How many patches in a block?

Based on a discussion on the Accuquilt Yahoo Discussion Group recently, I am going to post the information that was included in the first set of Accuquilt EQ7 blocks that I showed. This is about quilting nomenclature and will be helpful to those who are just beginning to quilt. I learned about this when I first started quilting from the book: It’s Okay if you sit on my quilt by Mary Ellen Hopkins. This information has been valuable many times and in many ways.

One important aspect of this is that the block size needs to be easy to divide into a certain number of patches. Thus, it is very hard to cut the pieces just the right size for a five patch block that you want to be 12 inches when it is finished. Five patch blocks should come out to be five inches, 10 inches, 15 inches, etc. when they are finished. Likewise, three patch blocks should come out to be three inches, 6 inches, 9 inches, 12 inches, etc. when they are finished. There are smaller numbers that can be used, but it gets complicated. . .

Block Types:

There are a couple of ways that we talk about how many patches make up a block. For example, when looking at the block below, we call it a four patch block and visualize a block that is two patches by two patches.

Two Patch Block:

However, we also describe blocks that are four patches across and four patches down as four patch designs. Thus, based on that nomenclature, the block above may be called a two patch block and the block below will be called a four patch block.

Four Patch Block:

Likewise, we call blocks that are three or five or more patches across and down in the same fashion, as shown below:

Three Patch Block:

Five Patch Block:

Six Patch Block:

2 Replies to “How many patches in a block?”

1. This is interesting… I would actually have called most of these something else. I only think of there being four-, nine-, 16- and 25-patch blocks, and everything else just a derivation. It’s part of the mathematician in me to use the “square” measurement and not the side unit. So a 4-patch is 2×2, 9-patch is 3×3, 16 patch is 4×4 and 25-patch is 5×5.

In my head, it makes the math easier to think of dividing something into an equal number of squares across and down. It helps me to visualize the grid better & breakdown blocks into their components.

It doesn’t seem to be consistent nomenclature though across the board – even EQ7 designates 2, 4, and 5 patch blocks, and then switches naming conventions for the nine-patch. 🙂

2. Very refreshing comment – I think like you do and I’m not sure why the inconsistent nomenclature exists – except that once the numbers get above 10, some may have problems visualizing the size of the individual patches. Perhaps it is possible to create a nomenclature that is consistent, i.e., instead of calling it a 5 patch block when there are actually 25 patches, perhaps it could be called a 5×5 block. That would still give one the ability to quickly see the finished size of the block as a number/dividend with a divisor of 5. Why shouldn’t we be the ones to start using this kind of nomenclature consistently so that a whole new generation of quilters has consistent numbers with which to work.