Welcome to Week 1 of the Sew,Mama,Sew! Block-Along. We’re starting with the 9-patch block because it is one of the simplest and most versatile of all quilt blocks. This week we’ll look at the basic 9-Patch, plus 2 modern variations. Next week you can try your hand at one of three more traditional ways to play with 9 patches (Irish Chain, Ohio Star and Shoo Fly). If you’re sewing along with us, you can choose to make one or all of these blocks. For more information about our sew-along, see this post.

9-Patch

The basic 9-patch is a block composed of 9 squares. Finished blocks are most commonly 10 or 12 inches, but can be any size you want. When cutting your squares, don’t forget to factor in seam allowance. Typically you’ll sew a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides. Visit this guide to learn more about calculating the size of your squares and estimating the yardage you’ll need for a complete quilt.
Although the individual squares can be sewn together to form a block, you might want to try the strip piecing method to speed along the process of creating multiple blocks.
A 9-Patch quilt can be a great stash-buster and a wonderful way to recycle old clothing or linens. A large variety of fabric textures, patterns and colors gives a quilt like this a warm, vintage feel. It looks great either quilted or hand-tied with yarn. Historically, 9-Patch was a starter quilt for young girls learning to sew.
Kirsten alternated 9-patches with solid blocks to create this wonderful patchwork (in 2 days, no less!) You can read more about Kirsten’s quilt on her blog, kirsten*can, and see more of her crafty work in her photo set.

Crazy 9-Patch

I think Denyse Schmidt really popularized the not-quite-straight, just-a-little-wonky, but not-quite-random style of quilting (you know what I’m talkin’ about, right?). If you’re a fan of that hip look, the Crazy 9-Patch is a great alternative to the geometric precision of the 9-Patch.
I have no idea who originated the Crazy 9-Patch, but luckily Jenny of All Sorts learned how to cut and sew the blocks in a class and put it all together in a wonderful tutorial. (Note that the tutorial shows you how to do 9 blocks at once.)
Wendy used Jenny’s tutorial to create this splendid Crazy 9-Patch doll quilt. We love the way she turned the colorful blocks on point and set them off against a beautifully-quilted stark white background. You can see more of Wendy’s lovely little blankets in her doll quilt photo set and find more of her quilting on her Wee Toes and Noggins blog.

Disappearing 9-Patch

If you’ve been making the crafty rounds on the web, you’ve probably seen Disappearing 9-Patch quilts popping up on blogs, Flickr and Etsy. And no wonder–they’re beautiful in a scappy, yet modern way.
Disappearing 9-Patch blocks look impossibly difficult with all those big squares, little squares and rectangles, but really it’s just magic! Helen of Quilts & ATCs boiled it all down to just a few simple steps in this tutorial. (Thanks, Helen!)
Jennifer made this pretty Disappearing 9-Patch doll quilt with Heather Bailey’s Freshcut line of fabrics. You can see more of Jennifer’s handiwork in her sewing photo set, and read about her work on her blog, Mama Urchin. (You might also want to get ready to observe the Virtual Quilting Bee that Jennifer organized. We can’t wait to see the quilt blocks those 12 talented women come up with!)
Calamity Kim’s blog and photo set are always a unique visual delight, and this little doll quilt is no exception. Kim’s embroidered Alice centerpiece is surrounded by Disappearing 9-Patches. Tea, anyone?

If you’re sewing along with us, you can share a photo of your completed block(s) with our Quilting Month Photo Pool. We’ll be featuring some of the blocks on our blog on Monday, February 11. If you are posting a photo, please include any relevant information (fabric, patterns, technique) in the photo description. If you’ve blogged about it, please include a link. Have fun!