Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make a Nine Patch, then make it disappear

One very easy quilt block to make is the Nine Patch.  You can make a simple and quick quilt using lots of these blocks.  If you're unfamiliar with the block, I'll take you through it (and how to make a disappearing nine patch block as well).  If you're already familiar, there's a useful table at the end for making different block sizes.  Here's how to make a Nine Patch:

Start with nine blocks of equal size.  These are all 5" square (from a pre-cut charm pack of Domestic Bliss by Liz Scott for Moda).  Lay them out how you like them.

9 blocks

Sew the blocks in each column together with a 1/4" seam.  You can use a 1/4" foot to make this go even faster.

use a quarter inch foot

Press your seams flat.  I like to press the seams to the side that has the darker of the two blocks, but you can press them open too if you like.

iron flat

Now that the columns are made, we're going to sew them together.

blocks in a row

Even though the pieces are not that big, pinning together is necessary to make sure the seams come together perfectly.  Pin together matching seam lines.  If you pin through the seam lines on both sides, this holds the seams together so it looks nice.

pin at the seams

And on the other side. . .  (the pin should be going through the seam exactly -- this one needs minor adjusting).

pin the seam lines together

Repeat for the other column and you have your finished nine patch!

9 patch

Now to make a Disappearing Nine Patch block simply cut your block into four equal pieces.

cut them equally

Then rearrange them however you like and sew them back together.  In this particular arrangement, you don't have to worry about any seams lining up (except the center point), which makes it much easier.

disappearing 9 patch

So here's the all important table with sizes!!


**Note Seam Allowances in the table are 1/4".  The block sizes listed are Unfinished block size.  They will be 1/2" smaller when sewn into the quilt if using 1/4" seam allowance.**

Square Size Nine Patch Disappearing Nine Patch
6"
17" sq.
16.5" sq.
5.5"
15.5" sq.
15" sq.
5"
14" sq.
13.5" sq.
4.5"
12.5" sq.
12" sq.
4"
11" sq.
10.5" sq.

One of the most common sized blocks (and the size we frequently make for swaps and charity quilts in the MMQG) is an unfinished 12.5" square.  Notice that if you start with a 4.5" square block, you can make a nine patch that ends up being 12.5" square.  You can't however make a disappearing nine patch with a final size of 12.5" square using a standard block size.  There are a couple ways around this though::

#1  You can start with a block size of 4 2/3" -- This works out to be a perfect 12.5" square unfinished block when using 1/4" seams, however, this is a very difficult block size to cut accurately without a fancy cutting ruler.

#2  You can easily make one of the block sizes above and just trim it down - this is easy and ensures that you have the proper size even if you're not great with your seam sizes.  The down side of this is that the pieces that make up the blocks aren't uniform in size.  They'll be close, but you'll have some pieces that are larger than others.

#3 If you start with a 5" block, you can make a 12.5" unfinished block by changing the seam allowances that you use.  First when making the Nine Patch, use a 3/8" seam.  On most machines, the edge of your normal foot is 3/8" (but of course, measure to be sure).  Next when making the Disappearing Nine Patch, use a 1/2" seam.  If you do this, you may want to trim your excess seam allowance if you think it will get too bulky. This method should get your block pieces (that make up the block) to be more uniform throughout.

Let me know if you have any questions.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! The only thing I do differently is I press the first and third columns' seams away from the center, and the second column's seams toward the center (or vice versa), then you get that nice nesting of seams when you sew your columns together.

    If the blocks are not really small, I don't even bother pinning the intersections--I just hold the nest in place until they are almost in the machine. Of course this only works well if your blocks don't need a lot of easing to line up. Probably not the most accurate way, but anything to avoid more pinning :)

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