(Original) FOUR PATCH
with drafting grid
Quilt Notes: Although numbered "4," the first quilt block at the top of the first plate in the 1935 ROMANCE OF THE PATCHWORK QUILT IN AMERICA, by Carrie A. Hall, is the FOUR PATCH illustrated here. It is traditionally called "the original Four Patch," which is why Hall chose to lead off her "Reproductions of Quilt Patches" with this design, and scrambled the numbers so that it could be both "#4" and a beginning — a fact she mentions in her notes (p. 49). THE COLLECTOR'S DICTIONARY OF QUILT NAMES AND PATTERNS (p. 84), by Yvonne M. Khin, states:|
"To enhance the pattern, light and dark patches are applied. The design is called the original Four-Patch for obvious reasons."
The FOUR-PATCH arrangement is the simplest of all constructions. And yet the block does have a personality of its own, since it doubles the idea of four, four patches yes, but two of them are themselves made up of four patches. The two plain or white squares are equally important to the design, however — stylistically they prevent the pattern from becoming an "Irish Chain," and emblematically, they balance fullness and emptiness perfectly.
In terms of quilt history, in a craft so consistently "women's work," it is interesting that here is an Origin, an Ancestor, traditionally accepted in a sense as the beginning, or the Mother of all (patchwork) quilt designs.
Carrie A. Hall's FOUR-PATCH is online at the Spencer Museum of Art in Kansas.
Barbara Brackman illustrates the block (#1103a) in her section in the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT PATTERNS titled, "Squares and Rectangles, Only" and which includes SQUARES UPON SQUARES, as a near neighbor. Compare with the WEDDING QUILT and AUNT PATSY'S PET at this site for similar composition, though very different designs.