Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Framed Nine Patch Tutorial, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my Framed Nine Patch tutorial. If you missed Part 1 and you’re interested, you can find it here.

In Part 1 we covered fabric selection, cutting, and making the starter blocks. Today we’ll cover cutting apart the starter blocks, arranging the parts and making the top, adding optional borders, and finishing.

We left off with nine starter blocks. Each starter block should measure 13-1/2” square.
Starter Blocks

Cutting the Starter Blocks:

Accurate cutting is critical. This is definitely a case where you want to measure twice, cut once.
If you make a cutting mistake, the starter block is ruined and you’ll have to make another.  

Since we’ll be cutting our 13-1/2” blocks into thirds, which is 4-1/2”, I recommend putting blue painter’s tape on your ruler at 4-1/2” wide, as a visual reminder of the correct measurement. 
Mark Ruler at 4-1/2"

Note: If your blocks are not 13-1/2” square, you’ll have to fudge a bit when cutting them into thirds so that all your pieces end up the same size.

I recommend cutting one starter block at a time and taping each block down to your mat to prevent any shifting. I don’t recommend stacking them and cutting more than one at a time because the lower layer(s) could shift. 

Here is one block ready for cutting: 
Taped and Ready to Cut
  •      First cut: 4-1/2” from the edge 
First Cut

  • Second cut: 4-1/2” over from the first, which should also be 4-1/2” from the other side of the block.

Second Cut
  • Rotate the cutting mat ¼ turn (do not move the block parts). Repeat the first cut and the second cut. The starter block should be cut into nine units.

One Block Cut into Nine Units
  •  Repeat for each starter block. Here are mine, all cut and ready to lay out. 
All Blocks Cut into Units

Laying Out the Units:

You will definitely need a design wall, floor, or other surface to lay the parts out on.

Start with the solid patches. These are the center pieces from each of your starter blocks. Place them about where the centers of your new nine patch blocks will be on your design wall. (Sorry, I forgot to take a pic of this step.)
  • Place the remaining units around the center patches so that they form framed nine-patches, scattering the colors as much as possible. 
Parts Laid Out in One Nine Patch Block
  • Lay out three nine-patch blocks or nine units across and the same number down.
  •       Continue laying out units and moving them around until you like the placement. Here is how mine looked when they were first put on the wall. As I mentioned in Part 1, I was concerned about the two yellow fabrics looking too similar, and this would affect my layout. I tried to keep the two yellows from being right next to each other, but catty-corner is okay. 
First Layout on Design Wall

o   What I think needs to be changed: I want to separate the solid orange and the dark coral that are paired up next to each other. Too many of the darkest/strongest colors are together. 
  • Here’s my (almost) final layout. 
(Almost) Final Layout

o   Take photos of your layout progress. It’s good to check for value contrast in grey scale, and it’s also good to rotate your photo to see what the quilt will look like from other directions. 

(Almost) Final Layout in Grey Scale
  •  I found a unit turned in the wrong direction when I was sewing the parts together. Check your layout and make sure your units all make framed nine patch blocks, with the frames all going in the correct direction. 
      Assembling the top:    
      Use scant 1/4" seams. 
      You can either assemble your quilt top in rows or in nine-patch blocks, your choice. (I prefer the row method.)
  • In some cases your seams will nest at the frames; in other cases they will not. I recommend pinning them carefully at the frames to prevent slippage and assure good matching. 
  • Regardless of which assembly method you prefer, blocks or rows, press your seams in opposite directions by row, so they'll nest together when you join the rows. 
If you’re not adding borders, your F9P top is now complete.
Complete Top Without Border

Optional Borders:
  • Measure the width of your top across the top, center, and bottom, and average the measurements. (You should have 36-1/2”.)
  • Cut two of the border strips to this measurement.
  • Attach these borders to the top and bottom of your quilt, pinning at the centers and the quarters.
  • Measure the length of your top on the left, center, and right, and average the measurements. (You should have 44-1/2”.)
  • Cut the remaining two of the lengthwise border strips to this measurement.
  • Attach these borders to the sides of your quilt, pinning at the centers and the quarters. 
Finished Top with Borders

Your F9P top with borders is now complete.

Layer, baste, and quilt as desired.

  • Cut 2-1/2” WOF strips of your binding fabric.
o   For top without borders, cut 4 strips
o   For top with borders, cut 5 strips
  •       Join strips end-to-end, fold in half lengthwise, and press.
  •       Attach to quilt using your preferred binding method.

Be sure to label your quilt!

About this method: You never quite know how it's going to come out when you pull fabrics and make the starter blocks. This quilt came out quite busy, but it works. It's certainly cheerful! The dot print would not have been my first choice for borders, but I didn't have enough yardage of any of the other fabrics. I would have preferred the same light orange print (#9) that I featured in my demo block, which would have been much less busy and would have contained the madness a bit more. 

The Framed Nine Patch looks modern-ish to me, although modern quilting wasn't a thing yet when I first came up with the idea in 2004. I think I'd like to try it in all solids with white....So many possibilities. If you make a F9P, I'd love to see it! Post it to Pinterest and send me a link!


  1. Taking a photo and converting it to grayscale is a great tip for evaluating the quilt top layout. And when you mentioned a unit turned the wrong way, it suddenly appeared in that photo. :)

  2. I've never taped a block to the mat before, but I can see that would be helpful.

  3. Thank you for part 2. I agree with Yvonne, the greyscale tip is great.

  4. So if I'm following the logic for this design correctly , if I wanted to make it a bit larger, I could make 12 blocks by choosing 12 fabrics? This looks like so much fun!