Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Dancing Drunken Nine-Patch

I mentioned earlier that I had taken a lot of classes and workshops over the years, and that sometimes a quilt ended up being a combination of lots of ideas from those.  This is an example of that.  I took things I had learned from workshops with Caryl Bryer Fallert, Ricky Tims, and others to work out this simple nine patch with slightly curved seams, and a technique from a book by Sharyn Squier Craig called Twist 'n Turn, which sets the blocks dancing.  Ms. Craig developed the setting to help those of us who were working on friendship blocks, and finding that many of the blocks our friends made for us were not quite the right size--either a bit too big, or a bit too small.  The book is still available on Amazon, thank goodness--my copy is getting a bit ratty.

This particular quilt was made for our guild challenge one year.  The challenge fabric is the wild print you can see in the border and in the blocks.  I chose tone-on-tone fabrics for the nine patches that were close to the colors in the print.  I cut 6 10" squares of the challenge fabric, and one 10" square of each of the other prints. I stacked one challenge fabric square on top of one of the colored squares, then used a rotary cutter to make a gentle curving cut about 1/3 of the way from the left edges with the curve going toward the outside of the squares, then another gentle curving cut about 1/3 of the way from the right edges.  Then, I took the outside top pieces and put them just above the others, and the bottom middle piece just above the others.  So the top 3 pieces were challenge/color/challenge, and the bottom 3 were color/challenge/color.  Then I sewed the pieces together with a very scant 1/4" seam.  Since there's no seam allowance, things will not match exactly--just get over that, and proceed.  Press the seams toward the color fabric on both of these blocks, then lay them on top of each other with the seams butting up against each other, and make two more gently-curving cuts to form the nine patches.  Move the outer top sections up, and the middle bottom section, and again, sew them together with scant 1/4" seams.  Do the best you can to get the middle corners to match, but it's going to be an approximation.  Live with the imperfection.  Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so you must leave your OCD stuff at the door.  Press the seams, and use a square ruler to square the block up.  Then do the same with the other squares you have cut.  But, vary the curves on the others.  When the curve arcs toward the outer edge of the block, I refer to it as an "outie".  On your next block, cut 3 outies and one innie, with the arc of the curve going toward the middle of the square.  Then, for the 3rd block, cut 2 outies, then 2 innies.  For block 4, cut 1 outie and 1 innie, then 1 outie and 1 innie.  Block 5, cut 3 innies and 1 outie.  For Block 6, you guessed it;  4 innies.  Trim them all to squares.  You will have 12 blocks.  If you wanted a bigger quilt, you would just make more blocks.

At this point with my little blocks, I decided to add some accent by cutting strips of a black and white checkerboard fabric and stitching them around the outside of each block.  It just added a bit of zing to them.  Then it was time to use Sharyn's method to frame the blocks to make them dance.  I used the method in her book that called for cutting strips that were 5.5" longer than the block size, then cutting them diagonally corner to corner, and sewing them around the blocks.  You have to switch the cut for half the blocks so that they spin the opposite way.  They are sewn on so that you end up with bias edges all around the block, so you have to be careful about stretching them into ripples, and press rather than iron them.  I chose that colorful batik for the setting strips, just because it complemented the other fabrics so nicely.  For the sashing, I used another checkerboard fabric with larger squares, and squares of the challenge fabric in the corners.  I had just enough of the challenge fabric left to do the border, and used the dark batik for binding.  I machine quilted it "in the ditch".  The quilt was given to a new baby a couple of years ago, so I expect it's quite raggedy by now.  I hope so.  Little kids need these portable hugs.

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