I worked on the Disappearing Nine Patch King size quilt for months. It started as a project in my quilting group and grew into this huge monster of a quilt that never seemed to finish. As of June 12th, I declare it is complete.
As with many quilts, this quilt has a story. If you follow my weekly progress at www.OnTheGoQuilting.com, you would notice that the French journal quilt seemed to take most of my time. It seemed so innocent in the beginning. Start with a simple nine patch of 5x5s and make a square. Then cut them into 4 separate smaller squares, rotate them, and sew them back together. Then sew the larger squares together and voila, instant quilt. Or so, I thought.
It is my nature to be practical with an artistic flair most of the time. When our group leader described the quilt pattern, I really needed a new king comforter or quilt. We had the same one for 15 years and it was worn out. So, a natural and practical solution was to make the nine patch quilt into something for our bed. While the pattern called for charm packs, I decided it would be way more fun to choose my own fabrics. After spending hours picking out the fabrics, I finally settled on the Michael Miller French Journal as my inspiration fabric. I added fabrics from Michael Miller’s coordinating fabrics including the Robin’s Egg and Celery paisley. In the end, I chose 12 different fabrics for this simple Nine Patch. And then the work began…
After deciding that I needed 56 Nine Patch squares, I started cutting my fabric. As I cut the fabric, I saw the fabric shrink. I started to have the feeling…you know that one…when you think that you didn’t buy enough fabric. Cha Ching! I made a second order of fabric, then a third order and a final order of fabric (backing) before I was done with fabric. This was the fabric only. The other thing I noticed was that it took a lot of time to cut all of the 5x5s. I guess this is the beauty of pre-cut charm packs, less work!
Dutifully, I started to sew my nine patch squares with my little OnTheGoQuilting.com machine. Yep, I started this quilt in the car. As my pile of nine patches grew, I started to wonder just how much work was in front of me. Little did I know…
Once done with the nine patches, I cut and sewed the reoriented squares together in a pattern. I was able to sew these squares both in the car as well as at home. After the new squares were complete, I worked at home for the remainder of the quilt. I laid out the squares on my bed and placed them in order to be sewn together. The quilt was starting to take shape. I did add smaller squares to the end of each row to increase the width of the quilt. This action proved to have an undesirable result, later on.
By this time, I was beginning to get a little concerned on the size. It looked awfully large and I still wanted to put some borders on. But, I pressed ahead, actually, it was probably a lot more like plodded along. The work seemed to go on forever. It was starting to cause a backlog of work.
I added the first border, a nice yellow Michael Miller paisley. I really like the look, but it still needed something. Spying the Michael Miller Robin’s Egg paisley, I added a 6 inch border. By this time, the quilt top was getting unwieldy, so I opted to stop with 2 borders.
Finally, it was time to sandwich the quilt top to the backing. I wanted a poofed (technical term) look to the quilt, so I added two layers of cotton batting. I placed the backing on the largest open floor space in my house. Stretching the backing took all of the available space. Then, I placed the two battings with the quilt top on the top of the sandwich. It took a whole day to pin the quilt top to the backing. When I got done, I noticed that the weight was heavier than I thought it would be. The weight of the quilt would end up being a challenge.
Due to the size of the quilt, I was left with no option but to quilt it myself. Plus, I had a slight problem. Somehow, I had just enough fabric to cover the back. That’s right, I had about ½ inch allowance on two opposite sides. I was really hoping that I could make it. This became critical when I was quilting the last border.
Almost immediately, I had problems inserting or stuffing the quilt into my machine. I have a 6.5 inch opening on my sewing machine, so I knew pretty quickly that sewing this would be a challenge. I had originally thought about free motion quilting a design in the center of the quilt. But, after maneuvering the quilt a couple times, I decided to use a walking foot to quilt a straight line down the quilt at regular intervals. I fought having tucks on the backside of the quilt throughout the straight line quilting process. The weight of the quilt was an impact by pulling the fabric while sewing and handling. I moved my sewing table next to a bed and rested the quilt on the bed. I moved the quilt constantly to ensure that it was not pulling. However even with my careful manipulations of the quilt, there are a few tiny “character” tucks left in the quilt mainly in hard to reach areas.
After quilting the main portion of the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern, I turned my attention to the first yellow border. It need something, but I did not want it to be over quilted. I wanted a frame around the Disappearing Nine Patch. I quilted a simple ¼ inch off of the seam ditch.
Next, I had used the walking foot up to this point, and wanted to spread my wings! It is the part of me that loves to paint and draw. Free motion quilting is a process of using a Free Motion quilting foot and your imagination.
I decided to create paisleys around the border, keeping to the paisley theme on the Michael Miller French Journal fabric. I started the paisleys and finished 3 weeks later. It was a blast! However, it does take a lot of time.
I finished the quilting portion of the quilt and needed to add the binding. Instead of going with a traditional darker fabric, I decided to use the yellow paisley. I felt it gave a light and airy feel to the quilt.
Even though the quilt took months to create, I am so happy with the result. The quilted paisleys are not perfect and I have some tiny tucks on the back, but I am delighted with the beautiful, refreshing look of the quilt!
Final Note as to the originality of this design. The Disappearing Nine Patch seems to have been around for a while. As to who truly coined the term or determined the method that was used, is really not known. Janet Wickell on her website tried to address the source. I have added her website link to her name.
The Fabrics on this quilt have many sources of which some are unknown. The French Journal fabric is a Michael Miller as well as the coordinating fabrics.