Archives

Quick and Easy Nine-Patch Quilt Blocks

The Quick and Easy Nine Patch Block…

After several weeks, I finally got around to a little bit of sewing and I decided to try out a YouTube tute on an easy and quick method for a nine-patch block, which I had seen long, long ago!  In fact, almost five years ago, I had adapted this method to test and write one of my most popular tutorials, the one on how to sew an easy and perfect four-patch. So without much ado, here we go on my adaptation of the same tute to make several nine-patch blocks in a batch!

I will do this tute in two parts. In the first I will show you how I made several nine-patch blocks in one go.  In the second part I will give you Maths for various sizes and some tips, including those for perfectly matched points on your blocks.

The Method

For my project, I need several nine-patch blocks of 0.75″. Yes, you read that right, 3/4″ blocks! Almost impossible to manage by the regular methods, one would think, since each of the nine square patches would be 3/4″ to start with, and end at 1/4″!

1. I begin with 2 strips of 2.5″ width in the fabrics I will be using for my block. Actually 2.25″ would have been sufficient, but remember a good rule to follow when working with miniature blocks is wherever possible,  sew bigger and then trim to size.  I will discuss the length of the strips later.

Begin with 2 strips 2.5″ wide

2. I sew a scant 1/4″ seam on both long edges.

Sew 1/4″ seam on both long edges

3. Now  I do something one doesn’t usually do! I trim the seams by about 1/16″ or 4-5 threads. Remember the final size of the pieces is only 1/4″? Unless I trim the seams, things are going to get difficult and messy at the back!

Trim the seams by about 1/16″

4. Measuring from just inside the seam, I make a long cut 1/2″ inside on the joined strips. ( 1/4″ is the size of the final patch, plus 1/4″ for the seam. ) Similarly inside the other seam.

Cut 1/2″ inside both the seam lines…Note the placement of the ruler. The 1/2″ mark is just inside of the seam line.

5. I now have this:

Two pink-white strips and  one each of pink and white strips about 1″ wide.

One pink strip, one white strip and two joined pink-white strips

6. I press open the two pink-white strips…

Important: Do not iron open the seams. Instead, press them to one side. I ironed them to the darker, pink side.

Press the seams on both strips to one side, towards the same colour. I chose to press mine to the pink.

7. I now sew the pink strip and the white strip to these, to get one pink-white-pink and the other white-pink-white strips and press it open, seams are again pressed to the darker ( pink) side.

Iron open the pink-white strips. Do not press open the seams; instead, press the seam to one side. Again, be consistent. I press the seams to the pink as I did on the previous stage.

8. Measuring from just beyond the seam, I trim the newly added pink strip to 1/2″. Had I worked with 2.25″ strips, this would not have not been required, as my recently added strip would have been 3/4″ instead of 1″.

Trim newly added strip to 1/2″ width.

9. And similarly, the white strip.  The final white-pink-white strip will be just the scantiest bit wider than 1.25″, as will be the pink-white-pink strip.

Trim white strip to 1/2″ width from just beyond seam.

10. I now cut 2.5″ long pieces from the lengths of the two strips.

Cut 2.5″ long pieces from the strips…

I had begun with 10″ long strips, so I have 4 pairs of 2.5″ long strips at the end of this stage. ( I now made another 5 sets of these readied strip pairs, using 12.5″ strips, so don’t let the coming pictures confuse you!)

11. Now comes the most exciting part, where the magic starts to reveal! I pick up each pair, right sides together, and sew 1/4″ seams along the shorter edges. I had pressed the seams towards one colour; this ensures that the seams ‘lock’ and my points match beautifully. 

Pair the pink-white-pink strip with the the white-pink-white strip and sew 1/4″ seams along the shorter edges.

Remember, chain stitching makes things move really fast!

12. You may have guessed what comes next? A cut 1/2″ from inside both seams. I could, of course, measure 3/4″ from the edge. But measuring from the seamline ensures accuracy of my ready size, because it takes into account that my 1/4″ seam may be a tad more or less than 1/4″!

13. Have we forgotten something here? Yes. We had to trim the seam (allowance) by 1/16″.

Cut 1/2″ within seam. Can you see that my seam is uneven? Measuring from the seam ensures my final strip will be accurate and the correct width!

14.  Press open the (6-patch) side pieces; again, seam to one side – do not press seam open.  Which side? I pressed half of them on one side and the remaining nine on the other and made two separate piles of these 6-patches. I realised later this could get a little complicated with regular sized blocks! How?  I will try to answer this later in the “Tips” section.
I joined the centre strips to side pieces appropriately. the white-pink-white to one pile and the pink-whie pink to the other.

