Sunday, March 10, 2013

Is there anything better than a Nine Patch?

Designing quilts and trying new ideas and patterns is a great deal of fun for me.   I often have quite a short attention span, however, and like to have several projects going at once so I can switch around. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)  After finally arriving at the proper width of a sashing for a new design---after four re-tries--I decided to just do some plain, old-fashioned piecing:  pedal to metal, straight-on, feed-it-through piecing.   As I'm working on scrap quilts for a presentation and/or book project I settled on an old scrap project.

There is nothing like a Nine-Patch, is there?  No matter how many quilts I do, no matter how many blocks I piece, no matter how many artsy quilts I design, it is always a delight to come back to the simple but perfect nine-patch.  Its basic design and configuration figure into so many traditional blocks, and many modern designs, as well.

It has been "improved" (debatable, I think), skewed, made uneven, curved....and while those are all perfectly lovely designs, to my mind the original is still the best.  I like any quilt with nine-patches in it.

There are several nine-patch quilts in my UFOs (have I mentioned that I have a short attention span?) but today I went back to the oldest nine-patch waiting for me.   I have been cutting and collecting 1-1/2" squares for, oh, probably 30 years now--and that doesn't count the 1-1/2" strips I collect to be, eventually, in this nine-patch.  When I cut for a quilt, I cut leftover pieces to 5", 2-1/2" strips or squares and, when I can't cut anything that size, the pieces are cut to 1-1/2" strips or squares. (I draw the line at pieces smaller than 1-1/2."  Yes, if I were a better woman I would keep smaller pieces, but there you have it; I'm not that woman!)  If there are at least four squares of the same fabric they go into the nine-patch box; if there are fewer than four they go into a separate box for a postage stamp quilt.  Someday.

I've had some children, over the years, settle in with the box to help me sort through them, gathering stacks of fours and fives, and it can be a settling exercise for me, too.  And having developed a method for piecing them easily, it's also a soothing activity for me to piece them.  I don't have to concentrate or work through the math, I can just feed the squares through the machine and have my favorite block emerge.

It's going to be awhile, I imagine, before this quilt is finished and when it is I expect that I will start another.   It's not going to be elegant or masterful, it is just going to be a wonderful amalgam of fabrics from other quilts I have made, stitched together in a block that I love.  It will be colorful, for certain!

What's your favorite block?  What do you keep going back to making?

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