Quilting patterns 101 with the Dear Jane quilt: The Four-patch block

Source: Scientific Quilter Flickr 

Dear pupils, this week I’m going to give you another lesson on how variations on a basic quilt block can alter the look and effect of that block. The basic pattern I’ll discuss this time is the Four-patch quilt block. The photo on top shows an example of that basic block. I’ll show you the variation possibilities through five blocks of my Dear Jane quilt.

All the blocks I discuss consist of two fabrics of a solid colour because that is how the Dear Jane Quilt is made. Limiting the blocks to two colours helps to show the effect of the variations without getting distracted by busy patterns. Another reason I use the Dear Jane quilt to show you is that I have, and I am, learning a lot whilst hand piecing that quilt and I think knowledge should be shared. The Dear Jane Quilt is a sampler quilt consisting of more than 200 different blocks. Many blocks are variations of basic quilt patterns and also every quilting technique imaginable is used in this quilt. Check the link below if you want to know more about my Dear Jane Quilt:

I’ve previously discussed the Nine-patch basic quilt block. Find that post here:

I’ve also discussed several quilting techniques through the Dear Jane quilt. Find those lessons here:

Dear Jane quilt block E-10: Five & Dime

This is the 8th block of the Dear Jane I’ve made on the 16th of November, 2017. That information is not relevant for this post, although it makes me feel nostalgic to remember those first few blocks I made almost two years ago. Back then, I was even more unsure of the needlepoint applique technique used for this block as now. In needlepoint applique, you sew pieces of fabric on top of the background. In this quilt block, it creates a nice look of petals floating on the checkered background.

Adding the petals to the basic four-patch design gives this block a friendly look. You could use this pattern in a fairytale quilt for the princess and the frog part. Also, adding the petals to the green decreases the impact of the green fabric. So this block is useful if you want the quilt to have a focus on a specific colour or fabric.

Dear Jane quilt block E-10: Five & Dime
Dear Jane quilt block E-10: Five & Dime

Dear Jane Quilt block A-7: Dad’s Plaids

In this block, you can see what happens if you add petals to all the four squares. This makes the block busier, but it keeps the colour distribution balanced.  I like this quilt block because it reminds me of a flower.

Dear Jane Quilt block A-7: Dad's Plaids
Dear Jane Quilt block A-7: Dad’s Plaids

Dear Jane Quilt block I-1: Ralph & Nelda’s Wedding

This block combines two basic patterns: the four-patch and the nine-patch. I like how it makes the block both busy, but also somehow keeps the overall design calm. I think because the nine-patch blocks are placed next to single pieces of fabric of the same size. It also keeps the block calm that the yellow fabric is both used for the big pieces and in the nine-patch part of the quilt block.

The effect will be different if the yellow fabric in this block will be a busy fabric with a pattern though.  I love the combination of red and bright yellow. I would not advise it for a complete quilt though because so much yellow might hurt your eyes.

Dear Jane Quilt block I-1: Ralph & Nelda's Wedding
Dear Jane Quilt block I-1: Ralph & Nelda’s Wedding

Dear Jane Quilt block M-5: Mother’s Point

This is a funny looking block to me. Something seems off with this one as if it’s not made on earth. Maybe it is the bright blue fabric or maybe it is the design of the block which is a variation of the disappearing nine-patch block. I wouldn’t call it ‘disappearing nine-patch’, though, but ‘look! Those squares are running away’ block or something like that. It looks like this block is aching to blow apart.

Dear Jane Quilt block M-5: Mother's Point
Dear Jane Quilt block M-5: Mother’s Point

Dear Jane Quilt block L-1: Widow’s Pane

I like this block a lot. There are so many different elements in this block, and they all work together to create a pleasing geometrical design. This block shows how complex a variation of a simple basic quilt pattern can be, and still look like the original. The block has probably too many pieces to be nice to use for a complete quilt duplicating the design 50 times. However, in the Dear Jane Quilt, it works very well.

I have my questions about the name of this block. ‘Widow’s pane’ suggest a sad background story. The design reminds me of a window and the background story of this quilt block is a woman is waiting for her beloved husband to return home from a war. She is working on a quilt sitting at the windowsill looking outside forlornly. However, her husband never returns home because he died in the war. This interpretation of the name fits with the Civil War background of the quilt.

Dear Jane Quilt block L-1: Widow's Pane
Dear Jane Quilt block L-1: Widow’s Pane


This is my lesson for this week! Everything I told you is based on blocks consisting of two colours, the effect will be different using more than two colours and fabrics. Feel free to experiment using multiple colours to educate yourself. Experimentation is the mother of all knowledge after all. Some questions for you to end this post:

  • Which variation did you like best?
  • What is your favourite basic quilt block?
  • How many different fabrics or colours do you prefer to use in your quilt blocks?

Would you like to know more?

Next week’s post:

– Monthly sewing update for September 2019

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.




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