Step 1: Cut equal numbers of strips for four-patch blocks (in my case, yellows and greens), of strip width one inch wider than the desired final width of the four-patch block. In my case, this width is 5 inches (because each small square in the four-patch has final size 2 inches, so the final size of the four-patch blocks is 4 inches).
Tube piecing projects
by Irena Swanson
Four-patch with tube piecing
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Step 4: Rotate the tubes around for maximum desired randomness, and sew pairs of them together.
Step 2: Sew the strips alternating the colors. The number of strips determines the width of my quilt (14 blocks).
Step 8: Sew the strips together, and you are done.
Step 3: Sew the two outer edges together. You get a primary wide tube as in the photo on the left below. Then cut the primary wide tube into primary narrow tubes of tube width half an inch wider than the width of the desired small squares in the four patch block (in my case, the tube width is 2.5 inches). I obtained 16 primary narrow tubes (which determined the height of my quilt: 16 blocks).
Before proceeding to the next step, press all seams to the designated dark fabrics (green in my case), and then cut across accurately at 90 degrees, as close to the beginning of the strips as possible. In the photo above, the straight cut is on the left side.
Step 6: Cut this crosswise through the middles of all wide brown and yellow rectangles (in my case, at 2.25 inches from seams).
Final comment: What if you do not want diagonals in four-patches to point in different directions and you are willing to make two quilts (identical except for the orientations of the diagonals)?
Then double the number of strips, and make two identical striped rectangles as in Step 2. Cut them into pieced strips. For interspersing pairs of pieced strips with solid fabrics, make two constructions: in one the pairs of pieced strips have a dark pieced in the top left, and in the other construction they have a light piece in the top left. After you sew and cut the two constructions crosswise, group the strips according to the orientation of the four-patch diagonals. Do the final sewing of the strips in the two groups, and you are done with two quilts.
Step 7: Rotate half of these pieced strips, and move strips around for the desired looks of the diagonals.
Step 5: Starting with this step, the instructions are almost the same as those starting in Step 5 for four-patch with enhanced strip piecing. Namely, for each pair as above cut a strip of fabric for the solid squares between four-patch blocks: the strips should be as wide and at least as long as the pairs (in my case 4.5 inches by 60.5 inches). Before sewing, mark equidistant notches along the edges of unpieced strips as to where the seams of the pieced strips should fall. Also, position all pairs so that top left squares in them are of the same color scheme (green in my case).
Step 4.5: In each sewn pair, cut across at half point through some rectangles to get very long pieced strips.
This 56 inch by 64 inch quilt has 112 four-patch blocks and 112 solid squares, so a total of 560 squares, and it was sewn with 50 seams total. It goes very fast.
Note how some four-patch blocks have dark diagonals pointing one way and others a different way. If that bothers you, with double the fabrics and double the (few) seams you can get two quilts: in one all diagonals point one way and in the other the diagonals point the other way.
If you want repeated colors in the four-patch blocks, it is possible to do this without tube piecing; go to Four-patch with enhanced strip piecing.