The Very Basics of Quilting Part 4

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Make a Nine patch Block

Since we’ve already done all this, we’re ready to begin sewing! Today we’re going to make a 9-patch block. Like I said earlier, this is a block made from 9 patches. Pretty simple, huh? Let’s begin.

First choose nine fabrics for your nine patches. I decided to just mix it up and have a scrappy block. Then press your fabrics carefully. Pressing is not the same as ironing. Pressing is straight up and down. You can use steam. Ironing is pushing the fabric with the iron and can cause the fabric to stretch.

Next decide on the size you want to make your patches. This can be anything as long as they are all the same size. A 4 1/2″ patch size will make a 12 1/2″ unfinished (12″ finished) block, which is a pretty standard size in a quilt.

When cutting, I like to cover the portion of fabric that goes into the quilt with the ruler. You can see the 4 1/2″ patch covered by ruler. This is make sure you don’t have an oops and cut into that reserved fabric.

If you’re right-handed, press down on the ruler with your left hand and glide the rotary cutter along the edge of the ruler. This sounds complicated but is actually quite simple. A sharp blade helps! If your fabric has a beautiful design in it that you want to make sure is in your patch, simply center your ruler on top of the design. This is called fussy cutting.

Once all nine patches are cut, arrange them in a way that makes you happy.

(Sorry for the blurry photo. I couldn’t quite get close enough.) We’re ready to begin sewing. Remember that quarter inch foot we talked about? Well, now is the time to use it. It has a little guide along the right side that helps you keep your seam at a quarter of an inch. Now in quilting, we most often use a scant quarter inch. This means a tiny bit less than that. So make sure there’s a little space between the guide and the edge of your fabric. You need the scant part because when you press your seams, you always lose just a little bit of fabric. And our goal is to finish with the right size of block.

Here is a look at your finished seam.

Go ahead and sew together all three rows.

Now let’s talk about pressing our seams. You can press them open which makes a really nice finished quilt top. It is a little more difficult to match the seams and also the seams can sometimes come undone a little bit when you’re sewing the rows together.

The other way is to press the seams to the side. If you press one row one way and the next row the opposite way, you can make them “lock” together when you sew the rows, making perfectly matched seams. I prefer this method for a beginning quilt.

You can see them locking together here. I don’t even use pins with this method. You just push the seams into each other and they fit together kind of like a puzzle.

Measure your 9-patch and make sure it’s 12 1/2″ or whatever size it’s supposed to be. I happen to have a ruler that size, but it’s not necessary. If it’s a little bit big, you can trim some off.

And here’s your finished block! I hope this is helpful.

Next week we’ll have borders and sashing.


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