Almost there!

15. Once sewn, I first press the seams towards the edge and am ready for the last step …

18 nine-patches in no time at all! All pressed. Just one more step…

16. …the last strip joined has to be trimmed to 3/4″.

Trim to 1/2″ from the seam. This is a good time to check all edges and trim them as necessary to get an accurate 1.25″ square.

Here we are, the final eighteen!

Nine blocks have white squares in the corners and centre. The other nine are reversed.

The Maths

Width of Strips

The Maths is very simple. Just add 1.5″ (for 6 seam allowances of 1/4″ each) to the size of your ready nine-patch, to get the width of your strips. So if you want a 6″ patch, begin with 7.5″ strips, if you want a 3″ strip, start with  4.5″  wide strips.

Length of Strips

This will depend on the number of blocks you need.  The minimum nine-patches you can make by this method is two, one the colour reversal of the other.

If you need just two blocks, begin with 2 squares. The size of the square? Easy! Size of ready nine-patch plus 1.5″ . So for a pair of  6″ nine-patches, you need two squares of 7.5″. And, if you need a pair of nine-patches of 3″, start with two 4.5″ squares.

If you have a set of 5″ charm squares lying around and are wondering what to do with them, it may be a great idea to pair up contrasting colours and make  3″ nine-patches with them.  The strips will have to be cut at 1.25″ from the seam at Stage4 and the centre strip will require trimming as it will be 2″ wide.

Add one width to the length,  for each extra pair that you require.  For two pairs of 6″ squares, the two strips will be 7.5″ x 15″. For 3 pairs, 7.5″ x 22.5″, for 4 pairs 7.5″ x 30″ and so on…

Tips 

  1. Caution: This method gives you two sets of nine-patches, which are colour reversals of each other. It will not work if you want identical nine-patches. Of course, you could put away the unwanted 9-patches for another project or use them in a border or something. If doing miniature blocks like I am making, I recommend this method every time. You can always use up the extra blocks.
  2. I am repeating myself: press the seams to one side, consistently. Like  I said, things get complicated when we reach the last stage of assembling the nine patch.

a) If making mini-blocks, press towards the strip which will be on the edge. Thus if you are making a block with 5 pink patches and 4 white ones, press towards the strip which has pink-white-pink patches. And vice versa with the colour reversal patch. In other words, half of them to one side and the other half to the other, like I did. Your finished nine-patches will look like this from the back. The last two seams face the edges.

The two patches from the back…

b) If making regular sized blocks, which will be attached to other nine-patch blocks to make perhaps a border or larger units, I would follow the traditional method. Press seams on the blocks in one direction consistently, towards the pink-white-pink strip. In half of these blocks ( 5W-4P) the two last seams will end up facing each other towards the centre, in the other half  (5P-4W) towards the edge. Then when these nine-patches are being joined together, seams will lock in to give you perfectly matched points.

c) If making regular-sized blocks which will not be attached to other nine patches,  press seam towards edge like in a) above.

Well, I really can’t think of anything else, so…

Are you wondering what I am going to do with all these miniature 9-patches? What is coming up next? Well, you’ll just have to wait and watch, won’t you?

I sign off wishing all my friends across the world a Very Happy Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights! May our Earth see the victory of prosperity over want, of peace over war, of good over evil,  of health over disease, of hope over despair, of love and compassion over hatred…of light over darkness, everywhere and for all its inhabitants.

 


Advertisements

Cathedral Window Patchwork Maths – How Many Windows? 

Caution: Loaded with primary school level Arithmetic. Read at your peril ( or if  you plan to make a traditional cathedral window quilt). 

There are plenty of tutorials which tell you how to make a traditional window quilt, including mine, here. There are also tutorials which tell you, given the finished square design, how big your background fabric square and window (pane) square should be.  For example, if you want to finish with a 5″ square, your background fabric should be 10.5″ square, and the window fabric 3″. This is the tutorial I referred to for measurements for my current project. 
However, did you know that the number of window squares you need are not equal to the number of background squares in your quilt? What was that again? Well I was working with these 3×3 patchwork pieces, and I cut 9 window patches for each. The result is here for you to see! 


There are three blank ( white) window ‘panes’ in each. I should have cut 12 window (black and white) squares for the centre windows. If I wanted the printed fabric in the (half) windows on the edges, I would have had to cut 12 more squares ( which I would have folded diagonally and attached to the ‘frames’). 

Things get even more complicated when you are working on a larger quilt.  If you are working with, say, 24 squares and making a 6×4 or 2×12 or 3×8 quilt, you would now have guessed that you need more than just 24 window squares.  But, did you know that the number of windows is different for each one of these? And none of them is 24. 

