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The (Not So) Humble 9-Patch

I have been clearing out a few projects in my sewing room the past few months. A lot of them have to do with leftover blocks from block exchanges I’d participated in with my group of quilting friends.  To be specific, a lot of them happen to be 9-patches–in every size and color combo you could imagine. I have come up with some fun quilts from all my leftovers. Now I am just waiting for some cooler weather, so I that I feel like sewing on bindings!

 I had a collection of multi-colored 9-patches and a lot of tone-on-tone scraps.  I really love the way this turned out!


I found a few leftover Ohio Stars that were the same size as my nine patches–sheer luck!

With all these 9-patches floating around my studio, I did a little research on this humble little block. Come to find out, the nine patch design came out of necessity in the Pioneer days. Here is an excerpt that Molly Williams, textile artist, writes in this informative article in Pattern Observer from 2012:

The 9-patch quilt  “It was the change in construction, from pieced medallions to 9-patch blocks that revolutionized American quilting. While bed-size quilts required a lot of room to piece, pieced patterns could be assembled in a relatively small space and easily carried until stitched together.

The Oregon Trail opened up the American West, where settlers carved out a life for themselves in the harsh wilderness. Quilts were made on the wagon and in the dugout and things of beauty were created from scraps of old clothing and feed sacks. Patterns, such as windmill blades, barn raising, straight furrow and court house steps, developed from the landscape.” Read more

Just a side note: if you are interested in fabric design, consider following Pattern Observer. Author, Michelle Fifis, is an incredible source of information on the subject. I am just finishing up an amazing 8-week course with her and have learned soooo much!

The first known 9-patch quilts date back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. I find that fascinating when you see that today’s quilters still rely on this simple design to create contemporary quilts.


There are so many blocks that were influenced by the 9-patch in their initial designs. And, of course, our modern quilters of today are looking at the 9-patch design with a whole new perspective!

Love Kristen Takakuwa’s version of  blocks from The Farmer’s Wife.


Blue Wrenches by Terri Carpenter of The Quilted Fox – So Cool!

Jenny Pedigo‘s Urban Nine Patch – Absolutely Stunning!

So maybe the 9-patch isn’t so humble afterall. I think we should give this little block the honor it deserves–I think I will start calling it The Honorable 9-Patch!

Check out my Pinterest Board to see just a small sampling of the design versatility this simple block offers.

Oh! A few announcements:

Yay Laura!

Our blog has made it into the next round of the Best Craftsy Instructor Blog category!

If you have not already voted, we would truly appreciate your vote–you will be entered for a chance to win a free class of your choice with Craftsy.

Craftsy will announce the winners and runners up on October 29th.

Also, just a reminder for our Northern California quilters, be sure to visit:

October 17 – 20, 2013 Santa Clara Convention Center Santa Clara, California

Hope to see you in Santa Clara!

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