Tuesday, August 14, 2012

9 Patch Aftermath!

How many 9 patch strip sets can one girl do in an HOUR?! THIS MANY!

You all motivate me so much, you really do!

Last night around 9pm I turned the Quilt Cam on while RE-DOING my 9 patch strip sets to see just what I could do in one hour.

227 of you showed up to cheer me on!

I’m working from an image in my memory because the photo of this quilt was lost in the damage of my laptop ----and I’m searching my memory to try to remember how these blocks were shaded. At first I thought they were the traditional 9 patch with darks in the corners, but that leaves way too much light showing when the blocks are joined and I don’t THINK it was that way in the antique top I fell in love with at the Vermont Quilt Festival.

That should teach me – next time….just BUY THE DANG TOP!

I was then left to wonder if each 9 patch block was made with 2 fabrics, both of them colors ((no neutrals)) and well, that’s just a lot more work because I have to actually PLAN for those to have enough fabric for each block. I don’t want to think that hard.

So I set last night determined to do this with completely scrappy 9 patches, leaving the neutrals out for how they are joined!

As I’m sewing I’m trying to think of ways to explain how I choose what --- I peeked at the comments from last night’s Quilt Cam hour, and it was Colorado Lady’s comment that made me think of going a bit further into detail. She said:

Bonnie....I think I see part of my problem....I am trying to match fabrics and never pick and sew...that might help with more progress!

When I’m going “scrappy everything” All I’m going for is variety, and that means I go for variety not only in color, but in the scale of what I’m putting next to what so that things catch my eye as “more interesting” rather than “more boring.”

I took some photos of some strip sets as I was ironing to show you what I mean.

We’ll start with the most ordinary one.

9patches 004

This is my least favorite of what came out of my machine last night. WHY? It isn’t because of the colors. It’s that the scale of the pattern on each strip of fabric is nearly the same. It will cut up okay, and I’ll have it scattered throughout, but to me it’s boring.

Let’s look at another:

9patches 001


The plaids are separated by a print. This strip set makes me smile because that is my grandpa’s shirt at the top, next to my shirt in the center ((From my 1990s line dancing days!)) and of course the orange at the bottom is a different scale than the other plaid, and well – it’s ORANGE!

9patches 002

This one is good too.

I’m not saying the print has to always go in the center, there are many that don’t have prints at all – but prints do add a lot of interest. What I’m talking about here is the scale of the pattern on each fabric. The larger plaid at the top is going to break up the monotony of the tiny “expected” look of small plaids. So in my strip sets I am trying to not only have the color combos interesting and unpredictable, I want the scale of the design in each fabric to vary.

9patches 006

And this is where things get fast and fun!

I do love my Accuquilt Studio for cutting strips. I pretty much use it ONLY for strips, but oh the strips I can power through! And then after sewing strip sets, I can lay them cross-wise on my die tray and cross cut them into three-sies! If you look carefully you will see I’ve drawn perpendicular lines across the die foam as a placement guide. This helps me to NOT cut parallelograms!

9patches 007

Load it up, put the plastic sheet on top and crank it through!

9patches 008

Here I’m sorted in to two main piles. The upper left has squares with seams pressed to the center square. The lower left corner has seams pressed out toward the corners away from the center square. That small pile? Those are 2” squares that were left over trimmings from short ends that are ready to be sewn back into three-sies.

9patches 010

As I’m joining sections I’m looking for the same kind of thing…I want variety in color and variety in the scale of what goes next to what. I want each square in the 9 patch to stand out against its neighbors. This becomes a bit more picky-choosey as I decide which three-sie goes next to what!

9patches 011

plaids in different scales, stripes going every which way, prints and polka dots!

Yep! This is what I’m shooting for!

I’ve got a few “to-do’s” on my plate today including a much needed massage this afternoon!

And I had the weirdest dream last night --- all about how I mistakenly brushed my teeth with the water in Bali and got sick. OH! NO! That is my one big fear! I’m praying it’s just a nervous dream with my brain working on things while I sleep. I had no problems in Mexico or the Caribbean. I had people emailing yesterday to avoid salads, avoid fresh fruit unless it has been peeled. Do not drink anything with ice in it because the ice could be made with tap water. OY!!! This could be interesting!

PS -- those "airplane safe" scissors I bought yesterday? They are going BACK to Walmart -- total duds! They don't even BEND the thread..LOL what was I thinking? Dental Floss container is my friend!


  1. Great Tip on the dental floss container Bonnie! Who would have thought?

  2. Bonnie, I just happened to catch you "live" last night and so enjoyed sitting and watching you sew up a storm. It almost felt like being back in Wellsboro, PA at the workshop. I must admit, I caught myself starting to talk to you. LOL You inspire me to keep plugging along. Have a great day!

  3. One more Bali tip. Don't drink soda directy from the can if it's been in ice. The water from the ice on the can is a problem! Learned this on my day trip to China.

  4. Anonymous9:44 AM EDT

    okay those 9 patches are great, now I want to see what you are going to do with them! I must not get started on something new right now...
    Andrea in Canada

  5. Anonymous9:53 AM EDT

    more wonderful information and the visuals are great! you can teach an old dog new tricks it just takes longer.....i will become a scrap quilter! thank you.

