Feeling over masks? Some projects to take a break with!

Posted by April Hansen on

Hello Friends!

I know we're all busy at our machines sewing masks right now, and that's exactly what I wanted to talk about. Burn out. It's real. It happens. And it can happen in many ways. Maybe you don't want to look at your machine for a few weeks. That's fine! Maybe you want to start a new, simple project. Something to use those same skills but to make the quilts we all take such solace in making. And maybe you pulled out grandma's sewing machine, have all the fabric, but have never made a quilt top before? Well, these are some options that make some pretty simply sewn quilts, but quilts that pack a punch! (AKA- they look like they took years, they didn't. Or they might, but that's your call! ;) )

Disappearing Nine Patch

The reason we're starting with this one is this- no real pattern needed, and the options are ENDLESS. The way you turn the squares after you cut and sew them back together creates hundreds upon hundreds of pattern options! Just google "disappearing nine patch" to see a sample of some of them! Here's a few we really liked:

This one, made with Kaffe fabrics, we'll attribute to Barb Greenshields, who first uploaded it to pinterest. 

This pieced example is by Robbin Correa, and shows the impact of mixing high and low volume and bold and understated colors in one of these quilts. 

So here's basically how to do it:

Sew a basic nine patch block. Cut into four, through the middles of the second row and column of the blocks. Turn in *some* way (Here's where the variations come in!) and sew back together. Assemble re-pieced blocks together in a way that pleases you! This can be done with layer cakes for a bed size, all the way down to mini charm packs for a mini. An easy project to start if you're thoroughly "stuck".

Jacob's Ladder

The Jacob's Ladder block is simple to put together in groups, and like the disappearing nine patch, has stunning secondary patterns that can appear based on how you place the fabric. This example from Aunt Marti's 52 weeks 52 quilts shows a great example of how color/value really plays into this quilt: 

Or, you can do like we did and let the prints lead the way a bit more, this example made with Tula's Zuma mini charm squares and Freespirit Solids:

Jacob's Ladder Quilt

Here's what an unassembled block of this quilt looked like:

Jacob's Ladder Single block

As you can see, this block is made out of 4 HST, and 5 four patch blocks. There are a number of way. Our quilt is the size and scale you will get by using mini charm squares for the four patch fabrics. We found it easier to use 5in squares for the solids and trim down to 4.5in finished blocks. If you want to be picky about cutting, the size to get two 4.5in HST from two squares is normally 4 and 7/8. For a bit more detail on this block, Sprucecrafts has a great tutorial: 


Or, if you're just looking for something free that you can start now and work towards later, many designers offer free patterns with their work. Keep in mind- they're made to showcase one line, but often carry over very well to another style or designer alltogether!

Tula Pink's Free Patterns:


(We're thinking of doing Family Portrait out of HomeMade!)

Distributors are also a GREAT source of patterns from all their designers, often different from designer's own offerings on their sites:


FreeSpirit has projects for YEARS. Some great, some not so much, but you'll find something!


Moda leads the industry for precuts, so look to them for lots using your charm packs, mini charm packs, dessert rolls, jelly rolls, and more!


Andover, hate to say it, needs a little bit of work on their free pattern site (ability to sort, view patterns) but they also have a considerable archive of patterns available for quilters and sewists. 

Well, we hope we've given you a bit of a creative break/refresh, and that you're able to keep your sewjo going during all of this! I'm off to start my Family Portrait Quilt with HomeMade!


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