In a previous post I looked at some of the queries that have popped up on the UKQU Facebook feed about blocks and quilts and where to find patterns or sizes. I thought I would take this a step further (and also back) and look and the basic building bricks behind our patchwork quilt – the units or shapes that go together to create the designs.

Ignoring applique for the moment and concentrating on patchwork we could say that there are two basic types of quilt – those made from ‘blocks’ and those made from simple tessellating shapes such as hexagons (often known as mosaic quilts). This time we will look at the basic shapes and ‘units’ that are found in patchwork blocks. I have looked in detail at most of these before so this post is just a summary with links to the more detailed posts and instructions (including measurements for different sizes) on how to make them. Other bloggers have also written about these units, or blocks with these units so a search of the website should find these extra posts. The Puzzle Quilt I have been blogging about all this year also has details of many of these units.

The simplest shapes, or units, we use are the squares and rectangles. The squares are often joined to make 4-patch or 9-patch units and the rectangles are paired (or sometimes there are three) together or with other rectangular shapes such as Flying Geese.

Right-angled triangles are used in a number of different units – the Half-Square Triangle

The Quarter-Square Triangle

The Three-Triangles unit

Flying Geese

And (combined with a square) in this unit

As well as in the Diamond-in-a -Square unit

Half-Rectangle triangles occur in some blocks but are more usually paired with an isosceles triangle to make Peaky and Spike units.

Other odd-shaped triangles are used in the Ice-cream Cone unit.

There are also the curved seam units called Drunkard’s Path.

Once you can recognise these basic units of patchwork and know how to make them it is easy to design your blocks or to make your own version of a block (or quilt) you have seen but have no pattern for. It really doesn’t matter if yours is a different size from the original!