How to Sew a Tic-Tac-Toe Board

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Once you work through the steps to make a bean bag, it doesn’t take too long to make a bunch of them. The process of making a bunch of bean bags is even more efficient if you do one step for all the bean bags before moving on to the next step.

But what in the world can you do with a bunch of bean bags?

You can play Tic-Tac-Toe!

completed tic_tac_toe_boardThe Inspiration

Sewing the bean bags was fun and I love the gingham fabric. I had enough fabric to make several bean bags so my mind started to think about what exactly I would do with a bunch of gingham bean bags.

Eventually, I remembered a tabletop checker game we had. The checkerboard, woven out some type of fiber, was easily folded and stored when we weren’t using it.

That sparked the idea of making a Tic-Tac-Toe board out of fabric.

Super excited about this idea, I made 10 bean bags out of 2 different colors of gingham. At the same time, I let different ideas percolate in my mind while I tried to figure out the best way to make the game board.

When I finally decided on how I wanted to make the Tic-Tac-Toe board, I became even more excited.

From a sewing point of view, the construction of the Tic-Tac-Toe board includes basic sewing skills in addition to some knowledge and skills used by quilters.

As a result, after making the Tic-Tac-Toe board you’ll have an idea if quilting is something you want to learn more about.

How to Sew a Tic-Tac-Toe Board

After following the directions in this lesson, you’ll have a Tic-Tac-Toe board you can use with bean bags you sewed yourself!

Tip: Read all of the steps before you begin so you know what you’ll be doing.

Preparation

Gather the Supplies

supplies for the tic-tac-toe board
  • cotton or cotton type fabric
    • 2 different fabrics for the Tic-Tac-Toe squares. You’ll need enough fabric to cut 5 – 6″ squares out of each fabric
    • a little more than 1/2 yard (or a piece big enough to cut an 18 x 18-inch square) for the back of the board
    • 1/4 yard for the binding
  • thread
  • scissors
  • pins
  • rotary cuttermat, and ruler – I used an 18″ x 24″ mat and a 6″ x 24″ ruler
  • sewing gauge (not pictured)
  • marking pen (not pictured)
  • needles for hand sewing binding (not pictured)

Get Your Sewing Machine Ready

First, attach the presser foot.

two different presser feet
  • If you have a 1/4-inch presser foot, use it when you sew the 6-inch blocks together and add the binding. The 1/4-inch presser foot is what quilters use when piecing quilt blocks. Since the Tic-Tac-Toe board will basically be a nine patch block, using a 1/4-inch presser foot allows you to try out a different presser foot than you normally use.
  • If you don’t have a 1/4-inch presser foot, no worries. For this project, all steps can be done with the all-purpose presser foot, too.

Note: You’ll be using the edge of the presser foot as your guide. There isn’t that much of a difference between the 1/4-inch presser foot and the all-purpose presser foot when using the edge as a guide. However, if you decide quilting is something you want to learn more about, you WILL NEED to get a 1/4-inch presser foot. That little bit of difference adds up over multiple quilt blocks and can mess up the machine piecing and quilt top construction in a big way!

Now, wind thread on the bobbinInsert the bobbin and thread the machineSet the machine to do a straight stitch (a width of 0 and a length of 2-3 for a medium length stitch).

Prepare the Fabric

  • Prewash the 100% cotton fabrics in warm water and dry in the dryer. Press to get the large wrinkles out and square up the fabrics.
  • Cutting the Fabric
    • Tic-Tac-Toe squares – cut 5 – 6″ squares out of each fabric
    • Back of the board – cut an 18″ x 18″ piece of fabric
    • Binding- cut 2 strips 2.5 inches wide. Each strip should be 42″ to 44″ long depending on the width of the fabric. After cutting, you should have a total of approximately 80 inches of fabric.

Construction

A stand-alone tutorial is available for Steps 1-5 on How to Sew a Nine Patch Block.

Tip: Read all of the steps before you begin so you know what you’ll be doing.

Step 1: Lay out the fabric squares in a grid with right sides up

Put the darker fabric in the middle of the top row. Alternate the fabrics in the other two rows to make the Tic-Tac-Toe board. This is the nine patch, a commonly used block in quilting.

