Background of the Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt MethodFirst, a little history about the history of the method used to create these quilt blocks, often called disappearing nine patch. The technique seems to have developed over time, and from the work of many quilters.
The phrase disappearing nine patch suits the method perfectly, because to make the quilt blocks a simple nine patch block is sliced apart -- it disappears and is replaced by four smaller units.
Pirate, a member of our Quilting Forum, did some research into the technique when she made her own disappearing nine patch quilt.
- She discovered a 2002 book written by Karin Hallaby, called Magic Pillows, Hidden Quilts, which included a Magic Nine Patch quilt made using the same technique that's so popular today.
- Nancy Brenan Daniel wrote a book called Disappearing Nine Patch in 2002 (I haven't seen the book, but Pirate mentioned that the block we now associate with that phrase is not one of the quilt blocks in the book; I've also seen another publication date for the book: 2004, and am not sure which is accurate) Ms. Daniel used the phrase again in a later book.
- A blog by Helen Bailey, with a tutorial about her own use of the disappearing nine patch, helped popularize the term (although Ms. Bailey told Pirate she did not coin the phrase, and mentioned that a Yahoo group had used the term early-on).
- The same technique has been called Tossed Nine Patch (by Eleanor Burns) and (possibly) 9 to 4 by other quilters and authors.
Read Pirate's forum post about her research.
My copy of the book Crystal Piecing, by Barbara Johannah, is currently hiding from me, so I cannot take a look to see if she wrote about what we call the disappearing nine patch quilt -- I wouldn't be surprised to find something like it within her instructions. Ms. Johannah is one of the quilters who introduced many of the quick piecing methods that we use today. The book is no longer in print, but used copies are often available for anyone who'd like to see her ideas (Crystal Piecing - Compare Prices).
The technique appears to have developed from the work of many quilters, so I feel comfortable writing my own version of the pattern -- instructions are copyrighted, not techniques, and the name has become part of general quilting vocabulary.