This post is the first in a series I’m making called ‘Quilt in a Week’. The series is all about easy quilt patterns that can be finished in a week – from the quilt top to the binding!
This first beginner quilt that you can finish in a week is a simple 9 Patch Quilt free quilt pattern using mostly charm packs and some yardage.
Note: There is a video tutorial and printable cheat sheet at the end of this post.
Materials Needed – Easy 9 Patch Quilt
- 2 Charm Packs – I used Janet Clare’s Botanicals & Wordsmith from moda fabrics.
- Border: (2) 4.5″ x 39.5″ strips & (2) 4.5″ x 46.5″ strips (I used Dashwood Studios Twist in Almond.)
- Optional background square: 13.75″ square
- Backing Fabric – the finished quilt is 46.5″ square but it is usually best to cut your backing fabric at least 2″ larger on each side to avoid being cut short.
- Batting – cut the same size as your backing fabric. I used an 80/20 Cotton Poly batting.
- Binding Fabric – cut for your favorite method. I used 2.5″ wide strips
- Coordinating thread.
Note: I am assuming a quarter inch seam allowance throughout.
Step 1: Decide on Your Nine Patch Layout
The two charm packs I chose for this quilt had a good distribution of light, medium and dark fabrics. So I used that as my starting point.
I first laid out charm squares with dark fabric for the center cross of the 9-patch blocks and put light fabrics in each corner.
When I ran out of dark squares I tried some crosses with medium fabrics and when I had mostly lights and mediums left I did a couple of nine-patch blocks with light square central crosses and medium fabrics in the corners.
The key to making this a quick quilt is not to think about all this too much – make this an exercise in going with your gut.
There are fancy tools out there as well as heaps of youtube videos about how to determine color values in quilting fabric if you really get stuck but I urge you not to worry about it too much!
I didn’t have enough contrasting colors for a 9th 9 patch so rather than throw in one I wasn’t happy with I cut a background square to the finished size of my 9 patches and put that in instead. I’ll talk more about that later.
Time Taken: I did this step on Thursday Evening along with Step 2 & 3.
Step 2: Sew your 9 Patch Quilt Blocks
This is a basic 9-patch quilt block that is suitable for a beginner quilter.
A note on charm packs:
A charm pack square is 5″ x 5″ unfinished.
I used two charm packs from the same fabric designer and the same manufacturer so the sizes matched up well.
Some charm packs will have a slight variation so just watch out for that if you are mixing charm packs from different companies.
Lay out 9 charm pack squares for each 9 Patch Quilt Block as discussed above.
Take a picture of your block layouts in case you get confused later.
Place the middle square for each row of your quilt block and place it right sides together with the left-hand side square.
Repeat for each row of each block – try to keep them in an order that makes them easy to put them back in the right place afterward (or refer to your photo).
Chain piece these pairs of charm pack squares. Chain piecing means not cutting the thread in between pairs. You snip the thread apart at the end of your ‘chain’.
It just speeds the process up a bit.
I don’t press yet at this stage.
Instead I put my sewn pairs back in position in their respective blocks with the unsewn patches and then flip the right-hand sand squares right sides together to the middle squares.
Chain piece again.
This is the point at which I get out the iron.
I press my seams open so I don’t have to remember which direction to press for which row.
Pressing seams in opposite directions, and alternating rows is the other method for nesting seams that many people use, but as I say it’s too fiddly for me!
Then place the top row of each block right sides together onto the middle row of each block.
Pin or clip at the seams to match them up between rows. Then chain piece through all of the top and middle rows for your blocks.
Again I don’t press yet. I place the sewn units back in their block layout and then flip that unit right sides to rights sides with the bottom row for each block.
Chain piece again and press seams open.
Your finished nine-patch quilt block size should be 13.75″ square.
Time Taken: Completed Thursday Evening along with Steps 1 & 3
Step 3: Decide on the layout of your Blocks
Because of the distribution of light to dark in the charm packs I used, I ended up with one block that didn’t have the contrast I wanted.
So I decided to leave it out.
I could have pulled other fabrics from my stash but instead, I decided to include a plain background square in its place. I experimented with a few options and the bottom corner was my favorite.
The finished blocks measure 13.75″ square so I cut my background square the same size.
I decided to place my medium cross 9 Patch Block in the center with the light cross blocks on either side and the darker cross blocks on the top and bottom.
You can play around and find your favorite layout.
Time Taken: I completed Steps 1, 2 & 3 on a Thursday evening.
Step 4: Sew your Quilt Blocks together
Sewing the blocks together is basically a repetition of sewing the internal rows of your blocks together.
Take your first and second block on your top row and sew them right sides together – using a clip or pin to align the seams.
Chain piece with the first and second block for the second and third row.
Then sew the third block of each row to the middle of each row right sides to rights sides, chain piecing as before.
When your rows are all pieced, press seams open and then all you need to do is sew the top row right sides to rights dies with the middle row and then the middle row to the bottom row. Remember to keep an eye on matching the seam lines between your blocks and rows.