Step 2: Sewing the nine patch together

  1. Label the first square in each row. Use a pin so the label doesn’t come off. lay out squares and label rows
  2. Place the middle square on top of the first square in each row. Right sides should be together and edges lined up. Pin in place along the right edge. Place middle squares so they are on top of the first squares
  3. Use the presser foot edge as the guide and sew the squares in each pair together. You don’t need to backstitch. sew each pair together
  4. Lay the pairs of squares you just sewed next to the third square in each row. Right sides should be up. lay sewn pairs next to last square
  5. Place the last square on top of the middle square in each row. Right sides together. Line up the edges and pin in place along the right edge.last square gets placed on middle square
  6. Again, use the presser foot edge as the guide and sew the squares in each set together. You don’t need to backstitch.
  7. Lay the rows out in order and check the placement. Make sure you have a tic-tac-toe pattern. squares in each row are sewn together

Step 3: Pressing the seams

There is a certain direction the seams need to be pressed. You’ll be pressing the seams toward the darker fabric. This will help when you sew the rows together.

  1. Press the seams in the first and third row toward the center square.
  2. Press the seams in the second row to the outside squares.

Be careful not to press over the labels that identify the rows. You may want to remove the label when you press, but put it back when you’re done.

Press the seams

Step 4: Preparing and sewing the rows together

  1. Lay the rows out in order with right sides up. Make sure the first square in each row has the label on it.
  2. Place the first row on top of the second row with right sides together. The edges of each row that were next to each other when they were laid out, should be together. prepare rows one and two
  3. Align and snug the seams together. If the seams were pressed correctly, you should feel them butt up against each other. They should fit together easily. Make sure the raw edges of the rows are lined up. Pin the rows together.
snug up seams
Making sure the seams are snuggled next to each other ensures the corners of the squares will align on the front of the block.
  • Sew rows one and two together. You don’t need to backstitch.
  • Align the edges of rows two and three with right sides together and snug up the seams. They should butt up against each other. With the edges lined up, pin in place and sew.prepare to attach row three
  • You can now remove the labels that number the rows.
  • Step 5: Press the seams to the middle

    Press the seams toward row 2. The finished Nine Patch should be approximately 17″ x 17″.

    Press the seams toward the second row

    Step: 6: Squaring up the nine patch block

    A stand-alone tutorial is available for Step 6 on How to Square Up a Nine Patch Block 

    Chances are the edges of the nine patch are not perfectly straight. Therefore, you will need to square up the block. To do this, you will need to use rotary cutting tools.

    1. Lay the nine patch on the rotary cutting mat. Line up the bottom edge of the block with one of the horizontal lines on the mat. The edge may not be straight but line it up the best that you can.
    2. Now, adjust the block so the right edge of the nine patch block is just over one of the vertical lines. The bottom edge of the block should still be aligned with the horizontal line on the mat.
    3. Place the rotary cutting ruler along the vertical line that is closest to the right edge of the fabric. You’ll use the rotary cutter to trim just enough off so the edge is straight.
    Align block to square it
    The bottom edge of the block is lined up as close as I could get it on the mat’s 21 1/2 inch horizontal line. The right edge of the block is just over a vertical line on the rotary cutting mat. The rotary cutting ruler is aligned with that vertical line.
  • Rotate the nine patch block. Line up the straight edge you just cut with a horizontal line on the mat. Adjust the block placement so the right edge of the nine patch is just over one of the vertical lines. Make sure the straight edge of the block is still aligned with the horizontal line.
  • Line up the ruler as described in direction #3 and trim the edge so it is straight,
  • Rotate and repeat until the other 2 edges are trimmed and the nine patch block is a square with straight edges. You don’t take very much off each edge. Just enough to make sure all the edges are straight.
  • A block that has been squared
    All edges of the nine patch block are now straight. The total amount of fabric trimmed off this block is laying on the square in the upper right-hand corner of the block.

    Step 7: Adding the back

    When you connect the back to the nine patch block, you’ll be using a technique called Stitch in the Ditch which means you’ll be sewing in the seam space on the right side of the nine patch.

    Tip: Use a neutral color for the top thread and color that matches the back fabric for the bobbin thread. This way if you stray out of the ditch it won’t be as noticeable.

    Stitch in the ditch
    While all some of my stitches escaped the ditch, most of them are in the seam space leaving me very happy with the results!
    1. Get the 18″ x 18″ fabric piece and lay it right side down, the wrong side up.
    2. Place the nine patch on top with the right side up. The wrong sides should be together.
    3. Center the nine patch and smooth out any wrinkles.
    4. Pin the back and the block together.
    Lay out block on the back and pin securely
    I inserted 4 pins in every square far enough from the seam that I wouldn’t have to remove them when I stitched in the ditch.

    Tip: When you pin the back and the nine patch block together place the pins where you won’t need to remove them as you sew. It’s better to have too many pins then not enough to help hold the fabric in place as you sew. You want to minimize any movement of the fabric as you sew in each seam space or ditch.

    Another Tip: Begin pinning from the middle and smooth out the fabric as you go. This will help eliminate any bunched fabric on the back.

    A stand-alone tutorial is available for directions 5-11 on Stitching in the Ditch.

