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Simple Quilting Tutorial: Disappearing 4-Patch Quilt Block

I own a small farm in New Brunswick, Canada. I enjoy crafting, especially sewing and quilting.

Disappearing 4 patch quilt block pattern

Disappearing 4 patch quilt block pattern

Learn How to Sew a Disappearing 4-Patch Quilt Block

Regardless of your quilting experience, this detailed tutorial will explain all you need to know to create a beautiful quilt block. The disappearing 4-patch is a simple and elegant pattern you can use for just about any quilting project you can think of.

If you're new to quilting, try a small project to start. You can try making a few simple placemats or even a window treatment.

Getting Started

Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary equipment you'll be needing for your project. Set yourself up in a comfortable spot and try keeping everything close enough that you don't have to move around too much.

Now get your iron ready, thread up your sewing machine, and go put on your favorite tunes!

Materials and Equipment

  • Fabric cut into 5" squares (see note below)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Cutting mat
  • Rotary cutting tool
  • Measuring grid
  • General sewing notions, such as a seam ripper, pins, and measuring tape

Note on Fabric Squares: You can purchase precut 5" squares at most fabric or quilting supply stores. Or, if you prefer, you can cut squares from fabric you already have. Use either two or four different fabrics to create the look you want.

My workstation. Everything I need is within arms reach.

My workstation. Everything I need is within arms reach.

Read This If You're New to Quilting

Before getting started, there are a few things I should mention that will make your sewing experience much easier. I had to learn these on my own, so take the easy road and read on. (I've also included a couple bonus photos at the bottom of the page to better explain what I try to explain.)

Pressing

Pressing is the single most important thing to do when it comes to sewing. It makes your lines crisp and clear. It's much easier to join two pieces together when you can tell where all the seams are. There are two steps to this process:

  1. Once I sew two pieces together, I press the seam that I just sewed. This first press will be on the wrong side of the fabric.
  2. The second press is done on the right side of the fabric and is made by lifting one edge of the fabric and pushing your iron over the seam.

Remember that if you're using a very light-colored fabric, you might want to flip the seam towards the darker-colored fabric so it doesn't show through.

Placement

A word about placement now: I cut my own squares, so not every square is perfect. The best way to get around this is the placement. When you're sewing two pieces together, always put the smallest piece of fabric over the larger one. Center the two pieces as best you can and line up the edge you're going to sew.

I don't usually bother pinning with short seams because the fabric tends to stay in place. I do use pins for longer seams, though, just to keep everything lined up.

Sewing Over Seams

When you have to sew over two joining seams, line them up well before sewing them together. If they don't line up, you're going to have crooked corners. You can expect that it won't be perfect at first, but you'll get better over time.

Finger Grip

If the fabric seems to stay put too well when you want to make minor adjustments, just wet the tips of your fingers. It'll give you that extra little grip you need.

Lined up my fabrics and ready for a 1/4" seam

Lined up my fabrics and ready for a 1/4" seam

How to Construct the Quilt Block

Follow these instructions to create this cute, simple quilt block.

Step 1: Lay Out the Fabric and Sew the Block

Grab four of your 5" squares of fabric and lay them out to see which go best in which configurations. Once you like the way they look, sew your squares into a block. This becomes the base of the pattern.

Step 2: Cut the Block

Next, lay your block on the cutting mat so the seams line up with the grid on the mat. You are going to make four cuts to create the pieces needed to rearrange your block.

Using the clear measuring grid, measure and cut 1 inch from the center in every direction. This creates nine pieces; four large corner blocks, four rectangular pieces with a seam down the middle, and one center piece joining the four fabrics. I swap the left corners for the right corners, then flip my center 90 or 180 degrees, but you can arrange them however you think looks best.

All squared up. I drew in the cut lines in purple.

All squared up. I drew in the cut lines in purple.

Step 3: Sew the Pieces Into Strips, Then Into a Block

I sew my quilt block sort of like I read a book—from left to right and from top to bottom. So, say you have a block cut up into nine pieces; you sew the top three pieces together. Then you sew the three middle pieces together, and, finally, the last three bottom pieces. Once you have these three strips, sew them together to create your block. Don't forget to press every seam!

Sew the pieces together in strips, then into blocks! And Voilà!

Sew the pieces up in strips

Sew the pieces up in strips

Always lay the small piece over the large piece to line up fabrics (I exaggerated the edge in the picture so it would be clearer to see).

Always lay the small piece over the large piece to line up fabrics (I exaggerated the edge in the picture so it would be clearer to see).

Happy Quilting!

So there's my quilting tutorial. If I'm missing anything or if you'd like some clarification, just leave me a comment. And please, feel free to show me some of your own tips and tricks!

Comments

Maggi on December 27, 2016:

As a beginner Quilter, this really caught my attention. I love, love the fabric, and your explanation is wonderful. I would have liked to see the complete quilt to know how you proceeded with it. Thank you so much, you give me hope that maybe I can do this.

Shasta Matova from USA on February 06, 2014:

That's really cute - I like the woven effect.

RTalloni on February 06, 2014:

I'm becoming more interested in quilting so I can design different bags. Thanks much for this tutorial with photos that help me see what would otherwise be confusing to my brain.

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 06, 2014:

I love these colors! I can already see the beautiful quilt that will make. I've been into the fabric stores many times and seen these. I've always wanted to try something like this, but never thought it was possible. What a great article to make this process easy for someone like me! Great job!

Christy Kirwan from San Francisco on October 09, 2013:

What a neat design! I love the colors of fabric you've chosen. :D

CarteDuJourFarms (author) from New Brunswick, Canada on October 08, 2013:

Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you like it.

Donna Herron from USA on October 07, 2013:

This is a wonderful quilt block project! Sadly, I don't quilt :( , but I can certainly appreciate the beautiful design of this block. I can see using this design block for a number of projects. Great job! Voted up!!