Tossed 9 Patch

The other day I considered what to do with my large stash of 5″ squares.

Bin of 5″ squares from a variety of sources

It occurred to me that I might be the only quilter in the world who hadn’t yet made a tossed 9 patch quilt.

Just on the off chance you haven’t made one yet, here’s the drill.

The 9-patch block was 15.5″ with raw edges. Drawing done with Electric Quilt 8.

Start by making a 9 patch (duh). I cut a bunch of light colored 5″ patches and enough red 5″ patches for 22 nine-patch blocks, then used various 5″ squares from my bin for the four corners.  (Yes, that only got rid of 88 5″ squares. Still…)

I included some old favorites from the 5″ bin:

Blueberry fabric bought in Maine, one of the Moda wildflower fabrics, the fruit ladies from Elizabeth’s Studio, and some of my favorite metallic dot fabric.

After assembling the 9 patch blocks, I cut them in quarters, resulting in 88 blocks like this:

This is one quarter of the original 9-patch block. Drawing done with Electric Quilt 8.

When all my 88 blocks were made, I played with layouts until I had one I liked. There are a lot of different ways to cut the 9 patch block, and even more ways to lay out the resulting blocks, so it took a while.

After it was quilted, I decided on a blue and white striped border, which I cut on the bias.

And here’s the finish:

Quilt Stats:

Name: Tossed 9-patch

Designed and made by: me, though of course there is nothing new under the sun, This idea has been around forever.

Finished size: 51″ x 71″

Quilted by: Linda

Super Fans Tutorial

When I showed this quilt last week, I promised a tutorial on how to make the blocks. So here goes!

The first (most important?) step is to choose a block size for which you have a square-up ruler in your collection. This makes the whole process easier, as you’ll see.

No my ruler isn’t a trapezoid, but I had to take the picture at an angle to avoid reflections!

Then choose a couple of strips that are about 2″ longer than the square-up ruler. My ruler trims to 9.5″ (for a finished 9″ block), so I chose strips about 11.5″ long. You can either cut wedges for your strips, or join the strips and then trim the edges to make them wedge-shaped. I had a bunch of 1.5″ strips, so I did the sew-and-trim way.

Continue to add strips to each side, alternating sides. Alternating sides makes it easier to keep the block symmetrical. It isn’t necessary to use 1.5″ strips–you can use any width from about 1″ on up.

Press all seams open to decrease bulk. And when you trim seams to make a wedge, leave at least 1/2″ of width at the narrow end to avoid extra bulk when adding the next strip.

The seam that is circled at the bottom just meets because the strip was narrowed to 1/2″ at that end

The piece will, of course, tend to curve. To counteract that tendency, I sometimes add longer strips to correct for the way the edges want to angle down at both ends.

Here’s a longer strip I added to be sure the edges weren’t curving too much.

Keep checking to be sure the block is outside the edges of the ruler at both the top and bottom of each strip.

And finally comes the happy day when the block is as wide as it needs to be at the top!

From here on you can add shorter strips. Align them at the bottom of the block to start sewing. Keep checking, and when the piece is wide enough, trim all edges with your square-up ruler.

When trimming, I pick a line near the middle of the ruler and lay it along a seam near the center of the block to get everything as even as possible.

I stitched about 1/8″ from the edges

Stay stitch all edges! This is important because you really, really don’t want those seams to start coming undone, and because there are many bias edges.

DONE!

You may notice that the last strips (bottom corners) are a bit wider than the others. That is done to avoid the possibility of having a seam in the block come at a corner when joining to other blocks.

Quilt Stats

Name: Super Fans

Designed and made by me, with inspiration from Pinterest

Finished size: 47″ x 65″ (5 x 9 blocks, 9″ each, with 1″ border on all sides)

Quilted by: Linda

There are 18 pieces in the sample block above. That means the finished quilt has approximately 810 strips. Thank goodness I didn’t calculate that until now!!!

 

Super Fans!

I haunt Pinterest in my “spare time”  looking at pretty quilts. OK, maybe it’s “procrastinating time” rather than actual “spare time”, but you get the picture 😀

After seeing a number of lovely string quilts, I was forced to make lots of string blocks and assemble them into this “super fan” quilt.

There are many similar examples on the internet. I did not use a fabric foundation, as many string quilters do.

I made no attempt to use the same number of strips in each block, and my husband points out that the blocks do vary quite a bit. All good, I say.

I used strips from my scrap bins.

Those scrap bins are filled by cutting all leftovers into uniform strips, which vary in width from 1.5″ to 4.5″. These strips are useful for many things, from tying up packages to adding just the right bit of color to some projects. They do often overflow, though.

Here are a few of the other projects made from the strip bins:

And WOO! Paducah quilt week is only a week away!!! If you’ll be there I’d love to meet you!

Meanwhile, I’ll have a tutorial next week on how I did this fan block.

Circle of Nine Quilts

I found this book in my library when I was sorting things for the move and noted that it had an interesting layout for blocks.

It is an old book (2013) but my online research revealed that there is a newer one, Best of Circle of Nine, available from Keepsake Quilting. It looks like that book includes the “best” designs from my Circle of Nine book and the one that preceded it, which I do not own.

So in December when I should have been doing other things, I used the book to make two quilts from orphan blocks.

The first used blocks that finish 8″, and made a quilt that finished 36″ with the border added. That is perfect for a preemie incubator covering, so it’s a win for the orphan blocks.

I should note that the book offers many interesting ideas for pieced sashing, but I thought the blocks were busy enough by themselves so I just used plain sashing and it went together fast.

The second quilt was made with orphan blocks that finished that finish 10″. The quilt was 40″ square without borders, also perfect for Ronald McDonald House.

Of course I couldn’t just leave it at that, so I used EQ to expand the “Circle of Nine” idea to use 25 blocks. Here’s what it looked like:

Design made with Electric Quilt 8

The Circle of Nine quilts were great for using up orphan blocks. I don’t think I’ll make the 25-block version 😀

 

2021 In My Studio

Good morning! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday, whether religious or secular in nature. Here are most of the projects I’ve done this year:

Magic Kaleidoscope, 30″ x 30″

Practice for Charm Weave, 40″ x 40″

Mill Wheels, 51″ x 51″

Super Simple Squares, 52″ x 52″

Oriana, 47″ x 48″

Rumble In The Jungle, 54″ x 54″

Splendid Stars, 51″ x 53″

Sunrise, 75″ x 50″

HST Stars, 78″ x 53″

Fossil Fern Stars, 59″ x 44″

COVID swap block quilt, 55″ x 72″

Hayden and the bag he made

Fabric bowl, from the Modern Fabric Bowls book

Christmas napkins

And the Japanese Maple in the fall!

Stars Again

I’ve probably made more stars than any other type of quilt block. For some reason the design just appeals to me. Here’s the latest.

The original inspiration was this quilt called “Scrappy Stars II”, found on Pinterest. The post from which it was pinned is here.  I also found a similar pattern, called “Night Sky”, at the Missouri Star Quilt Company, here.

I didn’t care for the way it was arranged and I wanted to make it bigger anyway, so I redesigned it. First I drew the basic idea in EQ8, as I had found it on Pinterest, but with a border added.

HST Stars, drawn in EQ8 as a starting point for my design. Sources in preceding text.

I used this drawing to lay out my HSTs (half-square triangle blocks). Then I started adding rows and fiddling with the design. This was during the time we were in temporary housing, so there was a LOT of running up and down stairs to view the design from the loft. It was extremely easy to get pieces turned the wrong way!

The back is a sheet I got at my favorite thrift shop.

Quilt Stats

Design based on two sources noted above

Finished size: 78″ x 53″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Wonky

I’m currently on a program of finishing 2 UFOs (unfinished objects) before starting each new project. I caught up quite a bit last year, but there are a few things still to be done.

Most recently I pulled out these swap blocks from a long time ago. They should finish 24″ square. Of course, since they are medallion style blocks, there’s plenty of opportunity for the size and shape to get “off” with each additional border.

There was one in the group that surely was not perfectly square. I put 4 of them together anyway, figuring this could be a picnic quilt and “fixing” the wonky block was way too fiddly.

This worried me a little, even in a picnic quilt. (OK, like most quilters, I’m more than a little O.C.)

Then my daughter came along and said, “It’s not wonky, it’s organic in design!” Ha! So there! Art-speak is frequently useful!

Scrappy Triangle Swap Blocks

I’ve belonged to a block swap group for a long time, but we have done extra during COVID. Here’s the latest, a scrappy triangle block. In case you want to know, it’s made with the tri-recs tool, available several places–just ask Ms. Google.

What we haven’t done is put any of these into a quilt! Here are some ideas on layout:

And in case you’ve never made improvised scrap blocks, here are directions. We’ve been using single-color scraps, but there’s no reason the color scheme can’t be scrappy.

Start by choosing 2 scraps you like and sew them together any way you care to. If one has a curved side, you can choose to sew the curve or cut it off straight.

Trim up an edge so you can add something else.

Keep adding pieces, checking occasionally to see if your template is going to fit on the scraps.

It’s fine to add BIG pieces too in order to move things along.

Press all the seams open. Too much bulk otherwise with all those seams.

Finally, cut around your template and assemble the block.

What templates do you like to use?

More Donation Quilts

Before I show the latest group of donation quilts, I want to say how happy I am that my long-time blogging friend Melanie has started posting again.  She’s an expert in medallion quilts and does beautiful work, so you may want to check her out here.

These quilts are going to Ronald McDonald House, so here’s a last look at them before they go.  

improvisationally pieced quilt

“In Fairyland”, original design, 2013.  53″ x 67″.  I like it, but it’s never been used, so off it goes.

 

Serendipity I”, 2020, 51″ x 61″. Pattern is from Love Jelly Roll Quilts.

 

Black and floral quilt

Unnamed, 55″ x 69″, 2011.  Made to use some of my huge stash of florals, but never used.

Kaffe Leftovers, 48″ x 60″, 2020.

I designed “Spring Sun” using piecing papers from a Judy Niemeyer pattern, 2012-2014.   It was juried into an AQS show but has never been used, so it’s time to donate it.

“Elizabeth’s Village”, 40″ x 40″.  Center design is by my friend Elizabeth and pattern is available in her Payhip store. I added borders so it would finish crib size, 2020.

“Baby Stars”, 45″ x 45″, 2019.  Pattern is “Lucky Stars” by Atkinson Designs.

Star Swap Quilt, original design, 2019. 40″ x 40″.

I hope the families at Ronald McDonald House get enjoyment and comfort from these quilts.  They were just stored in a closet here, so they need to be used.

Avoiding Half Square Triangles

Half square triangles are an important design element in many quilts. The split value and diagonal line allow a variety of dynamic designs.

This is a Half Square Triangle (HST)

One of my quilt groups has been discussing HSTs because some of us love them and some have limited tolerance for them. It matters because we regularly do block exchanges.

One member recently sent a picture of a beautiful depression block quilt, and that got the discussion going again. A depression block quilt is made entirely of HSTs!

This is a typical block from a Depression Quilt

 

This is a traditional Depression Block Quilt made entirely with HSTs

Not being much of a rule-follower, I got to speculating about how we might make this quilt using strips instead of HSTs. (Yes, I get that the original idea was to use up small scraps, but what if you just wanted the overall effect without all those HSTs?) My friend Mary B encouraged me to develop this idea, so here we go.

I did a number of experiments with Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8), which produced all the illustrations for this post.  I learned that the most important element in the success of this quilt is contrast between the values (rather than the colors) of the fabrics. (All the illustrations use Fossil Fern fabrics from the EQ8 fabric library.)

I first tried drawing a block that used strips of lights and darks in place of the rows of triangles. This would simplify construction significantly.

Here’s the block:

Depression block effect without the HSTs

And here’s the quilt:

Then I tried a traditional Courthouse Steps block set on point to mimic the depression block effect.

Here’s the block:

And here’s the quilt:

Finally, I changed up the color arrangement in the traditional Courthouse Steps block to provide more variation.

Here’s the block:

And the quilt:

So! I’m not sure my variations are a good substitute for the traditional Depression Block quilt, but it was fun and I do like the quilts. What do you think, Mary B?