It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Note from Mary:  While I am busy doing the matches for the lastest Postage Stamp Quilt Charm Swap, I asked my friend Jill Scholtz to share  a variation of a postage stamp quilt with you—her experience with doing “pixel quilts.”  Jill is a talented and fast quilter with an awesome eye for color. I am sure you will find new inspiration in her quilts using small squares with carefully planned color placement. To follow Jill on Instagram find @slipperscholtz.

Another excellent example of quits using postage stamp size charms are watercolor quilts. Pat Maixner Magaret’s book Watercolor Quilts is a great guide to creating tis style of quilt.

Reading this reminds me of charting for cross stitching or knitting! 



It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Guest post by Jill Scholtz

Have you ever been accused of “overthinking?” Many times we can get so mired in the details that we can’t see the forest for the trees. I have learned that many times when I am feeling stress or confusion, it helps immensely to take a step back and look at the big picture. I think this is why I love making quilts so much.

Postage stamp and pixel quilts are a great way to challenge one’s self because there are endless combinations with beautiful results! Even a random scrappy placement can have unintended beauty and rhythm. The art form of making images out of tiny scraps, or dots has been around for a long time.


“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat.

As a kid, I remember learning about pointillism, and I have always been intrigued by this painting from 1884, which was hanging next to the principal’s office in my grade school. I think I looked at it every day that I walked into that building. Pixel art is definitely not a recent artistic concept. Evidently I wasn’t the only one intrigued by this painting: check out this YouTube video.

Whatever the source of intrigue, I have ventured into “pixelated” quilts ever since I saw a few at QuiltCon in Austin, TX in 2015. One of the quilters that I met there, Caro Sheridan, has a free class on on how to create a pixelated quilt pattern from a photo by using Excel. In her Craftsy workshop  Caro does a great job explaining something that sounds complicated at first. Using Excel can make the process of pixelating so much easier.

Attempt #1:

My first pixelated quilt was created after watching the Craftsy class, and making a rendition of a flower I saw on vacation. I found myself making adjustments to the computer suggested rendering to fit my “stash” of fabric. As long as I matched the light/dark value of the fabric, the color didn’t matter as much. There is an artistic element to this process that helped me train my brain to step back and “look at the bigger picture.” It is all about perspective.


Attempt #2

The next project I took on was a quilt for my husband, who loves basketball. For this quilt, I used an app on my phone called Pixelator (In iPhone app store as Frame Your Life with Pixelator.) It is a free app that will convert photos to pixel and you can adjust the resolution, or size of the pixels. (I happen to choose the size that allows me to still see what the image is if I squint. How very scientific!) Instead of using the Excel program, I just used plain old graph paper to make a pattern. “Eyeballing” the pixelated photo, I coded the boxes by color to fit my stash and to achieve the desired image.

Because sewing together tiny squares is not something I want to spend a lot of time on, I fused all of the rounded squares onto black fabric and then quilted over it all with an edge to edge design. This was not ideal, however, for withstanding many washings.


Attempt #3

In search of improving on this process, I tried a new technique where I iron the squares edge to edge onto fusible interfacing and then sew the rows together. This worked with some satisfaction on a tiny postcard quilt of a cross. If you use featherweight interfacing, it does not get too bulky. It was time to try it on a bigger project.

Regardless of how you pattern your image; whether you use Excel, graph paper, the Pixelator app or any other method, the technique of ironing all those tiny squares onto lightweight fusible interfacing makes the process of sewing all those tiny squares together much EASIER AND FASTER!  I am impatient to complete a project, so anything to make it go faster is a good thing.*


Attempt #4

The most recent quilt I made involved 1,296 1.5” squares and I tried the fusible interfacing construction technique again. The placement of the squares is key for it is very important to keep everything lined up so your rows will be straight. (I could use some work in this area!) It is necessary to draw a grid either right on the interfacing, or on a poster board beneath the interfacing to help you with your alignment.

At first I sewed every other row on all the vertical lines. Being very careful to maintain a consistent seam allowance, I eventually completed sewing all of the vertical seams. Then I ironed them WELL to make the sewing of the horizontal seams as smooth as possible. You can see from the photo below that it is best to have all of the seams pressed in the same direction so as to limit bulk.


