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Quilting Patchwork and Grids

the grids of a 4 patch quilting block

Understanding patchwork grids is important for a quilter. Quilt blocks are usually  4, 9, 5 and 7  patches. Quilt blocks based on the same number of grids give harmony to a quilt, and are pleasing to the eye.

Grids can be further divided into smaller sections for more intricate designs.  However, the more pieces, the harder the quilt.  Frugal quilters usually just make minor changes to the sections of the grid.

While there are exceptions, most quilt squares have a grid.  Below are some examples.

the grid lines of the 3 patch friendship star block the 9 patch quilting grid

The most popular quilting grid is the 9 patch. The friendship star quilting block is an example of a quilting block that uses a 9 patch grid.  It is easy to see the grids on this simple block.

the 4 patch quilting grid

This is the 4 patch quilting grid.  It is the grid used for the basic 4-patch quilting block, as pictured at the top of the page.

You could not achieve the friendship star quilting block with a 4 patch.You need 9 sections. Other designs require other numbers of grids.

When you are planning your quilt, you want it to flow harmoniously.  This is achieve by using the patches with the same grid. 

Pictures below are 4 patch block and the snowball block. Can you see the harmony between the blocks?  Can you see the grid in the snowball block? Your eye just floats over the whole design.

snowball quilt block in 4 patch grid

You cannot use simple measurements when mixing grids.  If you are planning on each grid finishing at 2 inches, a 4 patch will finish at 4 1/4 inches raw, and a 9 patch at 6 1/2 inches raw. You can mix blocks with different grids in a quilt, but you must size them so that they are the same.  Some blocks mix well.  Others have too many horizontal or vertical lines that jar with nearby blocks. Sometimes you can get around this with sashing or using a lot of white around the blocks.

Repetition, as well as harmony,  is an important design element.  Even though the design is simple, the repetition of the pattern is what makes the above layout look pleasing.

the grid of the union square quilt blockWhen you analyze the grid on a quilt block, sometimes a quilt block will take up more than one grid area. The quilting block to the left is a 4 patch.  The center block takes up part of each of the 4 grids.

Sometimes blocks are further divided into smaller sections.  For instance, a 4 square could be divided into 16 grids.  Again, quilt blocks with lots of grids are more complex.  Frugal quilters usually use simpler grids.



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