snowball layoutI spent some time last week finishing the piecing on the Firetruck commission quilt.  The quilt is for a baby and finished about 60 inches square.   The last time you saw me working on this one I was making the ‘Snowball’ blocks.  In this post you will see the method I used to make the nine patches that were placed with the Snowballs to finish this project.

Nine Patches are a basic quilt block and an easy beginner patchwork project. They are called a Nine Patches because the block itself is made up of Nine segments arranged in a 3×3 setting. There are two important skills that you can master when making these basic blocks.   You can master a consistent 1/4″ seam as well as learning to sew in a straight line.  Learning these two essential skills will help you be successful as you begin to build upon your quilting skills.

Although nine patches can be made using squares of scrap fabric (for a scrappy look), I used the strip piecing method to create multiple identical nine patch blocks for this project. The first step was to determine the width of the strips needed to make the blocks. For these blocks, the finished block size I wanted was 9″.   Since there are 3 rows and 3 columns I divided 9 by 3 and determined the width was 3″ plus seam allowance.  Once the seam allowance of 1/4″ is added on both sides on both sides you know the cut size of your strips. In this case, cut the strips at 3-1/2″ along the width of fabric (WOF).

Fold your fabric to fit your longest ruler, making sure that you square it up and keep the folded side even along the edge.  Lay your ruler along the edge to be cut and hold it firmly in place as you cut your strips. Once your strips are cut, lay them out in the order in which they will be sewn together. These are called your Strip Sets.

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For these nine-patch blocks there are two strip sets of LIGHT-DARK-LIGHT fabrics and one strip set of DARK-LIGHT-DARK fabrics.  The center of these nine patches will be yellow, the corners will be white, and the plus sign will be red.

Place your strips right sides together (RST) and stitch along the length of the strip using a 1/4″ seam. (Tip: This is where the IDEAL SEAM GUIDE Seam guide will come in handy, to help maintain those straight lines).   As a rule, I press the seams toward the darker fabric on these blocks. This helps keep the shadowing to a minimum while also setting your seams in opposing directions so they can be nested in the next step.

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Once your strip sets are sewn together, cut them across into sub-sets of 3 blocks across.  Again, you will cut at the same width that the original strips were cut. In this case, 3-1/2 inches wide.  When you are done, you will have 3 stacks of sub-set strips as shown below.

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Place each subset RST with its neighbor and continue to use the chain piecing method to sew them into your finished nine-patch blocks.  As you are piecing them together be sure to keep the seams pressed flat and tucked into the opposing seams as you go.  This will help you to maintain precision piecing as you complete the project.

I arranged these nine patches with the snowball blocks and I was ready to complete the project. The final step will be sewing them into rows and then connecting the rows into the finished quilt top.

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To finish this project I added a 4″ border using the firetruck fabric and selected a plaid fabric for the backing.  This one is ready for the longarm!   Check back tomorrow to see how this was finished up at Olde City Quilts on the Innova Longarm Machine.


Happy Quilting!

ninepatchHelpful Links:  For more detailed instructions on creating a Nine-Patch block using the strip piecing method, please visit the tutorial at Connecting Threads. This tutorial does a fabulous job at walking you step-by-step through the piecing process.