So how does one do the Math? If you are one of those people who just can’t wrap their head around figures, well…I guess there is nothing to be done but to cut the fabric in batches as you go along. It is impossible for me to make a chart here with all the possible block configurations! 

For the others, here is the way it works! 

The Arithmetic

All you need to know is 

– the total number of background squares you are working with and 

– the configuration of your quilt. What is meant by configuration?  If the total number of squares is 36, you could be joining them in a 6×6  or 4×9 or 3×12 configuration.  

It does not matter what the size of your squares is.

Step 1. Multiply the total number of squares in your quilt by 4. If my quilt has 36 squares, I will get the figure of 144.

Step 2. Calculate the number of ‘half’ window panes at the edges. This is equal to the total number of squares at the edges (perimeter). 

If my quilt configuration is 6 x6, the total number of half window panes is  6 + 6 + 6 + 6 = 24

If my quilt configuration is 4×9 , the total number of half window panes is 4 + 9 + 4 + 9 =  26

If my quilt configuration is 3×12, the total number of half window panes is 3 + 12 + 3 + 12 = 30

If I plan to add a ‘pane’ fabric to these half window panes, I need to cut these many squares in addition to the rest I will be cutting. ( Like mentioned earlier, these will be folded diagonally and attached to the window, with the diagonal fold at the edge. )

Step 3. Subtract the number of half window panes from the figure obtained at Step #1. This result is divided by 2 to get the number of full window panes for the centre! 

If my quilt configuration is 6×6, the total number of half window panes is 36. If I subtract this from 144 , I get 108, which I divide by 2 to get 54!  So that is the number of window fabric squares I need! 

For the 4×9 configuration, I get 144 minus 26, which is 118 and the number squares will be 59. 

The 4 by 9 configuration. Ignoring the 26 brown half squares at the edges, can you count 59 window squares in the centre, including the 12 left blank?


For the 3×12 configuration, it will be 57 squares in the centre and 30 ( half) squares at the edges. Check this out! 

57 window panes in the centre and 30 half panes at the edges…

Not so complicated, right? Let us crosscheck this with my 3×3 cushion cover! 

Cross-checking the Calculations
Here is my cushion cover, with the nine blocks in a 3×3 configuration.

The red lines mark the background blocks in a 3×3 configuration

Had I added the black and white printed fabric to the half windows at the edges,  I would have needed 12 squares ( folded diagonally into half) for those.

The number of panes at the edge are equal to the number of blocks along each of the edges totaled together.

As for the centre squares, I subtract 12 from 36 ( total number of background squares multiplied by 4) to get 24 and halve it to get 12!

That is 12 printed fabric window squares needed for the centre panes ( marked in lime green).

 

But I had cut only 9 black & white printed squares.

Not enough fabric squares to cover all the windows?!


Explains my 3 missing squares quite neatly, doesn’t it? 

Where did those 3 blank squares come from?!

 

I hope I have been able to make some sense. Remember to bookmark this post if you plan to sew up a cathedral window quilt anytime. It will make more sense then, I am sure. 

Scallops and Irises – A Wonky Log Cabin Mini Quilt

Scalloped borders with facing on the mini…

I don’t remember if I blogged about this miniature quilt, which I began exactly a year ago, to the date! 

The nine 2.5″ blocks had been foundation paper pieced and joined, waiting for the border and the binding, all of which was cut out and waiting.  I have been long wanting to experiment with a scalloped border and this seemed a good place to try it out!  It took me hours to do this, because I could not find any tutorials on this. It seems every time I want to go somewhere, I have to invent the wheel!

So here is a pictorial tute on how to make scallops on the border to your mini! If anyone is interested in the scallop pattern for a 10″ mini quilt, you can message me on my Facebook page ‘Patchwork of my Life’ and I will be happy to share it with you.  You can increase the number of scallops in 2″ increments ( or reduce them!). 

1. Get your quilt top ready. Add the batting and backing, ready for quilting. 

2. Quilt the centre of your quilt, leaving the outermost border ( which will be scalloped) unquilted. I did a simple stitch in the ditch around the blocks and  inner deep purple border.

3. Pin the scallop pattern on the border, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance beyond the paper pattern.

The 1″ wide scallop pattern was pinned in place on the border. Note the 1/4″ seam allowance beyond the border.


4. Mark the outline by stitching on the scallop line. I used a 1.5 stitch length. 

Sew along the scallop line.


5. Remove the paper; the small stitch length makes it easy. 

Remove the paper.


6. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ beyond the scallop. ( I also added a line of echo quilting within the scallop). 

