Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tutorial: Split 9-Patch Windmills--First Step

Nine patches have been around since quilting started. Windmills have been around almost as long. Although I have many quilt books and quilt encyclopedias, I've not seen the pattern for this finished block in any of them. However, it's possible that someone somewhere sometime has even published a pattern for a Split 9-Patch Windmill. I've never seen this pattern anywhere, although I admit I rarely glance at patterns when I get a chance to visit a quilt shop. (Too busy fondling fabric!)
Because of the questions I've received, and because of the fun my church quilting group had piecing these yesterday, I've written more complete instructions--instructions that will be blogged in two steps because of the number of illustrations.
This is a great pattern for beginners, but it's still fun for people like me who've been quilting for several decades. This is also a great quilt for stashbusting. Every quilt looks different, and when I get the chance I'll post pictures of some my friends and I have pieced.
Begin by selecting three fabrics for the blocks:
Fabric A: a directional print, a theme fabric, a focus fabric, or a medium fabric.
Fabric B: The fabric for the windmill blades; it needs to contrast well with the other fabrics; can be a light fabric.
Fabric C: a dark fabric, although it could be anything that contrasts well with the other two fabrics.
You'll need enough of one fabric to make borders. The border fabric can be one of the three fabrics above or some other coordinating fabric.
If you decide to make a border with corner blocks, you can use one of the fabrics above for the corners, or you can even choose a fourth or fifth fabric.
(When you plan your fabrics, you'll want to plan fabric for binding and backing as well.)
For best results, the fabric needs to be 42 to 45 inches wide. If you choose to use fat quarters or small amounts of other fabrics, you'll need to adjust the numbers of strips accordingly. If you make your borders about five inches wide, the quilt will finish to about 45" X 45", a good size for napping or keeping warm with a book, but a bit large to try to keep out of the wheels of wheelchairs.
From fabric A cut four 4.5 inch wide strips across the width of the fabric.
From fabric B cut four 4.5 inch wide strips across the width of the fabric.
From fabric C cut one 4.5 inch strip across the width of the fabric.
1. Make two ABA strips as shown below. Place strip of fabric A and a strip of fabric B with right sides together. With one-fourth inch seam allowances, sew A to B. Ad a second strip of fabric A on the other side of B. Gently press seam allowances toward the outer fabric strips.
Make a second ABA strip set.
2. The piece a BCB strip and gently press seam allowances toward the center strip.
3. Layer the ABA strips, and cut into four and one-half inch wide columns.
Two strip sets yield 18 columns.
4. Cut the BCB strips into nine 4.5 inch columns.

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