Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Framed Nine Patch Tutorial Part 1

Welcome, and thank you to all those who expressed interest in my Framed Nine Patch (F9P) tutorial. The Framed Nine Patch starts with large framed squares which are sliced and diced, and reassembled nine-patch style. Sound familiar? This concept was the precursor to my Cut and Shuffle Quilts.

Today’s post covers fabric selection, cutting, and assembling the starter blocks. Next week’s post (April 13) will cover cutting up the starter blocks, laying out the pieces, reassembling the nine-patch blocks, and optional borders. 
Coral F9P Baby Quilt

Finished Size: 36” square as shown, or 44” square including optional border. This is a small quilt, just baby size or table topper size. 

Skill Level: Confident beginner with experience in rotary cutting and in sewing straight, accurate, scant 1/4” seams.

Fabric selection: The success of your F9P has a lot to do with the prints and fabrics you select. I’ve had some versions come out more successfully than others due to the palette I selected.

My recommendations are as follows:
  • Choose a mostly monochromatic or analogous color scheme.
  •  Make sure you have a range of values including one very pale and one very dark.
  • Have an accent color that contrasts with most of your fabrics in color and/or value. Your darkest fabric might serve as your accent color.
  • Keep patterns small in scale. Include solids, near solids, and blenders more than focus prints. Quiet prints are better than bold ones.
  • Keep in mind that directional prints may go every which way in the finished quilt.

Here’s my first, original F9P from 2004. What works about this palette:
  • It’s mostly monochromatic except for the very dark accent of purple.
  • There is a full range of values, including pale and deep.
  • There isn’t very much pattern, and what pattern there is is mostly small scale. I like how the one leafy print keeps it from being boring.
Original Framed Nine Patch, 2004

Here’s another older F9P. (This is a scan of a film print so sorry about the poor clarity.)
 Blue Framed Mine Patch, 2005
What works about this palette:
  • Mostly monochromatic blues with one yellow accent
  • Wide range of values
  •  Small scale prints
  • Non directional prints

Here’s my recent F9P: 
Coral F9P
What works and what doesn’t work about this palette:
  • The overall palette is mostly monochromatic, but the yellow accent is a bit too bright. A softer yellow would have been better.
  • There is not as much value contrast, so the overall look is muted and soft. The darkest fabrics, two taupes and the coral dot, are mediums. This will be a gift for a baby girl, so the soft palette is okay, but the overall effect is not as graphically interesting as it would be with greater contrast.

 Here are some examples of palettes that might work for a F9P and my comments about them: 
Green Palette
Green Palette:
  • Analogous, ranging from blue-green to yellow-green.
  • The dark green will stand out the most as the accent color, followed by the pale yellow green.
  • Good range of values. 
  • Fairly small prints, but this may be a busy quilt with this much pattern going on. 
  • There are three directional prints: the stripe, the chevron, and the paisley. These might end up going every which way in the quilt.
  •  This palette would be my choice to make for the tutorial sample, but I don’t have enough of some of the fabrics. 

Orange Palette
Orange Palette: 
  • This is the palette I’ll use for the tutorial.
  • Analogous colors ranging from coral to yellow.
  • Okay range of values; the coral reads dark compared with everything else and it will definitely stand out as the accent color, but like my latest F9P above, this palette doesn’t have a true dark.
  •  I’m a bit concerned about the two yellows being too similar; this may limit my options when laying out parts for the nine-patch blocks.
  •  Two directional fabrics, the paisley and the stripe, will end up going every which way in the final quilt.
  • There’s a lot of pattern going on here; this will end up being a very busy quilt.
  •  I have enough of the circle dot to use it as the border; I don’t have enough of any of the other fabrics so the circle dot will have to suffice, by default. 

Brown Palette
Brown Palette: 
  • Analogous color scheme – yellows to orange.
  • Good range of values including a very light and a very dark. 
  • Three directional fabrics: the dashed stripe, Jupiter stripe, and fans.
  • Yikes, a lot of bold pattern!!! This will look very busy when assembled, maybe very choppy. 
Choose your fabrics with these thoughts in mind. Play with laying them out next to each other to see variations in value contrast and see how well you like them all together.

Fabric Requirements: Prewashing all fabrics is recommended.

