Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reader questions about 3" nine patch blocks and variations thereof

Thank you for all the lovely comments about my Cherry Blossom quilt! There were a some questions in the comments so I thought I would take a few minutes to respond. Before doing so I just want to clarify that my quilt and pattern will be in the Quilter's Connection  newsletter, not the magazine! You can subscribe to the free monthly newsletter; you will see a box on the sidebar where you can enter your email address. You can also subscribe to the magazine which features Canadian quilters and their quilts!

The first question came from Angie and she asked why I use a 6" flannel square to lay out my 1 1/2" scraps that I turn into nine patches; wouldn't a 4 1/2" square be better?

Good question and it made me smile and realize that what goes on in my brain is not immediately obvious to others! I had a pile of 6" squares of flannel that were left over from a foundation pieced pineapple log cabin quilt and I had a box that was about 6" square so the flannels fit in it nicely! There was no other reason. I can cut scraps, arrange them on the flannel and then put it in the box. When my pile of flannels beside the machine gets low I top it up with some flannels from the box!

Kath asked me how press seams when I make these small blocks. If I am making a traditional nine patch I generally press the seams to one side. I stitch each row and press toward the dark fabric. When I sew the top and bottom rows to the middle row I press toward the row with the most dark patches. In this example those seams would be pressed outward.

If I am making a nine patch variation I press a little differently. In this block I sewed two 1" strips together to make the pink and white squares.

To reduce bulk I pressed the seams open before I cut the 1 1/2" squares from the strip set.

Nothing goes to waste! When I mitered the corners on Cherry Blossom I had some scraps which I turned into another nine patch block. In the top of the picture you can see some squares with a pin through them. If I have four lights I'll pin them together because I can alternate them with five darks to make a nine patch!

If I am making a shoo-fly block with half square triangles in the corners I press the seam allowances open because it reduces the bulk at the corners.

I love the tiny churn dash blocks. They look great straight set but.....

I think they look even better set on point! I think it looks like a lantern!

If you would like to make your own 3" churn dash block I published a tutorial which you will find here. There's a secret weapon to making them perfect.....spray starch!

That's it for me today. We've got company coming so I had better get cracking! Until I post again, happy sewing.
Karen H


  1. I, too, like the look of the churn dash set on point - one of my favorite blocks. Thanks for the tutorial and the link to sign up for the newsletter. I already found a travel blanket/pillow pattern I want to make for this summer's travel season. You're the best, Karen!

  2. I have learned that starch is a quilter's best friend. I also have been pressing seams open lately something I never used to do! I love little nine patches and started a few last year,

  3. I wondered why you used the flannel squares I must admit, irrespective of size lol But that's a great way of keeping the chosen squares together which I didn't think of either lol duhh

  4. helpful and informative as always - thankyou!