Once upon a time, I wanted a block to show off large-print Asian fabrics. I chose patience corners blocks. I began piecing it conventionally but changed course.
Why do you choose one quilt block instead of another?
For me it’s primarily about re-inventing block construction. I go for blocks where I’ve spotted alternative ways to make them block simpler. I like puzzling them out.
What strikes you? Is it because you admired one done up in your favorite colors? That’s usually the hook. Here’s a challenge to you: Picture a block that doesn’t appeal to you by visualizing it in your preferred palette.
Test yourself. Imagine a quilt block on Craftsy or Instagram in your favorite colors. Don’t scroll past it without picturing it in your fabrics. I’m serious, try it once. You’ll stretch yourself creatively.
To get a better sense of a quilt when laying out blocks for it, quilters squint at the work or view it through the lens of a camera. I’ve been accidentally doing the opposite of this when studying blocks. If I’m not wearing eyeglasses, I can’t clearly see images on my phone. I wind up “seeing” something that leads me to view a block’s components off-kilter.
Instead of choosing a block by its fabric, I zero in on the construction that goes into a block. Patience Corners was such a block for me.
Don’t fly past my Halloween block above if the colors don’t suit you. I chose the fabric to best illustrate how I manipulated the block. It came about because the standard method of sewing a pair of strips to adjacent sides of four small squares was just plain tedious.
How simple is this?
- Lift the black cat unit, upper left
- Swap it with the green gremlin, bottom right
- Don’t rotate the pieces! This operation is as simple as switching a knife and fork at a place setting.
The orange fabric is as a one-way directional print; its direction is maintained in the switcheroo. I’m grinning and raring to show you shortcuts to make this block in fabrics of your choosing.
How to sew patience corners quilt blocks with the square cut method
This version of my patience corner method is calculated for 10″ precut squares. It’s adapted from an extensive chapter in my book Rotary Cutting Revolution, which should answer any questions you may have about alternate variations. The entire book is available as a free PDF, a bonus included with the purchase of this Craftsy class.
- Unfinished block size: 8″ square
- Finished block size: 7½” square
- Fabric required: 9½” squares
For every block, you’ll need a square of fabric. A quilt of 100 blocks (75″ x 75″) would require 100 squares of fabric. One package of 42 assorted precut 10″ squares yields 42 blocks. Set them 6 x 7 grid for a 45″ x 52½” quilt.
- Stack two different 9½” squares right sides up
- Cut two 1¾” x 9½” vertical strips
- Cut two 1¾” x 6″ horizontal strips
- Two 6″ x 6″ squares will remain.
As you can see, there are several cutting options. Make four cuts, get five pieces. It’s sort of like getting the 6″ square for free. And this is why I fail to generate scraps. I choose blocks that can be cut without waste from fabric squares.
- Sew the 6″ strips to opposite sides of the square. Center and sew the oversize 9½” strips to the other sides. Trim the unit to 8½”.
- Cut the 8½” unit into quarter: Slice through the center twice, into four subunits, each 4¼”.
- Swap two opposite units, without rotating. Sew the pieces back together into an 8″ unfinished block.
Pairings of fabric may be mixed up (or not) and blocks may “point” left or right.
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