Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Spin Those Four-Patch Seams!

This little help was part of the Floribunda Tutorial, but I thought it deserved its own page for reference!

Sewing The four-patches:

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Tip #1!!

Do YOU do this? I cut the strip set in half…and then layer it with yellow on floral, and floral on yellow…so when I make my sub-cuts, the 4-patch parts are already matched with right sides together and ready to feed through the machine! This saves HUGE amounts of time..just think of all that time it takes to align the two-sies one at a time to get them lined up before sewing pairs. Give this a try! You can feel the seam lock as you lay them together.

Cut five pairs of two-sies! There will be a small extra margin for squaring/trimming left over.

Each block will use five 4 patches! ((I was cutting for two blocks at once, that is why there are more shown here!)) Each 4 patch will measure 3.5" and finish at 3" in the quilt.

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Tip #2

See the left hand pic? All my pairs are stacked the same way! THIS IS IMPORTANT! You will notice the X on the last pair in the pic on the right… "One of these things is not like the others!” and he’s wrong!

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And THIS is why!

See how they are all being fed in the same direction? Florals are leading, yellows are following. Then look at the right hand pic! Mr. No-no with the red X is heading to be fed in upside down! Can you guess why this is a bad idea?! You might think it doesn’t make a difference, but it DOES! Stick with me! I’ll show you why!

Tip #3!

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Let’s spin those seams! I know this technique has been around for a long time, but in the beginning, I couldn’t figure out WHY half of my 4 patches would spin clockwise, and the other half would go counter clockwise. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason, and it meant that when I sewed 4 patch to 4 patch, my seams wouldn’t butt and oppose any more and it drove me nuts. Are you with me?

It all goes back to TIP #2! If you want your 4 patch seams to all go around in the same direction…they have to be fed through the MACHINE the SAME when you are joining the two-sies! SERIOUS!

To get them to pinwheel like this I grab the 4 patch with the center seam going side to side as shown. A quick twist will let a couple stitches loose within the seam allowance and allow you to spin them around. Which way will yours go? Look at the TOP seam allowance to see which way it is pointing. In this case, they are pointing right, so mine will go clockwise, like this:

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Does it matter which direction they go? Clockwise or counter clockwise? Nope! You just want them all to go the SAME direction. The only time it wouldn’t matter is if you are joining all these 4 patches to units with seams that don’t need to match up. And some patterns, no matter what you try, you’ll find you have to re-press a different direction depending what you are sewing the units next to. So think it out. Of course, if you are joining all of these to plain alternate squares, you can press them any way you want because butting up doesn’t matter.


  1. Anonymous12:53 PM EDT

    i love the tips...love making the 9 patch square quilts...AND NOW i can make a zillion more with this easy/fast technique!! THANKS FOR YOUR HELP...

  2. Anonymous7:47 PM EDT

    Thanks for the tips on spinning the four -patch seams. I sew for "Quilts for Kids" and any time saving tips helps.

  3. Thank you for the spinning seams tip. I think I finally get it.


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