Sunday, 30 June 2013

Speedy Nine-Patch

Little Flower has quite an affinity for Peter Rabbit and all the other charming Beatrix Potter tales. I love reading the stories to her – I remember reading them myself when I was young. The collection was kept tucked in a bottom shelf of the library, second aisle of books. I would go to that shadowy lower bookcase, plop down on the floor, and take out Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Tiggywinkle, the Flopsy Bunnies...I loved holding the little books in my small hands, I felt like Ms. Potter made them just for me!

So recently I purchased a Beatrix Potter fabric bundle and made a quick nine-patch cushion for Little Flower

Bunny decided she wanted to get in on the action, so she got out the owl fabric bundle I gave her for her birthday, with its bright turquoises and pinks. But my 10-year-old wanted to make the cushion with me. This nine-patch technique was taught to me by a quilting friend, it is so brilliantly simple quick – it cuts some time-consuming corners with sewing and pinning and whatnot – but I’ve never seen the technique in a book or a blog, so I thought I’d snap some pics and show you here!

First you cut your squares. I’m not going to give measurements, because this works on cushions, quilts, anything with a nine-patch square...

Bunny wanted to fussy cut the owls

Then lay out the nine squares in the pattern you wish

Now here’s the first sewing step, so pay attention. Fold the right-side squares face down over the centre squares, so the right sides are together.

Take the top two squares, just stacked as they are, and sew a ¼-inch seam down the right side, nearly to the end. Unless the squares are very big, don’t worry about pinning them, just line them up neatly and be careful not to slide them around.

Just before you get to the end of this first edge, take the centre two squares and line them up with the previous two. But don’t overlap! You don’t want to sew them together as such, you just want to continue sewing the edge – you basically are saving the step of cutting the thread of the first two squares, setting them to the side, then sewing the edge of the next two squares, cutting the thread, setting them to the side...

Can you see how they’re just touching at the edges but not being sewn together overlapping? Continue down the edge, then grab the bottom two squares and line them up the same way. This time sew clear to the end, and cut the thread. Open up the squares and you will have this

Your centre column of squares is now patched to the right column. Repeat the process on the left side

You will need to either sew from the bottom two squares up or turn the squares over to sew the seam from the top down, so that the fabric columns are kept to the left of the presser foot. This will be clearer to understand when you are actually doing it! Just be careful and make sure everything is lined up the right way. Here’s the next column finished

Pretty speedy, eh? Now let’s finish this nine-patch – fold the bottom three squares towards the centre

(I will state here that I don’t bother pinning or pressing edges or seams during any of this, because my quilting guru said it wasn’t worth the extra effort, but if it helps you sleep better at night, be my guest.)

Sew a seam along the edge of all three squares. Take care to line up the previous seams as best you can to keep the patches aligned on the finished piece.

Repeat this process with the top row.

Here is Bunny’s completed nine-patch! Isn’t it jolly? She noticed the uneven squares on the bottom two rows and wasn’t happy, so we sewed on some owl ribbon.

This is why I emphasized the precaution of lining up seams carefully in the last step – but I’m pointing out her little error here so you see how to fix it without ripping it out. I barely noticed it myself, I was just tickled that she was enjoying using the sewing machine!

Simple envelope style for the back – two pieces with topstitched seams...

...overlapped onto the front panel, right sides together...
The front panel is under there...
...and sewn all round. Ta-dah!!!

Well done, Bunny! Incidentally, this is the technique I used for the patches of my Happy Spring Quilt – that was a Disappearing Nine-Patch, because after the nine squares were sewn together, I took the rotary cutter through the centre of each block, dividing it into four patchwork squares. And no, I still haven’t finished my first quilt, but hey, I’ve managed to steal enough time to put the border on the front this weekend...

Happy crafting!

Chrissie x


  1. What a gorgeous project Chrissie, and you explained it so well! And didn't your daughter do a lovely job on it! The owls are so sweet!
    I have always adored anything Beatrix Potter so you really struck a chord here with me, thank you so much!
    Have a wonderful week!
    Joy xx

    1. Thank you for your kind comment! I'm happy the tutorial is clear to you - phew! I was so happy when my little one wanted to read Peter Rabbit again and again, I wonder what Beatrix would make of these generations of devotion! Cx

  2. Two brilliant cushions with fabulous fabric.

  3. Both cushions look great! Well done to your girl.
    M x

  4. Very nice! She did a great job with it. I love owls too and so does my little girl.

  5. It's a great method isn't it.....very 'wise'!!! :) x

  6. To Bunny ~ Woooo Hooooo!!! you are such a clever girl! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your cushion, it is so gorgeous, i award you 10 out of 10 ..... MAGNIFICENT! love jooles xxx

    What a lovely post, it really warmed my heart, how lovely Bunny has the 'bug'
    love jooles xxx

    1. Thank you so much - I had to show her your comment, I think she feels quite chuffed! Cxxx

  7. Just love that you and Bunny did it together, how very sweet. I think she needs to know just how clever she was making that! I love your Peter Rabbit cushion too, we too love the Beatrix Potter collection and I think the cushion is darling! I have used this method only recently when I made some quilted bibs for a fried and it saves so much time. You have done a great tutorial, thank you for sharing. xoxo

  8. What a cute cushion. Going to give this a go! My daughter would love the owl one :) x

  9. very clever shortcut! I've never thought of doing that. I will be wanting to make a patchwork pillow soon. So many ideas swimming around! have a good week, Heather x

  10. Well done Bunny for making such a gorgeous cushion - and well done mummy for another brilliant blog :-) I had the entire Beatrix Potter collection and loved it too! Not quite so convinced by the new BBC version though... :-\ xxx

  11. Just love that owl cushion. Oh no! something else to go on my to - do list! Jo x

  12. The peter rabbit cushion is so sweet and I love the owl fabric. Thanks for the tutorial for the nine patch you might have just inspired me to get the sewing machine out, ali

  13. What a fabulous job she did! I love the ribbon over the seams on the front too, beautiful idea :)

    S x