The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting

The Atom-smasher’s Guide to Quilting

Posted in Atomic quilting,Block of the Month (BOM) by whitelotusquilting on October 6, 2010
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The word atom comes from the Greek word ‘atomos’ meaning ‘indivisible,’ or what it has become in science, the smallest unit of matter.  (the fact that modern science has gone beyond atoms and studies strange new sub-atomic particles like ‘charmed quarks’ we’ll ignore for the moment).  So maybe it’s no surprise that I approach quilting with an atomic sort of point of view, considering I have a strong grounding in science and engineering.  I break every quilt block down into its smaller units, into units that are bite-sized and manageable — quilting ‘atoms’ as it were.

A great example is the ‘Thrifty’ block, a key element of the first block of the Behemoth.  Its components are squares and four-patchies, arranged in a nine-patch layout.

Thrifty block completion

In my last post I talked about making four-patchies, and here’s a splendid use of them.  A block beautiful in its simplicity and utility.  This makes fantastic diagonal chains when set alternately.  Also provided you keep the same proportions, the block is very easy to resize.

Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville has some great tips on making four-patchies in her free scrap pattern Four-Patch and Furrows.  She uses her four-patchies to make into larger 16-patch checkerboards, definitely worth checking out.  She has a simpler kids’ pattern, too, just with four-patchies and squares, called I Spy a Four-Patch.  Here you can definitely see how four-patchies make great chains when you line up their colors and/or values.

So there you have it.  Four-patchies are one of my favorite quilting atoms, and are among the most versatile quilting units there are.  They are easy to make — easy to vary in color and size — and easy to compose with.  In any pattern when you see a fairly large-sized square you can use your favorite large-scale print — or substitute a four-patchie instead.

And by just using simple four-patchie skills, we’ve been able to build two components of the first Behemoth block: the checkerboard strip and the Thrifty block.  I’m sew happy!  🙂

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