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Quilting Patches and Grids

picture of a 4 patch quilting grid         picture of a 9 patch quilting grid

When it comes to constructing quilts, it is all about the grids and patches.

In the diagram at the top of the page, you have a 4 patch grid on the left, and a 9 patch grid on the right.  It is difficult to place a 4 patch grid next to a 9 patch grid. 

Most quilters like to use easy measurements.  They like their patches to finish at an even number, like 2 or 3 inches.  This is why you see so many strips cut at 2 1/2 inches. Using the measurement of 3 inches per patch, the 4-patch would finish at 6 inches, and the 9-patch would finish at 9 inches.  If you were to place them side-by-side they would not fit together.  You would have to add a frame around the 4-patch to make it larger.

It is more harmonious to the eye for similar patches to be placed next to each other.  The 9-patch block is one of the most common grids.  In the table below you have a visual of four 9-patch blocks placed together on the left, and four 4-patch blocks on the right.


a grouping of 9 patch quilt blocks to show harmony

grouping of 4 patch quilting blocks


9-patch blocks


Notice how the patches all match, and how the blocks are harmonious.  A good quilt designer can place many sizes of blocks with different grids in a quilt, but the quilt must be carefully designed, and a lot of background is used to make the blocks work together.  It is much easier for a scrappy quilter to use patches with the same grid.

Again, if you are following a pattern, the design work has been done for you.  However, in time, most quilters like to be original.  Understanding how quilt squares work together is necessary.

Most of the blocks above are fairly simple, however a couple of the blocks have patches that have been further divided.  In the first block, the block on the top left has a 4-patch in one of the grids.  This does does change the grid of the block.  It is still a 9-patch block.  However, you can say that is has been further divided into 36 patches.

The block next to it has an Ohio star or hourglass block in one of its patches.  The Ohio star also cuts into the center patch.  Again, this does not affect the grid.  Often more than one grid, and sections of adjoining grids are filled with a single block.

4-Patch blocks can usually all be cut into quarters, and each quarter will look the same. Even though some of the patches have been further divided, if you picture the 4-patch blocks above with a line down the center and across the middle, the four sections will all look the same.

Finally, not every quilt block is designed with a grid. Novelty quilt blocks, such as boats and Sunbonnet Sue,  are examples of blocks without grids.

Eye Candy for Quilters

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