Scrappy Nine Patch quilt block tutorial (+ the one clever step you’re missing)

Detail of Gradations quiltOnce in a while we come across a piecing technique we hadn’t heard about before—just goes to show that even after 40 years, there’s always something new to learn! We’re excited to share this little tweak to a technique you’ve likely used many times before: chain piecing.

The video below focuses on a scrappy version of a Nine Patch quilt block, but you can use the technique with many different block designs. So if you’re drowning in scraps (and we know many of you are), skip the strip piecing and make your own super scrappy Nine Patch blocks—and learn a tip for keeping your squares and rows in the right order as you sew.

Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video.

This smart little tip comes from the book Block-Buster Quilts: I Love Nine Patches—take a look at some of the sensationally scrappy Nine Patch quilts you can create!

Not So Plain Nine Patch quilt
Not So Plain by Susan Ache

Old Nine - Nine Patch quilt
Old Nine by Tammy Vonderschmitt

Bespoke Nine Patch quilt
Bespoke by Corey Yoder

Patches and Pomegranates Nine Patch quilt
Patches and Pomegranates by Debbie Roberts

See more from Block-Buster Quilts: I Love Nine Patches >

A beautiful basic gets even better: don’t you just love it when that happens?

So, is this chain-piecing technique new to you, or has it been in your quilting tool belt all along? Tell us in the comments!








53 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I have used it several times and I enjoy it.

    —Joanne O'Neal on February 3, 2017
  • This technique is in my "toolbox" but I don’t use it as often as I should. Perhaps since I retired from one of my Nursing position, I can do things in a more leisurely way. It would be great to use up those bits and strips. Thanks for the reminder!

    —Delores Angus on February 3, 2017
  • I’ve been using this technique since "forever."
    Eleanor Burns taught this in her TV programs in the 1980s. I nearly always use this technique, not just with nine patches and other blocks that have rows/columns, but when joining the blocks in a lap size quilt. Fast, easy, efficient.
    I have also taught it to others, never thinking about it being innovative. I just thought it was a good technique.
    I learned so much from Eleanor Burns– before I really had the time to use all I was learning. Those videos are priceless.

    —Marcia on February 3, 2017
  • I love 9 patches! It makes fast work of using up light and dark scraps and creating more!!

    —Bernadette Schultz on February 3, 2017
  • I use it whenever I can. It’s part of the rhythm.

    —Virginia on February 3, 2017
  • Dont know where I learned it, but I have been using that method for quite a few years.

    —kathy o on February 3, 2017
  • I use this technique all the time in putting entire quilts together

    —Marianne on February 3, 2017
  • I have tried to use it successfully but need a few more tips and practice. This book sounds like just what I need.

    —Barbara Pryga on February 3, 2017
  • This is new to me, but makes perfect sense. I’ll use it in the future.

    —janet g on February 3, 2017
  • Both Eleanor Burns and Bonnie Hunter have promoted this chaining technique for sewing a block or the blocks of a quilt together (Bonnie calls it "webbing" a quilt). Another "So Old It’s New" technique for nine patches is Billie Lauder’s technique of sewing two nine patches (positive and negative) from two squares as seen here: Even more nine patch fun!

    Vivian on February 3, 2017
  • Always wanted to make an Irish Chsin quilt but the thought of cutting up all those squares is daunting. This is an easier idea worth trying, indeed. Thanks.

    —Rosalie J Knoll on February 3, 2017
  • Honestly I’ve been doing that ever since I learned to quilt. I just figured that out on my own and thought a lot of other people probably did that! I would have shared that had I known a lot of people didn’t do that already. Lol

    —Patsy Bolden on February 3, 2017
  • I’ve "webbed the top" when assembling blocks. I will try to remember to do that when I piece blocks.

    Nann on February 3, 2017
  • I have used it for quite sometime one, especially for piecing tops together.

    —M Elsey on February 3, 2017
  • I have been chain piecing for over 40 years! Even did it when I was making clothes for my family-would do 2 or 3 tee shirts at a time and then we could all match! Have loved this technique for a long time because it helps keep threads off the floor and I didn’t have to clean as often (more time for sewing!)

    —Bev Gunn on February 3, 2017
  • It’s new to me! I have tubs full of scraps and this will come in handy!

    —Kris B on February 3, 2017
  • I have always sewed them together this way. I think I learned this from Nancy Notions TV Shop years ago.

    —Carolyn Dell on February 3, 2017
  • Have seen this "trick" in a few tutorial’s,but not sure if I ‘ve ever followed thru. Will think more concisely next time I’m doing a nine patch. Looks like would be less time "fussing" with nesting corners, etc.etc..
    Love the example quits & blocks used in demo.

    —Kathy W on February 3, 2017
  • Chain piecing is definitely not new to me–there is no other way I could have completed a king size postage stamp quilt in the matter of a few months time.

    —Sue F on February 3, 2017

    —LINDA on February 3, 2017
  • I have seen this before! Even my grandmother did it this system with hand piecing. I remember untrusting the blocks do they were are right side up. Thanks for the reminder!

