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How to Make a Patience Corner Quilt Block

Updated on July 7, 2016
Marie Flint profile image

Marie is a self-taught quilter. She has been making quilts as a hobby since 1970. You can find her projects on Pinterest and Facebook.

The Patience Corner Block Using Four Fabrics
The Patience Corner Block Using Four Fabrics

My Introduction to the Block

Years ago my sister gave me Great American Quilts 1989 published by Oxmoor House. The block appeared as part of a quilt called "Billie's Sampler," with the layout on page 41. Below is a photograph of that layout.

Author's note: The book has similar layout illustrations for many other block patterns and gives instructions for making over 20 featured quilts.

The block shown uses four fabrics: one print, a solid of the same color, and light and dark near compliments. Four quarter blocks are positioned with two squares at the center and two squares on the outside corners for a 12" finished block.
The block shown uses four fabrics: one print, a solid of the same color, and light and dark near compliments. Four quarter blocks are positioned with two squares at the center and two squares on the outside corners for a 12" finished block. | Source

As you can see, it is a simple layout and can be quite charming, depending on the fabrics used. The grids in the image above are scaled 1" = one grid, so the square's sides are about half the width of the rectangles. I used this fact to figure the sizes of the pieces for an 8" finished block.

Color Review

This color wheel shows primary colors and their compliments.
This color wheel shows primary colors and their compliments. | Source

When choosing your fabrics, many times you sense which ones look nice with each other. It's also helpful to remember the color wheel.

Colors next to each other on the chart work well together. Adjacent colors are monochromatic. The warm colors are yellow, orange, and red. Blue, green, and purple are cool colors. A quilt can be made with all warm colors or all cool colors, but very often a balance is attempted between the two.

Compliments seem to intensify each other due to the contrast. Tints are the gradation of color achieved by adding white. Pink, for example, is a red's tint. A shade is a color that has been muted by adding some black or brown.

If a fabric has a soft, somewhat muted color, you wouldn't want to match it with a bright, neon-type color. Rather, it is best to match fabrics of like intensity. Often, if at least three colors in a print are enhanced by another fabric print, the prints will work well together. Solids that match at least one color in the print will enhance the print.

The way fabrics are displayed in crafting sections of a store or at a specialty shop makes choosing relatively easy because like fabrics are often grouped together. If you're not sure whether you should use certain fabrics, you can always ask the cutting clerk, who is nearly always glad to help.

Using the Grain of the Fabric

When a fabric is woven, threads run across the fabric as well as up and down. The grain refers to those threads running up and down. These are parallel to the selvages.

The cross grain runs side to side and is perpendicular to the selvages. Both the grain and cross grain are used in quilting.

The bias is the 45-degree angle in relation to either the grain or cross grain. It runs in the perfect, straight-line middle between the two. When fabric is cut on the bias, more stretch is experienced when sewing. Often, too, pieces will not lie flat; this is especially true in clothing construction. It is impossible to avoid the bias altogether because sometimes curves are required. Also, if you are creating a bias binding, the bias becomes an advantage because it does allow for some stretch and endures well.

For the Patience Block, though, you will be cutting your squares and rectangles on the grain or cross grain for the best effect.

To illustrate the grain, above is a picture from an old Simplicity pattern of a bodice layout. The selvages of the fabric are labeled. The blue arrows show the direction of the grain. You will want the sides of your rectangles and squares to either be along or perpendicular to the arrows.

Fabric Selection

I have seven fabrics: two solids and five prints. All the colors are harmonious with one another, so I have options. For my particular project, however, I'm going to be making four 8" blocks all the same. I want the most pleasing combination possible.

In trying different combinations and considering the way the colors are working in my quilt-in-progress, I decided on the pink print and speckled brown for the squares, and the cranberry print and dark, small print for the rectangles.

Use your favorite fabrics and play with them until you find a combination that pleases you.

The fabrics with which I'm working are pictured below. It is helpful to have swatches taped onto a sketch of your project, so when you can take your swatches with you should you need to shop for additional fabric.

Pink print (top left), large print on cranberry (top center), speckled golden brown (top right), rose (center left), light print (center), dark small flower print (right center), and salmon.
Pink print (top left), large print on cranberry (top center), speckled golden brown (top right), rose (center left), light print (center), dark small flower print (right center), and salmon.

