Have you every wanted to quickly make 9-patch quilt blocks? The secret is pre-cut strips! Once you master this technique, you’ll be able to make a variety of quilts.
What’s not to love about a nine-patch quilt block. 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. It’s a basic quilt block that can be used to make a variety of different quilts, and it’s beginner friendly.
Materials & Supplies
Note: This tutorial uses 2.5″ strips. If using pre-cut strips, I highly recommend you purchase them from the same fabric manufacturer for uniform strip width.
- Several 2.5″ x 20″ Strips in solid white (pre-cuts are fine!)
- Several 2.5″ x 20″ Strips in a solid dark color (pre-cuts are fine!)
- Sewing Machine
- Quarter-Inch Foot for your sewing machine
- Aurifil 50 wt. Cotton Thread
- Wonder Clips
- Rotary Cutter
- 6.5″ x 24.5″ Acrylic Ruler (for strip cutting)
- 2.5″ x 12.5″ Acrylic Ruler (for subcutting)
- Self-Healing Rotary Cutting Mat
- Walking Foot (optional, but highly recommended)
- Iron & Ironing Board
How to Strip Piece a Nine-Patch Quilt Block
If this is your first time using the strip piecing method, I recommend you review two of my blog posts because accuracy matters when piecing strips.
1. When sewing strips together, I recommend using a Walking Foot. The strips have a little stretch and a Walking Foot can prevent the strip set from bowing.
2. Another way to avoid your strip sets bowing is to reverse your sewing direction when connecting each strip. For the first two strips sew them together top to bottom. Flip the third strip and sew it bottom to top.
Step 1: Cutting Strips
In this tutorial we’re using 2.5″ strips that will make a 6″ finished block. What if you want a 9″ or 12″ block? I’ve included a handy chart below showing how wide to cut your strips in order to make different sized blocks.
Step 2: Sew the Strip Sets
You will be making two types of strips sets. One set will be a trio of Dark + Light + Dark fabrics and the other set will be a trio of Light + Dark + Light fabrics.
Sewing Strip Set 1: Dark + Light + Dark:
Note: If you’re using pre-cut strips, line up your strips with the “sawtooth” pinked edge. It’s also a good idea to measure your strips to make sure they are 2.5″ wide from edge to edge.
- Set your stitch length to 1.5mm. This is important because when you sub-cut your strip sets you’ll be cutting across this seam.
- Designate the top of your strips.
- With right sides together, from the top sew a dark and light strip together using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.
- With right sides together, from the bottom sew a dark strip to the light strip using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Press seams towards the darker fabric.
Pressing matters when strip piecing. It’s important to set the seams on the back side of the fabric then flip over and, from the front, press your seams so they face the darker fabric. This will flatten your seams and make them nest together when you start assembling blocks.
Sewing Strip Set 2: Light + Dark + Light:
- Make another strip set following the above steps using the fabric order Light + Dark + Light.
- Press seams toward the darker fabric. This is opposite direction of your other strip set but will allow you to nest your seams when making the nine-patch blocks.
- Set aside.
Step 3: Sub-cut the Strip Sets:
The sub-cut units should be the same width as the original strips. In the example below, the individual fabric strips are 2.5” wide so they will be sub-cut into 2.5” wide units.
It’s time to sub-cut the strip sets. Before sub-cutting, it’s a good idea to make sure all of the connected strips are the same size. Do this by laying an acrylic ruler along a seam and verifying the strips are all the same size. Adjust if necessary.
Note: Before you make your first sub-cut be sure to even up your edge.
- From the Dark + Light + Dark trio, line up your ruler with a clean-cut edge and sub-cut (2) units 2.5″ (wide) x 6.5″ (high).
- Set aside.
- From the Light + Dark + Light trio sub-cut (1) individual units (2.5″ x 6.5″)
- Set aside.
Step 4: Making the 9-Patch Blocks
If you’ve pressed your seams correctly throughout the process, they will all nest perfectly! When you place your two strip set pairs together, be sure that the seams are opposing. This means that one seam allowance points left and the other points right. Doing this keeps your seams aligned.
- Make a nine-patch block by assembling three alternating sub-cut units together.
- Alternate Dark + Light + Dark sub-cut units with a Light + Dark + Light sub-cut unit in the middle.
- With right sides together, nest seams and Wonder Clip or pin sub-sets together.
- Using a 1.5mm stitch and a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, sew alternating sub-sets together to form a nine-patch block.
- Press block seams in one direction.
Notice how nicely the seams go together when nested and pressed correctly.
And the best part is how all of the points match. That’s the beauty of strip piecing – all of your blocks come out perfectly.