Love. Sew. Much.

Dear friends,

I finished Kate’s quilt top on Sunday. It took me all day to sew on a bit of ric-rac and two borders, but I got it done. It was harder than it looked — those corners are tricky — but I finally figured it out and spent the evening admiring my work and showing my finished creation multiple times to everyone in the house.

I’m not showing it to you just yet . . . because I want to surprise you with a photo of the finished quilt. I think you’ll like it. It’s as cheerful a quilt as I’ve ever seen despite the fact it was my maiden effort and presented no shortage of problems for me to solve. If I haven’t yet mentioned it, math and geometry are not my strong suits. I’m convinced somebody else could have figured out how to construct the darn thing in half the time it took me.  But Mr. Mom says even though I learned to quilt the hard way, I’ll never forget the lessons. He claims solving a problem with your hands is a sure-fire way to remember the solution forever.

I’m so excited to ship Kate’s quilt top off to be quilted. I can’t wait to get it back even though I know I must be patient. I’m told it typically takes most quilters weeks to return a quilt — and then I still have to bind it. I’m betting you won’t see my finished quilt until late July or early August, but won’t it be fun when it’s finally ready to be photographed?

In the mean time, I do have a little something to show you . . .

Since I finished Kate’s quilt with an entire day left in my holiday weekend, I woke up Monday morning just itching to get started on my next project, which is — yep, you guessed it — another quilt!

This one is for Kate, too. Even though I’ve tripped across at least three other quilts I’d like to make for myself, I simply couldn’t say no to this idea once it popped into my head. And the great news is that this one is super simple.  (I only needed to make one quilt without a pattern and instructions to learn my lesson. I may be foolhardy, but I’m not a hard-headed fool!)

My new quilt is called a disappearing 9-patch because the foundation of the quilt is a 9-block patch that “disappears.” Take a look:


I first got the idea for this quilt in February when Mr. Mom and I sat through several of Kate’s tennis matches in very chilly weather. I noticed she and her teammates all took blankets to their competitions to stay warm while not on the courts, so I immediately dreamed up a special “tennis quilt” for my favorite player.

I began collecting small yardages of tennis themed fabric and coordinating prints and, before I knew it, I had enough to make a quilt. It took me about an hour to cut all my fabric into 5″ squares yesterday morning. But once I finished, that’s when the fun really began. Combining the squares into new and interesting 9-patches is the most enjoyable part. Here’s another combo of squares.


Now here’s the “trick” of this quilt. Once you sew nine patches together in a 3X3 grid, you cut each grid in half — twice. What you’re left with is four smaller blocks made from a single grid. It looks like this:


Once you sew and cut a number of 9-patch grids, you’re left with an assortment of smaller blocks you can arrange in any number of ways. I think I prefer a “random” arrangement that looks something like this.


The beauty of this quilt is that you get a lot of bang for your buck. The finished quilt looks like you did a lot more work than you actually did (which is the “magic” of sewing larger pieces and then cutting them into smaller pieces). Since my first quilt looks like it was a lot easier than it actually was, it’s only fair that my second looks a lot harder.

Perhaps that’s the yin and yang of quilting?

With gratitude {for a long weekend spent creatively obsessed and sew fulfilled},

Joan, who’s a little grateful that the weatherman predicted rain all weekend, prompting Mr. Mom to cancel the family’s kayaking plans and giving her ample time to hide behind the sewing machine



  1. This makes me wish I was more adept at sewing. I love quilts!

  2. texasdeb says:

    Soooo cute. Kate will be the envy of every other girl on her team (and the other teams as well). I’m guessing there will be a lot of phone-photos taken of that quilt followed by other mom-quilters being pressed into service to try and duplicate your idea.

    You should be warned. Quilting is apparently quite addictive. My Mom abandoned all other forms of sewing once she got the hang of it and eventually everybody she loved had a quilt (or three) of their very own. When she died she had enough fabric stored away to keep a church quilting circle busy for over a year. And yup, she sure enough ended up with more than one novelty item that read “she who dies with the most fabric, wins”.

  3. Deb, I have a business client who recently downsized his home after a long and successful career. He had been a Fortune 100 CEO, had traveled the world, and had a large home full of collected goodies, including an impressive art and sculpture collection. But what did he mention was the hardest part of his move? Editing and relocating his quilter wife’s fabric stash. He even pressed his children and grandchildren into service and recounts that they all complained about the matriarch’s fabric compulsion as they carried load after load from the old house to the new house. I’m trying hard not to become that woman, though it’s difficult. My strategy? I only allow myself to buy fabric in advance for two quilts. So far, I’m sewing fast enough (read: that obsession part) that I’m caught up. Must be time to go shopping again!

  4. Almost every time I’m in a flea market, I come across a quilter’s legacy — a big bag or box of pieced squares and fabric remnants. It always makes me sad that something permanently interrupted the project.

  5. dianne mitzel says:

    I am looking for tennis fabric to make a pillowcase for a little boy. If you know where I can get anything with a tennis theme, I would be so grateful…I love your tutorial, and love the quilts..thank you

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