I freely confess that I am an addict. I love cutting tiny squares. I started doing it when I was about seven, and have thousands and thousands of them in shoe boxes and baggies. I have sewed six quilts with them, but I still have tons of my little “two-inch treasures” left. I have sold some and given many away, but there remain several boxes of them under my bed. And yet, every time I have new fabric scraps, I cut more little charms, and tuck them away. Personally, I strive to keep duplicate charms to a minimum, but there are lovely quilts out there with lots of repeats.
As I have shared my cutting and storing antics with my blog followers, many of you have written how much you love postage stamp quilts too. Or how you have dreamed of making one. So I have declared 2012 to be the Year of the Postage Stamp Quilt at The Curious Quilter, and invite you all to join in the fun. Add to your own charm collection, or start one. Stitch up a quilt top, or a potholder. Start using your scraps to create a quilt that can be cozy, comfortable, and even entertaining!
|What’s Coming Up?||Let’s Talk Size.||Join the January 2012 Swap!|
At least twice each month in 2012, I will be posting about these fun quilts, or hosting a swap, or a giveaway, or a blog hop, or, well, just stay tuned and see! Blogging friends are planning to showcase their own examples of quilty items made with little charms, ranging from one to 2.5 inches square. Today is the first day, so we will look at what size charms to use, and get started on the first swap of the year.
Let’s Talk Size.
Yes, size matters! Before you can start to assemble your first postage stamp quilt, you have to decide what size charm squares you want to use. There are quilters who insist that you should use 1.5 inch squares for a postage stamp quilt. But there are also quilters who are just as adamant that a charm size of 2.5 inches is perfect. I have seen stunning quilts made from charms as small as one inch. Because I accidentally started cutting two-inch squares as a child, I have stayed with that.
While you are deciding which size to collect and stitch up, here are some things to consider:
- The smaller the charm, the more pieces you need to make your quilt.
- A two-inch charm makes for a 1.5 inch finished square. A one-inch charm makes a finished square a mere half-inch across.
- The pattern of the fabric shows the most in larger charms, and matters less in smaller squares. There is no right or wrong, they just look different.
- In scrappy postage stamp quilts, charms are placed in random order.
- Postage stamp quilts can be watercolor quilts. Prints can alternate with solids. You can color-block your charms. You just need to choose what direction you want to go. Playing with color can be a lot of fun!
- If you are undecided, you could make 12.5 inch blocks of each, and put them together for your quilt. Or you could make the quilt body with two-inch squares, and the border with one-inch squares. Like I said, there really are no rules.
- While you may aspire to not have any duplicates squares in your quilt, they are totally acceptable. Over the next months we will talk about this more.
|This is what the different size squares look like.||This is how 16 of each size look when stitched up into a square.|
And, looking ahead, this is how many charms you need to create different size quilts. Don’t panic, they go together faster than you may expect.
|Charm Size||2.5 in.||2 in.||1.5 in.||1 in.|
|12×12″ (1 blk.)||36||64||144||576|
|48×60″ (20 blk.)||720||1,280||2,880||11,520|
|60×60″ (25 blk.)||900||1,600||3,600||14,400|
|72×90″ (45 blk.)||1,620||2,880||6,480||25,920|
|84×96″ (56 blk.)||2,016||3,584||8,064||26,496|
|96×108″ (72 blk.)||2,592||4,608||10,368||41,472|
|108×108″ (100 blk.)||3,600||6,400||14,400||57,600|
You can see from the chart why most people choose not to make a quilt starting with one inch charms! But they are spectacular, unique, and duplicates disappear. The 1.5 or 2 inch sizes are most common, the 2.5 has become more popular as strips and 5″ charms have come easily available, but do not have quite the same effect as the smaller charm option. If you are undecided, why not make up some samples.
Join the January 2012 Charm Swap! Note 1/20/2012: This swap has closed, the next swap will be in April, 2012.
Now for the fun! Pick your size, get out your scraps, and start cutting. Cut some for you, and some to swap. Please use only 100% cotton fabric that is suitable for quilting. Homespuns or flannels should not be used for this swap. Hopefully, it has been pre-washed before cutting, but that may not always be possible.
|For this swap, if you are interested in one inch charms, please cut two inch charms to swap. You will have more people available to swap with, although you will have to quarter the ones you receive.|
Keep cutting. Fussy cut some fun novelties. Solids, stripes, plaids, prints, almost anything goes. Bust up as much stash as you want. Cut up strips and charm squares that you are not using. Keep cutting, as charm swaps will be offered in January, April, July, and October.
Make sets of 100 to swap. Count them out into stacks of 100, hopefully with no duplicates in each stack. (Large-scale prints may read as different fabrics when cut into small charms, which is acceptable.) If you cut 400 squares from 400 fabrics, you have 4 unique sets. If you cut 400 squares, 4 each from 100 fabrics, you have 4 matching sets. OK, that may sound confusing, but think of it this way: with unique sets, you could swap them all to one person, but with matching sets, you would swap one set to each of four people, so no duplicates came through!* Don’t sweat it, just holler if you are stuck. If you have 100 charms to swap, you will get 100 charms back. If you have 1,000 charms to swap, you can get 1,000 charms back. But remember, there will be more chances to swap later this year!
Note added 1/12/2012: A UNIQUE set has each one different. Two UNIQUE sets have 200 different fabrics. If you only have one set, with all different fabrics, it is UNIQUE. TWO MATCHING SETS means that you have two sets cut from 100 different fabrics, but each set is the same. The sets match each other. A goal with postage stamp quilts is to have few or no repeats, so ‘coordinated sets’ – say with 4 each of 25 fabrics, are not acceptable for this swap, but will be for one coming in April!
Keep some for yourself. Set aside the number of these stacks that you want to keep for your own stash! After all, they are YOUR little treasures!
Now that you have cut and counted, you are ready to sign up to swap. I will be matching you up to one or more other swappers, and emailing you both so you can share mailing addresses. I will be getting those emails off as fast as I can, but please do not worry if you do not hear before January 22th! Once you have the swap info, you should arrange mailing your charms and get them out within one week.
Any time between January 6 and January 18, 2012, leave a comment below, stating each of these items: (it will be helpful if you use the numbers to answer)
- Your first name.
- Your City, State or Territory, and Country.
- Are you willing to swap with people in other countries? (Often more variety, but higher postage rates will apply.)
- What size charms you want to swap, 2.5, 2 or 1.5 inches. If you are doing a 1 inch project please swap 2 inch charms.
- How many UNIQUE sets or MATCHING sets of 100 you have to swap.
- A brief comment about what you are dreaming of making with your little squares.
- Please DO NOT include your email address or your mailing address! You email address is held privately when you submit the comment form. By joining the swap, you are giving me permission to share your email information with your swap partner/s.
Here is a sample comment:
2- St. Paul, MN, USA.
3- Yes Int’l.
4- two inches.
5- 3 matching sets.
6- a crib quilt perhaps.
Have fun! Keep watching for more Postage Stamp Quilt goodness, tutorials, pictures, giveaways, and surprises. And thanks so much for taking part!!
©2012, The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com.