How to Make a Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt
Disappearing Nine Patch quilts are designed by arranging and sewing together nine squares to create a traditional nine patch quilt block. But instead of leaving the block as-is it is sliced into four equal sections to create the disappearing design.
Learn more about the block's history and find additional assembly and design details in a disappearing nine patch quilt block pattern that was originally used for an online quilt block exchange.
Disappearing Nine Patch Terms
- The original nine patch quilt block can be called the parent block
- The four sections cut from the original blocks are called the daughter blocks
A Few More Facts About the Quilt Blocks
- The outer four corners of the parent nine patch block remain squares in the daughters.
- The center square of the parent block becomes a small square at one corner of each daughter.
- The squares that sit at the inner midpoints of the parent block become narrow bars in daughters.
The parent quilt block on this page repeats one fabric—the paisley in the upper right and lower left corners. Remaining fabrics in the block are unique, but because the midpoint and center squares are divided, even the unique fabrics are repeated in daughter blocks.
If you're making a scrap quilt, the repetition won't be obvious in the finished project unless you sew lots of identical parents. You might even decide to use the same or very similar fabrics in the center of each parent block to tie the design together when it's time to establish a layout.
Choose a Size
Each fabric in this parent nine patch block is unique, producing a more scrappy layout than the block in the step above, where one fabric is repeated. Squares in corners are not necessarily the same color warmth or color value, adding even more variety to the daughters.
Remember that all Disappearing Nine Patch daughters cut from the same parent will contain the same fabrics in their small squares and narrow bars.
- Parent nine patch blocks can be assembled one piece at a time to create three rows, which are then sewn together and pressed. This method is a good choice for very scrappy quilts.
- Another option is to use strip piecing techniques to create long strip sets of three fabrics each to mimic rows. Strip sets are cut into segments that are the same length as the squares used to construct the set.
Squares of any consistent size can be used to assemble the parent nine patch blocks for a Disappearing Nine Patch quilt.
- Parent blocks made with 3-1/2" squares = daughters that finish at 4-1/4" square
- Parent blocks made with 4-1/2" squares = daughters that finish at 5-3/4" square
- Parent blocks made with 5" squares = daughters that finish at 6-1/2" square
- Parent blocks made with 5-1/2" squares = daughters that finish at 7-1/4" square
- Parent blocks made with 6" squares = daughters that finish at 8" square, a standard size that could be mixed with other 8" quilt blocks
Calculate the Daughter Size for Any Parent
- Multiply the finished size of each square in the parent by 3 to find the parent block's finished width and height.
- Divide the result by 2.
- Subtract 1/4" to calculate the finished size of each daughter.
Use a quarter inch seam allowance to sew all seams.
4-Fabric Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt Blocks
This Disappearing Nine Patch quilt block produces two different types of daughters. The like-patches needn't be sewn diagonally from each other. For example, placing a green at each bottom corner and a blue at each top corner would produce the same daughters.
This arrangement is a good option for quilts with a more controlled appearance, and the rows could be strip pieced with ease.
Neutral Disappearing 9-Patch Blocks
This Disappearing Nine Patch quilt block is made from neutral fabrics that are mostly a combination of black, gray and beige. The block's light center square results in small light squares at one corner of each daughter.
Four different dark fabrics are sewn in the parent block's corners, but the midpoint slots repeat the same fabric.
This type of layout would be a good approach if you want a scrappy assortment of large squares in the daughters but would prefer identical small squares and bars in the finished quilt.
Strip Piecing a Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt
One of the best things about Disappearing Nine Patch quilt blocks is their versatility. Search for the term online and pull up the images. You'll find all sorts of potential layouts, and you can design even more by shifting daughter blocks around on a quilt design wall.
The example here illustrates one way to arrange daughters cut from nine identical red and white parent quilt blocks.
Strip Piece Blocks
If you're a new quilter you need to learn how to rotary cut strips of fabric and how to cut patchwork shapes before you begin.
To make a scrap quilt, use shorter strips and cut fewer segments from each.
- Choose the square size for parent blocks.
- Determine the layout for each row of the parent block.
- Make a plan for each row of your desired parent blocks. Where will darks, lights, mediums, brights, etc. be positioned?
- Cut long fabric strips in widths that match the parent's square size, and remember that segments will be cut that same size.
- Repeat to create strip sets and segments for each row.
- Adjust the strip length to suit your needs. For instance, in the scenario above, 4" wide strips cut across the fabric's crosswise grain, from selvage to selvage, would be long enough to cut (10) identical 4" segments from the finished strip set—enough for 10 parent block rows.
Strip Pieced Example
Let's say the top row is similar to the red and white block shown here and you want to create enough top rows for five parent blocks. Your parent square size is 4" x 4".
Cut one 4" x 20-1/2" strip of each fabric (two light red prints and one dark red print) and sew them together lengthwise, with the dark strip in the middle. After squaring up one end of the strip set, you'll have enough leftover length to cut (5) 4" long segments—the top row of five parent blocks.
Pressing the Strip Sets
It's easier to cut accurate segments if you press seam allowances to one side after creating a strip set, and it's more simple to match seam intersections later if the seams butt into each other when rows are aligned before sewing the block.
Consider which row you're working on when creating strip sets and devise a pressing plan. You could press seam allowances in the top, and bottom row strip sets away from the center, and towards the center square in middle rows.
Make It Fun
Part of the fun of a Disappearing Nine Patch quilt is devising a color scheme and layout.