Slash Your Stash - Nine Patch Quilt - Part 3
- Catherine Jaynes
Hello and welcome to Part 3 of the Slash Your Stash - Nine Patch Quilt Blog. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 check them out to see the steps that led us here to the final installment for this quilt. If you are following along, I hope that you have either finished all of the steps so far or are well on your way to doing so. This is not a race so don’t worry if you still have work to do.
In this final installment we’ll arrange our blocks, put our quilt top together and finish our quilt.
After finishing Part 2 - you should have two sets of blocks, eight of each. (One is positive (P), with dark blocks in the corners and middle and one is negative (N), with light blocks in the corners and middle.) Here are my two piles of blocks.
Keep your blocks in these two piles. It will make it easier as we put together our rows based on the layouts we chose in Part 1. (And if you want to change your mind about what layout you are doing, it’s all up to you. Go for it. I’m still going to do Layout 2.)
To make putting our quilts together easier I created a quick reference guide to show which block goes where. (I like a guide like this so that I don’t go cross-eyed trying to figure it out from the “big” picture.)
Layout 1 - Rows 1 & 3 (P, N, P, N):
Layout 1 - Rows 2 & 4 (N, P, N, P):
Layout 2 - Rows 1 & 4 (P, N, N, P):
Layout 2 - Rows 2 & 3 (N. P, P, N):
Layout 3 - Rows 1 & 4 (P, P, P, P):
Layout 3 - Rows 2 & 3 (N, N, N, N):
See what I mean about going cross-eyed?
Now that we see what each row looks like for our particular layout, let’s get started with putting our quilt top together. I’ll be doing Layout 2, if you are doing a different layout, you can follow the same concept but with the order of blocks for your chosen layout.
First make a pile of your first row by building backwards so that the first block in the row ends up on top of the pile. (This is a good practice just in case the blocks are not the same, backwards and forwards, as in Layout 1.)
My first row is P, N, N, P. (Also known as blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 for this row.)
Clip this pile together and put a “Row 1” label on it.
Repeat the same process for the rest of your rows so that you end up with four piles, one for each row you will be sewing together.
Now, we are ready to sew our rows together…so break out your sewing machine and let’s get sewing!
Starting with your Row 1 pile, take the first two blocks from the top of the pile (blocks 1 & 2) and with right sides together, match and nestle (Note: if you are sewing like blocks together, you will be matching your seams only as they will be facing the same way) your seams. Then, sew a ¼” seam allowance on the right side of the pair.
Pin your seams to make sure they match up as closely as possible when sewn. You may want to clip your blocks as well or be very careful to hold and guide your fabric so it doesn’t shift from the weight of the extra blocks in the row.
To help keep your seams from flipping, whenever a bottom seam is facing the needle, stop sewing when that seam is a little before the needle and make sure it hasn’t flipped. (That’s something I learned to do after Part 2 of this blog…yes, a few of my seams flipped. It’s okay…I’m not entering my quilt in competition.)
As you sew over “like facing” seams take it slow as they may be rather bulky. (My fabrics are thin so this wasn’t an issue for me, this time.)
Next, take “block 3” and lay it on “block 2” with the right sides together. Match/nestle the seams on the right. Then, sew a ¼” seam allowance along that side. Check and recheck your layout guide each time you add a block to make sure it is the right one being added to the right side of the row.
Finally, take “block 4” and lay it on “block 3” with the right sides together. Match/nestle the seams on the right. Then, sew a ¼” seam allowance along that side.
Sometimes when putting together your blocks you’ll notice that one part of a block is off a little but the other parts line up. Using the lined up parts, you can cut away the little extra. (This helps me when I’m sewing so that I don’t have to worry about making adjustments or a part not being caught by the seam.) If you do this, just be careful not to cut too much (less is more here!).
After stitching together your whole row, trim your sewing strings and press your seams to set and then press to the right.
You should now have row one all sewn together. Here is mine.
So you don’t get your rows mixed up, fold the two end blocks over onto the middle blocks (right sides together) and then clip your “Row 1” tag onto that row and set it aside. Here is mine.
Repeat the steps we did to make Row 1 for the three remaining rows, except press to the LEFT for rows 2 & 4. (This will make nesting your rows together in the next part easier.) To do the left ironing, you may want to turn the row around but then turn it back again when you are done. Here are my sewn rows.
Not too bad right? We’re moving along and on the final steps of putting our quilt top together. So, stay with me! :-)
Now we will attach our rows to each other.
Take your Rows 1 and 2 and with the right sides together, match/nestle and pin the long bottom seam. Then, sew a ¼” seam allowance along this long seam. Take your time with this as it is a long seam with many little intersecting seams to match along the way. You’ll be glad you didn’t rush. And…if it’s not perfect in the end, it’s okay.