The end result may look random up close, but the farther away you get, the image appears. As you can see from the images below, I used many colors and some patterned fabrics for  skin tone. The color does not matter as much as the value of light and dark in this type of placement. It’s all a matter of perspective!


I am still learning, and hopefully this post has inspired you to try some pixelated quilting with your 2016 PSQ Charm Swap set. Happy quilting!

*Note from Mary:  Using fusible interfacing or pre-marked square style interfacing for pixel and watercolor quilts can be a blessing for these quilts that require careful color placement. However, do consider first if you are planning to hand quilt the finished item. The added thickness and the remnant of “glue” can make hand quilting more difficult.  You may want to test this by making something small like a mug rug first. If you are doing a traditional “random” scrappy postage stamp quilt, I do not recommend using the fusing method. These quilts should never require “over-thinking” and I strongly recommend using the method in my PSQ block demo.  Random comes from letting the pieces fall where they will.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com

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October 2016 PSQ Charm Swap is Now Closed

The waiting begins…

morethanjustquilts-a-great-quilt-by-beverleyThe last signup actually came in over night, at the deadline!  Now the matching begins, and this takes a bit of time no matter how lovely the signup form is. Bear with me a few days here so I can do it, have my bashful helper double check it, and get all the swap and newbie assignments ready to email back to you. My goal is to have that all set by Wednesday, but I will keep you informed on that front.

Some inspiration to enjoy while you are waiting! The photo shown is was not done by a swapper in this round, but a talented quilter with a great eye for color and design. I love how the use of two simple blocks—pinwheel and 16-square checkerboard of charms—come together in a pattern that looks ornate and fabulous, but is pretty straightforward to create. Beverley’s use of color and a traditional white background make for  a real classic from this Australian quilter. Check out her Etsy store to see more lovely quilts, or follow her on Instagram @morethanjustquilts.Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com


   @2016 The Curious Quilter, Al Rights Reserved.

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Countdown to Closing the October 2016 Charm Swap Signup

A few Two Inch Treasure boxesI do not know about where you are, but here in Minnesota time just seems to be FLYING by. Tomorrow is the last day to signup for this year”s swap. When I get up on Friday morning, the form will disappear and you will need to wait until next year.  (Yes, I did say that, another swap sometime next year. Stay tuned.)

So far we have 184 swappers and a ton of newbies. That makes for a lot of little charm sets ready to go in the mail! As returning swappers know, it takes a few days to get all the swap emails out telling you where to send your charms, so patience is required for a bit.

A few common questions this year stem from the NEWBIE category. A Newbie is someone who has a small stash and cannot create a stack of 100 different fabrics with no duplicates. Newbies RECEIVE Newbie GIfts from Swappers. Newbies do not send charms to any one. All they send is their thanks! (Being new to my swap but able to create full sets of 100 still makes you a swapper, not a newbie.)

Another common question, how to change your signup info. best way is to signup again, and make a NOTE in the note section that this replaces your prior signup. It is really hard for me to keep track fo emails, blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram comments for changes.

Double check your charm sets, toss the duplicates and replace them, count out at least 100 for each swap set, and get them ready to mail. When you mail please put the mailing address on the INSIDE of the envelope as well as the outside in case it gets opened in transit.

Peruvian Arpilleras showing protest over living conditions, circa 1980.

Peruvian Arpilleras showing protest over living conditions, circa 1980.

Lest you get bored while you are waiting, let me suggest the following two old blog posts of mine. You will notice a political theme. I am certain there are few places on Earth that are not aware of our election this round.  Check out I Am The  Curious Quilter, and I Approved This Message.  If current politics are overwhelming you, try  Quilts That Communicate Politics and History: South American Story Quilts. I know many of you are faithful followers and have read these before, but there are a lot of new names on the signup list! Enjoy!Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com


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October Charm Swap Signup Window Opens Today


It is time to start signing up  for the October 2016 Postage Stamp Quilt Charm Swap! Please review these simple rule reminders, which includes several changes from prior swaps. Check out the complete rules under The Basics:


  1. 2016-postage-stamp-quilt-charm-swaps-buttonYou can only be a NEWBIE once. After that, start gathering for the next swap.
  2. You can request which size charms you are interested in. Every attempt will be made to get that size to you.
  3. You must agree to send a Thank You email to your donor/s once the charms are received.
  4. You understand that your signup information will be shared, but only with your swap donor/s.
  5. You agree to not share your swap partner/donor contact or other info with anyone else and to respect their confidentiality.