Cutting the Fabric

If you've decided to make an 8" block with me, you will need to cut:

  • four 3" squares
  • four 2" X 3" rectangles (two of two different complimentary fabrics)
  • four 2" X 4 1/2" rectangles (two of two different complimentary fabrics)

Template Measures for Common Sized Blocks

Finished Block Size
Squares
Small Rectangles
Large Rectangles
6"
2 1/4 X 2 1/4
1 3/4 X 2 /4
1 3/4 X 3 1/2
8"
3 X 3
2 X 3
2 X 4 1/2
10"
3 1/4 X 3 1/4
2 3/4 X 3 1/4
2 3/4 X 5 1/2
12"
3 1/2 X 3 1/2
3 X 3 1/2
3 X 6
15"
4 1/2 X 4 1/2
4 X 4 1/2
4 X 8
The template measurements are in inches and include 1/4" seam allowances. A finished block size is what the Patience Corner block measures when completely sewn into a quilt.

Since I don't have a cutting mat for this project, I won't be able to use my rotary cutter, but if you have a rotary cutter and mat, by all means use it--it's easier, quicker, and more accurate!

As always, I check to make sure all selvages are removed before cutting. That way, I don't have to worry about figuring out how far into the fabric I can begin to cut. Selvages simply don't lie the same way as the rest of the fabric after a few washings, so it's best to remove them.

Below are my fabric pieces, cut and laid into the Patience Corner scheme for sewing. It is helpful to do such a layout for your first block; it makes sewing a little less confusing.

The pieces are cut and laid out in a Patience Corner pattern.
The pieces are cut and laid out in a Patience Corner pattern.

The Sewing Order

I like to work from left to right and top to bottom. You can choose whatever order works best for you. In any case, the squares with their smaller rectangles should be done first.

I water spray and press the seams with an iron right after I sew them.

Below is a picture showing these first seams completed.

The smaller rectangles are sewn to the squares using 1/4" seams.
The smaller rectangles are sewn to the squares using 1/4" seams.

Now sew the larger rectangles to the sewn pieces. Again, it helps to press out your seams with a little spray water and iron (or use a steam iron at "4" setting for cottons).

The picture below shows the completed units to this point.

The large rectangles have been sewn to the smaller units.
The large rectangles have been sewn to the smaller units.

Now sew the top two squares together, followed by the bottom two squares. (If you prefer a different order, that's all right too!) Keep pressing those seams as you go along.

Here's another picture showing the block almost completed.

The block is nearly completed.
The block is nearly completed.

Now you are going to sew the last seam. In my case, it's a horizontal one. This is the most difficult seam of the block because you have to match the seam lines. To do this, you will eye them carefully, match the raw edges and place a pin on either side where the seams meet.

The photos below illustrate the technique that I like to call "kissing the fabric."

The seams are matched so they are "kissing."
The seams are matched so they are "kissing."
Raw edges are matched.
Raw edges are matched.

Raw edges have to meet accurately when sewing units of blocks together. There are a few methods quitters use to achieve this:

  • finger press (no pins, just pressure from the fingers and hands)
  • pin baste (using straight pins, as I have done with the "kissing" seam)
  • seam bonding tape (1/4 " two-sided sticking tape, found in a sewing section or crafter's store)

Of course, accurate cutting is the key to well matching edges.

The seams are pinned by placing one straight pin on each side of the seam.
The seams are pinned by placing one straight pin on each side of the seam.
A close-up of the back side (or under side) of the pinned seam.
A close-up of the back side (or under side) of the pinned seam.



The pins hold the fabric in place while sewing. You remove them just as your machine's needle gets close to the pin to avoid needle damage.

Pressing the final seam after sewing. The block is turned so the right side is facing down.
Pressing the final seam after sewing. The block is turned so the right side is facing down.

Piecing Method for 12" Patience Corner with Two Fabrics

This is a variation of the Patience Corner block I have given. It uses only two template (pattern) sizes. This method doesn't work for more than two fabrics, and I like designs with multiple fabrics. The overall effect is similar, however.

Notice that the view of the Patience Corner in the video is turned, with the outer squares at the upper left and lower right areas of the block; whereas, my featured block has the outer squares at the upper right and lower left. Since all pieces, being straight sides of squares and rectangles, are cut on a grain, the altered view can be obtained by simply turning the block to the position you prefer.

