The Nine-Patch Quilt

One of the first of the Laura crafts I tried was the nine-patch quilt.

I belong to a family of quilters, so that choice may have been pre-ordained. It’s a simple pattern: nine squares of fabric stitched together in a grid, three squares across and three down. Quilters can make them in any size, as long as they’re consistent, and the finished blocks can take on a kind of checkerboard character. Several ways to put the finished blocks together into a quilt top also exist; quilters can simply stitch them all together and be done with it, or can link them with lattice strips, add borders, and essentially make them as complicated as they like. It’s all up to the individual.

I’ve been thinking about this particular quilt a lot lately, ever since the comment by Zoie that she’d never realized how long Mary worked on her nine-patch quilt, through three books. It makes me think that Mary  attempted to make a more complicated variation of the quilt. And since it’s time for me to make a new quilt–I just bought a twin bed for our guest-kid room, and it’s “naked”–my first thought took me to the nine-patch.

I don’t have a rag bag, like Ma did, but I do have a box full of what quilters call “fat quarters.” They’re lengths of fabric cut to 18 by 22 inches. I like to buy fat quarters when I fall in love with a fabric. They’re small, and I can tuck them into my box to look at.

When we brought that twin bed home this weekend, we set it up. Then, I dug out my box of fat quarters. I found calicos in navy, plum, and patterns on cream, brown, and pink. I saw some whites, and many, many blues. (I must have a thing for blue.) Since I want to keep this room sort of gender-neutral in tone, I isolated the navy, plum, and cream-pattered pieces with those colors out of the box, and I washed and dried them.

Cutting and sewing those quilt blocks will be a big project for my summer. But thanks to a sewing machine and electricity, it won’t take me years to make it!

What kind of projects have you been inspired to make?

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6 comments on “The Nine-Patch Quilt
  1. Tracy says:

    Amy – your post today hit home! I just made my first quilt, a wallhanging size, and am already working on my next one! I’ve wanted to learn how to quilt ever since I was a little girl, and all because of Mary and her 9-patch blocks. I can’t tell you how excited I am to work on quilts for my boys beds – they’re 2.5 and 1.5 – and they will both be getting a nine patch block quilt. Your post really made me smile today. Happy Quilting this summer!

  2. Dr Laura says:

    I started quilting last summer. I took a 4 week class at a local quilt shop where I learned to make a log cabin square, flying geese, 4 patch and a pinwheel square. These lessons came from a website called I loved it!

    I was inspired to buy a brand new Pfaff sewing machine to replace my 20 year old Brother that ate fabric. Life became much easier at that point. Since September I’ve made 2 raggedy flannel quilts,a lap size Hanky Panky quilt, a queen size Turning Twenty quilt, a tablerunner size double wedding ring and a queen size Lone Star. I am now making a lap size Double Wedding Ring as a wedding gift for my cousin. I have a professional quilter quilt my larger quilts but I machine quilted the smaller ones. If you haven’t discovered the QuiltSmart Lone Star and Wedding Ring patterns, I highly recommend them. They don’t require measuring and cutting angles.
    My Lone Star is a variety of shades of Purple and Blue and I can’t wait to get it quilted. I haven’t decided if I am keeping it for myself or giving it to my nephew as a wedding gift.
    I’ve often wondered what Laura and my great grandmothers would think of all the nifty gadgets and techniques we have now that make quilting so much easier. It definetly took talent to make the quilts they made by hand. I do enjoy my rotary cutter, my Pfaff and my fancy sewing cabinet.

    My project that I want to start is the Big Woods quilt from “Prairie Quilts” by Johanna Wilson. It looks a little complicated so I wanted to sharpen my skills a little before I tackled it. I think I’ll start cutting it this summer and do one block at a time.

    Good luck on your 9 patch!

  3. Kim says:

    I always wanted to learn how to knit and crochet because Laura did those things. I especially loved reading about Mary Power coming over to spend the afternoon crocheting and visiting with Ma and Laura. My mom tried to teach me how to knit and crochet when I was 10, but it didn’t really become fun for me until I tried it again as an adult. I especially love knitting, and I often think of Laura and those cozy afternoons she mentioned in her books.

  4. Elliemae says:

    I learned to crochet precisely because of Laura’s books! And though it’s not exactly a “craft”, I was inspired by Laura (though I know she disliked the kneading) to bake my own bread for my family. Though I live in suburbia and not on a farm, I do my best to integrate these simple, time-honored crafts into our home.

  5. Connie says:

    Good for you, Amy! I have enjoyed teaching children to 9-Patch in after-school clubs for several years, and have several historic 9-patch quilts for my LIW program displays. You will find it to be the most fun way to learn to piece and quilt. And, it leads to all kinds of other traditional blocks that you can sew later, whether by hand as Laura or on your new fancy-dancy electric machine!

    I still piece and quilt by hand – and therefore do not complete my traditional projects as quickly as most do today. I used a treadle sewing machine for several of my costumes, too. My newer wall-hanging quilt projects are a combination of hand and machine stitched.

    This summer’s project will be to finish my king-sized sampler quilt (alas, no 9-patch block in the 25) and a Prairie-to-Mountains picture quilt to hang. Someday I’d like to do the ‘Quilting with Laura’ sampler quilt that Linda Halpin published. Should I tackle that one, too?!

    So many quilts, so little time! Have fun with yours.

  6. Dr Laura says:

    It was difficult to decide which quilt to make, Johanna’s or Linda’s. I chose Johanna’s because I thought I could use it to tell the LHBW story in presentations.

    Connie, I admire you for hand quilting. I feel crafty when I get a top done by machine…not sure I’d have the patience to hand quilt.