Making a quilt top from the 9 patch blocks

So I went back and found my project from November of 2009 since the post from earlier this weekend.  It turns out that it may make more than 5 blocks.  Then again, I may have used 2 fat quarters, I’m not sure.

Strips I found when I opened the project box.

Strips I found when I opened the project box.

So for kicks and giggles I finished them up to see how many blocks I really had.

10 finished blocks

10 finished blocks

I have 10 blocks 5 of each color. The next step is to make sure they are all the same size.

Measure to find the smallest block.

Measure to find the smallest block.

So I measure all to find the smallest block and after I evened that one up (making it square to the shortest edge. I cut the other blocks down to that size in this case 6-1/4″

Then because I’ve been told that quilts with even numbered blocks aren’t really aesthetically pleasing (although my favorite quilt has 24 blocks). I added some blocks of solid fabric to place between the pieced blocks.

Cut 10 solid pieces the same size as the pieced blocks.

Cut 5 solid pieces the same size as the pieced blocks.

Then comes the fun part, layout.

Hm, I don't think 5 blocks will be enough.

Hm, I don’t think 5 blocks will be enough.

I cut 5 more of the solid blocks (used 2 fat quarters) for this layout.

27And hmm, we have an even number of blocks – 4 rows of 5 for a total of 20.

The next step is sewing the blocks together.  The nice thing about this layout is there’s no worrying about seams laying right, every seam on the block is going against a blank block.  I sew the blocks to make rows.

two sets of two rows

two sets of two rows

I learned early on that it’s a pain to try to stitch a single row to a section of three rows or more rows. So I usually start on both ends of the quilt and work toward the center.
29

So this seemed a bit small, great for a crib size or wall hanging though so I added some borders. First I added a 2 inch stop border.

Top with stop border

Top with stop border and mitered corners

Then I added a 6-1/2″ outer border.

Evening things out

Evening things out

After adding the side borders, I evened out the edge before putting on the bottom border.  I like having an even edge to work with.

Finished Quilt.

Finished Quilt.

And we have a finished quilt. If I remember right, it took 4 fat quarters for the 9 patch blocks, 2 fat quarters for the solid blocks, 1 fat quarter for the stop border and 4 fat quarters for the outer border. So at 11 fat quarters which I got on sale for $1.50, that’s not a bad price for a throw quilt.

Advertisements

More instructions on a 9 patch block

So back in November 2009, I started a tutorial for making a 9 patch block but I didn’t finish it.  Just like the quilt that I started for the tutorial is still sitting in the block box and not finished.  However, there are some pictures from the first round that didn’t get posted so her is part 2 in How to Make a 9 Patch block quilt –

When we left off 3 years ago, I had suggested marking the 1/4″ seam allowance on the sewing machine like this.

Marking a quarter inch seam allowance on your machine

Marking a quarter inch seam allowance on your machine

The next step is to play with the iron. I like having a good heavy iron for quilting because it’s important to press with the iron, not “iron”.  Rubbing the iron back and forth can stretch the fabric, especially when working on the bias in triangles.

Lay the strip with the darker fabric on top

Lay the strip with the darker fabric on top

The reason for putting the darker fabric on top is when you open the seam, it will then lay toward the darker fabric.

Press the seam to set it.

Press the seam to set it.

It’s really tempting to just slide the iron down the seam but it’s important to pick up the iron, set it down and press, pick up the iron, repeat.  The times I slide the iron, I end up with curved seams. Press the entire length of the strip.

open the strip and press the seam open

open the strip and press the seam open

I was taught that whatever direction you open, is how the seam will lay.

What it looks like pressed open

What it looks like pressed open

The two really good suggestions I was given were 1. Go in the direction of the fewest seams and 2. Lay the seam to the darker color so it doesn’t show through.

view of the seam laying on the dark side

view of the seam laying on the dark side

Now add the third strip to this set.

Again, darkest fabric in the seam on top.

Again, darkest fabric in the seam on top.

