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Thread: BEGINNER BLOCKS #1: THE 9-PATCH AND VARIANTS - A SHELLYQ TUTORIAL

  1. #1
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Hi, I hope you enjoy my musings and that they are of some use to you. I donít have a lot of gears, because a lot of the quilting equipment is very expensive here and Iíd rather make do and spend the money on fabric :lol: so some of the ways I do things may be quite helpful if you are starting out and want to make something but donít yet want to make a large financial commitment in a lot of quilting gears.

    Bear in mind that I come from another country and wonít know of all that is available. So if you see us doing some thing and know of tool that could make the job easier for others please feel free to speak out and let us know. You never know I might even plonk down the dosh myself :lol: .

    I can only show you the way I do things and what works for me, there are heaps of ways of doing things out there and the right way is the one that works for you :P , that may not necessarily be the way I do something and thatís cool. I guess all Iím trying to do is give people another option and they can pick and choose out of it what works for them and what doesn't.

    This month I am going to cover the making of the 9 and 4 patch, some ramblings bout fabric, quarter inch seams and pressing, please feel free to skip the boring bits :lol: . Some uses for the 9 patch and some settings

    Fabrics

    At this stage I would recommend using 100% cotton fabrics, Not because Iím some kind of fabric snob, I have used allsorts of fabric in my quilts when itís suited me, but mainly because it behaves itself a bit better than the blends, so is easier to learn with.

    I prewash everything, now I know this subject is liable to start an international incident :lol: but thatís my preference, what you choose to do is up to you and what suits you best.


  2. #2
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    The Quarter Inch Seam

    Actually if you are making a complete quilt out of just the nine patch and are not planning to put it with any other block or use a pieced border, then achieving an accurate 1/4Ē seam is not so vital for this block. As long as your seams are consistent then you will be able to make a lovely quilt using this block. Your blocks will not finish at 12Ē but as long as they come out the same size you will be able to assemble them together. The reason for this is that this block has the same number of joins in both directions, so will work no mater what size you seam allowances.

    However it is important to work towards achieving as accurate a 1/4Ē seam as possible, because when we want to start adding in other blocks, making pieced boarders, making blocks that have different numbers of joins in each direction or even making a block for a group quilt or block swap, we are going to run into big problems. Things are just not gonna work together.

    A good way to check how accurate your seam allowances are, is to cut three 1 1/2Ē short strips (Pic 1) , sew these together using what you usually do to make a 1/4Ē seam, gently press and measure across the three strips. Your measurement should be 3 1/2Ē (Pic 2).

    Woohoo mine came out good (Pic3), no seriously this is great, mine don't always work out this good :lol:

    If your joined strips are bigger than this then you cut is too big or your seams are too small.

    If your strips measure less than this then your cut is too small or your seams too big.

    It is a balance between your cut and your seam allowance, practice adjusting each until you find a balance that gives you the best result. Once you find what works for you. Stick with it and be consistent and this will give you even results across all your piecing.

    Iím not keen on trying to achieve a scant 1/4, Iím never quite sure what that means :lol: , so my personal preference is to make what I call a fat cut to compensate for the thread or two that gets used in the fold of the fabric at a join.

    Iíll try to explain what I mean. The lines on your ruler have a little bit of width to them an accurate cut is when you place the ruler line exactly on top of the fabric edge. What I call a fat cut is when I can just see the fabric edge below the line. Thatís just what works for me, but itís a matter of balancing the cut and the seam and finding what works best for you.


    Pic 3: Measure joined test strips, should be 3 1/2"
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    Pic 1
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    Pic 2
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  3. #3
    joy
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    Hi Shelley, Love your instructions and thanks for them.... how often can I expect to see more please? A great idea.

  4. #4
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Enough of the boring stuff already :lol: , Letís make a block

    You will need to choose 2 fabrics one light and one dark. I have chosen a dark small floral print and then picked out one of the colours in that print to use as the contrast (Pic 4)

    This is a 12Ē finished block so you will need to cut nine 4 1/2 inch squares, five out of your dark fabric and four out of your light Fabric. (Pic 5)

    Set aside 2 dark and 1 light square. Sew the remaining 6 squares together in light/dark pairs (Pic 6). For this block press seams towards the dark fabric


    Pic 6 Join squares in pairs
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    Pic 4, fabric for 9 patch
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    Pic 5, 4 light & 5 dark squares
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  5. #5
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Pressing

    It is very important to not use the iron over enthusiastically on our pieces as it is very easy to distort fabric pieces with a too vigorous iron, especially when we start doing triangles as some of their edges are on the bias and much easier to distort.

    Here is what I do: It may/maynot be helpful

    Lay the pieced unit with the side that I want the seam allowances to go towards upwards
    Gently press the seam to relax the seam (Pic 7)
    Open out the pieced unit and finger press pieced unit flat (Pic 8 )
    Gently press unit with iron (Pic 9)

    I know it sounds like a bit of a hassle, but when you think of all the effort you went to getting your seam allowances accurate, careful cutting and stitching of your pieces, it seems a shame to waste all that hard work by being a bit rough with the iron.


