<= This is how I spent a lot of January: watching football playoffs and sewing all my nine patches together. (Two of my favourite things, so yay!)
First I sewed all the seams in one direction (without cutting the thread between pieces) and I could throw the top over the couch and it (almost) looked like it was done.
But of course, it wasn't done yet. Only about half.
So I doggedly worked on the seams in the other direction. As I did so, I had to decide which way to sew the opposing seam allowances. Notice (below) the longer horizontal seam just in front of the needle:
Does it go forward or back?
You have to look at the seam on the opposite side of the square--if it goes forward, then the one you're sewing goes back, as seen below.
You could also say that they are both going away from the middle of the square. If, on the other hand, the other seam goes back, then you sew this one forward (and they both go toward the center of the square). Got it?
What also helps, is that the direction is always going to alternate from one square to the next, so I could get into a rhythm if I wasn't interrupted by replays.
Once I had the whole top together, I was left with long horizontal and vertical seams that needed to be pressed:
But I couldn't press them until I picked all the seams inside the seam allowance to allow me to furl every single last one of them. That got me a whole quilt that looked like this:
It really is a shame all of that great care has to be hidden on the inside of the quilt, but that's how it is.
After I sewed around the outside to stabilize it and pressed it, I threw it over my couch and I had a finished top:
Yell a cheer (woo hoo!), take a breathe (in...out) and then on to the next step: piecing a back.
I checked my numbers a few times, but the back of the quilt really was going to take over 9 yards of fabric. I still can't really wrap my mind around that. I certainly didn't have nine yards of one fabric to use and I was not interested in buying a piece for it. So I looked through my box of red fabrics and started on a plan.
The plan started with some leftover nine patch blocks that weren't used in the top. Instead of doing solid nine patches, I alternated them with squares of one fabric.
After sewing all the seams, I was left with some pressing decisions. On the first seams (vertical in the picture below), I chose to iron toward the solid piece of fabric. Makes sense because I don't want to press a seam back on itself if I don't have to.
But now if I try to do the same thing on the horizontal seams, it leads to trouble at the intersections. In order to furl the seam allowances, they have to all go in the same direction (clockwise or countercw) and that's not going to happen if I press toward the solid square.
So it was time to choose my poison: press seams back on themselves on all the nine patches in order to furl the intersections OR press seams back on themselves on half the nine patches by pressing the seam in one direction. Both would lead to some bulky spots. This was on the back of a quilt where there were already a lot of seams on the front. If they all lined up in an unfortunately way, it could lead to problems when sewing through all the layers.
So I choose a third bottle of poison: I cut the seam allowances and pressed them all away from the nine patches. There were still some bulky spots, but not as many. So I snipped on one side of the intersection:
and then pressed:
A compromise I was happy enough with.
You can see the checker board section in the centre of my pieced backing:
which is essentially a giant nine patch!
I was going to cut the four dark corners from the same fabric because I had plenty of it. I had enough of it that I used it for the plain squares alternating with the nine patches in the middle. (Cue the ominous music...) Yes, after I had pieced the middle section, I cut out the large pieces for the other sections and did not have enough to do all four corners. Apparently I used just enough for the centre section that I was short, by about 3". :( If only I had really measured because then I could have used a different fabric in the middle and the four corners would have matched.
So enter another compromise, I mean solution. I didn't have enough of any one red to cut out the third and fourth corner pieces. So I cut smaller squares of a bunch of fabrics and made nine patches of similar reds to use on the last two corners. Are my nine patches in nine patches in nine patches getting fractal yet?
In the end, I did manage to put together a back for this quilt. It was sized about 6" bigger on all sides which is what I needed. And I met my very firm goal of not buying more fabric for the back.