Quilt Blocks Made With Squares

squares

Squares are the basic building block to construct a patchwork quilt top. Many quilt patterns are made with squares only. The square is the simplest patch to sew because of the four straight sides, the ninety degree angles and the fact that all sides are, when cut properly, either on the straight or cross grain of the fabric, thus creating very little stretchsquares or distortion when sewing and pressing them. It is the perfect shape to use when piecing a beginners quilt or when teaching children how to piece.
Many antique doll quilts are pieced from squares, probably being the first attempt of a child to sew a quilt.

The simplest quilt top to sew would be one pieced exclusively with squares, all cut the same size. Depending on color arrangement, secondary patterns might develop. A top made with squares of any size also makes it very simple to figure the math involved in quilt construction. Simply divide the desired quilt top size by the intended size of the square patch. When cutting the squares, add one half inch to the square measurement to allow for seam allowances. If you are planning on making a 90 inch square quilt, you would simply choose a size for the base square, divide 90 by the size of the patch (10 inches, for instance). Every row would require nine squares, and every column would also require nine squares, thus you’d have to cut eighty-one ten and a half squares. Sew the first row, pressing all seams to one side, then sew the next and press all the seams in the opposite direction, so that they will interlock when sewing together. Place the row with the seams going towards you on top when piecing on the sewing machine in order for the feed dogs on the machine to push and lock, to achieve perfect interlocking squares, with no gaps.

The Four Patch Block

The Four Patch block is made from four squares generally made from two different fabrics, one light and one dark. squares2Rotary cutting and speed sewing techniques make the Four Patch a breeze to sew. Cut strips from selvage to selvage carefully measuring the desired finished square size plus half an inch for seam allowances. Place two strips, one of each color wrong sides together and sew with a quarter inch seam allowance. Then sub-cut the two sewn strips into units the same size as the strips you previously cut. The units will have to be pressed with the seam allowances going towards the darker of the two fabrics. Once pressed, sew two units together and press the seam towards one of the sides.
The Four Patch block can be combined with plain squares, placed on point, or become part of more complicated quilt blocks. It is the most basic block made from squares. Blocks such as the Double Four Patch or the Disappearing Four Patch are created from the basic Four Patch. The Disappearing Four Patch is very simple to piece thanks to the rotary cutting method. Basically, after piecing a Four Patch block, made with somewhat large squares (like five inch), the block itself is sub-cut into units, by slicing one inch away from the center seams. These create narrow strips that need to be rotated 180 degrees, and sewn back together to create a block made with squares that looks complex, but in fact is simple to piece.

The Nine Patch Block

Another block made exclusively with squares, the Nine Patch requires nine squares cut the same size. It is also normally pieced with two fabrics, one dark and one light. The squares are sewn into rows of three, pressing seams towards the dark fabric, keeping the dark fabric in the center of the block. After the rows are sewn, they need to be sewn together to create the block.

Using the Nine Patch as the basic block unit, one can make countless quilt top patterns. When combined with a plain square the same size as the block, a chain effect emerges. This pattern is called “Irish Chain”. “Double Irish Chain” is another variation created by sewing plain squares alternating with Double Nine Patches, that is, a Nine Patch made with five pieced Nine Patch blocks and four plain squares.

Nine Patch blocks can be “uneven” or “even”, depending on whether the size of the squares is all the same -even- or if squaresthe center pieces are narrower than the side patches, uneven. In this case the block needs to be drafted on a five-unit grid rather than a three-unit one.

By sub-cutting the Nine Patch once pieced and rearranging the pieces, the Disappearing Nine Patch appears. It is another of the variations created from blocks made with squares only. The finished block is cut twice down the center, creating four units that can be pieced in several ways. The color placement will create movement, depending on dark and light and warm and cold color choices. The first mention of this pattern appears to be from the early twenty first century, and even though it is a new variation, it has become extremely popular.

Variations of Quilts Made with Squares

The Glorified Nine Patch combines the traditional nine-patch center with wedge shaped sides, to create a block that is rounded.

Thrifty is the name of a block that combines four Four Patch blocks with five plain squares, on a nine patch grid.

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For more information on making a quilting block click here!

 

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