by Karen Johnson
This tutorial is intended for the beginner quilter. The Nine Patch Block is an excellent beginner block with tons of design potential. In the first lesson, we demonstrated the very basics of this block by simply piecing together charm squares. This second lesson will show you strip piecing, a method to make many of the same Nine Patch block, more quickly.
Tools you'll need: Rotary mat, rulers (most any long shape will do, see images below) and a rotary cutter. If you've never used a rotary cutter before, please take a few minutes to view our free video on how to use a rotary cutter.
We'll demonstrate the steps to make nine patch blocks. You'll see how quickly the blocks come together with strip piecing. You can make any style quilt with your nine patch blocks, and you can make them any size you like. In the 4th week, we'll show you layout ideas to get your own creative juices flowing.
Here is the block we'll be making, but again, you can make any color combination you like:
Squaring up the fabric.
Most quilting fabric is approx 44/45" wide, which makes it unwieldy to cut, unless you fold it in half. This works great, unless you don't square up your fabric first. This will prevent the dreaded V shaped strips once you open up the folded strip. To prevent this mishap, fold your fabric selvedges together. Lay a ruler on the folded edge and align the fold with any of the lines on the ruler. Using a second ruler, align it against the first ruler, so they are at right angles to each other. Be sure the first ruler stays firmly in place and doesn't get nudged. Then you can cut off the wonky edge of your fabric so you start off with a perfectly aligned edge.
Cut the strips.
For easy identification throughout these steps, we'll refer to the green print as fabric 1 and the light fabric as fabric 2. We're going to be making 6" finished blocks, so we'll start by cutting 2 1/2" wide strips from fabric 1 and fabric 2. For our project you'll need four strips of fabric 1 and five strips of fabric 2. Don't worry about the selvage edges yet. We'll cut them off later.
Stitch the strips together.
Right Sides Together (RST), using 1/4" seam allowance. These are called Strip Sets. For our kit, you'll make two strip sets of the light/dark/light combo and you'll make one strip set of the dark/light/dark combo. Press the seam allowance in the direction of the darker fabric. See week one for tips on accurate seam allowance and pressing.
Cut the sub sets.
Cut off the selvage at one end of each strip set. Be sure to use your ruler to make that first cut at right angles. Cut sub sets that are 2 1/2" wide. Cut up all of your strip sets in this manner.
Lay out your block design.
Stitch the Nine Patch block together.
RST, sew all three subsets together. Again, refer to week one for pinning tips so your intersections match when done. If you are making our baby quilt kit, make 17 of these nine patch blocks. This unit will now measure 6 1/2" square, unfinished. We say unfinished because you still have raw edges. This block will measure 6" square, finished, once all the blocks are sewn together.
Press the seams to the darker fabric.
Now you can sew the blocks into rows.