Do any further quilting that you wish to. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ beyond the scallop.


7. When I reached this stage, I realized that I needed a bias binding for the scallops! And all I had was a 1.25″ wide straight binding, which I had no intention of letting go waste. So I decided to do a facing. 

-If you wish to add a binding, remember you need bias binding! Sew it on as you would regular binding. Just one thing,  you will need a much longer strip than for a straight edge. I have not calculated, but for this quilt, I had made a strip 70″ long instead of 50″ which I would have done for a straight edge. Also, sew down the binding very slowly and use the needle down option if your machine provides it. Stop as often as you need to adjust the layers. Curves are not difficult to handle – look only at the stitch immediately ahead of the needle, ignore the rest! I would suggest notching the seam allowance on the inner curves, especially, before turning over and securing the binding. 

– If you want to add a facing ( much simpler), here is how you go about it. 

Attaching a facing to a scalloped border

i) Prepare the facing:  The facing should be wide enough to go at least 1″ beyond the inner curve of the scallop. Put a ruler on the quilt, the ruler edge touching the outer ‘fat’ convex edge of the curve. See the reading on the inner edge of the curve. For example, if this is 2″, the facing should be 3.25″ wide, including 1/4″ seam allowance. I had originally intended to add a binding to my mini quilt, so I had ready 1.25″ strips. I decided to go ahead with these. I think a 1.75″ strip would have been more convenient. 

The total strip length needed for this 10″ square was about 50″. Turn in one long edge about 1/4″. I did a machine zigzag after folding the edge. 

Fold in one long edge about 1/4″ and secure it. A zigzag stitch is used here.


iii) Preparing the quilt: This may look tedious, but will give you a great finish! Remove the batting ( use a pair of sharp embroidery scissors) from between the two fabric layers on the outermost seam allowance on the quilt edge.

Trim away as much of the batting as you can from inside the seam allowance. Use sharp embroidery scissors.

iv) Attaching the facing. Line up the raw edge of the facing with outer ‘fat’ curve edge on top of quilt . Begin at one corner – remember to extend the facing a couple of inches beyond the corner. Pin if you are more comfortable with that. Turn over to backing side.  Start  sewing  over the scallop outline already marked by the stitching line.

Line up facing strip on edge of top of quilt. Sew over scallop outline from backing side

v) When you reach the corner, make a mitered corner as you do with regular quilts and turn the strip.  Pin in place and continue sewing over the outline.

Turning the corner – view from the back.

Turning the corner – view from front


vi) Go around sewing over the outline, stop a couple of inches before you reach the corner where you began. Turn the strip end ( where you began sewing) to form a  ‘mitered’ 45 degree fold.

When you reach the corner where you started, fold the binding to form a sharp 45 degree fold.

vii) Now bring the other end of the strip to lie over the folded end. Pin in place, turn over to backing side and sew over the scallop outline, continuing around the corner and beyond. Trim the excess fabric, extending beyond the corner! 

Simple! Isn’t that?


viii) Just a couple of steps more and we are done! Trim the seam line – from the backing side, of course – and make notches all along the curves. Careful! Don’t get too close to the seamline! However, where there are lots of layers of fabric, like in the corners, try to trim off as much of the excess fabric as you can.

Trim off the excess fabric on the facing strip…

Notch, notch, notch!


ix)Slip stitch the overlapping corner folds together. ( Right bottom corner in the pic below)

Slip stitch together the overlapping folds in the corners.

x) Turn the facing over to the back …

Facing turned over to the back…


xi) …and press the life out of that edge! 

Press down the edge as flat and sharp as you can. Lots of layers here, so this is an effort!


xi) Secure that edge with stitching about 1/8″ within. This quilt is exactly 10″ square, outer curve to outer curve, unlike if it had a binding, which would add the width of the binding to it. 

Done! I like it with a facing instead of a binding!


Now for some close ups…

Secure the facing with stitching 1/8″ from the edge

A picture to show you that I make mistakes, have fabric bunching up, etc, etc…


One final close up! 

I used Fossil Fern by Benartex for the quilt top. The backing fabric is batik from The Square Inch…

I will be happy to clarify if there is any confusion regarding this method! 

How to do a Simple Quilt Binding

What if you do not wish to do a mitered binding? I was working with scraps and did not have enough fabric to cut out a length of binding without too many joints. I decided to do a simple quilt binding instead – where you bind two opposite edges first, and then the other two. I have always finished with very untidy bumpy corners where the binding overlaps and I searched for a tutorial which would tell me how to go about it properly. I did not really find anything, so I recorded my method as I went along. It is nothing new, but I hope it will help new quilters obtain a fairly neat result!

