a completed quilt looks like.

Karen Ackva said...

That is so cool! Thank you for making this long awaited block so easy!

Ophelia said...

Thanks for this nice tutorial. I love your blog title, "What comes next?" It's full of optimism and joy, which is what I get from quilting. I indulge myself and allow myself to have as many unfinished projects as I want, (usually more than 15) so "What comes next?" is often the first thing I ask myself when I have a few minutes in my sewing room.
I have a spreadsheet on which all my projects are listed, so I've eliminated any guilt over projects I've forgotten. As long as it's on my list, it's just "in progress." Thanks again!

Jake said...

Just made a few of these last night and did a little experimenting with size myself. I def think the cutting that keeps the center square smaller looks better, but that's just my opinion. I did 4 blocks, starting with 8.5 inch squares. I cut each one differnt sizes. I like this block and plan to make a quilt with some of them. Thanks for sharing

Lorri said...

I love it!!! It is fabulous !

Born in the 50's said...

What size squares would you use to make a 12 1/2" block?

Born in the 50's said...

What size squares would you use to make a12 1/2" block?

What Comes Next? said...

Hi Born in the 50's - you are a no reply commentoer, so I'll post here, which may also assist others. Hope you get this comment!

To be sure that I have a larger enough block at the end to trim to a 12.5" unfinished block, I would probably start with 8" blocks to piece the 4 patch, although you could probably make it with a 7.5" block if you are careful and consistent. Please make a sample first to make sure you get the size you need, and to determine how far from the corners you want to make your diagonal cut - there is no "right" distance, it depends on the look you want. Closer to the corners will result in smaller hourglass blocks in the middle.
Good luck!