    5. To be able to see the ditch as you sew, use the all-purpose presser foot. Put the pinned pieces under the presser foot so the nine patch is facing up. Line up the needle with one of the seam spaces and lower it in the fabric.

    Put the needle in the ditch

    6. Slightly pull the fabric on either side of the seam to open up the ditch.

    Pull the seam slightly to open it up

    7. Sew along the seam line. This is one time when you WANT to watch the needle as you sew so you keep it in the seam or ditch. You don’t need to back stitch.

    • Tip: Sew slowly to better control where the needle goes. 
    • Another Tip: Don’t remove the pins. Keep them in while you sew so the fabric stays in place.

    8. The next ditch you want to sew is the one parallel to the first one.

    9. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have stitched in the ditch on all four seams.

    10. Remove all the pins and press lightly.

    11. Trim off the excess back using the rotary cutting tools. The back should be the same size as the front now.

    Trim the back
    Two sides have been trimmed…two more to go.

    Step 8: Make the binding

    The directions below are a simple tutorial on how to make binding to go with the Tic-Tac-Toe board project. So, the binding measurements in the directions go with that project.

    If you’re making binding for another project, use those binding measurements.

    For a comprehensive tutorial to make binding for quilts, see A Beginner’s Guide to Double-Fold Binding.


    A binding is a piece of fabric that covers the raw edge of a quilt. While the Tic-Tac-Toe board isn’t a quilt (it doesn’t have batting), it is a quilt block sewn together with another layer of fabric by Stitching in the Ditch, a quilting technique.

    Like a quilt, the raw edges of the Tic-Tac-Toe game board need to be covered. Before you bind the raw edges together, you’re going to make the binding using the 2.5-inch strips of fabric.

    1. Take the two 2.5 x 40(ish)-inch strips and place them with right sides together.
    2. Line up the edges.
    Align binding strips

    3. Pin close to the short end.

    4. Sew a seam on the short end using the end of the presser foot as the guide.

    Sew strips on the short end

    5. Press the seam open.

    6. Press the binding in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together. The prepared binding for the Tic-Tac-Toe board should be 1 1/4-inches wide x 82ish-inches long.

    Press the binding in half

    Step 9: Attach the binding

    1. To keep the edges from shifting on the quilted Tic-Tac-Toe board when you sew the binding on, they need to be sewn down. To do this lay the board flat and smooth out the squares. Move from the inside of each square to the outer edges and pin in place about an inch from the edge.
    Smooth and pin

    2. Use a basting stitch (a straight stitch with the longest length) to sew around the outer edge of the game board. You want to get as close to the edge as you can. I used painter’s tape aligned with the edge of a feed dog hole as my guide.

    Sew close to the edge
    The painter’s tape is aligned with the inside edge of one of the feed dogs. This allows me to get a straight seam close to the edge of the game board.

    3. Set the stitch length back to a medium-size stitch.

    A stand-alone tutorial is available for directions 4-12 on Step 9 and all of Step 10 on How to Attach the Binding.

    4. The right side of the quilt should be facing up. Align the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt. You’ll start sewing in the center of one side. But don’t sew the first 8 to 12 inches of the binding.

    On the Tic-Tac-Toe board, place one pin in the middle of one of the center squares and a second pin about 3 inches from the corner to hold the binding in place to get started.

    You won’t pin the rest of the binding. Instead, you will line up the raw edges as you sew.

    Attach binding

    5. Using the edge of the presser foot as your guide, start sewing in the middle of the center square near to where you placed the first pin. Pay attention and make sure the raw edges stay lined up as you sew toward the first corner. Stop sewing about a 1/4-inch from the corner edge.

    Begin to sew binding on

    6. Lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric so the needle is aimed toward the corner, lower the presser foot, and sew to the corner.

    Sew to the corner

    7. Remove the fabric from the sewing machine.

    Stitches at the corner are at an angle

    8. Fold the binding up, using the diagonally stitched line for the fold line.

    Fold the binding up at the corner

    9. Fold the binding back down so the binding fold lines up with the edge of the fabric and the raw edge of the binding lines up with the perpendicular raw edge of the game board. Insert one pin to hold it in place.

    Fold binding down and secure

    10. Start sewing at the edge of the fabric to attach the binding on the next side

    Sew binding on next edge

    11. Repeat steps 3-7 until you’ve sewn all four corners. Remember to stop 1/4-inch from each corner so you can pivot the needle and sew into the corner.

    12. Stop sewing the binding on the last edge about 2 inches past the last corner. There will be a gap between where you started and stopped sewing.

    Note: On larger projects than this Tic-Tac-Toe board, leave about a 12-inch gap between where you start and stop sewing the binding.