You may notice as you are pinning these long strips (and maybe even earlier) that some of the pieces will pucker when you are trying to keep your seams lined up. This is usually the result of slightly different sized pieces. (It happens…)
Lining up the seams keeps the points where the blocks meet aligned so this is a very important step. So, what to do? (First don’t panic, as you can see, it happened to me too!)
For a little pucker you can try to gently stretch the non-puckered fabric a little to help ease away a little pucker. You can also stop with your needle in the down position and lift your presser foot to smooth the fabric a little and get the pucker out of the way.
If the pucker is bigger, try tucking it (especially if you can’t go back and redo the piece). This will involve you tucking bits of the pucker at one or both seams to try and hide most of it. Do the best you can. As you practice more cutting, sewing and quilting, you’ll get better at this. Enjoy the journey.
Here is one of my puckers. Though I tried, it’s not quite as near the seam as I would like.
Here are my first two rows sewn together.
Repeat what you did for Rows 1 and 2 with Rows 3 and 4. Refer to your diagram each time to make sure you are attaching the right row in the right position. Better to check twice and sew once than to have to grab the seam ripper and take out all of your hard work.
Once you have all four of your rows sewn together, press your seams to one side. I also recommend turning your quilt over and fixing any of the seams that have undone themselves during your work. You can even finger press as they will be small sections you are trying to fix.
You did it! You now have an entire quilt top completed!
Here is mine. No, it’s not perfect…not all of the blocks are perfectly lined up and there are a few puckers… If this is your first or fifth, etc., (it’s my fourth)...give yourself a break and enjoy what you did accomplish! I’m sure it’ll be a beautiful quilt.
DISCLAIMER regarding the remaining instructions: I am new to quilting and this is the first quilt I’m quilting on my own and the first time using a technique where there is no binding. So, please read to the end of this blog before continuing. (I have included tips, provided to me by an expert, on how you can avoid the mistakes I made.) Now that you have a finished quilt top, you will need to determine the best way for you to finish your project.
Now it is time to make our quilt sandwich. For mine I’m using a piece of white flannel instead of batting as I wanted a very lightweight quilt. You can use batting if you want.
If you haven’t already, wash and press your backing fabric and if using flannel like I am instead of batting, wash and press that too. (I don’t pre-wash batting when I quilt. Most quilt battings are shrink resistant though they can shrink a little. The little shrinkage that happens creates a comfy, homey look to the quilt that I don’t mind.) If you decide to pre-wash your batting, follow the instructions for the batting…if none are available, you can soak the batting in cold water and then spin dry (no agitation) and then dry on low until almost dry. You don’t want to overdry.
To make our quilt sandwich, we will first need to cut both the batting and backing ½” to 2 inches larger than our quilt top. So, if your quilt top is 10” x 10” then you’ll be cutting the batting and backing to 10 ½”-12” x 10 ½”-12” each. The thicker the batting, the more cushion you’ll want here. This extra is there so that as you sew and take up the bulk of the fabrics into your seam you don’t have a shortage of either backing or batting.
Now, find a surface that is pretty solid and larger than your quilt. If your workstation or kitchen table are not big enough, you may opt to use the floor. If you are truly space challenged, you’ll need to do this step, carefully, in stages, with the workspace you have. (That’s me!)
Place your batting (or flannel) down first and make sure it is smooth.
Next, place your backing on top of your batting with the right side up.
Then, center and place your quilt top, right side down on top of your backing fabric. If your quilt is meant to be hung on a wall for display, it is at this point that you would add a “quilt hanging sleeve” (a specially sewn, folded piece of fabric for holding a display rod) between the top of your quilt top and the backing so that the raw edge would be caught in your seam. If it is not for display, no need to make a sleeve. (I don’t add a sleeve, even for display, because I like to use Metal Curtain/Quilt Hangers (coming to MadamSew.com later this year) instead. I find them much easier and super convenient.) If you want to have a sleeve, check out the blog on how to make one, coming in early March 2022.
Now, pin around the edge of your quilt top leaving an area of 5-7 inches, on one side, unpinned. That will be where we will turn our quilt inside-out later on. (I used double pins at the start and finish so I wouldn’t accidentally sew there. And because my pinheads are colored, I used the red ones to mark both spots as to me red means stop.)
Sew a ¼” seam around the quilt top being careful not to sew closed the area meant for turning. Make sure to “back stitch” (sew a few backward stitches) at the start and finish of this seam to keep it strong.
If using batting, you may need to use a walking foot to get the layers to feed through evenly. Take your time sewing this sandwich together. When you get to the corner, you’ll need to pivot for your turn. To do that, make sure your needle is in the down position, lift your presser foot, turn your project, put your presser foot down and keep on sewing.
