Tag Archives: Disappearing 9-patch

Where Were We?

What do you see when you look around your studio? Are your tools and materials where you want them? Are your current projects easy to advance? Do you like a feeling of creative chaos, or do you work better with things neatly in place?

Some people like open shelving and pegboard tool racks, while others prefer things behind closed doors, or tucked into drawers.

My studio has rather gotten away from me this year. I prefer fabrics sorted by color, stowed in plastic boxes within the stash armoire. I like having my rolling drawer units organized by project, so I can quickly find all the components when I need them.

Alas, I can still find things fairly quickly, but as I search, I push through layers of things that aren’t quite where they belong. I don’t like that. ūüė¶

But when you keep your space fairly neat most of the time, putting it back in order doesn’t take a huge amount of work. For me, spending a few minutes at a time, over several sessions, takes care of most of it.

The thing that will slow me down this time is the projects. Usually I have a small number of open projects. However, this year was different! I did what I could, and when motivation or energy failed me, I stopped. When I did feel like working on something, I worked on whatever pleased me at the moment, instead of pushing through something to completion before starting something new. (And in truth, maybe I’ll just keep with that process. I’m not obligated to finish anything for anyone else. I quilt for my own pleasure. If it makes me happy to move on, that’s exactly what I should do, yes? Of course, there is pleasure in finishing, too…)

Projects. So there are a number of projects in process, more than I usually have. To enumerate them all, I actually have to dig through those drawers. (And while digging, I will put things back where they belong. It’s procrastination on that task that has slowed my assessment of progress.)

In the last few weeks, I got my longarm up and running again. I started with a small child’s disappearing 9-patch, featuring some Thomas the Tank novelty fabric. I had a yard of it left, after making a pillowcase with the remainder a couple of years ago. I rarely use novelty fabric! But this simple quilt seemed like a good option. I could cut the feature fabric minimally, and make a donation quilt without breaking a sweat.

With a simple meander, I warmed up the quilting machine, reminding myself of the steps in the process. This afternoon I put the binding on it, taking this project off the unfinished list.


Productive Procrastination

Did you know that “productive procrastination” is a thing? I’m¬†talking about choosing to do something valuable while actively choosing not to do something else valuable. For example, you could choose to dust your living room rather than call your mom. Or vice versa. What I’m not talking about is getting lost for hours in Pinterest or Instagram photos, searching for inspiration you’ll never actually act on. Or clicking through Facebook or online news ceaselessly, looking for something new to read or respond to.

Right now, I’m putting off writing about my trip to Peru, and all the tasks that are included in that: identifying photos to share; framing my memories so they are meaningful for you, too; considering how those memories have shaped my creativity, even just a little. And I’m also putting off re-starting one of my quilting projects with the benefit of my new perspectives.

Instead, I am working on another VA Hospital quilt. Certainly that is worthy of the time involved. I can’t pretend that it is a high priority — there is no deadline. On the other hand, there’s no deadline for my purely creative adventures, either.

It started when I opened a drawer of orphan blocks, parts, and binding leftovers. I found a bunch of these, dull and dismal puss-in-the-corner blocks. (They didn’t qualify as a UFO by my definition, as they were not “a project” themselves. They were just orphan blocks, parts waiting in inventory until useful or otherwise disposed of.)

They finished at 6″, more or less. The fabric is not particularly nice. And they certainly aren’t pretty. But could they be useful?

(This reminds me of the very silly public television show, The Red Green Show. He is famous for saying, “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.“)

So what can you do with 10 not-pretty blocks? I decided to use them within a disappearing 9-patch quilt. Mix them in with enough other, prettier fabrics, and they’ll be okay.

When I make disappearing 9-patches, I like to use an accent color for the centers of the 9-patches. It also is helpful to have value contrast between the large corner patches and the side-centers, which become the “legs.” As I picked through fabrics, I decided to stick with dark greens and dusky blues for the corner patches, rusty oranges for the accent center patches, and lighter pieces for the legs.

I made nine large, ugly 9-patches using 6″ finish blocks. All the blocks were unpieced except my green and tan puss-in-the-corner blocks.

After completing the 9-patches, I sliced each into four pieces, arranged them, and stitched them into a quilt top. The top is now finished.

Disappearing 9-patch top. About 44″ x 62″.

(Honestly, it’s better looking in person than it is in the photos.)

I’ll need to build a quilt back, quilt it, and bind it. But it will wait as I have another task to tackle in the next few days, one with an actual deadline.

What are you working on? Are you procrastinating, forging ahead, or doing both in turn? 

Last Finish of 2015

The disappearing 9-patch is done and ready (except label!) to deliver to its recipient. It’s 64″ x 88″. I quilted with free-motion quilting using dark pink thread in a floral design.

Disappearing 9-Patch. 64″ x 88″. Finished December 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It is what I hoped for: joyful and casual, not sophisticated and serious.

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?