March 27, 2020

How About a Nine Patch Block Exchange!

EDITED 3/30/20

Hello!  Thanks for stopping by again.  In the article below, we didn't mean to imply that it's okay for quilters to gather in groups at the present time  -- We are all about social distancing and having no group events! But we can still communicate with each other, and plan, and look forward to the time when we can get together with friends again and celebrate spending time together. For now, we hope quilting will be your comfort zone.

Nearly everyone has participated in a cookie exchange during the holidays. It is a great concept! Instead of making six different varieties of cookies to get the variety you would like to have, six people make six dozen each of one recipe and get together to exchange. You go home with a dozen each of six different cookies.

For example, make 18 blocks:

And come home with 3 each of these:

The idea is the same for the Nine Patch Block Exchange. Even better, there are no calories! For a quick scrap quilt, organize a group of your friends to make and exchange Nine Patch blocks. As an example, all of the quilts in the Mock Diagonal Nine Patch pattern booklet were made with blocks I “inherited” from a friend who did online block exchanges.

The success of the Block Exchange depends on the establishment of good guidelines -- we don’t call them rules. You want the first attempt to be as successful and fun as possible. That increases the chance that the group will want to swap other blocks in the future. There are always different sizes, styles and color combinations of Nine Patch blocks for other quilts!

You may already belong to a small group of quilters ready for a block exchange. Or you could ask at a guild meeting or in an online group. Or you could even start an online group specifically for this swap! It can work so many ways.

Download our Block Exchange spec sheet or design your own with the following things in mind. 
  1. Naturally, we recommend that everyone needs to use the From Marti Michell Nine Patch templates to ensure that the blocks will be the same size – especially 2-, 4-, 5-, and 8-inch finished blocks.

  2. Establish specific color and fabric guidelines. Don’t say blue and white blocks when what you really want is assorted dark indigo and muslin. Likewise, muslin isn’t the same as off-white. Being specific will help avoid disappointment. 

    Do the fabrics need to be prewashed or not?  100% cotton? Prints or solids? Batiks okay? Only batiks? Perhaps someone wants the same background fabric in every block…they probably need to provide that to the group, etc.

    If flannel, chartreuse, plaid, juvenile prints or anything else is a complete “no-no” to anyone participating it should be specified at the beginning.
  3. Establish ahead of time the number of blocks each participant will complete. For example, the three throw-size quilts in the Mock Diagonal Nine Patch Parade Starter Pack have two or three blocks each with the same fabric combinations:

    A logical exchange would be three blocks per participant. So, if there are eight people in the group, everyone would need to make 24 blocks; 12 people in the group would need to make 36 blocks, etc. For more blocks you would either add more people or have everyone make and exchange two combinations.
  4. Remind people that they don’t have to have a large stash to participate in a Nine Patch Block Exchange. In fact, the real purpose is to get variety without owning every fabric!  The chart on page 13 of the Nine Patch Parade Introduction (Pattern # 7120) tells how many squares of each Nine Patch block size can be cut from a fat quarter or half-yard of fabric. Divide that number by the number of squares of that fabric in the block (typically 5 or 4) to determine how many blocks you can make with the fabric you have.

Don’t be surprised if your block exchange group turns into a challenge quilt  group…but that is another story for another day!

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