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Quilting Grids and Patches

First came the 4-patch, then the 9-patch, and now you hear there is a 5- patch and a 16- patch?  What does it all mean?

Look at the picture above.  Can you guess what kind of patch it is?  There are 3 equally sized squares both across and down.  It is a 9-patch.

In the example above, all the squares are filled with the Snowball block and different patriotic prints.  However, you could fill those blocks with any kinds of shapes (triangles, small squares, etc) and as long as they stayed confined in the original square, it would still be a 9-patch.

Here is an example of how you might use grids when planning a quilt:

Let's say you wanted to make a quilt with 9-patch blocks. You want each finished block to be 12-inches square.

That means that each square in the grid will be 4-inches finished.

Now that you know the measurement of the grid, you can make your shapes by following the rules for shapes such as Triangles,  or Quarter Square Triangles.

If you see a quilt you like, being able to recognize the block will help you make one like it.

The most common grids are the 4-patch, 9-patch, 5-patch and 7-patch. 

                                                                   

     

The 4-Patch        The 9-Patch

When you see the grid lines, it is easy to see the units.  It can often be confusing when looking at a quilt block to see the patches because of the way the fabric falls in the grids. Sometimes one fabric will fill 2 or more grids.

Also, as similar blocks are joined together, secondary patterns are formed.  You may have to look hard to find the block or blocks that have been repeated throughout the quilt, even when they are quite simple.

In general, the more grids, the harder the quilt block.  A grid with 8 across and 8 down would have 64 patches.

When a quilt is made up of plain squares in a variety of random colors and patterns, it is called a "Charm Quilt".

Below are some quilt blocks  with lines drawn through them so you can see the grids.  The 9-patch, depicted in the Spool and Friendship Star, is one of the most popular grids.

Quilt designs make good use of rhythm with the repeating of blocks.  Learn to recognize the blocks when you see a quilt.  Once you see the block, most quilts look much easier to make.

This principle of rhythm is another reason quilts are designed in grids.  You want the patches to match up so the eye will move easily around the quilt.

If you put a 4-patch next to a 5-patch, they will not match, and the rhythm of the quilt will be lost.  Sample quilts with different sizes of blocks are one example of when you can put odd sizes together.  The sashing strips give rhythm to the quilt, and take the focus away from the block grids.

                                  

                                               

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