    Pic 9, Prees unit
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    Pic 8, Finger press the unit open
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    Pic 7, press seam
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  6. #6
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Next sew your remaining squares to the end of your pairs,so that you end up with three strips, two strips with a dark square on each end and one strip with a light square on each end (pic 10) Press

    Join a pair of strips together, butting the seams at the join (Pic 11) one of the reasons I like to press seams to one side in this type of block is because it gives an easy way to match the seams at a join.

    Hold the butted seam together with your forefinger while feeding you pieces through Machine (Pic 12)


    Pic 11, But the seams to give a smooth join
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    Pic 12, hold butted seam together while feeding thru machine
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    Pic 10, Completed strips for your block
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  7. #7
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    When my work gets close to the foot, I use the tip of a seam ripper to hold the seam as it goes under the foot (Pic 13)

    Join Other strip to work to make the completed block (Pic 14)



    Pic 14, Completed Block
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    Pic 13, Use seam ripper to hold seam as it feeds under foot
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  8. #8
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Completed Block measures 12 1/2" (Pic 15) this will give us a finished size of 12" :thumbup:

    Now donít get too worried if your block doesn't come out exactly to size. Mine often donít and all is not lost. The reason we try to get the accurate block is to make assembling your quilt less stressful and more enjoyable. It kinda defeats the purpose if we get ourselves too tied up in knots about it. In other words, it is a good goal to have, but there are no perfect blocks. The only perfect block is the one in our head. Fabric has a certain amount of give in it and matching ďslightly outĒ blocks is what fudging is for :wink:




    Pic 15, Block measures 12 1/2"
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  9. #9
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Fabric choices

    You can get all kinds of different effects just by using different fabrics. Using solids with a black will give you a nice Amish effect (Block A)

    This is great block to make a scrap quilt with, just sort your fabrics into lights and darks and place accordingly (Block B).

    Or you could have a monochrome look, where each block is made using light and dark scraps in a particular colour (Block C).

    Mix prints with a tone on tone (as in the sample block) or what I sometimes call a semi solid (Block D).

    Or go for two colours that are a good contrast to one another ie: Blue/yellow, yellow/Purple, green/Pink Red/Blue, etc (Block E).

    Or you could go for the Christmas look (Block F).

    These are just some examples, the options are endless. I love to play with my fabrics and it can be quite surprising the different combos you can come up with that way, that you wouldnít necessarily think of.


    Sample of different colourways to make block in
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  10. #10
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    There are losts of ways you can use this blockin a quilt, the following are just a few ideas.

    Dissapearing 9 Patch

    Our Ruth has recently posted a stunning version of the dissapearing 9 patch, done in three colours, you can find it here http://www.quiltingboard.com/posts/list/6315.page
    note also how she has used the contrast between blue and yellow to enhance the new pattern created

    This is a great little tutorial describing how to make a dissapearing 9 patch, Done with scraps, different look but equally effective
    http://quiltsatcs.blogspot.com/2007/...-tutorial.html

    Many Blocks have a 9 patch as their base.

    The honey bee block that we did as a BOM last year is a good example, it's basically a 9 Patch with a frame. You can find some nice examples on the thread which is at http://www.quiltingboard.com/posts/list/1181.page

    The arrow block is basically a 9 Patch with triangles added around the outside



    Arrow Block
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    Arrow block quilt made in scraps
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    Arrow block would look stunning made in blacks & brights
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  11. #11
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    One of my favourite uses for the 9 Patch is to set it with an alternate block, this has the effect of creating a frame around your alt bloc, either diagonally or horozontally, depending on how you set your blocks. You can use another pieced block as your alt block or some applique. Or you can use that lovely blank space to feature some fancy quilting


    On point set gives a horozontal frame
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    9 Patch set with applique heart block
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    Straight set gives a diagonal frame
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  12. #12
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    I'm just going to run quickly through making some four patches the method is very similar to piecing the 9 Patch so I thought we could do them here ready for next month, so that next month we can concentrate on doing some triangles.

    Choose two medium fabrics that go well together (Pic 1)

    Cut twenty 2 1/2" squares, ten out of each fabric (Pic 2)

    Join squares together in pairs of alternating colour (pic3) Press seams towards one of the colours

    Pic 3, joined pairs
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    Cut ten 2 1/2" squares out of each fabric
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    Fabrics for four patch
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  13. #13
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Join pairs to make a four patch, butting seams as previously described for the 9 Patch (Pic 4). These are to be 4" finished, so at this stage should measure 4 1/2"

    Choose a dark fabric for your triangles and a light suitable for a background. Set theses aside with your five 4 Patches till next month (Pic 5)

    Pic 4, completed 4 Patch
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    Pic 5, fabric and 4 Patches for next month
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  14. #14
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Some more musings :lol:

    Have Fun, this craft of ours is for enjoyment and relaxation. If things really turn to custard, itís only fabric, you can put it in your scrap bin and make another.

