What is Better Than a Four Patch Quilt Block?

Disappearing Four Patch Quilt Block

Answer: A DISAPPEARING Four Patch Quilt Block!




So, what exactly is a Disappearing Four Patch quilt block? Simply put, it is a basic four patch block with four additional cuts, and a turn of four (or five) fabric pieces. Eight additional stitch lines later and the result is a block that looks more complicated and time-consuming to make than it actually is.

And why make the four patches disappear?

As a beginning quilter, I was quite content piecing 5” squares however, after I mastered the skill of nesting seams, I wanted to try something a little more complicated but not as complicated as points and triangles. The disappearing four patch seemed to fit the bill.

This pattern is also a fun way to improve your basic quilting skills and help you bust through a stash of fabric scraps and the design is simple enough to allow you to create a small quilt from start to finish in one weekend.

Now on to the how!

The design that offers the greatest impact is one that uses high contrast – contrast between print and solid as well as contrast between color as well as contrast between high and low volume.

For my project I’m using four 5” squares of fabric.

Charm Square Quilt Fabric

Step 1 : Place right sides of one solid and one print square together and sew a 1/4″ seam.

Sewing Fabric Squares w/ Right Sides Together

Repeat for the next set of squares. Press the seams toward the print side.

Step 2 : Position the top and bottom rows with right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam .

Sewing Top & Bottom Rows Together

When ready to press I chose to press these seams open. This reduces the bulk of fabric and eliminates the need to remember to alternate the direction each is seam is pressed later on when I have additional rows to sew together.

Seams Pressed Open

Now you see a Four Patch Block:

Four Patch Quilt Block

Step 3 : This is where a rotating cutting mat comes in very handy. Place the block on the mat and a ruler positioned on top to measure 1 1/4″ from the center seam. Along the right-hand edge is where you will make your first cut.

Using a rotating mat prevents you from having to move the fabric around – instead it is the board that moves – the best way to ensure accuracy and consistency with each cut.

Cutting the Disappearing Four Patch Block

Then turn the board 45°, position the ruler again so the right outside edge is 1 1/4″ from the middle seam and make another cut through the top and bottom squares. Repeat this step twice again making a total of four cuts. The block will appear as shown in the image below:

Cutting the Disappearing Four Patch

Step 4 : Once all four cuts are made it is now time to make the four patch disappear.

Simply take each middle strip set and turn around and turn the center square the same way. What you want to see now is an alternating pattern of print with solid.

Turning the Four Patch Pieces

Step 5 : Sew each piece to create a row – there will be three.

Then sew the bottom to the middle row then add the top row to this set. Press the seams open – again this reduces bulk, especially in the seams that join in the middle of the block.

Disappearing Four Patch

                                                      The result:

Disappearing Four Patch Block

                             The Disappearing Four Patch block.

Using 5″ squares sewn together in this fashion results in a block can easily be trimmed to a 7.5″ or 8″ square – a nice number to use as part of a larger quilt.

More Great Reasons to Piece a Disappearing Four Patch Block!

The above example is just one variation of the disappearing four patch block design. Grab a few fabric scraps, sew four patches together and cut into (9) individual pieces. Then, take these pieces to your design wall and see how many configurations you can come up with! Create a design you like and sew it all together.

If making a quilt is not on your agenda, this block could easily standalone and be used for a number of other useful items. Add a back, banding and batting and this block is quickly transformed into a hot pad, pot holder or mug rug.

That’s the beauty of this pattern – there is no right or wrong way to piece these fabrics together. The appearance of the finished product is up to you!

What will you make? Leave a comment and post an image of your outstanding creation here!

Want more Disappearing Patch blocks? Stay tuned! My next post will illustrate many unique variations as well as interesting free motion and long arm quilt patterns that will make these Disappearing Blocks pop!

7 thoughts on “What is Better Than a Four Patch Quilt Block?”

  1. Thank you for this informative and highly useful content, thou I have no basic knowledge of quilting ,but I admire quilters for their creativity and how well they work on fabrics, I think that four patch quilt block is a great design and uneasy task to accomplish, what is the required  time frame that a beginner can use to learn the quilting basic skills? 

    • Hi Clement

      Thank you so much for your comment!  When it comes to learning basic quilting skills a lot depends on your skill level with basic sewing. 

      I always recommend people learn to first sew something very easy and basic like a skirt or pillow case.  Get a feel for how your machine works and learn which fabrics are easiest to work with – not all fabrics are created equal!

      Beyond that, a beginner could easily and accurately put together a row of 5 or 6 squares or a four patch block in less than an hour.

  2. Thank you so much for your detailed steps in how to sew the patches together. 

    I am so new to all this and try to learn, via the internet, in how to create a Quilt. I am from a country where this kind of quilting isn’t popular, so I believe, and I never learned it.

    Now I live in Canada and I have seen Quilts almost in every household and I am intrigued to do one on my own.

    I have saved your site and may I also contact you if I have a question?

    Thank you for sharing it I am really glad to found your site. 🙂

    • Hi Sylvia,

      Thank you for finding my site and for your comments!  And do feel free to contact me any time for questions!

      Since most of us are such visual learners, one of my goals for this year is to create videos of the quilting process (as well as my other projects).  Words and pictures have their place but a video will show details and potentially answer questions images may not answer. 🙂 

  3. This designs are adorable. I’ll make this a class project with my kids to make some adorable designs for the classroom. That’s my thought, I’m just wondering is such a design appropriate in a school setting. Or is it better we use it as a gift for our parents during the parents forum?

    • Hi Louis,

      Thank you so much for your comment!  

      I can absolutely see this in a school setting.  As a side benefit, this process also teaches math, geometry, perspective, spatial relations, color theory and problem solving!   And don’t be limited by fabric.  This process would be perfect using colored construction paper and glue or crayon shavings sandwiched between pieces of waxed paper.  

      I would love to see what your students create!


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