For blocks:
  • Nine fat quarters (or 3/8 yard linear cuts). A linear quarter is not sufficient because the starter block requires a 9-1/2” square.
    • Or seven FQs and see notes for border and binding fabrics below.

For optional border:
  • 1-3/8 yard. 
    • You could replace one of those FQs with 1-3/8 yard, which would suffice for both the blocks and the border. Plan on cutting border strips first. 
    • Or the border could be a 10th fabric.  
For binding: 
  • 3/8 yard. You could replace one of those FQs with 3/4 yard, which would be sufficient for both the blocks and the binding.

For backing:
  • For no-border option as shown, 1-1/4 yards.
  • With border, piece the backing to measure about 50” x 50”, about 2 yards total. 

  •  Optional border: Cut 4 (four) 4-1/2” wide lengthwise strips before cutting blocks. These will be cut to length later.
  •  Blocks: from each FQ (or yardage) cut the following:
    • 1 (one) 9-1/2” square
    • 2 (two) 1-1/2” x 9-1/2” strips
    • 4 (four) 1-1/2” x 11-1/2” strips
    • 2 (two) 1-1/2” x 13-1/2” strips
    • If using a FQ, cut as shown here:
FQ Cutting Diagram
    • If using a directional fabric, if you follow the FQ cutting diagram, you’ll be able to make your starter blocks with the fabric all going in the same direction. The direction may change later when you lay out nine-patch parts. 

Assorting Fabrics:
Arrange your fabrics so there’s good contrast between one and the next. It may help to view them in a greyscale photo. 
Use grey scale to check for value contrast

Label your fabrics #1 through #9. Stack them up as shown: center squares, 9-1/2” strips, 11-1/2” strips, and 13-1/2” strips. All stacks should be in the same order, with fabric #1 on the bottom and fabric #9 on the top.
Stacks of squares and strips with Fabric #1 on the bottom and Fabric #9 on the top

Take the top strip (fabric #9) from each of the 9-1/2” stacks and put it on the bottom of the stack. Do the same for the first two stacks of 11-1/2” strips.
Fabric #9 moved to the bottom of the stacks of 9-1/2" and 11-1/2" strips

Starter Block Assembly:

All seams scant 1/4"

Note: As you attach strips, press toward the darker fabric. Sometimes this will mean pressing outward toward the frame, and sometimes it will mean pressing inward toward the center. This will help some of the seams to nest later when reassembling the nine patches. (If you always press outward as when making a courthouse steps block, then none of the seams will nest.)
  • Keeping strips and stacks in order and using the top fabric in each stack, sew a 9-1/2” strip of fabric #8 to each side of the fabric #9 square.
  • Attach 11-1/2” strips of fabric #8 to the top and bottom.
  • Sew an 11-1/2” strip of the same fabric as the center square (#9) to each side of the framed square.
  •  Sew a 13-1/2” strip of the same fabric as the center square to the top and bottom of the framed square. 

Clockwise from upper left: 
Add side strips, first frame; add top & bottom strips, first frame;
add side strips, second frame; add top & bottom strips, second frame.
  • Repeat for each starter block.
  • I recommend first attaching the first strips to the center squares, keeping careful attention to which strip gets attached to which square.  Strip fabric #8 is sewn to center fabric #9.  Strip fabric #7 to center fabric #8; etc. down to strip fabric #9 to center fabric #1.
  •  Once you have the correct first strip in place, you can chain piece all the other strips. The strips in the first frame all match the first strip. The strips in the second frame all match the center square. 

Left: center with first frame; right: with second frame. 
Second frame always matches center square.

You now have nine framed starter blocks complete. 
All nine starter blocks

Next week we’ll cut these starter blocks into pieces, lay them out, and reassemble them.

Update: Link to Framed Nine Patch Tutorial Part 2

Meanwhile, I’m linking up with Let's Bee Social over at So Fresh Quilts and Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. Great tutorial, thank you. Looking forward to part 2. I like your original 2004 colours.
    Smiles from

  2. I love it!! I love your Cut and Shuffle Book too - having fun making a quilt from it as well!

  3. I really like the look of this scrappy project. Looking forward to the next step!

  4. thanks for sharing your make it look easy.

  5. This is such a helpful tutorial, such specific directions and the choices of fabric and directions there are really good. Looking forward to pulling my fat quarters!

  6. This is great! I love how you paid attention to directional prints.