    —Vicki on February 3, 2017
  • I learned this technique when I first started quilting eons ago. I guess it is like looking at a treadle sewing machine and wondering "how does this thing work?" But, we all started some place, and there are always beginners who have a need to learn new tricks.

    —Whiskers on February 3, 2017
  • I have chain pieced for years, because El taught the stripper way, in many of her books, and videos. But, I haven’t tried keeping them attached as a block. Thanks for tip, will try it. If its quicker, I’m ready to try!

    —Gayle Schild on February 3, 2017
  • I too chain piece. I have not liked keeping the threads connected. I get them twisted, out of order, etc. I need to try this method again.

    —carol on February 3, 2017
  • I’ve been chain piecing for a long time. I enjoy the process.

    —Frances Claassens on February 3, 2017
  • I do chain piece but I had never knew to leave the threads attached. Great idea and I will begin to use this method.

    —Lillian Klaeger on February 3, 2017
  • I have used this technique many times. It works very well.

    —Nancy B on February 3, 2017
  • This is the way I have always made nine patches. I rarely strip piece because I prefer scrappy.

    —Deanna Plotts on February 3, 2017
  • When I married some 40 odd years ago, money was very tight. I was sewing all the familiy’s clothes and used this technique to save on thread. I would have as many pieces pinned together before I began to sew and also sewed in order to be able to leave the last piece under the presser foot while I ironed and prepared the other pieces to join another seam. When I began patchwork 20 years ago, I was so used to doing this, I just employed the same technique which is now known as "chain piecing". It makes me shudder when I see others pull 6″ of thread out and cut it off just to go in the waste. I no longer need to be so economical but I can see no reason to waste my resources.

    —Barbara Chegwidden on February 3, 2017
  • I did a queen-size version of Farmhouse (from Small Blocks, Spectacular Quilts by Kinch and Storms). 775 nine-patch blocks = 6976 pieces! Chain piecing saved my sanity.

    —Kathryn A on February 3, 2017
  • Chain piecing is something I do, but love the idea leaving them together…that is a great new idea that I plan to use right away. thanks.

    Lynn Elliott on February 3, 2017
  • I chain piece almost every quilt. A extra table helps.

    —Linda Christianson on February 3, 2017
  • Been on my belt for years.

    —shirley marvin on February 3, 2017
  • I have known about this technique for many years. Simple and effective.

    —Betsy on February 3, 2017
  • I have been using this method for years, it really helps to keep things together, especially when you’re making hundreds of them!

    —JoAnne T. on February 4, 2017
  • This technique is how I have made nine patch blocks ever since I started quilting. I prefer it over making strips.

    —Katherine K Morvay on February 4, 2017
  • I have used this technique for awhile, but don’t always. Some blocks don’t lend themselves to the method, like log cabin, and square in a square. But it is useful for keeping blocks from getting out of order.

    —Linda Towers on February 4, 2017
  • I’ve not made a nine-patch block yet. Thanks in advance for the tip!

    —Rose D. on February 4, 2017
  • This technique is somewhat new to me. I seem to remember many years ago I saw someone doing it, but then I went back to my usual way of chain piecing. I’m going to do this with the new quilt I’m working on. Thanks.

    —Vickie Keith on February 4, 2017
  • I’ve used this method with great results. No turning the patches the wrong way. An ever useful tool.

    —stephanie woodward on February 5, 2017
  • This is better than my chain piecing.

    —Margaret Dalmer on February 5, 2017
  • I have never tried this technique. It looks pretty straight forward.

    —Holly Small on February 5, 2017
  • I’ve used this method for years and chain piece all the quilts I make. Right now I have a scrappy 9-patch on my bed and its one of my favorites. I just love all the traditional blocks.

    —Donna McTague on February 7, 2017
  • love the scrappy look and make one every chance I get; even the 1″ pieces are put to good use.

    —Bonnie Leazer on February 7, 2017
  • I haven"t tried leaving the threads attached when I chain piece but I will try it the next time the opportunity arises.I am always checking and rechecking that the squares are aligned correctly because I truly dislike ripping stitches out…so this would be a time saver. Thanks for the tip!

    —Vickie Bell on February 12, 2017
  • I was alerted to it just recently – Sounds like an excellent idea!!

    —JanG on February 14, 2017
  • Chain piecing works great with multiple projects too. Real time saver

    —Catherine Kelleher on February 16, 2017
  • Chain piecing is a great time saver. I use it all the time.

    —Roberta J on March 10, 2017
  • I have used this method for years, one of the best time savers!

    —Sue on March 10, 2017
  • I have used this technique before, but I had forgotten about it! Thanks for the reminder!

    —Judy Forkner on March 11, 2017
  • I wish I could stand the voice of Eleanor Burns but it grates on my nerves! She is an amazing quilter!

    —Tina on July 8, 2017
  • Sometimes I get it just right. Sometimes I fudge a little.

    —Patsy Philson on February 11, 2019
  • I have used this technique. I use it when I have the correct size pieces of fabric.

    —Mary Smith on February 23, 2019

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