The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting


More Atomic Quilting: the nine-patch

Posted in Atomic quilting,Block of the Month (BOM),Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on October 13, 2010
Tags: , , ,

No discussion of the fundamental units of quilting would be complete without the mighty nine-patch.  In fact when my daughter and I made our first quilt together, we sought advice about patterns and were led to the nine-patch, perfect in its simplicity and beauty.  It’s where we began our quilting journey.

Nine-patch construction

Of course the nine-patch atom is a little more complicated than the four-patches in the foreground of this picture, in that the nine-patch is a three-by-three grid construction compared to a two-by-two.  It is a useful quilting unit: it can easily be scaled up and down, and can be substituted for plain squares, just like the four-patch, and will similarly make chains if placed in alternating locations.  And likewise there are related ways to build a nine-patch.

(As an aside, the kind of nine-patches we are talking about here vary in specific ways in light and dark, just as the four-patchies do, and come in two distinct varieties, one with light corners and center, and one with dark corners and centers, as in the blue examples above)

You could cut individual squares and sew them together, but because I’m an impatient and not terribly accurate sewer, I prefer to start with strips that I cross-cut and then sew back together.  This gives me both more speed and accuracy — more efficient overall.  But of course your yardage may vary :).

You’ll need two strip sets — one with dark, light, dark and the other with light, dark light, as in the photo below.  The blues are for the nine-patches, the yellow and blue strip above is for four-patches.

Making of 9-patches

Press the seams toward the dark (more on this in a later post) for both sets and then cross-cut in the same strip width that you began with.  Assemble in  alternating sets for lights and darks to complete nine-patches of both varieties and then finish by pressing in whichever direction helps the block lay the flattest.

Making of 9-patches

Here’s another trick I learned from Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.com: you can also make a nine-patch from four-patch halves and pieces.  Using the yellow and blue strip set, I cross-cut into four-patch halves and then arranged them into most of a nine-patch — you just need a plain square to complete it.  So depending on which strips you have available, and what sizes, and how many sets you want to sew together — and how many nine-patches you need to make — now you have a few choices of how to approach it.

Nine-patch construction

The top right nine-patch was made with four-patch units and a plain yellow square; I hope you can see the spaces between the pieces.

There’s a nine-patch block in the first of the Behemoth blocks, so by now you should be able to make the plain strip, the checkerboard strip, the Thrifty block, and the nine-patch.  Steaming right ahead there!

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