Make Beautiful Quilts with Scrappy Fabrics
Options for 4-Inch Quilt Squares
by Nikki Willhite
So you've purchased a package of 4-inch quilt squares. Now you've discovered that quilters usually work with 2 1/2 strips and 4 1/2 blocks. So what are you doing to do with those 4-inch squares?
There are 4 easy ways to use 4-inch fabric squares when designing quilt.
1. The easiest and most obvious is to just sew them together. Beautiful quilts can be made with nothing but squares. The secret is to use colors that work well together, and as much pattern and texture as possible. Below is the picture of part of a quilt made with nothing but squares. It is made in Autumn colors. Autumn colors range from golden yellows and greens to dark browns. Many shades of blues and other colors also blend well with them, so it is not hard to bring in a lot of color.
You can also make quilts with country colors, jewel tones, pastels, or with many shades of the same color. See Quilting and Color for more information on how to use color in your quilts.
In a true "charm quilt", none of the patches are identical. If you examine the above picture, you will see that this quilt has some repetitive squares. It is just a very scrappy quilt make from 4-inch squares.
2. Another option is to cut each 4-each square in half horizontally and vertically so you have four 2-inch squares. There can be used in a variety of ways. It is hard to achieve accuracy with such small squares. If you are making a project that you don't mind being a little "stiff", you can use the fusible paper pictured below. Just arrange the squares between the lines, and follow the manufacturer's directions to iron them down and sew them together.
Most people use fusible paper when making watercolor quilts out of small squares. Just remember that the quilt will not be as soft with the fusible attached.
3. Another option is to make Diamond in a Square patches. When it comes to making accurate patchwork, you will listen to a lot of math and hear a lot of numbers. However, it doesn't have to be that hard. You can easily make the Diamond in a Square patch from three 4-inch squares. Use one for the center, and then take the other 2 and cut them in half diagonally. Refer to theDiamond in a Square instruction page if you need help constructing these blocks. Below is a picture of 4-inch squares made into Diamonds in a Square quilt blocks, often just called square in a square quilt blocks.
After the Diamond in a Square patch is sewn, it is always cut down, so it doesn't matter if it isn't an exact fit. However, there is very little waste with this method. This block looks best if the sides are all the same pattern. However, you can also make it scrappy.
4. Finally, you can sew the 4-inch blocks into a 4-patch, and then alternative them with 7 1/2 inch squares. If you do this, you will have to buy yardage to cut your own 7 1/2 inch squares. When I do this, I like to give the quilt some personality by putting a plaid or homespun fabric between the 4-inch squares.
Most quilters keep all their scraps. Even a small length of fabric can be used at the beginning of a log cabin quilt block. As your quilting skills progress, you will find many uses for leftover fabric. Learn to organize your scraps, save money, and become a true scrappy quilter.