Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Make a Little Nine-Patch Quilt

I love the simple nine-patch block. And little quilts made from them. 

I love blue too, as you probably know. This sweet little quilt was made for me by Jennifer M. a few years ago. She sewed some 3" antique quilt blocks together with blue reproduction fabric.                          

I had a few minutes in my sewing room the other day and just happened to have a box of 1 1/2" cut scrap squares nearby. I always save 1 1/2" scraps and use these periodically for my small quilts. Pencil boxes from the Dollar Store are perfect for things like this - they're cheap and don't take up much room.

Since I already have the blue and white one, I decided to make a few little scrappy nine patches and see what happened. It's a nice break from sewing the corners and triangles on my Dear Jane quilt. Sewing squares together mindlessly . . . .

Finished with a light shirting fabric for the background.

Getting ready to hand quilt mine. I added another border. 

I like to pin baste my small quilts because they're usually too small to use a hoop. I begin quilting at the center, taking out pins and smoothing as I move outward. Then I pin the borders. I use Quilters Dream Request cotton batting (nice and thin, easy to quilt through), YLI hand quilting thread in light brown, Richard Hemming size 9 quilting needle. 

Tip: If you're new to hand quilting, make sure your batting and backing fabric are thin so the needle glides through the layers easily. A thick layer of fabrics or a dull needle can cause problems. I will sometimes use a "sharp" if I'm having trouble using a "between" quilting needle.

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There's a pattern for this cute little blue and white quilt in my Facebook group files. But here are the directions if you aren't in the group and want to make one - it's very simple. If you're not a fan of blue, try it in your favorite color or maybe go scrappy like I did. 

 Cut 1 ½”  x  1 ½”  squares for the nine-patch blocks. The squares can either be matching or   scrappy.  For the blue and white quilt shown, cut 16 light print squares and 20 blue print squares. 

Cut 1 square 3 ½”  x  3 ½” for center

Cut 2 squares 3”  x  3”. Cut each square once on the diagonal  for 4 corner triangles.  

Cut 1 square 5 ½”  x  5 ½”. Cut twice on the diagonal for 4 setting triangles.   

Cut 2 strips -  2 ½”   x  9”  - for the top and bottom borders.

Cut 1 ¼" strips for binding

1.   Make four nine-patch blocks. Using the quilt diagram as a guide, sew the blocks in diagonal rows.  Add the 4 corner triangles. Sew the top and bottom border strips onto the quilt. I drew the quilt with different blues so you can see the construction a little better. 


                              Fits perfectly on a small doll bed. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Signature Quilts

Some of my favorite quilts are signature quilts. That's probably because they have such a sentimental element to them. I posted a picture of one that I made in my Facebook group the other day and then remembered a post I wrote here several years ago about these types of quilts.

Friendship Is a Sheltering Tree quilt from A Prairie Journey book

Linda Otto Lipsett, the author of the book Remember Me, Women and Their Friendship Quilts, tells us "Not until I made my own family  friendship quilt, however, did I realize the full depth of what I am doing - that in piecing blocks, gathering signatures, and signing cloth we are connecting with women's spirit of the past."  

The sentimental quilter in me also loves the stories some of the antique friendship or signature quilts tell. Besides names, they often held loving messages from friends and family. In 1853, Susan Tenney wrote on her signature quilt - "To Mrs M -- , "Remember all who love Thee and all who are loved by Thee.' "

Sometimes Friendship blocks came with wonderful long verses: 

"Accept my friend, this little pledge
Your love and friendship to engage
If ere we should be called to part
Let this be settled in your heart
That when the little peace you see
You ever will remember me."

                                 -  M.E.A.

This is the very first signature quilt I made (from my book Prairie Children & Their Quilts).

Here's another little signature quilt called Sisters Signature quilt. Replace the middle shirting fabric strips with muslin for signing.

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I've arranged or hosted several signature block swaps in my online groups over the years. These are wonderful ways to bring quilters together to share and preserve memories of friendships. By making, signing and exchanging quilt blocks. They're also a great way to celebrate special occasions or family events. 



In 1847, a woman named Betsey Wright opened an envelope addressed to her. She carefully unfolded a lovely quilt block with this inscription:

"Accept this trifle that I send,
Not as a stranger, but as a friend."

                      - Charlotte N. Follett,
               Hubbardson, Mass., 1847

You can imagine what a special gift that was to her and how it touched her heart, to hear from a dear friend who lived in another state. Over the years, I've often had a similar experience receiving signature blocks from members of some of my groups. But, like 50 times over, LOL. And some from different countries. 

Quilt made with blocks from all over the world. (pattern is in Civil War Sewing Circle book)

Someone in my group mentioned that they were going to try to do this among some of  the members in her sewing group. The blocks in a signature exchange do not have to be complex. Sometimes simple is better if you're making numerous blocks. I've participated in signature block swaps with over 50 members.  



                      Some blocks I've sent.


            Some blocks I've received. 

What strikes me is how special quilts like these can be and that we are, in some way, connecting our own spirit with the spirits of other women through our quilting. In the case of online groups, the signed blocks allow us to connect with quilters we may never have even met, not only from all around our country but perhaps the world as well. What a wonderful experience this can be for many. I hope you all get a chance to participate in making a signature or friendship quilt someday. I know I'll always treasure mine.

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Some of you e-mailed me that you would be interested in purchasing a pattern for the small needle case I made and posted last week.  I wrote a pattern and put up a listing in my Etsy shop. Sweet and simple. And small. I really love this one.