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Making Memories with a Disappearing Nine-Patch Quilt

The inspiration
For their 50th Wedding Anniversary my parents decided to throw a big bash for family and friends.  They requested no gifts, BUT my siblings and I still wanted to commemorate the occasion in a lasting way.  We decided that a quilt would be just the thing, but not just any quilt!  We contacted the people on the guest list and asked them to provide a special message to my parents in celebration of their 50 years together.  We had an amazing response with hearfelt words of congratulations and special memories from over the years!  My niece, who has the most meticulous printing, printed each message on to squares of muslin that we had stabilized with freezer paper.  We used an archival ink Pigma pen to make sure that the messages wouldn’t bleed or wash away.  Each square was then pieced into the back of the quilt.  
 
Making it beautiful
For the front of the quilt I chose fabrics from the “Poetry” collection by Three Sisters by Moda fabrics.  I love the pale pinks, greens, yellows and blues mixed with the sun-washed red and taupe shades.  I especially love the little pop of yellow that speaks to the signature colour of my parents’ 1967 wedding.  I had been intrigued by the idea of the Disappearing Nine-Patch quilt but wasn’t completely satisfied by any of the methods or settings that I had seen in books or online.  Here’s how I did it…
 
Making it mine
For my Disappearing Nine-Patch, I wanted each of the focus fabrics to get equal opportunity to shine, so for each nine-patch created, the same fabric was used for the corners and the centre-square, and one fabric was used for the alternating squares.  This differs from most patterns I had seen in my research.
The other thing I found was that each of the squares used to build the nine-patch were all the same size.  The method used to create the blocks involves cutting the centre square into quarters, which means more seam allowances and it makes the squares that are “hiding behind” the other square appear smaller than the ones “in front”.  To accommodate these additional seam allowances and give the appearance of all of the squares being the same size, I cut the centre square ½” larger than the four corner squares.  This meant that the alternating “squares” (the background colour) actually needed to be rectangles in order for the nine-patch to fit together.  
 
Here are the measurements I used:
Corner Squares:  6” x 6” (4 squares/nine-patch x 3 nine-patches per colour = 12 squares per colour)
Centre Square:  6.5” x 6.5” (1 square/nine-patch x 3 nine-patches per colour = 3 squares per colour)
Alternating rectangles*: 6” x 6.5” (4 rectangles/nine-patch x 18 nine-patches total = 72 rectangles)
*For my quilt, to make it less regimented, I used two different fabrics for the background (36 rectangles each)
For fabric efficiency, I cut the larger centre squares first, and then the smaller corner squares.
For each of the 6 focus fabrics, I purchased .6metres (2/3yard)
For each of the 2 background fabrics, I purchased 1metre (1 1/8yards)
 

Here is a photo of the cut squares and rectangles ready to be pieced together!

 
Making it
I stacked all of the fabrics in the nine-patch layout and chain-pieced them together in sections.  You can see the chain-piecing, pressing (I pressed all of the seam allowances toward the darker fabric), and progress of the nine-patches in these photos:
 

 

Once I built all of the nine-patches, I then cut each one in half and then in half again as shown in this photo:

I then arranged these segments into rows as shown below and once again used chain-piecing to create larger segments that eventually became pieced rows.

 
Here is a photo showing 6 rows pieced together.
 

 

Please note that my quilt was 8 rows of 8 blocks each for a total of 64 blocks.  If you’ve been doing the math, I actually created 72 blocks all together.  The remaining 8 blocks could not be used to form an additional row because they weren’t the right blocks to do so.  I used four of the remaining blocks for the corners of the quilt.  I may use the other four to create a matching throw pillow.  I added a small inner border in yellow to tie in the wedding theme colour and purchased additional fabric to create the wide border.  In order to get the blocks from the front of the quilt to line up with the blocks on the back of the quilt, I decided to tie the quilt at each of the corners of the blocks instead of machine quilting.  I basted all of the layers together with curved safety pins and then started tying the quilt from the centre and worked my way outward double-checking that the blocks continued to line up.  The quilt was bound in a coordinating mini tonal print from the “Poetry” collection.
 

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