So… (pun intended)… I have pieced many a quilt. I’ve been quilting for at least 20 years (yes, I started quilting while still in my mother’s womb!) and until last month, I didn’t realize how many bad habits I had, or even that although I had taught myself adequately, my techniques needed work. And some things I have been doing for all these years were just plain wrong. I could never figure out why my blocks would never come out square and the size the pattern would tell me it should be. Instead of investigating, (remember I am the LAZY quilter of this bunch!) I just chalked it up to the weight of the thread, or the weave of the fabric, or rulers that scooted, or whatever other excuse we have all made for getting wonky squares.
And then I sewed with Carol. And she taught me how to finally get a block to come out square and flat, and even have matching seams.
I pass along this information for two reasons. The first is selfish: I learn best when I have to regurgitate information and teach it to others. The second is more altruistic: I simply hope that it will help someone out there in cyberspace take one more baby step on their journey to being a better quilter.
How to Correctly Sew a Four Patch
Sew together two sets of two squares, right sides together, using a leader piece to sew on and off. (you should end up with two sewn pieces)
Don’t iron the first two pieces you have sewn together! (This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT step I never knew!)
Sew them first to the other two patches, matching the top of your two pieces.
Use a leader, sew onto the fabric and stop.
Adjust the fabric pieces so that they match on the seam line in the middle. They should “kiss” each other.
The seam allowance of the top piece should always face away from you and the bottom towards you. This will allow the fabric to “fall” or “snuggle” into it’s correct position.
Use your stiletto and hold the fabric on that middle seam allowance. Gently pull the fabric so that the two pieces “settle” into their proper, matching spots.
Once you’ve sewn to the middle seam allowance, stop and adjust your fabric again, this time matching and then holding the bottoms of the fabric.
Sew off onto your leader.
To iron your four patch:
Clip one of the seams from the seam allowance of the middle, bulky part of the patch. This will allow the seams to be pressed the correct direction.
Looking from the back, seam allowances should go clock wise around the square. So, press one down towards you (just the seam, NOT the whole patch), then move to the next one going clockwise around.
Because you clipped that seam, the center seam allowances should now open up and lay flat- no more bulk! It’s like magic! 🙂
Once the seams are pressed, press again (from the back still), gently pulling the corners into square position.
Flip the four patch over and press again on the seams, going clockwise.
Pull the pieces gently to allow the iron to make sure the seam is nice and flat with no “lips.”
Voila! That is one good looking four-patch!
*A huge Shout-Out to my 16 year old photographer!*