Sunday, August 9, 2015

Charm Pack Quilts

Once upon a time I was adamantly opposed to buying precuts. When they first came out however many years ago, I viewed precuts as just a gimmick designed to catch quilters and their hard-earned dollars.

I did a decent job of avoiding them for quite a long time, too. But somewhere along the line, I purchased one. And then another. Before long, I was buying precuts like my life depended on it. Layer Cakes. Charm Packs. Jelly Rolls. Fat Eighths.

The big problem I encountered was that I would buy them and then not use them, so I was amassing quite a precut stash. I tried a couple of projects eventually, especially when I discovered Schnibbles. I disliked wasting any part of a precut, though, and it seemed that for nearly every pattern I used there would be precut fabric in the waste basket when finished.

I set about to remedy that dilemma this week, and in the process I have made two quilt tops with some of these Charm Packs, and I didn't waste a bit. Success!

My immediate need was twofold. First, I needed a baby quilt for a soon-to-be-born baby girl. Second, I needed an easy quilt to teach for the beginning quilters who have expressed a desire for such a project.

The first quilt was the baby girl quilt. I had two Charm Packs of Lily & Will fabric by Bunny Hill Designs. I decided to make a square quilt with 64 of these 5" charm squares sewn together in random fashion. Then I would find a cream in my stash to use for a narrow inner border. Finally, I would take the remaining charm squares, cut them in half and create a piano key border.

Creating a project as you sew leads to learning a few things along the way. First, and most importantly, I learned that I would have done better with three Charm Packs rather than two. I had to resort to cutting additional 5" squares from some stash fabric that melded nicely into the colors. I used a stash white-on-white for the inner border, and I added that into the piano key borders, too.  I decided to use corner blocks for the outer border, and that made making the borders fit a much easier process that I was expecting.

Time of construction for this baby quilt, which measures at right around 50" square, was just a few hours. It was extremely satisfying to finish it so fast, and be so pleased with the results. I was pumped to make another one.

Since I want to teach this in a class for beginners, it seemed like a good idea to produce a second quilt in something other than baby quilt fabrics. People need to see the variety of possibilities, especially beginners. With that goal in mind, I returned to the Charm Pack stash and pulled out three packs - all Barbara Brackman lines: two of Civil War Jubilee and one of Civil War Homefront.

I tried streamlining a few steps, and made notes along the way to use when I teach the class. It came together just as easily as the first, and I am again loving the result. I am calling this project Triple Charm, as it requires three Charm Packs. (There will be a few leftover pieces; I will show students how to use them so they don't feel they've wasted fabric.)

Easy, right? Straight sewing; no triangles; no cutting for the center; simple inner border cut at a standard 2.5". The only complex part of this project is the outer border. Cutting all the 5" blocks into 2.5" halves, sewing together in a random fashion using an accurate quarter-inch seam will be good practice for beginning students.

Now I need to set a couple of dates, and get the word out.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


  1. Great quilts! I tend to buy these and not use them also. There are some great tutorials from the Missouri Star Quilt company that uses the various size pre-cuts. Have fun with your class!

  2. Wonderful project, so simple and pretty too. I bet the students will have a great time making it.

  3. I love making disappearing 9 patch with my charm packs. If I use 10 packs that sort of go together.... like Moda often does I have a full size quilt with over 400 different fabrics!!! My idea of heaven.

    I too love to buy and stash charm packs!

  4. Two great quilts there. Your students will love making them I bet.


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