Patch work quilt blocks are one of the most popular quilting styles and can be extremely beautiful with both modern or old-fashioned appeal depending on the color scheme used. To create a patchwork quilt you’ll need to cut your fabric and arrange the pieces to form the design.
In a traditional patchwork quilt the fabric pieces will include long strips on the outside edges, called sashes, to form a border. The blocks are created out of small squares of fabric assembled together to create larger squares of fabric called quilt blocks. Then individual quilt blocks are sewn together to create the entire quilt top.
Complicated Patchwork Blocks
Usually the smaller the pieces are, the more complicated each quilt block becomes, and the more advanced your quilt will be. When fewer squares or patches are used in the quilt, it’s considered more suitable for beginners.
Advanced crafters often use many or small patches to create quilts with many pieces. Examples of these designed quilts can resemble crazy quilts, famous artists and intricate mosaics. For beginner quilters, I encourage simpler designs that will be easier to assemble.
Fanciful Names of Patchwork Quilt Blocks
Later articles will discuss basic patchwork quilting blocks, but these quilt blocks can become quite intricate. I want to entice you with some fanciful names of the many arrangements and designs that await you….“corn and beans,” “flying geese”, “turkey tracks”, “maple leaf”, “hourglass” and so on. Regardless of the intricacy, all these quilts utilize blocks in their designs.
Starting Your Patchwork Quilt
To begin your easy patchwork quilt, select the block scheme you want. 4-patch quilt blocks, or 9-patch quilt blocks are the two basic schemes from which many other quilt block patterns are created. While other styles are sometimes created on other graphs, such as 5-patch or 13-patch quilt block patterns, they are not as common. 4-patch and 9-patch blocks are the two most common quilt block schemes used by traditional quilters.
How to Assemble the Traditional 4-Patch Quilt Block:
A 4-patch quilt square is made up of four small fabric squares numbered into a grid. By changing the way these individual 4-square units meet, and the color and schemes of the fabrics used, various effects can be created by the quilter. Hourglass shapes, squares, stripes, diagonals, crosses and more can all be created using a basic 4-patch square quilt block.
Many quilters begin their 4-patch square quilt designs on graph paper with pencils and color in some squares to represent dark fabrics, leaving others white to represent light fabrics. By changing how many dark and light squares in each unit of four, and where they are placed, a quilter can change the design that the eye sees when viewing the quilt.
The basic four patch quilt block has two dark squares and two light squares, placed diagonally from each other. So looking at one block unit you’d see a dark and light, on top of a light and dark. By placing these block units side-by-side the entire quilt would be created with alternating white and dark squares, similar to a chess or checker board in design. This is probably the simplest, and most common, 4-patch quilt for beginner patchwork quilters.
How to Assemble the Traditional 9-patch Quilt Block:
Probably the second-most common pattern scheme in traditional patchwork quilting is the 9-patch block. Like the 4-patch quilt block, a 9-patch quilt block can create a myriad of designs using various patterns of dark and light fabrics.
The basic 9-patch quilt blocks are created using 9 individual squares of fabric arranged in 3 rows of 3 blocks. Again the most familiar scheme would be alternating lights and darks to create a diagonal, checkerboard effect. However, a very familiar alternate is a cross pattern with light, dark, light on the top row, followed by dark, dark, dark in the middle row, and light, dark, light on the bottom row.
Quilters who want to create their own, unique patchwork effects will use graph paper to pencil in 9-patch or 4-patch quilt designs. They are also typically very easy to replicate looking at a finished quilt top.
Once you’ve figured out the basic scheme of your quilt, and the pattern of darks and lights, you can create your own templates if you don’t already have some. Many template making tips and tricks are available for intermediate or advanced quilters who want to save money by making their own quilt patterns.