So on your strip where the light fabric is on the inside the pressed seams lay toward the outside dark strips and where the light fabric is on the outside, the seams will lay toward the inside.

Now there are 2 set of three strips

Now there are 2 set of three strips

Now that we have the 2 sets of 3 strips, it’s time to cut them to make blocks.

Create a straight edge

Create a straight edge

Line one of the lines of the ruler with the line of the seam in order to get a perpendicular line, now you can use the rotary cutter to create a straight edge to your strips.

Cut blocks the same size as original strips.

Cut blocks the same size as original strips.

Cut new strips the same size as the original strips, in this case, I was using 2.5 inch strips so I’m going to cut this portion the same size as my original strips.

Lay out the new strips to form blocks.

Lay out the new strips to form blocks.

Lay out the strips to form the 9 patch blocks.  I had enough to make 5 blocks 2 with the light fabric in the corners and 3 with the dark fabric in the corners.

abut the seams

abut the seams

So this is where my obsession with pressing the seams the correct direction come into play.  Since we pressed all the seams to the dark side, we now have a way to make our corners perfect, abut the seams so they line up perfectly.

Finished block

Finished block

I seriously thought about telling people to press the block seams to the dark side again but I think I’ve hammered that enough.

So now you have five 9-patch blocks and a choice.  How do you want to lay out the quilt?

I’ll hurry and finish my quilt this month and take more pictures.   I won’t make people wait another 3 years for the remaining instructions but I’m not promising that it will be this weekend.

How to make a Nine Patch Block

Just so you know, I posted a quilt I finished to an online group and Terry made the comment that she learns a lot about quilting from me and that one thing she knew is that quilting by hand is a time consuming venture. I should mention that I got into quilting because after finishing a 241 hour stitching project my first quilt took 22 hours from pre-cut kit to bound quilt. With such a quick turnaround it’s no wonder I became addicted.

Just a note before we begin, I still consider myself a beginner. I don’t know the proper way of doing curves, I don’t get my points right more than half the time. Many people are far better quilters than I am, but I can do simple quilts and I have a good eye for color IMHO.

So before beginning, there are some needed supplies. A rotary cutter, a sewing machine, a cutting matte, a ruler and some fat quarters of contrasting colors. Walmart sells a beginning quilting kit that has the matte and the cutter and a decent ruler – it runs about $27.99. Fat quarters run about $1.25 to $3.50 depending on the local shop.

The picture shows several fat quarters which I picked out on a retail therapy spree. Pick two fat quarters which look good together. It works best using a light and a dark fabric. A lot of people will suggest pre-washing the fabric and it makes sense especially if the colors bleed like red or purple. Personally, I like working fabric with the sizing still in it. If deciding to wash, serge the fabric before washing it to keep it from unravelling. Definitely iron it after washing.

One of the critical parts of quilting is cutting. The first thing I do is create a straight edge by either using a fold in the fabric or the removal of the selvage edge.

Fat quarters have a long edge and a short edge. For this block, use the ruler to cut 3 strips either 2.5 inches or 3.5 inches wide along the long edge of the fabric.For this project I cut 2.5 inch strips.

Using 2.5 inch strips, there is enough fabric in a fat quarter to make six strips instead of just three.

Line the strips of fabric up so that there are two sets, one with the dark in the center and one with the light in the center.

Quilting is done with a 1/4 inch seam. Most sewing machine standard feet are a hair wider than 1/4 inch. I’ve marked where 1/4 inch is on my machine because I got tired of trying to remember if I had the standard or 1/4 inch foot on the machine.

Now I’m lazy so I don’t pin my strips in place and I’ll admit that I pay for it as later pictures will show. I also admit that I’m a believer in the Dorky Homemade look to quilting. I quilt for relaxation not to make a masterpiece.

I’ve now spent 3 times as long writing this narrative as I did making the nine patch block and taking the pictures and I’m not finished. Later this weekend, we’ll get into the importance of a good heavy iron.