  6. Bonnie, have you tried to google the festival? I did a quick google for "Vermont Quilt Festival Blogs" and got alot of bloggers that had been, taught, etc. They all had alot of pictures. Was thinking that you might find a picture of the quilt you are talking about.


  7. You didn't take a picture of the quilt in Vermont?

  8. I did take picture of the quilt. The pictures DIED on my laptop when the airlines trashed my luggage. It was a quilt top in the vendor booth, it wasn't part of the show....so I have to work from memory. Which isn't all bad, then it ends up being my OWN interpretation, right?

  9. Bonnie, what about those pink (or whatever color) threader/cutter/all in one thingy's?
    I love mine! I You know what I"m talking about... if not, let me know and I'll get the info. I think CLOVER makes them. It was a good investment for me. I put off buying one for a long time, thinking it would not work well. I admit that you still will want a pair of scissors, but it will do for the airplane and all...
    (sorry if you've already addressed this. Just disregard, if so. I can't keep up with you and your blog)

  10. So did you take a pic of the quilt in Vermont? did you publish it on your web page? I would hope so then it would not be lost.

  11. what? you mean we can now be a fly on the wall in Quiltville!!? Your very own creation station? has a webcam? Awesome!

    Good luck on recreating your quilt - looks like you're off to a great start so far!

    Love from Indiana, Bonnie

  12. Bonnie,
    Just go get a little pair of embroidery scissors, I have flown internationally with then numerous times and never had any problems. Have fun in Bali. :-)

    1. I got a pair of "Round-tip" Ginghers that are airplane-safe AND they cut like all Ginghers. I can hang them around my neck on a chatelaine and not worry about being stabbed with them.

  13. Wow...simply brilliant using the Accu-cut to make a quick cutting job of the pieced strips...(one of those 'why didn't I think of that moments...ha). And yes,I keep empty dental floss containers in my little sewing accessory bags...in fact, I've even loaded a container with a filled bobbin when I was doing handstitching. Thank you again for allowing us into your workroom...I know you kept saying you hoped we were sewing as well...maybe next time...but for last night, I was quite content just to kick back and watch you do all the work ;-)

  14. I, too, had a DUH moment when I saw you using your accu-cutter for the pieced strips. BRILLIANT ! ! ! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Anonymous1:19 PM EDT

    Bali travel tip. Cipro! Get a prescription from your doctor. Should something happen you will be prepared.

  16. I've heard differing stories about cranky TSA agents taking away even the tiniest scissors. In my opinion, if they are quality enough to cut well, they are too expensive to take a chance on losing. My dental floss container with the filled bobbin inside doesn't even raise an eyebrow with the TSA.

  17. I watched you last night and learned a lot. I had never seen anyone chain the strips together the way you did. May have to try this. I heard you say you would use the Accuquilt to cut them. Appreciate your pictures of how you do this and that you use the Sudio. I have a go baby which may be a little too small to do strips on. And no I wasn't sewing just cleaning up my old email. See you on the quiltcam again sometime.

  18. I have teeny tiny scissors that come with small cheap sewing kit. They work well and should be plane safe..can you find that?

  19. Bonnie...
    Is there a picture of the quilt here in your old posts?

  20. I buy the small Fiskars kid's scissors in the fall when all the back-to-school sales are on and they are cheap. The Fiskars brand scissors are plenty sharp enough to cut thread cleanly (unlike the floss container) and I have never had them confiscated, but not out much $ if they are.

  21. Thanks for the recap, Bonnie! It's not the same as "live" - but I got the gist of what you did last night from your post and some of the comments. Question - what is Marge talking about - "I had never seen anyone chain the strips together the way you did." - ?? What's your trick? - ;))

    1. I was talking about the way Bonnie just keeps chain sewing no matter where the strip ends top or bottom strip. I would probably match up strips of equal sized and sew them together. She just takes random length strips and keeps on chain stitching. Not sure if I explained it well.

  22. My husband and I travel extensively (I am writing to you from Kunming, China) and I wholeheartedly concur with the suggestion to get an antibiotic prescription and start taking it at the FIRST sign of any stomach issues. On each trip, as our hosts are kindly serving us lettuce, washed vegetables, drinks with ice and all of the "no-no's", we look at each other and chant "oh well, we have drugs"!!!

  23. Now THAT is progress!!! Love your cutting!

  24. love those 9-patches esp because i can see shirt fabric you sent me AND some I sent you (or that we both bought!) really lovely.

  25. HI Bonnie

    Just a thought on the thread cutter - Now that you have me TOTALLY hooked on hexies :) I travel with the Dritz thread cutter thimble and have not had any issues. I have heard not to travel with the thread cutter pendants (the blade inside is too big) I can vouch for the Dritz thimble as cleanly cutting a thread.

  26. Anonymous11:05 AM EDT

    What kind of a seam guide is on your machine? It looks like the fabric is going under it instead of along side of it like the one I have which I don't like. I just read my string fling and got many ideas to fill my little pea brain, now to find the time.



  27. Hi Bonnie, I wondered what you use as "scissors" when you fly. I us a pair of fingernail clippers. They work great for me.

  28. I love your tips! Thanks so much for all you do!


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