    Know when to walk away. If something is going badly and stressing you out, take a break, do something else, take a walk, read a book, anything. I promise things will go much better when you get back to it. Unless of course youíve got a deadline. I really donít have anything helpful to say about that. I am the worlds worst at the last minute panicked deadline :oops: :lol:

    Simple doesn't mean boring. I have tried to use the 9 patch and variants to show that you can make some really wonderful quilts out of some quite simple shapes. Some of the most awesome quilts Iíve seen are those that are based on simple shapes with clear clean lines. So even with beginning skills, we can make a stunning quilt.

    I hope this all has been of some use to you. I had a lot of fun playing around with the different settings and searching out some different uses. Please let me know if there is something youíd like covered, Iím open to suggestions. Perhaps there may be a particular block youíd like to do. We must be careful there though, block must already be in the public domain, as we donít want to run into any difficulties re copyrights.

    Iíve decide to use the sample blocks I make for any of these tutorials in a quilt for the ST Vincent DePaul's, they do Christmas Packages for needy families (among other things) and were very helpful to me when my kids were little and we didnít have much. In Techno Speak thatís maximizing your returns :lol: or what I like to call killing two birds with one stone, Hopefully help someone on here, get to play with all sorts of patterns and shapes, that I'd never have the time to actually make, practice my computer and tutoring skills and someone gets something nice for Christmas, win win really. So I hope Yíall donít mind being guinea pigs :D . Hope you have as much fun as I did
    Cheers

    One other thing: I was wondering if it might be better to put all the instructions in a single PDF File that can be downloaded to your computer. the pictures in this post seem to load on in a random order no matter in which order I post them. Would a single downloadable file be easier for you to use? What is your oppinion?

    Next Month
    The Split 9 Patch and a couple of ways of putting triangles in our blocks

  15. #15
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    Wow, Shelly - thank you so much for all your hard work! A pdf would be great; there is so much information it would make it handy to re-read and take over to the sewing machine with me. Awesome tutorial!

  16. #16
    bj
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    Shelly thanks for the tutorial. I love 9 patches...but not great at turning things on point, so I really appreciated that aspect of the lesson.

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    Super Member Celeste's Avatar
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    Thank you so much! It is quite obvious that you've put a lot of thought, effort and time into this and I cannot say how much we are appreciating this!

    I think showing us how the 9 patch can be used is fabulous because it shows how versitile it is and how, as you said, we can make simple quilts that do not look boring!

  18. #18
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Thanks so much folks, you makin me blush :oops: , I hope people find it of use. I was a bit light on cutting instructions, but you can only put so much in at once, so if any body wants something covered in more detail, all you have to do is ask and I'll do what I can to work it into a later lesson. I am aiming to post around the 22nd of each month and am going to trial it for a while to see how it goes, so I wanna see some pics :P

    I forgot to post a notice in the other thread that the first lesson was posted duh :lol: So I betta go do that now

  19. #19
    joy
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    Could Shelley please tell me what a pdf file is and how to go about getting the information.... thanks....

  20. #20
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Hi Joy, a PDF file is one that can be read by your Adobe Reader. As most people have Adobe Reader on their computer this is a great way of being able to share documents and pictures with different computer systems. For instance if I posted a file that was written using Microsoft Word you would only be able to read it if you also had the same program on your computer. Don't worry about it for this first lesson though, There are no PDF files to download, I was just making enquiries to see if people would find this useful

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    Shelly thank you
    there is an amazing amount of information there for me to digest

    and enough 'work' to keep me busy for some time

    now you say you wash your fabric

    what are thought to be the pros and cons of washing versus non washing of fabric prior to working

    I can only think of two things and that is if unwashed shrinkage at different rates might occur and that bleeding of dyes might occur

    (and of course I have not asked this to cause an international incident - honest)

    but I really am starting right at the beginning

    also how much of each fabric do we need to 'put by' for next month

    again my thanks

    edit to add

    a pdf file would be a brilliant idea then I could have the lessons to work over again if I need to without having to log on
    :)

  22. #22
    Izy
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    Well done shellyq - that is VERY useful!!
    :D

  23. #23
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Aaleigha, ok we'll try not to cause an international incident :lol: . My reasons for washing my fabrics are the two biggies you've already mentioned, I have had fabric bleed in a quilt and trust me you only let this happen to yourself once :cry: , also as I understand it fabric can contain other chemical residue used in the manufactoring process, and another thing prewashing does is to help show up any flaws that there might be in the fabric.

    Others like their fabric not washed as leaving the dressing in the fabric makes it easier to work with i.e. holds it's shape better

    Re Amount of Fabric for Next Month
    You only need a small amount, a fat quarter of light and a fat eighth of the dark will be more than enough. You will have leftovers, but having a bit too much is better than not having enough :P

  24. #24
    Super Member beachlady's Avatar
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    Great Shelly! Thanks! Looking forward to the triangles - never done those.

  25. #25
    DJ
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    Shelly ~ You did a marvelous job. Extremely well presented! Lots of great information! Thanks!

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