The shaded four patch is a magical block - not only because it has a SLEW of other names (Birds in the Air, Hidden Square, or Mary's Triangles to name a few), but because it is a happy partnership between - yup you guessed it! - a four patch and a HST.
Making a shaded four patch CAN be a pain and more than a bit challenging to piece accurately. Sewing small HSTs to each side of a square and then pair with a larger HST creates issues for some folks due to the exposed bias seams. Ack!
But never fear! The mathematically minded, amazing Deb Tucker of Studio 180 has a fun, easy alternate to making this fun, versatile block. I'm going to walk you through the technique, step by step. Ready?
Making the Shaded Four Patch - Step One
Begin with TWO strip sets of a narrow strip and a wide strip. Note that the seam allowance is pressed to the WIDE strip. Put those two strip sets, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, and with the narrow strips opposite each other.
Hint: Look at the left of the picture. Do you see how the purple strip is on the TOP of the strip set on top set, and the purple strip (narrow strip) is on the bottom on the bottom strip set? Right - that is how you pair them. Match raw edges and have the narrow strips opposite of each other.
With the strips sets paired, you then cut segments. The width of your segment (as well as the size of the strips) will depend upon the size block you are trying to make (more on THAT later).
Making the Shaded Four Patch - Step Two
Sew the segments together along one long side. Whew - that was easy! But wait....one little trick before we press. Fold the sewn segment in half lengthwise and make a small cut (ALMOST to the seam allowance) at the halfway mark.
Making the Shaded Four Patch - Step Three
Press the clipped seam, flipping the seam AT THE CLIP so that the seam again is toward the large strip set. This pressed unit will be paired with a coordinating rectangle of the same (or similar) size. HINT: This plain rectangle will become your large HST!
Making the Shaded Four Patch - Step Four
On the pieced unit, draw TWO 45 degree lines. Note that the lines intersect the seam allowance of the small squares at the corner. Sew on these marked lines, and then cut apart. Press to the large HST.
Making the Shaded Four Patch - Step Five
Wow - it looks pretty good, huh? We are ALMOST there. We just have to do a bit of trimming.
Enter the almost mystical Tucker Trimmer! Tada! Seriously - when trimming units like this, I swear I hear angels singing! Here's why. One diagonal line will be placed on the long diagonal seam. The intersecting diagonal line for the same trim size will be lined up on the intersection of the square and HST.
I know it is hard to see on the dark purple, but on the example above, I am trimming the Shaded Four Patch down to 4 1/2". Look closely at the dashed 4 1/2" line. It crosses the solid diagonal line exactly at the intersection of the light purple square and the dark purple HST. No guessing. No eyeballing it - when I trim, my block will be symmetrical and PRACTICALLY PERFECT! Yup, quilty pal, we just experienced a Mary Poppins moment. I know - I'm loving it too!
The Final Unit - The Shaded Four Patch
And here it is in all of its trimmed, symmetrical glory - a thing of beauty and no swear words were involved.
Now - you may be asking - what size do we cut everything? All of the steps and the cutting are laid out on the Shaded Four Patch Technique Sheet by Studio 180. All 21 sizes! That's right - it gives you measurements for whole and half size blocks from 2" up to 12". I do recommend the Technique Sheets - especially this one! Yes, you can find the Technique Sheets and the Tucker Trimmer on my website (because I LOVE Studio 180 - I'm even a certified instructor!).
Click the button below to go to the Shop to find the Technique Sheets and tools!
Head over to Kate's blog to get some additional tips and ideas on the shaded four patch block (you got a sneak peek at her block in the badge at the top of the post!)
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