Updated February 25, 2020.
The Nine Patch block is one of the simplest quilt blocks but can be varied and changed in many ways to make a dramatic statement. Thus project takes the basic Nine Patch block and repeats it three times, each at a different scale. I wanted to take a simple motif and repeat it in ever larger sizes. I love this project, it hangs on the wall in my office.
I chose to do this project in the colors of an Amish quilt. I began with black 18 mesh mono canvas. For the stitched black parts of the design I used Felicity’s Garden in Cast Iron Black. You could use any crewel-weight wool or silk/wool blend. I made this project many yearsago and the threads I used reflect what was in my staash then. There are many new threads that could be usesd: Colonial or Rainbow Persian, Planet Earth Wool, Bella Lusso, Vineyard Merino, or any of the Gumnut wools.
There are five colored areas in the design. I chose five shades of pink wool and wool/silk thread. You could pick color in the Amish palette (green, blue, violet and red) and then find five shades of the color. Since very little thread is used, use threads from your stash. In my piece I have Medici, Felicity’s Garden, EPiC, Burmilana, Appleton Crewel, and Sheep’s Silk.
You want to use soft, matte threads for this piece. Because Amish quilts are often made from clothing, the fabrics have the soft texture cotton can get after repeated washings.
I arranged my colors in each of the blocks so that the most intense color was in the center of each divided square and the two lightest colors were along a diagonal line. In order to arrange your colors, put them on the black canvas in a pattern roughly like the “5” on a die. Try different combinations until you are happy with it.
Stitching the Design
Begin stitching about two inches (diagonally) from the center of your canvas. Start by making the smallest Nine Patch out of Tent Stitches. There will be five colored Tent Stitches and four black Tent Stitches, above. Make four more blocks of these arranged in a Nine Patch design (as in the diagram below). This give you a Double Nine Patch block (Nine Patch blocks arranged in a Nine Patch design).
Now fill in the blank areas in your Double Nine Patch with Scotch Stitches (diagrammed below). These are the background patches in the design. By using a blocky stitch like Scotch, you get a nice restful look against the checkerboard of the Nine Patch, which helps it to stand out. Make four more of these Double Nine Patch blocks in the same color.
To create the Triple Nine Patch stitch the larger undivided blocks in a variation of Genny’s Scotch Stitch (diagrammed below) in your black thread. One of these blocks is the same size as a Double Nine Patch block, so you will make nine of these stitches for each block in the Triple Nine Patch.
Make four more of these Triple Nine Patch blocks one in each of your remaining colors. They should be arranged once again in the Nine Patch arrangement.
At this point you can leave the remaining areas of your canvas blank. This works well if you are only doing a quadruple Nine Patch (i.e. one section of the larger piece). If you are making a larger project (see below), you will want to stitch these areas lightly. I used a simple diagonal stripe darning pattern (diagrammed above) for the center block and a straight2-2 stripe darn (diagrammed below) for the other blocks. As you can see, my stripes are vertical in some quads and horizontal in others.
If you have unstitched areas in your project, be sure to have black fabric behind the stitching when you finish it. This will allow the unstitched areas to look solid black.
Expanding the Project
This project is part of a larger design, An Infinity of Nine Patch, pictured at the top of the post, which took five of these Triple Nine Patch blocks and put them into an even bigger Nine Patch. I did this as part of my work for the EGA Master Craftsman in Design. It’s one of my favorite pieces ever.
If you want to make this design, you will need a piece of 18 mesh mono canvas 19 x 19 (be sure to stretch it). I used a different set of colors in each block (blue, blue-green, pink, blue-violet and red-violet). I used three skeins of the black Felicity’s Garden for the background stitching.