Monday, May 19, 2014

4-Patch Posies

4-Patch Strippy made with Posies
Donated to 2010 Nashville Flood Victims

Prepping for a lecture later today .... Topic is "Fabric Selection for 4-Patch Posey," a class I will be teaching at that guild in August.

Four-patch posey is one of several design techniques that rely on stacked repeats of fabric to achieve the desired effect.  Others are Stack-n-Whack, trademarked by Bethany Reynolds, One Block Wonder, introduced by Maxine Rosenthal, Serendipity, coined by Sara Nephew, and Kaleidoscope, frequently seen in Paula Nadelstern's quilts.

The secret to success in any of these is fabric selection.  Unfortunately, it's hard to know if you've picked the right one until the fabric has been cut.  Mirrors help ... sometimes.

Posey is one of the simplest, requiring only four repeats of fabric cut into squares but, to me, choosing the right fabric is harder, though I am at a loss for words to explain why.  It just seems to me that triangles and diamonds for hexagons or 8-point stars yield more dynamic results.

Nevertheless, Posey is an easy way to learn how to layer the repeats to get nearly identical units for your blocks.  And the "posies" can be used anywhere a square is used -- for example, the center of a star, or in "4-Patch Strippy" (shown above), free download pattern by Kaye England.  So even if the posies aren't spectacular, all is not wasted.

I have had best results -- having made 4 and given away 3 -- with floral motifs, lots of variation in motifs and colors, curving lines, and a modest amount of air space between motifs.  Bethany suggests using the "palm" check -- no motif should be larger than your palm.

To illustrate my points I worked with some fabrics I had on hand ($1 and $2 sale table at Hobby Lobby so I didn't mind if it didn't work). Here is a tightly packed floral with little color or motif variation.  Also, the repeat is very short -- the chunks I cut are actually two repeats.  The posies look a lot like the original fabric.

Tightly packed floral, little variation in color or motif

This would be a better choice, though not perfect.  At least there's more variety and airiness in the posies, but the tulips and larger leaves don't meet the "palm" test.

More color and variety in motifs, more background
Just for fun I tried a very graphic modern print.  Not nearly as successful as I had anticipated.  But put in the right setting, say Ohio Stars with red or black points, it might work.

Alexander Henry graphic print

This "perfect" fabric, IMHO, is all I have left of a 4-Patch Strippy quilt that went to Colorado fire victims a couple of years ago.  Even though the motifs are large, there is a lot happening within them.  It was hard to give this one away.


Another fabric that yielded interesting results:

Every time I work with stacked repeats I get stoked.  It's like eating potato chips -- I can't wait to see what the next one will look like.  I'm looking forward to what my students bring to class in August.  More later ....

Linking up with Judy L for Design Wall Monday.


  1. I have done this with two quilts now. I am always incredibly amazed at how each block turns out. I do like the black whtie and red one. So interesting!


    1. Nice hearing from you, Glen. I've been keeping an eye on you and the dogs for a while! I found some small square panels I stacked and cut on the diagonal, then reassembled each quadrant -- very interesting effect. I think my favorite stacked repeat is One Block Wonder, but it takes a lot of fabric!

  2. Great post Libby! I've done a bunch of Stack N Whacks - triangles, LeMonyne Star - and the 4 patch posey and love them all. I'm always on the lookout for a good fabric to whack and agree sometimes you just don't know you have a winner until you cut it up. Love your choices - I think they'd all be beautiful.

    1. Thanks, Carol. I have far more stackable fabric than I have time!

  3. I LOVE making this design! I didn't know what it was called, though. :) A couple of years ago I made one with a fabric with different shells and it turned out just wonderfully. I'm hoping to make another one soon. I think the graphic print is my favorite!

  4. Most everyone agrees with you, Ramona -- the graphic print was a hit. Guess I'll need to follow through. Stay tuned .....

  5. You don't mention the size of the blocks, but with the graphic print - I was wondering how it would look with a smaller block. Life is like a Stack-n-Whack, you never know what you will get. I bet your lecture was a success.

    1. I cut the squares at 3-1/2". As I was making the rest of the 36 blocks last night I started to have the same thought .... oh, well, it will still be interesting.


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