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the quilting four-patch trick (tutorial)

30 July 2010 198,255 views 11 Comments

The Quilting 4-Patch tutorial on Splityarn.com

Having just pressed a quilt top for one of my bee quilts, I know seam-flattening is a pain and begs for a trick to make it easy. If you’ve ever sewn a four-patch and always pressed to the dark side in both steps, you know how quickly that seam gets bulky. 5 layers of soft fabric can turn into a hard nub that will break a needle when you try to quilt over it. Thankfully, I have just the trick to make it easy. Surprisingly it isn’t well-known so it seemed perfect for a tutorial. It also begs for photos to show the beauty (and simplicity) of it. NOTE: This tutorial works for 4-patches, 9-patches and anywhere you’re joining a whack of squares where you don’t want a bulky seam allowance.

Start with the initial 2 patch seams pressed to one side. If you always press in the same direction, you can snuggle the seam folds up together and you’ll feel them lock into place like a puzzle. This is the key to getting your points to match up exactly. Tada! Instant perfect point matching.

The Quilting 4-Patch tutorial on Splityarn.com


Lay the piece open and face down on your pressing surface.

The Quilting 4-Patch tutorial on Splityarn.com

Before busting out the iron, gently nudge the center of the seam open. There will be one or two stitches to undo, but since you don’t need to backstitch on quilting seams, this will be easy to pry apart with your fingers.

The Quilting 4-Patch tutorial on Splityarn.com

Finger-press the seams in opposite directions. If you originally pressed to the dark sides, these will go to the light sides. You’ll see a wee checkerboard appear dead center.

The Quilting 4-Patch tutorial on Splityarn.com

Press these seams with your iron.

The Quilting 4-Patch tutorial on Splityarn.com

Behold the magic of the nonbulky seam. Beautifully flat and crazy easy to quilt over because the seam is now minus two layers of fabric. Neat eh?

The Quilting 4-Patch tutorial on Splityarn.com


  • earthchick said:

    Whoa! You just blew my mind a little bit. This is awesome!!

    And, uh, sorry that I contributed bulkiness to one of your quilt tops. Heh.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  • grumperina said:

    That’s awesome! Great technique to keep in mind. Please share others :).

  • Binding Your Quilt – Tips & Tricks Series said:

    […] Splityarn » Blog Archive » the quilting four-patch trick (tutorial) […]

  • JulieFrick said:

    SO glad you’re doing these tutorials. Hurrah!

  • Bertha said:

    Why…why didn’t I think of this before?!

  • Twitted by overallquilter said:

    […] This post was Twitted by overallquilter […]

  • mintyfresh said:

    totally awesome!!

  • Stacey said:

    Just the technique I was looking for… thanks :)

  • Luciana said:

    As usual, great tutorial and great photos. Thank you for posting.

  • This is not a quilt…yet! | The Secret Costumier said:

    […] tutorials for the cutting, piecing, pressing, quilting and binding, and soon realized that it is a lot of work!!!! I did the maths for a quilt […]

  • Pat said:

    Great reminder…first saw this technique a few years ago on Eleanor Burns sewing show! Just ready to do a 4-patch quilt for hospice and this tutorial will help the process go smoothly!

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