    Starting and stopping points for the binding.
    Excess binding

    You should have several inches of binding left on both sides.

    Depending on how much binding is left, I sometimes trim each side so they’re each approximately the length of the remaining space and easier to work with when connecting the ends of the binding as described below.

    Cut excess binding to fit space

    Step 10: Connecting the Ends of the Binding

    Caution: Double check your measurements on directions 1 and 2 before cutting so you know they’re correct. Otherwise, the binding won’t lay down flat.

    Important: The amount you measure in step 1 needs to be equal to the width you cut your binding.

    • The binding in this tutorial has a width of 2.5 inches, so 2.5 inches is measured and marked.
    • For a binding that has a width of 2.25 inches, 2.25 inches would be measured and marked.
    1. Measure and mark 2.5 inches from one end of the binding.
    Measure one binding end

    2. Lay the other side of the binding on top and trim it at the 2.5 inch mark.

    Lay binding down and cut

    3. Open up both sides of the binding, overlap them slightly with right sides together, and lay them together at a right angle. (See photo in step 4.)

    Tip: The area you are working with is pretty small but it is possible to get the binding to lay flat. If the binding doesn’t lay flat, you may need to remove some of the stitches on the left-hand side with a seam ripper.

    4. Pin the binding (right sides should be together) and draw a line from corner to corner.

    Right sides together, pin, and mark

    5. Sew on the line. Take your time as you sew to make sure the fabric is laying flat.

    Sew on the line

    6. Remove the pins and fold the binding to make sure it will lay flat in the remaining space.

    Check binding fit

    7. Once you are sure the binding is sewn correctly and lays flat, trim off the excess fabric so there is about a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

    Cut excess fabric

    8. Press the seam open, lay the binding flat, and sew it down. Make sure the raw edges are aligned. Overlap a few stitches at the beginning and end of this last seam to secure it.

    Binding is all attached

    To see how to attach the binding from start to finish in action, you can watch Jenny from the Missouri Star Quilt Company execute my favorite way to bind quilts starting around minutes 5:10.

    Step 11: Hand stitch the binding to the back

    A stand-alone tutorial is available for Step 11 on How to Sew the Blind Stitch by Hand.

    You’ll be hand-stitching the blind stitch to finish the binding and attach it to the back of the game board. Use a thread color that matches the binding.

    1. Fold the binding over to the back side and pin in place. It should be snug along the raw edge. Tip: Tuck the end of the pin back into the binding so you don’t stab yourself when you are sewing the binding down. If you have binding clips, you can use those.
    Secure binding with pins or clips
    The clips in the photo on the right-hand side are one type of binding clip.
  • Cut off about 15-18 inches of thread from the spool. Thread the needle and knot the end.
  • Bring the thread up through the fold of the binding from the back. The needle or thread should not come through the front of the binding. Pull the thread through. Insert needle through the fold
  • Insert the needle slightly into the back fabric (B) straight across from where the tread is coming out of the fold (A). You only want to catch the back fabric and not go through to the front.
  • Slide the needle about 1/4-inch keeping it parallel to the fold. (C)
  • Push the needle up through the fold and pull the thread through. (D)
  • The blind stitch
    This photo provides a visual for directions 4-6.
  • Repeat directions 4-6 until you have about 6 inches of thread left.
  • To secure the thread you don’t need to tie a knot. Instead, weave the needle through the fabric close to the raw edge that will be hidden under the binding (A). Pull the needle through until the binding is close to the back where you took the last stitch (B). Secure thread part 1Now, weave the needle back the other way (C) and pull the needle through again (D). Clip the remaining thread. Secure thread part 2
  • Repeat directions 2-8 until all the binding has been secured to the back.
  • For the final knot, push the needle under a stitch you made and pull it until you have a loop (A). Insert the needle through the loop and pull it tight (B). A little knot will form on the stitch. Repeat to make another knot. final knot
  • To hide the knot, insert the needle into the binding without going through to the front and push it up about an inch from where it was inserted. Pull it through so the tail of the knot is hidden. Cut the thread close to the fabric.Finish tie off
  • That’s It. You’re Done!

    The Tic-Tac-Toe board and bean bags can be used inside and outside.

    Finished game board

    Store the bean bags in a fun bowl or container. I collect vintage Pyrex bowls and like to use those when I can. The Tic-Tac-Toe board can be folded and used as a placemat for the bean bag container until someone is ready to play a game.

    Storing Tic-Tac-Toe game

    Cleaning

    If you prewashed the fabric, cleaning the game board is easy. Just pretreat any stains, then toss it in the washing machine. You decide if you want to use the dryer or hang it up to dry.

    Let’s Connect

    My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.

    Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

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