Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Celebrate the Baby: Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt - Part 1

I'm not a "real" quilter. I can sew a straight line, and I understand the basics. I never rarely use pins. I make mainly lap-sized baby quilts, mainly straightforward 4" square blocks, and mainly to give away to friends. And I have so many friends with babies that I can't keep up!!
But not today! Today is about the quilt I insisted that I make for my own baby before I get burnt out on them and give up entirely on the one I'd like to have around when my own bundle of joy arrives. I'll show you an oh-so-easy, oh-so-satisfying fast quilt pattern. It's called "Disappearing 9 Patch" (D9P), and I ran into a lovely blog post by fellow Etsy artisan Donna Francis (Donna's in the Attic) that inspired me to give it a whirl. I had the fabric (you can really get away with using scraps for this small of a quilt), I had the color scheme (blue, white and orange), but I had not yet settled on a pattern. As is my custom, I was trolling Google images for inspiration and bumped into her 2009 Christmas quilt. It really appealed to me (secretly I think it was the cute plaids) and I knew it was worth a try.

To make the blocks, you will essentially sew blocks of 9 patches (hence the name), then cut it into square quarters and rearrange them to your liking, then sew together into a block again. By artfully choosing your fabric, leaving borders (or not) and selecting a rearranged look that suits you, there are endless possibilities with the D9P pattern. My quilt was easy, and today I'll show you the making of the quilt top.

First, allow me a moment to share my candor about quilted intersections. Though I rarely pin anything (I generally reserve the tediousness of pinning for the binding process only), I am a freak about having square corners. To combat "wonkiness", my tactics are two-fold. The first defense against crooked quilting is to cut precise shapes. I use a rotary cutter, and am very particular about exact sizing. A second option, especially for basic grid-type quilts made entirely of squares of identical size, is stolen from watercolor quilting. After cutting out your squares, you arrange them and then iron/fuse them onto thin interfacing, then simply fold and stitch. Perfect corners every time. The down side if that you do lose flexibility with ironing down the seam allowances and end up with a somewhat more lumpy and bulky end result. Still preferable to crooked corners. After cutting perfect shapes, the next best thing for getting perfect corners is probably choosing a pattern that won't show mistakes! With the D9P, all you have to do it get the initial 4 intersections right (not hard if you have cut your pieces properly), then just one more when you sew the cut blocks back into one rearranged block. I left a 2" lattice between and around each block, so there were no more critical intersections after that... easy peasy! And the process of quilting the layer together will also hide a multitude of piecing issues.

Step 1: Choose fabrics and cut to size

I grabbed an assortment of pre-washed quilting fabrics, vintage linens and other cotton fabrics and cut them into 4" squares. The white was a thick, nubby vintage sheet... I avoided discolorations but kept some slubs for texture. I cut 2-8 squares of each of 10 or so colors, and I had leftovers when I was done. Each block required 4 white squares, so I cut 36 for the 9 blocks I was making.

Step 2: Design your blocks of 9 patches

Here I put one main color for the outside corners (either orange or blue), and the other color for the center. The remaining 4 squares were white to blend in with the lattice I was going to place between blocks.

  Step 3: Sew and press 9 patch blocks

Step 4: Cut and rearrange 9 patch blocks

I cut each finished 9 patch block into square quarters, then rotated to get a vaguely wreath-like pattern.

Step 5: Sew and press finished blocks

Astute readers will realize that I randomized my squares to have 4 different oranges and 4 different blues in each rearranged block. I couldn't help myself :)

Step 6: Sew in lattice and borders

Arrange your finished blocks to your liking, then measure the width of each block and decide how large of a space you want between blocks. My finished blocks were 10.25" wide and I wanted to make the space between blocks 1.5". So I cut 6 strips of white that were 10.25" by 2", and those I sewed in to make 3 vertical columns of blocks. I then cut 4 strip equal to the height of the columns by 2". Those were sewn on each side and in between column. I cut 2 more strips for each of the top and bottom, the width by 2".

So here we are... finished quilt top, ready for quilting!

Next week (hopefully!) I'll talk about the last 2 steps... quilting and binding!!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful!!! I look forward to seeing the finished product! I made a very similar style quilt for Gianna. It didn't have the lattices though. disappearing 9 patch is such a fun way to quickly get intricate looking patterns.

hometown girl said...

looks great, love your fabrics! i have only made two quilts in my life, my first child and my mom. hope you are feeling well! i'm being beckoned to play legos :) susan

peas75 said...

I love the circle patterns it made. Who knew a 9-patch could do that... I have to say I liked it so much that I made my own but with browns and pinks. :)

The only thing I recommendation I can give you about quilting is that you shouldn't press your seems open. Always try to press them toward the darker fabric or the opposite of the row you are sewing it too so your layers do not get too thick. The only time you want to press them open is on your binding when you are connecting two pieces of binding to make it longer. By pressing it open on the binding keeps again the material from getting bulky.

Can't wait to see your next design. :)