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Make This Stash-Busting Block in 3 Steps: Disappearing Four-Patch Tutorial

If you’re looking for a simple quilt block to stitch up using basic squares, the disappearing four-patch is simple to make using either a plain background fabric or plenty of fun and bold fabrics.

Disappearing Four Patch Quilt Block Tutorial - simple to make

Because these blocks are so easy to make, they’re perfect for whipping up a quilt as a last-minute gift. You can use pre-cut squares of almost any size to make your blocks — the larger squares you use, the faster your quilt will come together! At the end, we’ll talk about some quilt math to help you figure out how large your blocks will be with different sized squares.

Turn Pre-Cuts Into Beautiful Blocks!

pre-cut disappearing blocks

Is your stash stocked with pre-cut squares and strips? Find out how to turn them into beautiful blocks that look so complex, no one will know they were easy to sew!Enroll Now »

Making the disappearing four-patch quilt block

To make the disappearing four-patch block, you’ll need four equal-sized squares. Here, I’m using 5″ squares: Two solid (background) squares and two charm squares (the fabric is Barcelona by Zen Chic for Moda Fabrics).

select fabrics for fourpatch

Step 1: Make the four-patch

The first step is to make the four-patch that will “disappear.” First, lay out your four squares so that the two background squares are kitty corner from each other.

lay out pieces for four patch

Then, stitch them together into pairs.

stitch pairs together

Press the seams to the side, towards the background fabric. Then stitch the two pairs together to make the four-patch block.

stitched up four patch

Step 2: Preparing the disappearing act

Make four cuts into the four patch, each 1.5″ away from the center seam. You’ll have nine pieces.

cut 1.5 inches from center seamcut into nine pieces

Now, turn middle piece on each side of the square 180 degrees — flip it over completely. Your block will look a little something like this.

finished rotating pieces

You still have nine pieces, but changing the orientation of four of the squares changed the look of the design entirely.

all nine pieces

Step 3: Putting the square back together

Sew together three squares in each of the rows. The three pieces in each row will become one longer piece.

Press the seams. On the middle row, press the seams out. On the outer rows, press the seams in.

stitched into rows

Then stitch the rows together into a single block.

finished disappearing four patch

Your block is complete!

Make a scrappy disappearing four-patch

You can make this same block using four different fabrics for a more scrappy look if you like. Pick four contrasting squares from a charm pack.

fabrics for scrappy four patch

Stitch up your four patch.

fabrics for scrappy four patch

Make four cuts, each 1.5″ from the center seam, cutting the block into nine pieces. Flip the center pieces on each side.

rotated pieces

Stitch the nine pieces into three rows, then stitch the three rows into one block.

finished scrappy disappearing four patch

Make as many blocks as you would like for a quilt. Square up the blocks (these will square up to 8.5″ if your seams are accurate, or 8″ if you need more room), then stitch them together to make your quilt top.

Quilt math: How big will your block be?

Want to make this block using a different size square, but you’re not sure how big the finished block will be? The quilt math is easy!

Take the size of your pre-cut square, multiply it by 2, then subtract 2. In this example, we used a 5″ square. (5 x 2) – 2 = 8, so we’ll finish with an 8″ square. If you use 10″ square pre-cuts, your block will be 18″.

You can also use this math to make a block the exact size you want. Just take the finished size you want, add 2 and divide by two. So, how big should you cut your squares for a 20″ block? (20 + 2) / 2 = 11. You’d need to start with 11″ squares.

Curious how that quilt math works out? The fabric across one side is the length of two squares (5″ + 5″). There are three seams in each edge, and each seam takes out ½” (¼” from each fabric in the seam). And when the block is put into the quilt, each edge will lose another ¼“. That’s a total of 2”!

scrappy disappearing four patch

When you change the size of the original squares, you will want to consider changing the measurement you use to cut the four-patch and make it “disappear.” In most cases, you can use the same 1.5″ measurement. Just know that with different pre-cuts, like 10″ squares, you’ll get different proportions (which could look great with large-scale prints). If you’d like a more scrappy look with your 10″ precuts, you will want to increase the 1.5″ cutting measurement to 3″. If you are using smaller pre-cuts, like 2.5″ mini charms, you’ll absolutely want to decrease the cutting measurement to 3/4″. When in doubt, make a test block with scrap fabrics to check your proportions.

Turn Pre-Cuts Into Beautiful Blocks!

pre-cut disappearing blocks

Is your stash stocked with pre-cut squares and strips? Find out how to turn them into beautiful blocks that look so complex, no one will know they were easy to sew!Enroll Now »

15 Comments

Polly

Carolina, I love this block. And thanks for the math, though I’ll have to read it thru a few times before I get it all. I have a question about the pressing. I usually press a 9-patch so the center square ‘pops’ by ironing toward the center square. Is there any reason why that wouldn’t work for this block?

Reply
Carolina

Polly, you can absolutely press the center in, just press the seams on the outer rows the opposite direction. Direction of pressing on a specific row is a personal preference, but pressing in alternating directions from row to row is a must to reduce bulk and allow the seams to nest.

Reply
Brill

Thank you Carolina for this wonderful tutorial. It came at just the right time. I have been struggling with a quilt I started 2 years ago – just wanted to finish it. Using your suggestions I’ll be able to finish today. Thank you!!!

Reply
Carolina

YAY!! So glad it will help you finish a quilt! You’ve made my day!! 😀

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Becky

I saw this on Facebook this morning. I love it! I wanted to do one to see how. I really love the block and plan to make a small quilt with it. Will it have a secondary block when placing several together? Thanks for the pattern.

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Valerie

I would love to see a finished quilt (or quilt top) in this pattern to get the overall picture. I might just try it! Thank you!

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Evelyn

I would like to see a quilt top done in this pattern as I have to make top very soon and this looks interesting.

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Carolyn Baker

Love this idea. I just purchased 5″ pre cut squares. I will use them to make this quilt top! Thanks!

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Phyllis

I love Quilting but I am not using the computer that much as I make a lot off mistakes in it. But Google is great as I was looking for the fast Flying Geese blocks .and thank you as I found it.

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Barbara Hasenfuss

I luv piecing quilt tops, however I have very little time. i wonder would this pattern look as impressive with 8 inch or 10 inch squares?

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Missy Throckmorton

Thank goodness I found this! I’ve been going crazy with another writer using the same pattern but that one states that the finished blocks will be 7 1/2″. I have figured and refigured. I cut paper pieces and I could not make it end up to be 7 1/2″. That’s because it doesn’t! I’m not crazy! Thank you for saving my sanity. Now I can figure yardage and the number of blocks needed for my quilt

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MARIA CECILIA SILVA CARRASOLA

ME DA MUCHISIMA FELICIDAD QUE EL TRABAJO QUE MAS ME APASIONA LO ENTREGUEN MANOS TAN TALENTOSAS Y GENEROSAS MIL GRACIAS

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Lor

This is really interesting, your math helps a lot….do you have a finished quilt picture using this method?

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Darlene

Wow! I googled “Disappearing four patch quilt” and there are a lot of variations on this one. Amazing! Some are a different pattern, of course, but there were so many varieties – 2 color, pastels, completely different blocks. Yay! Thanks for sharing how to do this.

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Sue

How about three rows of 5 inch squares? Would it be 5 x 3 – 2 to equal 13 inch squares? How do you figure how many 5 inch squares? How do you determine how many squares for a queen bed? Would just add a border and then the binding? Or is this all what you want to do? Thanks.

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