Shaded Four Patch Tutorial

For Bonnie Hunter’s Easy Street Mystery Part 3, we are asked to make more (I’m still working on these units from Orca Bay 🙂 ) shaded four patches. While the method Bonnie uses works fine, I’m bored with sewing triangles on squares. So, I searched around on the web and found this method in Billie Lauder’s YouTube video and a couple of other places. Although, the instructions weren’t for the size we need. So I decided to experiment and I came up with this, which works perfectly for me.

1. Cut two 2” purple squares from the purple 2” strips as in Bonnie’s instructions.

2. Cut two 2 3/4” rectangles from the white/black 2” strips.

3. Sew each purple square to a white/black rectangle. Press the seams toward the right. Mine are finger pressed at this point.

4. Sew the two rectangles together with the purple squares at opposite ends, just like a four patch.

5. Clip the seam allowance in the center so you can press the seams toward the white/black on both sides. Again, mine are just finger pressed.

6. Using the Easy Angle ruler or in my case, the Fons and Porter equivalent ruler, slice the finished unit in half diagonally as shown to get two perfect 3 1/2” triangles.

7. Sew two 3 1/2” triangles to the newly cut units as in Bonnie’s instructions to complete two 3 1/2” square unfinished units.

And there you have it. Another way to make the shaded four patch unit.

Update 12/10/2012: It was mentioned to me that this method was also shown in a book by Sally Schneider (Scrap Mania: More Quick Pieced Quilts). So, I’m happy to give credit where credit is due. Although I have no direct knowledge of Sally’s method or the book myself.

Update 6/24/2014: Adding the additional step I’m using to complete the 3.5″ unit. Cut a 3.5″ x 4.25″ rectangle of the corner triangle color.  Using the HST ruler of your choice and mentioned in step 6, draw the cut line on the Step 4 unit. Place the solid rectangle on top of step 4, right sides together. Sew 1/4″ on either side of the cut line. Then cut on the cut line. You should have two perfect 3.5″ shaded triangle units.


  1. I need Help!!! Am I crazy or what? Twice, I’ve laboriously followed the instructions and I”m not coming out with 3.5 in triangles. I’m getting triangles with one side larger than the other. What can be wrong here?


    • One side will have the tip cut off so it won’t measure 3.5″ long. But it should match up perfectly with a triangle cut 3.5″ using the Easy Angle ruler.


  2. This looks exactly like Sally Schneider’s method for Mary’s Triangles. Please give here credit for the technique. I learned how to do this in 1994 through her book called Scrap Mania:More Quick Pieced Quilts.


  3. Hey Karen ..I used your method to make a couple sample blocks, and then took it a step further.I sewed a 2″ purple strip to a 2 3/4 ” black/white strip,then made a second set the same ,placed them right sides together with the top strip colors opposing the bottom strip colors…clear as mud right.I then cut them into 2″ strips and chain pieced them like 4 patches. I then used the Easy Angle ruler to cut them in half as you show…..I tell you I love your method and the strip piecing together…..Piece of Perfect Cake….Thank you again.


  4. I love learning new methods / I have my blocks done but I am going to try doing this block this way anyways… discards go into my little sampler quilt that had been ongoing forever. I have one made in brights and another going for traditional fabrics. One day when I have enough blocks I will put the thing together.

    Brachman’s book called this block BRAVE WORLD. Fons and Porter showed a quilt using this block on one of their DVDs/ magazine patterns. I made it years ago. They named their quilt BRAVE NEW WORLD. I think this is my favorite block.

    I can’t wait to try you method. Thank you for the tutorial.



  5. OK… I need some help. I have beautiful rectangles….but when I sew the large triangle to it, I can not get it to come out square! I tried both methods above, and it is just OFF. I’m frustrated and going to bed now 😦


  6. If anyone is around right now…I’m having a huge mental block and am just too tired to think it through straight…. I started cutting my squares and triangles and sewing…. then confused myself completely and still can’t figure out if we need 64 or 128 of the purple squares/b&w rectangles…. Can anyone answer this so I can either go cut more squares and sew the rest, or I can just go back to sewing??? *DUH* I just can’t think it through


  7. What a fantastic way to do this – maybe soon I can start and get caught up with everyone!!!!!
    Thanks for taking the time to find and experiment with the figures to get the size we needed!!!!!!!
    Lots of hugs your way!!!!!


  8. Thanks for this method. I knew there had to be an easier way. I waited starting on this until someone posted something easier.


  9. Why not take your square and place it right sides together it’s h turquoise square, sew either side of where you would cut and then slice the nits apart – no more sewin on he bias. Gonna tr the tomorrow.


    • Excellent idea. But I think you would need to cut a turquoise rectangle the same size as the pieced rectangle, draw a line and sew 1/4″ on either side then cut diagonally on the line. That would work. I’ll give it a try. Thanks. I love how each of us adds on to a previous idea.


  10. Thank you so much for the measurements for this ! When I saw out clue this morning… it came to me to make four patches, with the background fabric larger so the points wouldn’t be lost, to cut them on the diagonal….and then to add the triangle. Nice to come home after a long day, and find that you came up with the exact measurement for me !!


  11. I love this way and you just saved me from trying to make samples to get the right measurements for strip piecing ,which allows me to make 2 at once. Thank you sooo much. Love it.


  12. Great tute, easy to understand.
    I’ve gotten confident in using the Sacred Rulers 🙂 but it is great for some of the mystery folken to have an easy alternative like this. Thank you for sharing,
    Sharyn in Kalama


  13. I love this! Thank you so much! I now will also try Orca Bay as well as the Easy Street quilt. I have been lurking around quiltville but don’t post much!

    Thank you again!


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