There is no hard and fast answer. It depends on what part you are fixing, what side you are fixing it from, how it is supported, how much stress it needs to bear, etc. etc.
When you are making a repair, the reason for the increasing size of your patches is to spread the load over as big an area as possible. The smallest piece is going to be the one in the center of the hole, so if you are fixing it from one side only, then this will be the first or the last piece that you put on.
If you are patching the hole on both sides, then you're going to start with the piece that is about an inch bigger than the hole, then lay a larger piece on top, then a larger one, and maybe a fourth one too. When that's set up, you'll fill the hole itself with a couple of pieces and the repeat the layering on the other side.
If you're fixing a hole where one side is butted firmly against something, or you have seald it, then you're going to start with the smaller pieces and get bigger as you work your way out.