Disappearing 9 Patch—Your First Quilt Top
Hi all! I see so many people say that they want to start quilting but don’t know how to begin or are scared of how finicky it is. I thought I would show how to make a simple but fun quilt top and in the process teach you how to:
--Create consistent ¼ inch seams
--Chain piece to save time and thread
--Strip piece to save time
--Cut fabric quickly and perfectly straight
--Make perfect seams that line up (or pretty close to perfect)
This is what you will need to make this quilt top (note, I am giving a tutorial for the quilt top, and will give some links on the next steps involved, but the materials given are just for the quilt top, for the whole quilt you will also need batting and fabric for backing and binding). This tutorial assumes some general sewing machine experience, but not quilting/piecing experience
--9 different cotton quilting fabrics, 1/3 yard of each
--thread in a neutral color, I generally piece with gray or cream
--ironing board and iron
--1/4 inch piecing foot. If you are going to do any quilting at all, I suggest buying this immediately. If not, a piece of masking tape can be used, but you will have to be much, much more careful about your seams
--rotary cutter, cutting mat, and ruler (Joann usually has a set of all three that frequently goes on sale or you can use a coupon on). While most people seem to prefer the bigger 24x6 inch ruler, I use the 18x3 inch ruler the most
(a keen eye might only count 8 fabrics here…I had switched some in and out and got confused, after taking this picture I added in the blue tiny deer fabric)
To begin, iron your fabric if it is at all wrinkly with light steam.
1. Fold your fabric so that you can cut it into strips. The fastest, easiest way to do this is to fold it so that the selvedges are together, as in this picture:
Fold it one more time, so there is a fold facing you and the selvages are at the top. Your fabric should now be 4 layers thick, with raw edges on the right and left.
2. Cut your fabric into 6 inch strips. Your 1/3 yard cuts are 12 inches x42inches, so we will end up with 2 strips that are 6 inches by 42 inches after cutting. Line your folded fabric up on the cutting mat so that the right edge of the fabric lines up with the 1 inch cutting line. If it is crooked, square it up carefully (don’t take too much off if you only have 1/3 yard to work with). Move your ruler over to the 6 inch line, and make sure the top and bottom of the ruler is on the 6 inch line of the cutting mat. With your left hand spread out to hold down as much of the ruler as you can, use the rotary cutter to firmly and slowly cut through all 4 layers of fabric.
3. If you were using a 1/3 yard piece of fabric, you now have two pieces that are 6 x 42. If you had a bigger piece, just slide it down to the edge, line it up at the 1 line, and repeat to get another 6 inch cut and then put the extra fabric away.
4. Now it’s time to start sewing. Wheeeee! We’re going to sew the strips together in groups of three. You can try to create a specific order out of the, but since later they’re going to be sliced up and rearranged it really doesn’t matter that much. We will also chain piece at this point too. For clarity’s sake, I will refer to the fabrics as A-I. All fabrics will be pinned right sides together. Pin Fabric A and B together, Fabric D and E together, and Fabric G and H together. You will have two sets of each pairing. Place a pin every 4-6 inches along the length of the fabric. You can trim the selvages off before you pin or later.
5. Put your ¼ inch seam guide foot onto your machine. Alternately, carefully measure ¼ inch from your needle to the right and place the edge of a long piece of masking tape onto your machine so that you can run the edge of the fabric up next to it. You can see in this picture that the edge of my foot has a little black guide that I just bump the edge of my fabric up against to get perfect ¼ inch seams.
6. Now we’re going to chain piece! Chain piecing is sewing several pieces right after one another without taking the fabric off of the machine. This saves you the time of taking it out and cutting the thread, and also saves you that long length of thread before and after each piece! Put your first A & B in and stitch your ¼ inch seam, backstitching at the beginning and end. Then put your second A&B piece up against the foot and let the machine’s feed dogs pull it in. You will continue to sew with just a tiny space of thread in between the pieces. Continue to stitch the remaining pieces.
7. Now pin your C strips of fabric to the AB units, E to the CD units, and I to the FG units. Chain stitch as in #6.
8. Now a tiny bit of drawing before we press our seams will help us create perfect seams in our finished blocks. Go ahead and draw a square and put in your fabrics as they are sewn now, you can pick which ones will go in the middle or side columns. FYI: remember that the center square in the center column will be later cut into quarters, so pick one that you will like seeing a tiny bit of in each block. I chose the tiny deer because they would still be cute cut up small.
Draw an arrow down over the first column, up over the second, and down over the third. Now we are going to press our seams in those directions. So for my ABC column, I am pressing my seams toward the green dot fabric, DEF is being pressed towards the yellow dot fabric, and GHI is being pressed towards the solid turquoise fabric.
9. Lay your fabric units on your ironing board and press both seams towards the side that you pointed towards on your drawing. You’ll be glad you did this step later After pressing on the seam side, I like to turn it over and press on the right side as well.
10. Now it’s time to cut our strips! Take each strip and line it up as before, but this time without folding. Go ahead and cut into 6 inch strips just like we did earlier. Do this with each 3 color unit, but we only need a total of 12 of each unit, so if you get 7 from the first unit, just cut 5 from the second unit and keep the extra piece for another project.
11. Pin all the ABC pieces to the DEF pieces, right sides together. Since we pressed the seams in different directions, they will “lock” together and create beautiful seams. For this size of block, I would probably just stick 1 pin in each seam intersection and call it good. Just be careful when stitching that each seam is laying in the correct direction as you stitch over it. Stich these units.
12. Now pin the GHI units to the ABCDEF blocks. Same as #11, lock the seams together, pin, and stitch carefully making sure the seams lie in the correct direction.
13. Congratulations, you’ve made 12 blocks!
To cut down on bulk, go ahead and press the last two seams open, rather than to one side.
Now we’re going to cut them up! I did a drawing before I got to this stage to see what my cut up blocks would look like
14. Your blocks should be about 17 inches square. Measure them to see. Then place one at a time on your cutting board and slice it down the middle (at 8 ½ inches if they measure 17 inches), rotate, and slice again so each block is now in quarters. Pile the quarters together so each quarter block is in its own pile.
15. Now it’s time to play with these and decide on your arrangement. I went with a kind of classic arrangement. Figure out what you like best. Then, once you have figured it out and drawn it, we can start back with the chain piecing.
16. We’ll call the quarter blocks Block 1-4. Pin and chain stitch Blocks 1 and 2 together, and 3 and 4 together. After stitching, press the seams to one side so that you can lock the center seams together. Then stich 1-2 to 3-4 to re-create your blocks. Press seams open. You should now have (12) 16 inch blocks.
17. All that is left to do is to stitch the blocks together! Chain stitch 6 pairs together, the then pairs into 3 strips of 4. Now stitch the 3 columns of squares together. Iron your seams open. Yay, you made a quilt top!
Your finished quilt top should be about 66.5 x 50 inches
Here is a tutorial for binding your quilt, I will add a link for the basting and quilting process when I get those written! Completely Machine Stitched Binding Tutorial