Postage Stamp Quilts; Playing with Color

Playing with Two Inch Treasures: Postage Stamp Quilts

The fourth Big Hug quilt, from 4,096 two-inch treasures.

They seem to call to me, my stash of “Two Inch Treasures.” Carefully cut, bundled in boxes or baggies, saved as future projects for special people. Tucked away under my bed, patiently waiting to become part of a large piece again one day. Sometimes I simply have to take them out and play with them.

As my regular readers may know, I am perhaps a bit obsessive about cutting and sewing with two-inch fabric squares. They first learned about this addiction in my Thoughts from a Fabriholic post in June 2010. Then they saw me finish my fourth “Big Hug” quilt with over 4,000 little fabric gems in the topper. To say nothing of my Gallery-Two Inch Treasures page! (And, new in April 2011, Things I Have Learned While Cutting Fabric Squares!) You would think that I would be totally over the idea of postage stamp quilts. I most certainly am not, and hope my readers do not mind hearing more about them from time to time.

Postage Stamp Quilt, Random Colors

I love the random effect of just letting the squares fall where they might.

Come to think of it, I know that some of you have been inspired by these fun quilts, because you write to me with questions. Or you tell me you are starting to save squares to do one yourself someday. At the moment two readers are starting down that path and blogging about it. Check out Lemonwood Clock as she starts collecting squares. Then hop over to Colorado Lady, first to see her beg for squares from people, and then check her progress as she starts to sew.

I am full of suggestions for those of you who want to make one. Even more suggestions if you, like me, want to make one for every member of your family! Just ask, who knows, a full tutorial may come out of it. But today, I simply could not resist the urge to play with my pieces. Besides, I am cultivating an idea, well, three ideas. You see, I have three grand-nieces, so I happen to have three one-gallon bags of two-inch treasures set aside with their names on them. Shhh, please do not tell them! It will be a while before they get stitched up.

Postage Stamp Quilts Playing with Color

Sorted and placed in a free-form colorwash, this has a very different look from the random arrangement.

Personally, I love the glorious randomness of just letting the pieces scatter. But I am struck that one of these young ladies is a very fastidious soul, who would probably find the chaos of my usual approach not particularly pleasing. Another one is very artistic and shows a great eye for colorplay. The third is a free spirit who loves anything Van Gogh. I am thinking that I may do some colorwashing with these Big Hugs.

Postage Stamp Quilts, Color and Personality

Even when arranged by color, each little gem shows its own personality upon closer inspection.

Today I pulled out a generous handful of two-inch treasures from one of those baggies, winding up with about 300 pieces with which to play. I sorted them out by color and value. I knew that it would only give me an idea of how it would look on a full-scale quilt of 3,600 pieces, but that is the purpose of play, isn’t it? I tried arranging them in stripes of light and dark. I tried bulls-eyes, hearts, zig zags, and more. I found something to like in all of them. Actually it was a very pleasant way to get a ‘fabric fix,’ and I could have spent hours more playing with color.

Postage Stamp Quilts, Playing with Colors

Radiating out like an exploding super-nova, another option for a future quilt.

All that playfulness has now been percolated into three plans for action. I know just how I will be approaching each quilt. They may have some of the same fabrics between them but will each have a personality of their own. I started to think of these little fabric squares as the genes that make up each quilt. Rearrange them, you get a whole new look with all the same bits.

Having a plan was enough for today, I packed them back up and put them away for now. Back to UFO’s and commissioned work for now. I am re-energized; playing with my little gems of fabric gave me a boost. And something to look forward to, a little later this year.


I hope you are checking my Quilty Giveaways list on the right hand sidebar, as there are several nice offerings out there. Let me know if you are having a giveaway so I can get you on the list. And yes, I do sell two-inch treasures and other squares from time to time, which you can find over there under Instant Stash! (End of shameless plug, tyvm!)


©2011, The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com.

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About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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17 Responses to Postage Stamp Quilts; Playing with Color

  1. Pingback: Thoughts from a fabriholic. No obsessions HERE! | The Curious Quilter

  2. katieQ says:

    I have been stowing away my own collection of 2 inch squares in hopes of making a postage stamp quilt. I am torn between alternating the squares with white for a controlled look or letting the charms have their way willy nilly.

    • Mary says:

      Go for it Katie! Have you tried laying some out checkerboard style on a white sheet? If there are a lot of white background fabrics in your collection, you may want to try another color. Share pics when you get going, please!

  3. i do have a question! it occurred to me last night that you are probably using a 1/2 inch seam, and i normally use about 1/4 inch! does that matter? it will make my little squares about 1.5 inches instead of 1 inch, but it will also require less squares! i’m all for doing that unless you know of a really good reason i shouldn’t. but i just got over 1100 squares cut out!!

    • 1100! WTG! A great start.

      I always use a 1/4 inch seam on these, making the finished square 1.5 inches. The only time I tend to use a 1/2 inch seam is on large square tied quilts (like in the classic squares tutorial) for added stability over time.

  4. Oh my word! I would lose myself in the sheer numbers.. but gosh I may have caught the postal bug!

  5. Donna says:

    Oh, I love the free-firm color wash! Still a postage stamp, but with a new flavor. Thanks for sharing.

  6. coloradolady says:

    Oh, I am still dreaming of finishing this one….no more progress. I have so many irons in the fire, it is unreal.

    I am so aggravated with the quilting lady, she STILL does not have my quilt back to me, and I have barely a week to finish this…She has had it way over a month. I don’t think I will be using her again, she stresses me out way too much.

    How is your quilt coming along? Did I miss any post on it??? Will you have it ready for the BBQC?? Hope all is well with you my friend!!

    • Ah, my Brown Bag Quilt Challenge partner, watch for a post next week showing what became of the ‘ugly’ fabrics you sent to me…. I WILL make the deadline, barely! Commissioned work had to come first.

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  11. Sharon M says:

    I started a postage stamp quilt when I was a teenager. I got it out over the years and added a little to it. I had surgery a few years back and had to stay home from work, so when I was able to hobble enough to get out my quilt, I vowed to get it finished, I did blocks of 16 squares. All I needed yet was a row on the side and one on the end to make it queen size. I used a large hoop to do the hand quilting from the comfort of my chair. I got it done! So this was a lifetime project, as I am just over 60 years old now. The scraps in this quilt tell the story of my life. Besides the crazy quilt made by my gr-gr grandmother, this one is my most prized possession. My point in replying here is DON’T GIVE UP. Take a break, but don’t give up.

  12. Carol says:

    I have cut scraps into 2.5 inch squares and strips instead of tossing them out. I was surprised at how many squares and strips I have for quilts. I have made one color wash quilt, and 2 postage stamp quilts. I still have squares and strips left. I hope to sew many more quilts from the scraps and not buy any more fabric for a while. I can’t believe I thought about tossing this much good fabric out!

  13. Lavonne Townsend says:

    I’m wondering about the size of your postage stamp pieces. Shouldn’t the final size be 1 inch to be a postage stamp or is postage stamp just a figure of speech?

    • Postage stamp is a figure of speech these days for PSQ quilts. Purists go with a one inch finished size or smaller but most people seem fearful of the sheer quantity of charms needed! I settled on 1.5″ finished size (2″ charms) as the have that random mosaic effect but allow of more use of novelties and fussy cuts. Looking at US postal history stamps have come in a lot of different sizes! Some as big as 3″!.

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