For some time I’ve been wanting to really dive into the topic of quilting. After doing a lot of research I realized the 9-patch quilt block is the ideal place to start. What’s not to love here. It’s beyond simple ~ 9 squares of the same-sized fabrics. You can scale it up or down without much difficulty and come up with an array of possibilities. Add in a half-square triangle or two and get an entirely different quilt.
The Nine-Patch quilt block is one of the best blocks to start with if you’re a beginning quilter. It has officially been around since the 1800s and it is one of the most recognized quilt blocks in the quilting world. In spite of its simplicity, it has the ability to be changed dozens of different ways when paired with different blocks.
A Little 9-Patch History
Nine-patch blocks go waaayyyy back. Think Conestoga-Wagon-way-back. This block was popular with our nation’s pioneers because of its efficiency. A pioneer woman didn’t have fabric to waste. By cutting up simple squares she was able to use her precious fabrics wisely and keep her family warm at night. The simplicity of this pattern design made it ideal for teaching young girls how to sew (some as young as age 3 or 4) which was a necessary skill as our country expanded westward.
I think the true beauty of this block lies in its history and and how it ties into the building of a great nation. As families moved West, women used their quilting skills to sew into the history of a growing country. In between homesteading the land, women found time to stitch together quilts as a necessity. These quilts played a vital role in their survival. They were not only used to keep settlers warm at night; they covered windows, doors, and floors.
And the block that they used most often was the Nine-Patch quilt block.
Simple Nine-Patch Construction
Most 9-patch quilt blocks look best when lighter value and darker value fabrics are paired together to form a small checkerboard. I think this block is ideal for using pre-cuts such as a 5″ square charm pack or 2.5″ mini charm pack.
Assembling is a Snap
The most common way to assemble a nine-patch block is by attaching three uniform sized blocks across to form a single strip as illustrated below. For best results, use a 1/4″ seam allowance throughout your piecing.
Keep in mind, you can size these up or down to suit your taste. As long as all the blocks form a same-sized square, you can go crazy with scale.
Once three individual blocks are attached across they will create a strip. The nine-patch grid works best when it is done in an alternating grid. The first row should be Dark Square + Light Square + Dark Square. The second row should be Light Square + Dark Square + Light Square. The third row should repeat the first.
Once you’ve created your three alternating rows, connect them as illustrated below. It’s really that simple.
Create Something Beautiful
Do you have piles and piles of scraps? I have some good news for you. A nine-patch quilt is a great way to turn those scraps into something beautiful.
This quilt is the perfect example of a scrap-busting nine-patch quilt. It’s from the book, Block-Buster Quilts: I Love Nine Patches.* (affiliate) which takes the simple nine-patch block and breaks down the steps in order to create beautiful quilts. I recommend this book because it’s a compilation of different variations of the nine patch quilt block reimagined by a variety of quilters.
Where to Begin
- Start by sorting some scraps into lighter value and darker value piles. Be sure to press with an iron.
- Cut the scraps into 4″ or 5″ squares.
- Start laying out the squares to form nine-patch checkerboards.
- When you are satisfied with the layout, begin stitching together the squares into nine-patch blocks as illustrated above.
- Connect blocks until you have a quilt.
Nine Patch quilts like the one above are also ideal for Quilt As You Go. If you are challenged by space, this method would work perfectly. For my simple wall hanging quilt, I pieced together 2.5″ squares to form a 6.5″ block. I connected my blocks to form a design. In a few weeks I’ll talk more about the quilting, but for now let me just say three words: fast and easy
Now, doesn’t this sound fun! And, your scraps can now be converted into beautiful quilts.
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