My small quilted piece finished at 10.5″ x 14.5″, inclusive of the seam allowance along each edge. I prefer a single rather than a double binding for small pieces, so I cut two pieces of binding 1.5″ wide and about 11″ long for the shorter edges. I sewed the binding on the top and pressed it open. I folded it to the back twice and hand sewed it to the back. Both of the shorter edges were finished before I trimmed it to size, to get a sharp, square corner. I have no photos of this stage, I guess this is simple enough.

I again measured the longer edge, it was just under 15″. I now cut the binding length at 16.5″, that is 1.5″ longer than needed. I lined the binding to the edge of the front of the quilt ( right side down) , folded it to the back about  3/4″ over the bound edge and began sewing. I secured the seam with some back stitching, sewed to an inch short of the other end, similarly folded the binding over and sewed to the end; took a couple of back stitches to finish. I think this picture will explain better than I have been able to! I suggest you make a tight, crisp fold to get a neat finish.

Do the other longer edge similarly.

 

For the longer edge, fold the binding over about 3/4″ and sew.; finish the other corner similarly.

 

This is how it looks from the back.

Now open out the binding…Here it is from the front.

 

From the front…

…and from the back.

 

Needs to be pressed before being sewed down

Now press the binding, especially at the corner where a crisp fold will mean a neat finish. If you like, you can press it to the back, fold in and press again … and pin in place if you are a pinner! Some people like to use binding clips, I get along fine without any of these.

 

Press to fold the binding to the back. You can see a bit of a bumpy  extended edge of the binding at the bottom right corner; this will have to be taken care of in the sewing!

Start sewing at the corner , crimping and pulling in the fold to get a straight edge!

 

Start at the corner, pressing and pulling in the binding to get a straight edge…

 

As good as a mitered edge, isnt it?

 

I use a variation of the ladder stitch to bind my quilts. In such a small quilt, hand binding is the way to go, I do believe! The end corner is finished similarly.

Here we are, all done! Almost perfect edges!


You don’t have to do a mitered edge for a perfect binding, after all!

Final Countdown – That is Half a Dozen Done.

Two more blocks of the Round the Year quilt done today, using the porthole method described  by Sobana Sundar in a previous blogpost. 

The first was Card Trick, Block Three, which got done quickly. 

 

The Card Trick block was not tricky at all! joined to the background using the ‘porthole ‘ method.

 I used the points on the triangles on the edge as a guide to glue the background to the circle. 
The other block that I did was Wedding Ring, which gave me a lot of trouble as I did not glue the background correctly. The resultant seam ranged from 1/8″ to 3/4″. I had to rip it and re-do it. 

 

This block gave me a lot of problems!

 
I was not very happy with the end result. For the next block, I will do something different. I will mark the seam line on the front of the circle, and glue the background accurately from the top, using the seam line as a guide. I will take pics to clarify what I mean. 

Meanwhile, I had promised to show you how I stitched the background with no fabric wastage. 

In the normal course, one would stitch together two rectangles 9.5″x 18.5″ in the two blues ( along the longer edge, and end up with an 18.5″ circle. On this one would mark a 7.5″ circle and cut about 3/4″ inside that. 

What I did was this…

 

I added a circular strip on the inside edge of the freezer paper template to increase the seam allowance to about 1/2 ” .

 
I ironed the templates on the background fabric and cut out a further 1/4″ inside. I also took an extra 1/8″ on the outer long edges. I will trim the blocks to accurate size once they are done. Remember, NOT to take and extra allowance on the small straight edge! That has to be exactly 1/4″.

This method saves fabric!

You need 10.5″ x 12.5″ fabric for 2 quarters as above. Which means that for one block you need either 10.5″ x 25″ or 21″x 12.5″, depending on how you place the templates. 
 

Piece the full backgound directly on the freezer paper.

 
I then cut out the freezer paper template described by Sobana in her post – an 18.5″ square with a 7.5″ radius circle cut out of the centre. I pieced my background using two light blues and two darks directly on this template.

You will need to probably refer to Sobana’s post on setting circles onto background squares to understand exactly what I did differently here…

If you have any questions, please feel free to seek clarifications! 

Final Countdown – A Dozen More…

The first four completed blocks. In all of these, the background is pieced to circle wedges/ quadrants.

A quick photo post to share the four Round the Year blocks completed.
Clockwise, beginning from top right, these are

Block Four – Sapphire Fire

Block Two – Evening at the Pond

Block Five – Venus at Dusk

Block Thirteen – Feathered Star

You want to make your own blocks? You can find the links to the free patterns from the Round the Year page.( Link above)