Your Turn

Do you think you'll make a Patience Corner quilt block?

See results

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    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I wish to thank Marisa Wright for taking the time to read this hub article. In her opinion, "This is a lovely how-to."

      I am hand quilting the queen-size quilt that uses this block and am about 78% done with it. The friend whom I have in mind to receive this quilt has approved the design and has already expressed approval for acceptance. ***

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for sharing this beautiful creation. The instructions and pictures are very helpful. No, I'll not make one, but I'll recommend that someone else does.

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Cecile, thank you for revisiting, and I apologize for the typo on your user name in my previous comment.

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Will try this. The patience corner block sample in the hub looks neat!

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Phyllis, I confess to not having completed a Lincoln Log quilt to date. When contrasting light and dark fabrics with that block, the pattern is quite attractive. You're very welcome to the "sharing," and thank you for the read and comment!

      Turtle Dog, there are many male quilters--so, just jump right into it! Quilting is really a form of art, only with fabric. There's a lot of math involved when you're designing--fabric yardages, pattern construction, and customizing the size of the quilt. Quilting techniques can even be applied to clothing; quilted vests and jackets are popular. Small quilts for wall hangings really add a lot to home decorating and give a sense of warmth. So, by all means, do not hesitate to indulge. The craft is so rewarding.

      Cccile, I do hope you give quilting a try. You might start with something small, like a pillow sham to decorate your bed or couch. It's a very rewarding hobby. Thank you for the read and comment.

      Blessings to all!

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Really liked this hub. I have never made a quilt but this is something that I could do based on your detailed instructions. Thank you!

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 3 years ago

      I really have to do this sometime... I'm the only guy on Earth to admit I'd live to make a quilt ......... voted up (like your other great posts as well )

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Marie, I love to make quilts and this is a very helpful hub to add to my bookmarks on quilting. I am currently working on a Log Cabin design quilt, with calico prints and solids. My next quilt is going to be with the Patience Corner style -- I love it ! Your photos and instructions are great, superb ! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another great lesson and easy to follow instructions.

      Great hub once again Marie and enjoy your weekend.

      Eddy.

    • Theater girl profile image

      Jennifer 3 years ago from New Jersey

      This is a very intricate piece! I am not a quilter, I only crochet, but I have read many of the "Elm Street Quilt" series and I find the artform fascinating. If not daunting! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Preston and Kate, thank you for reviewing my instructions. I don't think there's really an "improper" way to quilt, unless you forget to match seams that are supposed to meet. Some art quilters get pretty wild with seams, and no one tells them their method is improper.

      Yes, queen size is a bit to handle, but not impossible. Georgia Bonsteel has a lap quilting method you might like. She quilts each block as she goes but leaves seam allowance and cuts back the batting 1/4" on all sides. I haven't used this technique, but I can see how it would be appealing for someone who feels overwhelmed by quilting a large piece. If you "sandwich" your quilt, a light batting is recommended. If you send your quilt top to someone who does long arm quilting, they usually provide the batting.

      PH, the pattern isn't as difficult as it looks because all the seams are straight. It does help to have a diagram and lay out the pieces before sewing them. After the first block or two, you can chain sew the pieces so the work goes more quickly.

      Thank both of you for reading and commenting!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      What a lovely pattern and terribly hard to put together. I can see where you could get lots of different effect using different fabrics, solids, calicoes, etc. Very nice, Sharing.

    • prestonandkate profile image

      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Thanks for your vocab explanations. I have been quilting for over two years now, but since I taught myself, I know I probably do a lot of things improperly. I always like finding new instructions for blocks. I have currently finally undertook the endeavor to sew a queen size quilt for our bed. I have never sewn a quilt this big, and I am sure I am in for some surprises, but I will learn as I go! -Kate

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I just think this is a charming block.

      In figuring the dimensions for the squares and rectangles for drafting, the proportions can be adapted for a square a little larger or smaller than a fourth of the desired finished size. I chose to go a little larger.

      The width of the smaller and larger rectangle are the same.

      The length of the smaller rectangle equals the square's side.

      The larger rectangle equals square + width of rectangle - 1/2" (the 1/4" seams are sewn together on the square and small rectangle).

      And don't forget to add those seam allowances! (I did on my first try and had to remake the block.)

      Blessings!