This month’s tutorial is all about quilting with squares. Some people think that patchwork squares are only for beginners. Not true!
Whilst they are perfect if you are just getting started, advanced quilters can also create beautiful quilt projects using just squares. And when you combine them with other blocks such as half square triangles, there really is no stopping you!
In this article we’re going to cover everything from making simple square blocks, to producing more advanced designs.
Let’s get started.
The simple ‘ Nine Patch ‘ block
The nine patch is a versatile quilting block that has a history going back to the early 1800s in the US. It’s a great block for beginners as it can lay the crucial foundation skills for creating more intricate blocks later. It’s also a popular way to use up fabric scraps and produce a scrappy quilt.
The block is produced from a 3 x 3 arrangement of squares. You can make the squares in any size that you like. A good size for beginners is to cut out the individual squares to 2½” x 2½”. Allowing for ¼” seam allowance on all sides, the finished squares will be 2” x 2”. The completed block will therefore be 6” x 6”.
Sewing the ‘Nine Patch’ block
Start by taking your first two squares and place them right sides together. Pin them together so they are aligned and will stay in place. You will find it easier if you place the head of the pin off of the square, so you can easily remove it as you’re sewing (see diagram below). Don’t sew over the pin, else you could break your sewing machine needle (I learnt that the hard way!)
Using a ¼” seam, sew the first two squares together. Then take the third square and use the same method to sew it to the first two. You have now completed your first row.
Sew rows 2 and 3 in the same manner, and then sew the rows together as shown below.
Great! You’ve now now completed your first ‘Nine Patch’ block. I’ve created a design below using this block and a plain 6” square (cut to 6 ½ inches to allow for ¼” seam allowance on either side).
Nine Patch block ideas
The Nine Patch block can be made in all manner of different designs, that will drastically influence the look of your completed quilt. Below are some ideas for arranging the 9 squares.
Quilt designs using Nine patch blocks
Now it’s time to get creative and start arranging the blocks into quilt designs. This is one of my favourite parts of the process.
The designs below show repeated Nine patch blocks. Already these different block patterns are really starting to look like interesting quilt designs. It’s amazing to think that they are all simple nine patch blocks. See if you can pick out the blocks that I used to make these designs (hint: some of them are rotated blocks).
Creating larger blocks using squares
The Nine Patch block is created using a 3×3 grid. But why stop there? You could create 4×4 or 5×5 square blocks.
The 5 x 5 quilt block below is made using squares of five different colours. You can make it in a variety of different sizes but if you are using the popular 2″x 2″ squares that we discussed above, your completed block size will be 10” x 10”.
Use the same technique that we discussed above to sew your first two squares together, using a ¼” seam. Continue this procedure until you complete the first row.
Sew the remaining rows in a similar manner. Then sew all of the rows together to complete your block.
Once you have created several blocks, you can sew them all together as shown below. I always amazed how such a simple square block can produce a really effective patchwork design.
Modern patchwork designs using squares
If you’re looking for a more modern look for your project, squares can still be highly effective. On a small-scale, they can be used to create a patchwork cushion cover. They can also look fantastic on larger designs such as a double bed quilt.
The designs that I’ve created below feature squares, but they are not in repeating blocks. This helps to give them a more modern feel.
Do you have any tips for creating quilts using squares? Share your thoughts in the comments below