The grass is always greener…

What is it about “swapping” that makes us swoon?  I don’t watch a lot of television, but I hear some people even swap wives and such things from time to time.  I don’t get that, but I do get why quilters like to swap.  Surprises and challenges seem to light us up and get the creative juices flowing.  We have a tendency to believe that the stash on the “other side of the fence” is “greener” than our own.  I don’t know that that’s always true, but it’s kinda fun to have a look-see, and what better way than in a swap?

I haven’t been able to participate in any kind of swap in many years, so I was really excited when I managed to get hooked up with Brenda Ratliff of Pink Castle Fabrics.  She has a blog called Just a Bit Frayed, and she recently opened up a Scrappy 9 Patch Swap.  I was swift to respond and managed to get in, but it would seem that it is luck of the draw to see such things online and be able to respond in time to be able to get in on them.  I still haven’t figured out how to join an online Bee, but I am going to get there.

Anyway, I actually had a little trouble figuring out which bold, but not solid, fabs I wanted to use in my 9 patches.  I had batiks that would work, but in the end really just wanted an excuse to go shopping.  So, I headed over to Intown Quilters in Atlanta to see what I could get.  Here’s what I found-

9 patch swap 1Love it!  Perfect for making a simple nine patch with some serious pizazz.  Brenda recommended using a strip method to make the blocks, but I, of course, wanted to do it MY way.  Don’t judge me.  I won’t judge you for following the directions.  Anyway, I like the square or sleeve method for nine patches.  Billie Lauder has a YouTube video on this process- click on her name for the link.  But in the meantime, here’s a little info on how I made my nine patch blocks.

First, cut two squares, 1 1/2″ larger than your desired finished block.  In this case, our blocks are to be 6 1/2″ to send to the swap, which means 6″ finished.  So, I cut (2) 7 1/2″ blocks.

9 patch swap 2With right sides together, I sewed a 1/4″ seam on two opposing sides.

9 patch swap 3Next, I calculated 1/3 of 7 1/2″, which is 2 1/2″.  Starting from one of the sewn sides, I cut (3) 2 1/2″ sections.

9 patch swap 4This gave me two seamed sections and two loose 2 1/2″ strips, as seen below.

9 patch swap 59 patch swap 6At this point I sewed the loose 2 1/2″ sections to the two seamed sections, as shown.  When using this method, I always press towards one of the fabrics, in this case the red.  It helps with nesting later on.

If you stop here, you have opposite rail fences.  A note here- this method of nine patches makes two nine patches at once, but they are the opposite of one another.  You will see in a minute what I mean.

While matching seams, I lined up the two pieced blocks right sides together, like this-

9 patch swap 7I then sewed a 1/4″ seam on the edges of the blocks perpendicular to the seams I made previously.  Like this-

9 patch swap 8

Using my rotary cutter and ruler, I then made (3) 2 1/2″ cuts, starting at one of the seamed edges.  Which gave me this-

9 patch swap 9I then went through the same process as before, matching up the loose center sections with the appropriate seamed sections to create a 9 patch, like this-

9 patch swap 10And voila-

9 patch swap 11Pretty darn close to perfect, if I do say so myself.  I really like this method because I find that my nine patches turn out much more accurate. Not everyone will like this method, but it certainly is worth giving it a try!

To add to all of this, Intown Quilters is also doing a block exchange, which will work nicely as border blocks for this nine patch quilt, so I signed up for that one too!  Click here if you are interested in joining that one, it still is open.


10 thoughts on “The grass is always greener…

  1. I will have to try this method. My nine patches never work out. I am jealous of the time you get to sew. I am hoping for that day when I can.

  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I just saw that Stash Bee website is planning online bees for 2014; I’m thinking of signing up as I’ve been wanting to be part of a bee too.

  3. For those of us who don’t see well, could you use arrows for the sewn edges? It took me a while to figure it out, (I don’t like reading directions) and pictures are better!. Gonna try this!

    • “I KNOW” (in my best Monica from “Friends” voice!) I love stuff like this, and I will share more of these kinds of techniques soon. I wish I was smart enough to have thought of it myself, but I’m not! If you need an action shot, be sure to watch Billie Lauder’s You Tube video by clicking on her name in the blog. Thanks, and have fun quilting!

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