Once you have sewn your seam, make sure that all of your quilt top is attached to the backing and batting and that your quilt has remained flat and square. If not, you’ll want to fix this now before we turn the quilt inside-out. (Let’s hope you don’t have to pull the seam ripper out to undo the seam, but if you do, it is part of sewing, though not a fun part.)
Turn your quilt inside-out and poke your corners out carefully using your finger tips, a sewist’s magic wand or other tool (just don’t use anything sharp as you don’t want to poke holes in your corners).
Press your quilt top, being careful to keep your seams straight and press the seams at the opening to the inside of your sandwich. To help with pressing the outer edge of your quilt, finger press that seam prior to using your iron.
Next, close up the opening using a ladder stitch. (For instructions see our Ladder Stitch Blog.)
Before we start quilting, we need to “baste” the quilt layers in place so they don’t shift around while we quilt. You can do a long running stitch by hand. These are very long stitches that go corner to corner and middle to middle like a + and around the edge of the whole quilt. Or you can use safety pins. Do what works for you. (I used safety pins - and here is where my first “quilting mistake” was…I put the safety pins too close together and I didn’t follow the rules I just stated in the baste by hand section. The picture below shows you what I did…if you are going to pin your quilt, follow the guidelines set out in the baste by hand instructions.)
For quilting, you can “stitch-in-the-ditch” (sewing in the ditch between squares) which we can do because we pressed our seams to the side so the stitches have fabric to grab onto or you can use a decorative stitch. (I’ll be using zig zag since flannel does not give much bulk to the quilt and I want my stitches to pop.)
Safety Tip: If you use a decorative stitch, make sure the presser foot you are using has an opening large enough to allow the needle to go through without hitting the foot. Otherwise, the needle will break and can also fly and injure you when it does.
If you are using batting, check the instructions it came with to see how closely you have to quilt. Different batting requires different minimum distances between quilting. If you are using flannel like I am, there is no minimum. In my case, I decided to go down every row (you’ll see what I mean in a little bit) but if your blocks are much smaller than mine, you may only want to quilt around each completed block and that’s okay as long as you quilt appropriately for the type of batting you are using and follow the directional sewing process explained below.
Start with the middle row and sew from one side of the quilt to the other (you are quilting).
(Here is where I made my next quilting mistake. My quilt is large, 40” x 40”, and therefore has a lot of weight. I didn’t put any support on the other side of the sewing table where the quilt could lay so it didn’t drag and pull forward and until the very end, I didn’t support it adequately on my side either. I did find that putting part of the quilt over my shoulder worked good…at least at the end. Plus, I hung onto the quilt too tightly orI pulled on it as it was feeding through the machine so my fabrics pulled and created a wonky distorted line. You’ll see what I mean when you see my finished quilt.)
While you are quilting, you may need to roll part of your quilt to keep it out of the way. Quilting is going to require a lot of patience as you maneuver the quilt in order to quilt it.
If your quilt is really, really big and you don’t mind paying someone, you could take it to a long-arm-quilter…I did that with my last quilt which was a bedsized quilt. For this project, I’m quilting right along with you.
Quilt the next row in the opposite direction and keep quilting following the diagram concept below until you have quilted the whole quilt (top to bottom and side to side). We quilt in this way to help the quilt lay better.
(My final mistake was not following the below diagram closely so some of my rows mixed up.)
Once you have quilted all of your rows, quilt around the edge of your quilt making sure to overlap the beginning and end of your stitching by 2-3 stitches. This final touch gives the quilt a nice finished look and also locks in all of your other stitches.
Trim all of your sewing thread tails close to the quilt edge.
Many quilters put a label on the back of their quilts which includes their name, date made and sometimes a message. It’s easy to create one yourself with a scrap of fabric, and either a fabric safe, permanent pen, or a quilt stamp (there will be a quilt stamp in Madamsew.com later this year). If you add a label to your quilt, sew it on by hand but be careful to only sew through the backing layer so your stitching doesn’t show on the top of your quilt.
You now have a completed quilt! Good Job!
For the first time quilters…DOUBLE Good Job!
Like I mentioned earlier, I made some mistakes so my quilt is a little wonky…I’m renaming it “Wonky Nine Patch Quilt”...it was still made with a lot of heart and by me and I am pretty sure the person I am giving it to, (I’ll include a little backstory) will appreciate the effort and gesture.
Here is my completed quilt.
We’d love to see your quilts. Share them on our MadamSew Quilting Facebook page. And, feel free to Slash Your Stash even more by making the other two layouts. If you do, share those too!
I will try to make more nine patch quilts with my stash hoping that practice makes perfect…or closer to it. ;-)
If you have questions, send me an email: email@example.com
I hope you liked this three part Blog. Thank you for joining me on my journey. Enjoy sewing, creating and slashing your stash!
Download the PDF of this tutorial HERE