Slash Your Stash - Nine Patch Quilt - Part 1

Slash Your Stash - Nine Patch Quilt - Part 1

Patch Quilt Part 1

If you are anything like me, when you go to the fabric store for the one piece of fabric that you need to finish a project, you might find it hard to leave without more than you came for. When I go to the fabric store, I get distracted by all of the colors, patterns and fabrics that are on display. And, if I have extra money in my pocket…yep, you guessed it, I leave with more than I expected and most, if not all of it, is not earmarked for a future project. Before long, I have a ton of fabric and need to clear some of it out.

So, for 2022, I decided to make a few simple quilts, easy enough for a beginner (I’ve only been quilting for a few years) and quick enough for someone who has been quilting a while. All to “Slash My Stash!” I invite you to join me in this adventure and perhaps Slash Your Stash too!

Choose The Fabrics

For this first Slash Your Stash Quilt, we’ll be using two fabrics to make nine patch blocks that sew up fast and easy. When you are ready, go to your stash and pick two fabrics that you’d like to use to make your quilt top. For a stunning display, consider having a high color contrast between the fabrics. The amount of fabric should be roughly the same for each unless you’ll also be using one for the backing, then that one needs to be about twice the amount of the other. (You will need backing fabric, batting or flannel for the middle and coordinating thread. Hopefully, you have it on hand, if not you might need to go to the store. That’s what happened to me…but I took my husband with me and I managed to walk out with ONLY what I needed.) Here are the two fabrics that I picked for my quilt top.

pick two fabrics

The technique we’ll be using for creating our nine-patch blocks, will yield two blocks at a time. One will have dark squares in the corner (positive block → “P”) and the other will have light squares in the corner (negative block → “N”).

positive block P

The minimum number of blocks for a quilt using this technique is 4 (but that will limit your design possibilities), the maximum is up to you, but should be a multiple of 2. For this project, we’ll be doing a 16 block (4 rows x 4 rows) quilt.

Different Layouts for a Nine-Patch Quilt

Quilts made with positive and negative blocks offer up multiple layout options. I played with some graph paper and tried different layouts. Here are my three favorites:

Layout 1

Graph paper layout 1

Layout 2

graph paper layout 2

Layout 3

graph paper layout 3

The layout I chose, for my first Slash Your Stash quilt, matches layout 2. Pick a layout that catches your eye. Or, if you want, you can do layout 2 with me!

The Calculations

Now that we have the fabrics and the layout picked out, it’s time to figure out the size of the fabric squares we need to cut. We’ll need a total of 8 squares of each fabric. This will involve a little math using the following formula:

“Cut Square Size” - 1 ½” = “Finished Block Size”

Note: The cut square size needs to be easily divided by 3 as that will give us a “Cutting Number” (don’t worry, it will all make sense soon) that we’ll be using later.

Therefore, your cut squares can be 6”, 9”, 12”, etc. You can get fancier with the math if you want (but don’t look to me for help with that kind of math…I’m going the easy math route).

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Measure your fabric and calculate the biggest size squares you can cut from each of your fabrics to end up with 8 equal-sized squares of each fabric for a total of 16 equal-sized squares. (Remember, we are slashing our stash, so be brave!) Mine turned out to be 12” squares, so my finished block size will be 10 ½”.

12” - 1 ½” = 10 ½”

Next, figure out your cutting number and jot it down for future reference, we’ll be using that number in Part 2. Here’s mine:

Cutting Number → 12” divided by 3” = 4”

If you haven’t already, pre-wash and iron your fabric before continuing. (I like to do this so that there isn’t a problem with shrinkage if the quilt is washed in the future.

Cutting Your Fabric Squares

Now, grab your cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler and cut 8 squares of each fabric based on your calculations. To do mine, I cut 12” strips that I then cut into 12” squares. Here are my squares.

per wash and iron your fabric

The next step is sewing! (Finally…right?)

Start To Sew The Squares

Take one square of each fabric and with right sides together, align all of your edges and stitch a ¼” seam allowance on two opposite sides to create a unit. Use pins or clips to hold the squares together as you’ll want to keep all of the edges even. Repeat this step until you have all 8 units sewn. Give each unit a quick press to keep it flat and neat.

Take one square of each fabric and with right sides together
Use pins or clips to hold the squares together
give each quick press

I’m exhausted…Fabric choices, layouts, math and then a whole bunch of measuring, cutting and sewing was a lot for Part 1…at least for me.

Join me in Part 2 of How to Make a Nine-Patch Quilt Block. I’ll tell you how to use the “cutting number” and we'll finish making our nine-patch blocks. You’ll be AMAZED at how quickly it will go. In Part 3 we'll make the quilt sandwich and finish the edges of the quilt.

If you need more help as a beginner, check out the complete Start to Quilt Series from Madam Sew.

In the meantime, we’d love to know what pattern and fabrics you chose for your project. Share your part of the journey on our Facebook Quilting Group. Have fun. See you again soon!

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Download the PDF of this tutorial HERE

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This was a great article. I tend to throw smaller pieces away and am always looking for new ideas on how to use them. Thank you Cathy.

Angela R.

This will be my first quilt!

Jeannie Kraatz

I’m just beginning to quilt although I’ve been sewing for more that 65 years. This is going to be a first project for me.
Thank you

Terri M

I just made a Disappearing Nine Patch in queen size (90×90 – slightly smaller after the seams). This was my first try and it came out so nice. Yes I used a pkg of layer cakes and 2 yds of white with white floral etching and I cut that into 10" pcs. Thankfully I had my hubby to help me cut the 9 patch into quarters. Can’t wait to try other variations of the 9 pactch.


Thank you. This should get me moving!

Carol Ann Orchard

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