Welcome to the first week, and the first project, of How to Quilt: A Beginner’s Guide. This week we’re making a Four Patch Coaster and learning about cutting and tools, sewing machine setup, and chain piecing.
To get started, we’ve made a playlist of videos that show you how to prepare your fabric for cutting, how to use a rotary cutter, how to thread a sewing machine, and more. Take a moment to watch and review. Be sure to refer to your sewing machine’s manual for specific threading and setup guidance.
Now that we’re all caught up on pre-sewing skills, let’s watch how to make a Four Patch Coaster!
Follow along with the written instructions below.
Four Patch Coaster
Fat 8th (a 9″ strip of fabric cut at the fold for a 9″ x 20″ rectangle) or a Fat Quarter (an 18″ strip of fabric cut at the fold for an 18″ x 20″ rectangle) of a Dark Value fabric
Fat 8th of a yard or a Fat Quarter of a Light Value fabric
From the Light Value fabric, cut:
(2) 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
(1) 5″ x 5″
From the Dark Value fabric, cut:
(2) 2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
From the batting, cut:
(1) 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
Note: We recommend using a 1/4″ foot to assemble this project, but if you don’t have one try marking your 1/4″ seams on the wrong side of the fabric with a ruler and pencil.
Cutting Fabric with Rulers & Rotary Cutter
If this is your first time using a rotary cutter and ruler, here’s how to cut out fabric.
Prepare your fabric by pressing it flat. Note that it may be necessary to use steam to press out the creased fold line. Once pressed, lay the fabric on the cutting mat and fold so the selvage edges are even. This allows two layers to be cut at once.
Use a small ruler to line up along the crease line at the bottom. Use a measurement marking to line up, not the edge of the ruler. Leave excess fabric to be trimmed to the side of your non-dominant hand (left for righties, right for lefties). Holding the smaller ruler, bring a long ruler over the excess fabric to be trimmed, pressing the edge even to the smaller ruler.
Once satisfied, place a stabilizing hand on the long ruler, move the small ruler away, hold the rotary cutter in your dominant hand, and with downward pressure place the rotary cutter flush against the long ruler and push forward to cut. Be very cautious to never put your hand or any other part of you in front of the rotary cutter to avoid injury.
You now have a trimmed straight edge on the fabric and we can use it to make our measurement cuts. We’ll begin by cutting a strip.
Using the measurements on the ruler, line up the edge of the fabric under the ruler, then cut again using the rotary cutter to make a strip. Keep a hand on the ruler and pull the excess fabric away carefully to make sure each layer has been cut through and catch any little spots that need another pass.
Now we’re going to make our final cuts. Begin at the selvage ends of the strip and trim to make a straight edge.
Line up the straight edge to the measurement on the ruler and cut.
Because the fabric was folded over, I cut two squares at once.
Finally, remember to close your rotary cutter so the blade isn’t exposed. Safety first!
Most patterns are cut from the width of fabric in strips, and then subcut into smaller increments like demonstrated here. Make sure to always read pattern instructions carefully before cutting to avoid errors. But this method of cutting with a couple rulers, a rotary cutter, and cutting mat will take you far in the world of quilting.
Four Patch :
Lay a light value 2 3/4″ square on top of a dark value 2 3/4″ square, right sides together. Sew a 1/4″ seam. Press towards the dark. Make 2 light/dark pairs.
Lay the light/dark pairs right sides together so the light squares are diagonally opposite each other as shown below. Sew a 1/4″ seam. Press in one direction. Four Patch measures 5″ square unfinished.
Lay the light value 5″ square right side up. Next, lay the Four Patch over the 5″ square, right sides together, and line them up so all the edges match. Finally, lay the 4 1/2″ batting square centered on top of the Four Patch to make a coaster sandwich.
Pin the coaster sandwich layers together at the corners. Add one more pin about an inch from one of the corners to mark the end of the sewing line for the next step.
Put the coaster sandwich under your presser foot on the side with the extra pin. Move the sandwich so your needle comes down a couple inches away from the pin marking the end of the sewing line, this will leave a gap for us to turn the coaster later. Sew 1/4″ from the edge of the batting, or 1/2″ from the edge of the 5″ fabric square.
As you approach the first corner of the coaster sandwich, stop stitching, remove the pin so you don’t run over it, and sew slowly towards the corner. Use the handwheel on the side of your machine to bring the needle down into the sandwich exactly 1/4″ away from the edge of the batting square. Lift the presser foot and rotate the sandwich so a fresh side is lined up. Lower the presser foot and sew, repeat at each corner.
Sew until you reach the last pin a couple inches away from where you began sewing. Lift the presser foot and cut the threads.
Using a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter, trim the corners at a 45 degree angle near to, but not through the threads of the seam.
Turning the Coaster
Reach in between the light value 5″ and the Four Patch at the gap and pinch the farthest side between your fingers. Pull that pinched fabric back out of the gap and repeat to turn the coaster sandwich right sides out. Use a pointed object like a pair of scissors, an orange stick (manicure stick) or a knitting needle to gently poke the corners into a sharp point. Try sweeping the pointed object along the seams to ensure no fabric is tucked into the fold.
Once the coaster is turned right sides, fold the excess fabric of the light value 5″ square at the gap into the gap so it’s even to the seam. Press a crease into the fabric. Repeat with the Four Patch, and make sure it’s lined up to the back side, not tucked in smaller or sticking out larger.
Put the coaster under your presser foot on the side with the pressed gap. Begin at the first corner so the gap is sewn closed first, and sew approximately 1/8″ from the edge around the coaster. Use the same process at the corners as you did when sewing the coaster sandwich together.
When you reach the first corner again, sew over your first few stitches before removing the coaster and trimming the thread.
The four patch coaster measures 4″ x 4″ finished. Make as many as you like!
Want more practice with Four Patches?
Check out the Half Framed Four Patch quilt, a free pattern including ideas for how to quilt it.
Ready to join a community of beginners, share your progress and get exclusive tips?
Join the How To Quilt AQS Facebook group. We can’t wait to see what you make!