Thanks for all the great responses to Friday's post about the postage stamp quilt I made recently! I love this quilt, and I'm glad that others like it too. But so many of you mentioned in your comments about how long it must have taken to make - and it's so simple, and really pretty quick to make! So I thought I'd share how I made mine (a simple tutorial) so you could make one of your own without having to invest forever and a day in the process!
Now, as you can see, this is a big quilt - I made this one 60" x 80", although it's really simple to make it whatever size you want. The basic construction is 10" 25-patch blocks, so it's simple to figure how many blocks you need to get the size you want. Here's the math to figure your own fabric requirements - all based on fat quarters:
Say you want to make an 80" square quilt. That's 64 blocks (8 x 8 10" blocks). Multiply 64 times 5 (320); divide that by 6 (53.33); multiply that by 5 (266.66) and divide that by 8 (33.33). Round up to the next whole number and that's how many fat quarters you will need. Sounds complicated but I promise it works! Just ignore the decimals until you get to the final number.
Now I'm going to give you the fabric requirements based on a quilt the same size as mine - 60" x 80". My quilt took the equivalent of 25 fat quarters, although because I was working with low volume and out of my stash, some of my pieces were half yards that I cut into two fat quarters.
Press your fat quarters well, and square up the end of the fat quarter opposite the selvage edge. Now, lining up that straight edge you just cut, stack five fat quarters with the straight edge to the left on your cutting mat (provided you're right handed!) The long (21-22" edge) of the fat quarter should be running horizontally. Now cut 2.5" x 17"-18" strips from your stack of fat quarters. You should be able to get 8 strips from each fat quarter. Repeat until you have cut strips from all of your fat quarters.
Now comes the point where you don't need to overthink. Throw all of those strips into a big tub or basket and mix them up really well. Then grab two and, as long as they aren't the same, sew them together along the long edge. Chain piecing, repeat for another set. Now, this next step is very important - take one strip out of your basket and set it aside at this point. That will be the fifth strip in the strip sets you'll be making. Repeat the process - two pairs of strips, then set aside one strip. Do this until you have sewn up or set aside all of your strips.
Cut the piecing chains and press the seams open. Trust me - you'll be happier later if you've pressed the seams open. You won't have to worry about how the seams will nest, and you'll be able to turn the strips and/or blocks in any direction to make the patterns and colors blend well.
Throw the strip pairs you just made back in the tub, mix them up, and pull two of them out. Aim for no matching fabrics in the two pairs, but other than that, don't think about it too hard. Sew them together along the long edge. Repeat until all the strip sets are sewn together in pairs. Cut the piecing chains and press the seams open.
Now take those strips that you set aside in the first step. Take a four-strip set and pair it with one of your single strips. Sew the strip to one side of the four-strip set, so you now have a five-strip set. Chain piece these for speed, then cut the piecing chains and press the seam open. You should now have 40 five-strip sets. Isn't that pretty?
(Now, please excuse the next picture, because when I was making this quilt I wasn't anticipating writing a tutorial. I took this picture from another project to show this step.)
Lay your strip set horizontally on your cutting mat, and cross-cut it in 2.5" strips. You will now have a strip that is five 2" (finished) blocks across! If your strips don't shift too much when you cut, you can layer several on top of each other to cut more quickly, but be careful that the layers don't shift and change the width of the block strips in the lower layers. Use your own judgment based on your cutting skills. Cross-cut all of your strip sets.
Once you've cross-cut all your strips, you'll have 240 five-patch strips. Throw them in your tub and mix them up really well. Pull out five strips and arrange them as you like - your patterns will mix up. If you've got too much of one print in your block, replace the strip with another one. I didn't worry about repeating a print, but I did work to keep from having the same prints touching side to side.
If you're working with colors, you may have to be careful to keep a balance of colors in your blocks, too. You're aiming for a scrappy look, though, so just relax and DON'T OVERTHINK IT!
Repeat with all of your strips until you have 48 blocks. I highly recommend placing the blocks on your design wall as you make them - seeing progress will definitely keep you inspired to finish!
Now, there's lots of ways to assemble your quilt once you have completed your 25-patch blocks and arranged them as you like on your design wall. For example, you could sew them together in 4-patch fashion, then sew your 4-patch sets together until the quilt is assembled.
What I like to do, though, is to sew them together in column sets. From the design wall, I will take the left hand column, and starting from the top, stack all the blocks from top to bottom. I'll lay this stack to the far left of my sewing machine. (Put a pin in the top left corner of the top block in this stack.) Then I'll take the second column from the left, stack it the same way, and lay it immediately to the left of my sewing machine. Now there are two stacks to the left of my sewing machine - from left to right, the first and second columns of the quilt from the design wall. Taking a block from the right hand stack, I lay it face down on the left hand stack. Pick up the two blocks, pin to match the seams, and sew the seam. Repeat for all the blocks in the stack, chain piecing to keep them in order. Do not cut the piecing chains. Press that seam open on all the blocks.
Now take that string of blocks, and matching all the seams, sew each pair to the pair below it in the chain. You now have a 2-column strip of blocks all sewn together. Press the seams open, replace it on the design wall and grab the next two columns. Repeat until you have sewn all your blocks in columns. Then it's a simple matter to sew the columns together and voila! Your quilt top is finished!
I looked back on Instagram and it was seven days between the time I picked the fabric for this quilt and when I showed the completed quilt - but I also made a t-shirt quilt and kept my grandkids three days during that time! I have made these before and it takes about three days to make one. A whole lot faster than sewing individual 2.5" squares together!
And here's another example of a quilt made using this same method - this one of batik fabrics. The trick really is not to overthink it - just grab a strip and sew it on!
And one more example, just for fun...
So drag out that fat quarter bundle you've been hoarding, or the stacks of random singles and see what you can create!! I can't wait to see!!