I usually say a log cabin quilt is a good start because you can just keep piecing until you get to the size that you need, but if you are wanting something involving a block design, a nine patch is pretty easy, too.
First, the basics of a nine patch. Basically just 9 squares all the same size, arranged in 3 rows of 3 squares each.
For this quilt, I cut squares to 4 1/2 inches each, 4 low volume background squares, and 5 squares in the patterned fabric you are wanting to showcase. You can see the layout above, but top row is background square, main print, background square, middle row is 3 of the patterned fabric squares, bottom row is background square , main print, background square.
How you sew each square together is preference but I am a chain piecing fool when it comes to patchwork squares. So I feed the top row square 1 and 2, right sides together, and as soon as I leave the end of the square I am feeding row 2's squares 4 and 5 through, and then the same thing with row 3's squares 7 and 8. I pull them out, snip the threads, and then do the end square on each row. Only after all rows have been stitched together do I press the seams.....but see my rule #2 on how I press each row. :)
(p.s. -- the nine patch block offer SOOOOO many variations, and if you're looking to make a fun block style quilt, it is so easy and fun and by switching things up you can create a completely different look. not to mention, you can make them as big or as small as you like, just as long as each of the 9 squares are the same size, you are good to go. some examples of nine patch block options are here!)
The only real trick to a nine patch is getting the squares to line up as much as possible. And after making lots and lots of blocks, I have found 3 things to be especially important in making this happen.
1- using a quarter inch seam foot!!! seriously, I use this for all piecing and it is SOOO good. It maintains a consistent seam allowance, which is so important for accurate piecing!!
Just find out which foot fits your machine and you are good to go!
2- This is something I just learned a couple years ago-- when pressing rows, press each rows seams in alternating directions. For example, for rows 1 and 3 of your 9 patch, press the seams to the left, and for row 2, press seams to the right. This is a good tutorial on that. Doing this allows you to sort of LOCK the seams into place, or nest the seams, because they abut one another, when you sew the rows together. It's hard to describe until you do it and then you'll be like AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!
See, there? The seam allowances are going in opposite directions, allowing me to butt them against one another when I stitch them together, making them line up perfectly. As you can see, most often, when I use this method, I do not pin, I just go slow and hold with my fingers. I know this is a preference thing and some people are probably thinking I have lost my mind, but this is what works for me. Stopping to pull out pins or sewing over pins isn't really my jam when I am piecing a bunch of squares together.
Anyway, I simply stitch each row together and then press each rows seams to one side.
3- Finally, this is something I just discovered this past fall-- STARCH!!! Some people are ehhh about starch, but not this girl!! I love it. It really makes my patchwork lie flat, which is even more important when you are stitching a seam-allowance heavy block together, like one using HSTs for example. I spray a mist of starch and then I PRESS (not iron), I just press my iron down firmly to set the seams flat and lay the blocks open.
I'm telling you-- game changer! Once I press the seams in the back to set them, I flip the block over right side up, spray, and press. It makes everything better. And then, for this quilt, I repeated that process 11 more times :)
So, that, in a nut shell is it! A quarter inch seam foot, pressing seams to side in alternating directions, and starch and press!
All that said, though, there are still times when I don't get things to line up perfectly. Thankfully, there is grace and forgiveness in the quilting, and I need much of both grace and forgiveness, and not just in regards to quilting.
So, that is how I make one block. My squares were each 4.5 inches, making the finished block 12 inches. I used strips in between each block, and above and below....you can make the blocks line up directly against, or make strips in between, and adjusting the strip size allows you to make the quilt as big or small as you want!
I did 3 blocks per row, 4 rows, and did a wider border on the top, bottom, and outer sides, which created a quilt that measures 43.5 inches by 62 inches.
I used pieces of the fabric I made the quilt top with to piece a back together. I added in solids to make it big enough. I really like the way the back turned out, probably just because I love these fabrics and I love seeing them all blown up :)
If you did 4.5 inch squares with 4 blocks per row, and 5 rows, you would roughly have a quilt measuring 48 x 60.
Maybe a super easy, fun way to start would be to make a huge block, with just one cross being the focal point. If each square measures 10.5 inches, it would result in a finished 30 square inch block that you could border with white, making a super cute, super easy baby quilt!! I bet that would be lovely!!! Great. Now I want to go make that. Ugh....quilter ADD probs. It's a legit thing.
Y'all-- I just shared a sort of, not really, kind of tutorial. ISH. A tutorialish. I think I am growing up!!!!
Linking up here: