This Checkerboard Block is a Quilter’s Favorite
The Nine-Patch block, consisting of nine squares arranged in a checkerboard pattern, is one of the mainstays in any quilter’s block repertoire. Here’s how to make them.
Easy and endlessly versatile, the Nine-Patch block consists of nine equal-size squares. It may look fussy to sew, but strip-piecing makes it easy. Because the patches in a Nine-Patch block are all squares, you don’t have to worry about tricky seams or fancy cutting. All you need to create a Nine-Patch are three equal-width strips of fabric.
How to Strip-Piece a Nine-Patch Block:
- Choose two fabrics, one lighter and one darker (or buy precut strips, also called jelly rolls, at your local quilt shop.) Cut three equal-width strips of each fabric. Divide the strips into two sets: one set with two light strips and one dark strip, and the other set with two dark stripes and one light strip.
- Lay one strip of light fabric and one of dark fabric with the right sides together.
- Sew along one long side of the paired strips with a scant ¼” seam, then press the seam to one side. (Pressing hint: you will make two sets of nine-patch units. Press the seams on the first set inward, and press the other set outward, so the seams will nest together when you assemble the sets into a quilt.)
- Add the third strip to the two-strip unit so the light and dark stripes alternate, then sew in the opposite direction than you did when you joined the first two strips. Press the seam to one side.
- Repeat with the second set of strips.
- Use a rotary cutter and a see-through ruler to cut slices from the strip units that are the same width as the original strips. (For example, if your original strips were 2½” wide, cut your slices 2½” wide.)
- Sew three sets of cut units together to make a complete Nine-patch block.
See more detailed instructions for strip piecing Nine-Patch quilt blocks.
Two Types of Nine-Patch Quilt Blocks
Any two fabrics can produce two different types of Nine-Patch units. Scroll down to the bottom of the article to see each unit.
- Positive unit. In this version of the block, the darker fabric occupies the corners and the center square, making an “X” shape.
- Negative unit. In this version, the lighter fabric is at the corners and the darker fabric in a cross shape in the center.
Nine-Patch Block Variations
If you start looking, you will see lots of different variations on the basic Nine-Patch block. Here are a few of the most popular (all pictured below):
- Double Nine-Patch.This is a larger Nine-patch block in which the four corner blocks and the center block are smaller Nine-patch blocks. Plain squares fill the other four spaces in the nine-patch grid.
- Nine-Patch Chain. In this block, the smaller nine-patch blocks form a diagonal chain across the larger block.
- Stretched Nine-Patch. This variation has a larger center square and smaller outer squares. You make it the same way as a regular Nine-Patch, but use a wider strip for the center of the three-strip unit.