Dance Top Picks

Quilting Blog

The Fiber of My Being: Patience Corners’ Raison D’être

Once upon a time, I wanted a block to show off large-print Asian fabrics. I chose patience corners blocks. I began piecing it conventionally but changed course.

Anita hanging her Strippy No Patience quilt

Why do you choose one quilt block instead of another?

For me it’s primarily about re-inventing block construction. I go for blocks where I’ve spotted alternative ways to make them block simpler. I like puzzling them out.

What strikes you? Is it because you admired one done up in your favorite colors? That’s usually the hook. Here’s a challenge to you: Picture a block that doesn’t appeal to you by visualizing it in your preferred palette.

Constance Benson with her No Patience wall hanging

Constance Benson with her No Patience wall hanging

Test yourself. Imagine a quilt block on Bluprint or Instagram in your favorite colors. Don’t scroll past it without picturing it in your fabrics. I’m serious, try it once. You’ll stretch yourself creatively.

To get a better sense of a quilt when laying out blocks for it, quilters squint at the work or view it through the lens of a camera. I’ve been accidentally doing the opposite of this when studying blocks. If I’m not wearing eyeglasses, I can’t clearly see images on my phone. I wind up “seeing” something that leads me to view a block’s components off-kilter.

Robin Strauss No Patience detail

Robin Strauss No Patience detail

Instead of choosing a block by its fabric, I zero in on the construction that goes into a block.  Patience Corners was such a block for me.

Don’t fly past my Halloween block above if the colors don’t suit you. I chose the fabric to best illustrate how I manipulated the block. It came about because the standard method of sewing a pair of strips to adjacent sides of four small squares was just plain tedious.

How simple is this?

  1. Lift the black cat unit, upper left
  2. Swap it with the green gremlin, bottom right
  3. Don’t rotate the pieces! This operation is as simple as switching a knife and fork at a place setting.

The orange fabric is as a one-way directional print; its direction is maintained in the switcheroo. I’m grinning and raring to show you shortcuts to make this block in fabrics of your choosing.

How to sew patience corners quilt blocks with the square cut method

This version of my patience corner method is calculated for 10″ precut squares. It’s adapted from an extensive chapter in my book Rotary Cutting Revolution, which should answer any questions you may have about alternate variations. The entire book is available as a free PDF, a bonus included with the purchase of this Bluprint class.

  • Unfinished block size: 8″ square
  • Finished block size: 7½” square
  • Fabric required: 9½” squares

For every block, you’ll need a square of fabric. A quilt of 100 blocks (75″ x 75″) would require 100 squares of fabric. One package of 42 assorted precut 10″ squares yields 42 blocks. Set them 6 x 7 grid for a 45″ x  52½” quilt.

Cutting instructions

cutting options for patience corner block
  1. Stack two different 9½” squares right sides up
  2. Cut two 1¾” x 9½” vertical strips
  3. Cut two 1¾” x 6″ horizontal strips
  4. Two 6″ x 6″ squares will remain.

As you can see, there are several cutting options. Make four cuts, get five pieces. It’s sort of like getting the 6″ square for free. And this is why I fail to generate scraps. I choose blocks that can be cut without waste from fabric squares.

Construction instructions:

  1. Sew the 6″ strips to opposite sides of the square. Center and sew the oversize 9½” strips to the other sides. Trim the unit to 8½”.
  2. Cut the 8½” unit into quarter: Slice through the center twice, into four subunits, each 4¼”.
  3. Swap two opposite units, without rotating. Sew the pieces back together into an 8″ unfinished block.

Pairings of fabric may be mixed up (or not) and blocks may “point” left or right.

No Patience Quilt BlocksSusan Liimatta "The Zen of Fans" detail

Susan Liimatta chose Japanese indigo strips to frame Kaffe Fassett prints. Her quilt The Zen of Fans was exhibited in spring 2017 at Paducah. Many images of her exquisite quilting may be seen here.

Anita grossman solomon on craftsy set

Both of Anita’s Classes for One Low Price

Get access to Anita’s two Bluprint classes — plus classes from dozens of other quilting experts — for one low price. It’s all in Bluprint.Learn More


Arvilla Trag

Awesome, genius, I love it! I have just the squares to do this, only have to finish 3 WIP first.

Creek Girl

Why do you trim the block from 9-1/2″ to 8-1/2″?

Anita Grossman Solomon

RE: Center and sew the oversize 9½” strips to the other sides. Trim the unit to 8½”
The block was never 9½” square though the fabric was. The pair of 9½” strips, once sewn to the unit, will extend 1/4″ beyond the unit at this point. A ‘tab’. It’s because what was a 6″ square block center, now sewn, measures 5½” square. These four 1/4″ tabs should be trimmed off. Once they are, the unit should measure 8½”
I hope you’ll give it a try 🙂 -Anita

Donna Harris

Anita, what an absolutely gorgeous quilt!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply