Disappearing 9-Patch

I’m making a disappearing 9-patch as a gift. Though it isn’t for the holidays, I’d like to finish it before the end of the year.

Have you ever made one? They are super easy and fun. Those two reasons are enough, but I also want this gift to be practical, something that can be USED and loved, not put aside as special.

The basic concept is to make LARGE 9-patches, and then cut through the middle of them, both directions. In that way you make 4 blocks for each 9-patch. Each block has a piece of the center patch from the 9-patch. Here is a 9-patch I made for my project:

It’s ugly, huh? But it does NOT matter what the 9-patch looks like, because I sliced through it to make 4 separate blocks.

Wow, that one’s out of focus. But you can see that there are 4 blocks. Each has a corner that is large from a black print. Each has a corner that is small from an orange print. And each has two “legs” that are green or blue or purple.

(Full disclosure: JIM is HELPING me with this!! He is the one who sliced up the 9-patches, and the other day he helped sew the 9-patches!!)

Now, if we just arranged them like that, it wouldn’t help at all. But if we start to twist them, you can probably see the charm.

I made 22 9-patches. Cutting each into 4 pieces, I have 88 blocks (4 x 22 = 88). I’ll put these into a layout that is 8 blocks by 11 blocks. Each block will finish at 8″ (I’ll get to that in a minute) so the quilt will be 64″ x 88″. This is a good size for a twin bed.

Okay. I made 22 9-patches. I used 6″ cut squares, which means each patch finished at 5.5″ square. That means the 9-patch finished at 16.5″ (3 x 5.5″). Add seam allowances, and the UNfinished 9-patch measure is 17″.

Read that again if you’re confused. The UNfinished 9-patch measure is 17″.

When I slice through middle, I have 4 blocks that are UNfinished at 8.5″, or 17″/2. That means the blocks finish at 8″. A layout of 8 blocks by 11 blocks will give me 64″ x 88″.

My 9-patches ALL have orange or pink for the center patch. That means EVERY block will have a small patch that is pink or orange. My 9-patches ALL have black prints for the corners. That means EVERY block will have a large patch that is black print. And my 9-patches ALL have blue, purple, or green for the other patches, which means EVERY block will have blue, purple, or green as its legs.

I recently showed you a VA hospital quilt made with a similar process. The only difference is I elongated the 9-patch. Its process is described here.

Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company shows how to make one using a charm pack. The only pre-cuts I ever buy are fat quarters, and even those are rare. So charm packs? Not for me. But it can short-cut the process even more.

This is a great present for someone who won’t need to keep it as a “special” quilt. I’m having fun making it, and I can’t wait to see it finished.

Have you ever made a D9P? 

29 thoughts on “Disappearing 9-Patch

  1. OSuzyQuilts

    Yes, I made two – Christmas throws with 10 blocks, not a layer cake precuts, solid green in the middle on one, prints on outside, solid red in middle on the other, prints outside. It worked up very quickly and worked well with the many and varied prints I had. I kept o e and gave one as a gift to my SIL.

  2. Larri

    Thank you Melanie McNeil and Textile Ranger. Textile Ranger you are right about it is hard to find a black fabric that holds its color and doesn’t fall apart. My friend had some black that started shredding on her as she was sewing the sashing to the block. The idea to make a smaller quilt and then continue to a larger size is great.

  3. TextileRanger

    Here is the one I finished — which you even commented on, way back when:
    And here is one that I started to put together the old fashioned way, before I learned the disappearing nine-patch trick!
    That one is still in blocks in a drawer. I used up all the black fabric I had, and it was really nice fabric from the 90s, hard to find that quality now.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Both are terrific. As to black, I recently purchased Michael Miller solids. They have a nice feel to them, not as thick and “grainy” as the Kona. You might try that. OR… you could use the ones you already have as centering a bigger layout, and then the black could be switched to a different color or a black/grey print… Worth considering!

      1. TextileRanger

        That is a great idea! And it just so happens that I have a large piece of a beautiful charcoal gray fabric, that I was just about to use up as the backs of other projects. Thank you!

  4. Larri

    Thank you folks for all the input about selecting fabrics, sizes of blocks, etc.. You have given me many ideas and opened my mind. One outstanding quilt I saw was laid out in red, white, and black. A lot depends upon the layout of the original nine-patch block. Maybe I am overthinking it????

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t think you’re overthinking it. Focus on color and value as you would for any other quilt. For me, I like some consistency in the layout, and I like to use the 9-patch center as the accent color, something to spark things a little. My sister and I made a great quilt for a niece that had a consistent center but the other patches were not especially planned. That’s more like the one in Jenny Doan’s video, where she uses the pale aqua as the center patch and the rest are a wide variety. One thing she mentions is using the larger prints in the corners, so they don’t get chopped up. Another color layout I’ve used is with red in the center patch for accent, navies and dark purples for the “legs,” and other dark brights (think Amish quilts) for the corners. That worked out really well. If you use a consistent color for the legs, they are treated almost like sashing. My advice is just to try it! If you make, say, 4 9-patches, you could make a 32″ square top, big enough to see if you like what you’re doing. With borders that makes a small lap quilt or a great baby/toddler quilt. Or if you love it, make a lot more and go from there!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Can’t think who wouldn’t love one, so they’re perfect as donations, you’re right! They aren’t too serious so you can make it as eye-spy for little kids, or Christmas prints, or Civil War, or “manly” motifs … 🙂 I can’t think of a fabric it wouldn’t work for. Nann’s link above shows a great batik quilt she made with teeny tiny 9-patches!

  5. snarkyquilter

    Let’s hear it for the working quilt. This method is easy enough you can go big and look forward to finishing the top quickly. Maybe it would be good for those holiday novelty prints you bought, if you don’t use them for pillowcases.

  6. mothercat2013

    I made my first D9P only a few months ago, and was so pleased with the result I’ve made another 4 since then! I love the way the end result can be so different from what you started with – and it’s a great way to use up some of those charm squares that aren’t quite as appealing in real life as they looked online, LOL!

  7. katechiconi

    I can see there’s enormous potential for different patterns to emerge. What happens if you cut the blocks off centre, so you end up with one large, one small? I’ve never made one, but perhaps it should go on the bottom of the list so I can say I’ve done it!


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