If you want to do a smaller baby quilt you can stop here and your quilt top will be 39.5″ square.
Time Taken: I completed this step on Friday evening along with Step 5.
Step 5: Add a Border (optional)
A 9 block 9 Patch Quilt makes a great little baby quilt but I like to make my baby quilts larger so they get used for longer.
Mothers no longer put quilts into cots and cribs so a baby quilt often gets used as a playmat or a sofa cuddle blanket, and if it’s big enough it can be used as an extra layer on a toddler bed in years to come.
So for this quilt I added a 4.5″ border. I first added a 4.5″ by 39.5″ strip to the top and bottom and then a 4.5″ by 46.5″ strip to the sides.
I used Dashwood Studios Twist in Almond for both the border and the extra background square in the step above.
Tip: I don’t cut these strips to exact lengths before piecing. I cut them long and then trim them with my rotary cutter at the end to make sure I don’t come up a 1/4″ short or something annoying like that!
Time Taken: Steps 4 & 5 were completed on Friday evening.
Step 6: Basting!
I hate basting quilts. I presume everyone does!
I’ve tried lots of methods and I hate them all.
For this particular quilt, I spray basted because I knew I wanted to do Free Motion Quilting on it and I didn’t want to have to stop to take out pins or clip Mircostitch Tags.
I used a secondhand duvet cover I bought off ebay for the backing fabric. It was a good size and it had a botanical print that matched the prints on the front pretty well.
I used an 80/20 Cotton Poly batting as the inside layer of my quilt sandwich.
Always cut your backing fabric and batting at least 2″ larger on each side than your quilt top – the last thing you want is to come up a tiny bit short on a corner or the side of your quilt!
We’ll trim it down later and you can save the scraps for future projects!
Time Taken: A little over an hour on Saturday morning.
Step 7: Quilting
I used a very forgiving leaf free motion quilting design to continue the botanical theme.
You can absolutely keep it simple and do straight line quilting or stitch in the ditch for this quilt. You will get it made even faster most likely.
I like FMQ (free motion quilting) and I find it can go quickly on a quilt this size if you use a design like this. You can make all different sizes of leaves and it just ends up looking organic even if they aren’t all the same shape.
See my video tutorial for this quilt if you want a demonstration.
Time Taken: I completed the quilting over Saturday evening, Sunday evening and about 30 mins on Monday evening.
Step 8: Trim and Bind
The last step is to trim off any excess batting and backing fabric and bind your quilt.
I used 2.5″ grey strips for my binding. I tend to follow the late Melanie Hamm’s binding method and I also use a tool explained by Karen Brown for the corners. I talk more about that in my Learner’s Quilt post.
Time Taken: I trimmed the quilt and sewed and pressed my binding strips on Monday evening. I bound the quilt on Tuesday evening.
Step 9: Add a Label
If you like to label your quilt then add that on as your last step. Here are some different options for how to label a quilt.
Although I made the quilt – my friend Liz was part of the idea and she is going to pay for the postage from the UK to Canada where our friend Ali lives so this is a joint present!
Time Taken: I made and hand-stitched on my label on Tuesday evening after I finished binding the quilt.
Finished 9 Patch Quilt – in less than a week!
My very last step before gifting is always to wash the quilt with several color catchers – so here it is drying on the line!
I really like how this quilt turned out. I often love my simplest quilts the best which is why I plan on making more simple quilts and continuing this quilt in a week series.
Once you’ve mastered this easy 9-patch block quilt you can move on to 9 patch block variations of which there are many! Here is one: Scrappy Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt
I hope you can see that the 9-Patch Quilt has infinite possibilities – just by changing the fabric colors or making larger blocks you can use this simple design to make any number of fabulous quilts!
Video Tutorial and Printable Cheat Sheet
- 2 Charm Packs
- Optional border fabric - (2) 4.5" x 39.5" strips, (2) 4.5" x 46.5" strips
- Optional background fabric square for 9th block - 13.75" square
- Backing Fabric
- Binding Fabric
- Sewing Machine
- Rotary Cutter
- Cutting Matt
- Group charm squares by light, medium and dark colors
- Create 9 patch layouts for your blocks with a contrasting central cross either dark or light.
- Take a photo of your block layouts
- Chain piece first and second charm square in each row for all blocks.
- Repeat for third square in each row of each block.
- Press seams open
- Join rows to form finished 9- patch blocks
- Decided final quilt layout
- Sew blocks into rows and then sew rows together to form the quilt top.
- Baste as desired
- Quilt as desired - I used a free motion quilting leaves design.
- Bind and Label your quilt.
Other posts you might like:
- 17 Fun & Easy Free Baby Quilt Patterns
- 7 Quilt as You Go Methods (No Hand-sewing!)
- Sewing Room Makeover – Again!
- How to Make a Modern Scrap Quilt – Improv Style!
- Quick Denim Quilt (Improv Quilt with Instructions)
- Rainbow Raindrops Baby Quilt – Free Applique Quilt Pattern
- Easy Stroller Quilt from 7 Jelly Roll Strips!
- Baby Colour Book from Scraps