Sunday, January 11, 2015

Join the Sweet Sixteen Quilt Along!

Hi, all!

With the start of the new year, it's time to begin thinking about the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge 2015.  Last year, many of you indicated that you would enjoy doing a quilt along to prepare for the Challenge, so as requested, here it is!

For the next nine weeks, we'll be making sixteen patch blocks and discovering just how versatile this simple block can be.  Today I'll show you several methods for making these blocks.  Then over the next eight Sundays, I'll show you eight different, easy-to-create quilts. Use your blocks to make one of these quilts, or choose a pattern of your own.  It will be so exciting to see all the different designs at the end of the quilt along! 

When the quilt along ends, it's time for Hands2Help to begin!  And just think - you may already have one or more quilts finished and ready to donate!

So let's get started……

Sixteen-patch blocks are pretty simple to make.  In order to make things easier, any measurements I give here will be based on a 2.5" square being used to make the 16-patch blocks.  You can make your blocks with any size squares or strips - smaller or larger. The choice is up to you!  

The most obvious way to make these blocks is to take 16 equally sized squares and sew them together in a 4 x 4 grid.  You can sew them in strips of four, then sew the strips together and create one block at a time.

Another way to make a sixteen-patch block is by using strip sets. If your block will have prints alternated with a solid, you can sew one print strip to one solid strip along the long edge…

…then cross-cut the strip set into two-patch blocks.   

After you've done this with a variety of different prints, stack them up and pair them up into four-patch units.  These can be chain-pieced to make this step faster…

You'll end up with a lovely pile of 4-patch units...

…that press up into nice neat blocks!

Now take those little 4-patch blocks and turn them into 16-patch blocks!  A great way to use up (and mix up) a lot of scrappy fabrics!

This is a great technique to use if you only have short periods of time to sew.  You can do one step, then put it aside to do the next step another time.  It's also a good leaders and enders project!

Another way to make scrappy 16-patch blocks is to make 4-part strip sets.  Choose four strips (if you are using 2.5" strips, they should be 10"-12" long) and sew them together along the long sides….

…then cross-cut them in 2.5" strips.  A 10"-12" set will yield you four 4-patch strips. Using the shorter pieces will give you a wider variety of prints in each strip to make your blocks very scrappy!

Make lots of these 4-patch strips.  Mix them up in a bag, then draw them out one by one to put together your 16-patch blocks.  My only rule of thumb when I'm doing this is not to put the same prints side by side.  It's a nice way to get a bunch of random blocks pretty quickly!

Both of these methods are a great way to use up leftover jelly roll strips, or short strips cut from your scraps.  Basically free fabric, right?

And if you're working with small patches - say 1.5" squares - this is a handy way to make your blocks! Take a very lightweight fusible interfacing, and draw a grid on it, 16 squares in the size of your fabric squares.  Cut out a 16-patch unit of the interfacing. 

Lay your patches out on the fusible side. Press them down with a hot iron to fuse them to the interfacing.

Now flip the piece over and fold right sides together on the line you drew.  Press it down.  Stitch 1/4" from the edge. 

Do the same for all three lines running the same direction.  Take a small pair of scissors and cut the seams open. Press them open.

Turn the piece and repeat the process for the crossing lines.  Cut open the seams and press them open.

Flip it over and press again.  Voila! You've got a cute little 16-patch block in about half the time of sewing all those tiny pieces together!

These little units make great centers for scrappy stars!

Update:  Here's a tip from Kirsten, who said, "Instead of using lightweight fusible interfacing, you can also use water-soluble interfacing and glue spray, so there is no bulk in the end after washing, and the fabric will be soft and smooth again."  I'm going to have to give that a try!


So that's basically all the methods I know of for making 16-patch blocks. Do you have another way to make them?  I'd love to hear about it!  

And now, it's time to get to work on your 16-patch blocks.  How many can you make by next week?  

And just to whet your appetite, here's a teaser of the quilt design I'll be sharing with you next week…

I hope you'll join in the fun - see you next week!!



PS - feel free to grab the quilt-along button in the right side bar!  Help spread the word!


  1. Hi, thank you for this great tutorial! And yes, I would have a little tip: Instead of using lightwight fusible interfacing you also can use water-soluble interfacing and glue spray ... so there is no bulk in the end, after washing ... and the fabric will be soft and smooth again ... ;))) Lovely regards! Kirsten

  2. Very interesting tutorial! I'm learning. :) Will there be a linky or show & tell for next Sunday or at the end of the 8 weeks?

  3. Great tutorial! I've got too much going on to participate in the QAL, but I will still have a quilt done for H2H.

  4. I make them by making 4- 4 patches and sewing them together, very scrappy.

  5. I've been trying to sew together my 2 1/2" squares as a leader/ender project while doing other piecing. Should end up very scrappy!

  6. I'm going to make some very scrappy ones and see where it goes. Thanks for the inspiration and tutes!

  7. Hi Sarah - Thanks so much for this. I love the methods that you shared and I am going to jump on board and put together some blocks. Yeah!!!!

  8. I started sewing scrappy squares together today. Thanks for giving me the kick in the pants that I needed to get past my sewing slump. ; )

  9. Wonderful tip on cutting and pressing the seams open when using fusible. I make Mondo bags. The instructions just say to press the seams to one side and clip the intersecting seam but that ends up bulky. I am going to use your method on the next one.

  10. What a great way to use up scraps. Now I'm really tempted to join in

  11. Missouri Star has a tutorial to make 4 patch blocks using charm squares. You sew together a long row of 5" charm blocks, then cut them apart. It's better if you just watch it!


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