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Disappearing Act

By Barb Bergquist

A good block pattern for beginner quilters to start with is the Nine Patch.  It is just as its name says, nine squares in three rows of three squares.  Yet the Nine Patch block is too elementary once you conquered the basics of quilting so a new twist was devised.  It’s called the Disappearing Nine Patch!

In brief, the Disappearing Nine Patch is assembled, cut apart and reassemble in ways that create a unique and fascinating block.  One can create as many variations as you wish all determined by how you slice and dice it, and then put it back together.  For today, I’m going to walk you through one way to make a Disappearing Nine Patch block.

First, I want to briefly cover the construction of the Nine Patch block for the novice.  The Nine Patch can be made with any size square; the only requirement is that it is square (i.e., the length and width are the same).  Since I used a charm pack (pre-cut 5” squares in coordinated prints and colors), I had no cutting to do.  If you are not using a charm pack, you will need to cut squares from your selected fabric.  (I would suggest that you don’t go any smaller than a 3 ½” square for ease of reconstruction.)

Constructing a Nine Patch Block
Once you have your squares cut and ready to go, lay them out just as you wish to sew them together.  That’s three rows of three squares.  Now you are ready to sew them together (¼” seam, as always).  Sew the rows together first, pressing the first and third rows’ seams in one direction, and the second row’s seams in the other.  Next, join the rows to make your block, matching the seams between the rows and pressing the seams in whichever way you want.

Finished Nine Patch Block

So you’ve now got a Nine Patch block.  Here’s where the fun begins!  Cut diagonally (from corner to corner) across the Nine Patch block.  Then do it again in the other direction – corner to corner.  You will end up with four pieced triangles.  Do this for all your Nine Patch blocks.

First Diagonal Cut through Nine Patch Block
Second Diagonal Cut through Nine Patch Block

Once you have all the Nine Patch blocks cut into four pieced triangles, lay out the squares, varying the layout until you get a look you prefer.  The pictures below show two layouts that I came up with, and I’m sure you can create others.  Finally, I decided on the first layout for the quilt I will be making and that’s what I’ll describe as I put my Disappearing Nine Patch block together.

First Possible Layout of Cut Nine Patch Block
Second Possible Layout of Cut Nine Patch Block

Once you have decided on the layout, you are ready to reassemble this block for a new look.  In the layout I chose, I first join the two pairs of triangles together.  I matched the seams along the cuts and had to repress some of the seams before sewing to be able to interlock them and keep the bulk down where seams met.  Once I had the pairs sewn, I pressed the seams in opposite directions.  Again matching seams (and repressing where needed to interlock seams), I sewed the final seam for the new block.  And now you have it!  The Nine Patch disappeared and the Disappearing Nine Patch took its place!

Disappearing Nine Patch Block
That wasn’t so hard, was it?!  Creating a Disappearing Nine Patch block gives you a chance to be creative.  Your considerations may be the final layout of the blocks in the pieced top, colors, and prints.  What am I planning to do with my Disappearing Nine Patch blocks?  I’m going to use blender or solid blocks between them and add a border that pulls all of the blocks together.  When I’m finished, this quilt will be a Project Linus donation.  Hopefully, it will make someone feel a little happier and a little loved.  So have fun with your Disappearing Nine Patch quilt and see what you can create.  And as always, happy quilting!



Barb Bergquist along with husband, Ron, own A Block Away Quilt Shop.  A dedicated quilter with more than 25 years of experience, she is now actively sharing her love of quilting through the work in her shop.

Contact Us:

Phone: (956) 638-1961
Location: A Block Away Quilt Shop
                 2706 N. 10th Street
                 McAllen, TX 78501
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9AM-9PM, Sun: 10AM-6PM
Email: barb@ablockaway.com


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