Thursday, 8 July 2010

Wavy Four Patch Tutorial

At Magie Relph's workshop on 4th June we looked at various types of wiggly blocks that she had created in addition to the nine-patch we were to be working on.  Here are some of Magie's wavy four-patches:
In these first blocks a scrappy look has been created by using a plain fabric and a variety of contrasting fabrics.
In this example Magie has used a contrast in colour to show off the design, and has also made her cuts diagonally to create an extra tiddly version of Drunkard's Path.
In this block, my favourite, Magie has used only one contrasting fabric to three pieces of the plain fabric and arranged the patches to create a variation on a pinwheel.
Finally here's Magie's totally wayward 25-patch showing a contrast of both colour and fabric design.  The possibilities are endless and such fun.
Several people have kindly asked me to share a wavy-patch tutorial and so, all credit to Magie Relph of course, here comes my third tutorial (the first was on wavy seams which might be helpful with this project and the second was my Christmas decoration tutorial ).


Firstly we need to get our fabrics together so here are a few guidelines, whether you're buying new or raiding your stash.

Fabric Choices
It is really important to choose fabrics that contrast well.
You could have a colour contrast, like my red batik and Japanese print nine-patch version,
or a design contrast - maybe a plain and a stripe for example.  What you don't want is two similar fabrics, two spriggy, floral prints will absorb the wavy edges of the fabric pieces and just look like a wild cottage garden - very nice but not what we're trying to achieve here!

You then need to decide on the balance of fabrics.
Your four patch can be made up of two fabrics in a 2+2 design or in a 1+3 design, like the blue batik example above or your could have a plain fabric and a variety of contrasting fabrics to create a "scrappy" look, like the first sample above.
You could draw some squares and have fun with the colouring pencils
or, my preferred "design method" is to rip some pages out of a colour supplement or magazine and use them as "fabric" to try out some ideas.

I thought it would be a lovely idea to use a charm pack to create an interesting, but simple, four-patch design and that it would show off the fabrics beautifully and, as fortune would have it, I happened to have a £10 loyalty voucher for my LQS, Sew Creative at Wroxham Barns.  I wanted something a little different (for me) and chose a charm pack in Moda's Blush design by Basic Grey, all gorgeous soft pinks and turquoises with some lovely brown and rust accents.  I also bought some Boutique by Chez Moi for Moda to go with it.

  • I have decided to try a 1+3 design which means I will need one 5" square from the charm pack plus three 5" squares cut from my contrasting fabric, in my case the Boutique.
  • If you go for 2+2 you will need two 5" squares of each fabric to start with.
  • If you are going for scrappy you will need two plain 5" squares and two patterned 5" squares.
By the way, the 5" squares do not have to be accurately cut, squarish and approximately 5" is fine - have a few days away from the ruler, it's very liberating.

  • A cutting board 
  • A very sharp rotary cutter - you need to have a new blade to ensure the fabric cuts smoothly, especially for the second cut when you go through a stitched seam.

I hope I'm making myself clear.  Let's get started, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Stack your four approximately 5" squares all right side up.
  •  Use a sharp rotary cutter to cut through all four layers in a gentle curve from top to bottom.   This cut should be approximately across the middle of the squares.
    • Pair your half squares, matching the curves. 
    • Sew each pair together, right sides together, gently matching the curve as you go. A seam a little less than 1/4" works best.  I don't find it necessary to use pins on short seams like these but try not to pull the fabric, go one stitch at a time if necessary to match the curve perfectly.  I match the beginning of the seam and then hold the fabric with one piece in each hand, between my thumb and index finger to match it as I sew.  With a little practising this works well.
    • Press the seam to the side it wants to go.  If one fabric is much lighter and you need to press to the darker side, a little steam is helpful. 
    • Pile your four new pieces right sides up and matching the seams and then cut them in half again, with a similar gentle curve to last time, approximately in the middle of the square. 
    • You then lay out your new pieces and match the curves again.  Stitching the curved seams as before (and not worrying about matching the joins, they won't match anyway).  The more observant among you will notice the threads, stitch holes and folds on these pieces.  I paired them incorrectly, stitched them beautifully, pressed them...and then when I came to take the photo realised I'd got it wrong, oops!

    • Then make sure you layout is as you want it and stitch the blocks together first in pairs and then into four.  You will need to fit them together comfortably but be aware that they won't match up as some curved seams take up more fabric than others.  It will all come out in the end ;)
     So here is one finished Wavy Four Patch block, isn't it cute?

    I'm going to do all the blocks in this arrangement and then join them together without sashing, I'll post a picture when it's done and in the meantime I hope you'll try this fun way of piecing and have a break from your ruler.


      1. After you put the two pairs together and your ready to sew them into a 4-patch, like in the last photo do you trim that seam before sewing?

      2. No I didn't do any trimming, just lined it up as best as it would!

      3. Thanks Lis I will add this to my list of things to make! Lol

      4. Thanks Lis, I just love those patches and I'm going to try them your way!
        Have fun!


      I really appreciate your lovely comments, ideas and opinions, they make my day. Thank you for visiting Piece'n'Peace,
      hugs, Lis x