  1. You may swap sets of 100 DIFFERENT charms in these sizes: 1.5 inch, 2 inch , or 2.5 inches. Charms must be cut from quilt-quality cotton fabric, not flannel or homespuns. ALL SETS MUST BE CUT and ready before you signup to swap.
  2. You may swap up to 8 sets in each size. US quilters please note: for every 5 sets (any size) you swap, you must accept at least one International partner but more is appreciated, see below..
  3. You are asked to share sets of 50 charms for Newbies, which is a gift, not a swap.IF YOU ARE SWAPPING FIVE  or more sets of 100 charms, you MUST put at least one newbie set of 50 charms up for donation. More is even better!
  4. Mailbox common licenseOver half our swappers are not in the United States, which makes for a terrific variety of fabrics. Everyone is expected to accept at least some International swappers (remember, our swappers who live in Malaysia or Germany always have to ship internationally, so it is fair to return the favor.)  This year I have changed the rules to require every swapper  to accept AT LEAST one international partner for every 5 sets they swap. Obviously, swappers from countries where there are few participants will need to do all international, asking swappers in countries with larger participation, especially US, Canada and Australia, ensures that everyone gets a great variety of partners. If you package your charms in a legal size letter envelope, postage rates are often just the “oversize first class rate” Bubble mailers run the cost up significantly. If you are not certain which to do, talk to your swap partner about their mail service before you mail your packet.
  5. You understand that your signup information will be shared, but only with your swap partners and Newbies.
  6. You agree to not share your swap/newbie partner contact or other info with anyone else and to respect their confidentiality. This is a big deal here!
  7. Angels needed! Please leave a note in the comment section at the end of the signup form (not on this post) if you have some extra sets in case I need “angels” to help round out a swapper’s sets, or replace a lost one.

I am serious about the confidentiality factor, so no sharing info about one swap partner with another. People are banned from future swaps if they do so.

Likewise, failure to get your packets delivered to your partners in a reasonably timely fashion can get you blocked from future swaps. If you have a problem, please let me know, or your partners. I appreciate you trying to work things out between partners first, last round I was buried with complaints that were beyond my control – about quality of fabrics, cutting accuracy, and missing  swappers. I can only do so much, but I ask you all to be gracious and kind in yoru exchanges.

Novelty CharmsAnd FINALLY: The point of the swap is to have fun and build the variety of your stash on your way to creating a postage stamp quilt. Everyone has different tastes, budgets, and cutting skills. Please accept your charms with a quilter’s grace, and leave the quilt police out of it. People also have lives outside of the swap and those lives can get in the way (for any of us!) HAVE FUN!



Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comoctober-2016-swap-signup-is-open   © 2016 by The Curious Quilter, All rights reserved.

Posted in PostageStamp Quilts/Charm Swaps | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Are you cutting charms? Signup starts 10/6/2016!

There is a growing anticipation level, out in the world of social media, as the next Postage Stamp Charm Swap is nearly upon us. (I can’t believe I have been doing these since 2012!)

2016-postage-stamp-quilt-charm swaps-buttonSignup is open from  October 6-20th, and you have until it closes to join. Just remember, please do NOT signup UNTIL you have all your sets cut and ready to go. It makes things a lot simpler for everyone!

I am not going to review all the rules here, please read the previous post, and The Basics under the Postage Stamp Quilt Charm Swap pages.

And to those of you who have commented, here or in social media, that they want to send ME charms to thank me for doing this I have one answer. NO!  Watch for my upcoming post on the Grand Purge and you will understand why! Donate more to newbies, that will make me very happy.

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Yes! There will be a PSQ Charm Swap in October 2016

Hello all you Postage Stamp Charm Quilt Lovers out there!

2016-postage-stamp-quilt-charm swaps-buttonThere will be a charm swap coming up with signup October 6-10, 2016.  Start cutting charms, if you do not already have your stacks ready!

Check out the complete rules HERE and note there are some real changes this year, particularly with guild and household swappers.

The last swap almost did me in, it has taken a year to get my fortitude up to take on another one. Of course there have been several other things going on in my life as well this year, more on that in another post.

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