I am a total sucker for simple patchwork quilts. I love the simplicity of the uniform squares and it’s the perfect way to play with and show off your favorite fabric. It’s also the perfect beginning quilting project. If you’re looking for a tutorial for a simple Charm Pack (5″ Precuts) baby quilt you can find one here.
In my opinion the key to magical patchwork quilts is scrappier the better – which means, the more different fabric prints, the better.
One of the easiest ways to get a quick variety of prints is to use precut 5″ x 5″ squares. (Sometimes called Charm Packs or 5″ Stackers, depending on the manufacturer.) It’s also a great way to get a cohesive color palette without having to worry about picking colors.
A few months ago I bought this 5″ Stacker of the Neverland collection by Jill Howarth from Riley Blake Designs. I love the colors and the prints from this collection and I’m a total sucker for Jill’s delightful illustrations.
As much as I adore this collection, and really wanted the prints to be the focus of the quilt, there are only 18 prints in this collection. And, in my opinion, the best patchwork quilts are as full of as many prints as possible. This is where using your stash comes in to play!
I used the precut squares as a guide for my color choices and pulled prints from my stash that played well – and in my opinion – enhanced the scrappiness of the quilt. (Because I know someone will ask, most of the prints from my stash are years old, meaning they’re no longer available in shops.)
I purposely choose fabrics that read as ‘blenders’: a fabric that reads as a solid from a distance. It’s important that they coordinate with the focus fabrics (in this case the darling Neverland illustrations).
Blenders are one of the keys to great patchwork quilts because they do two things: they ‘blend’ or ‘tie’ the variety of colors of the quilt together. And give the eye a place to rest so that the divas can really show off. As you know, anything with too many divas, turns into a hot mess. Remember Beyonce’s backup dancers aren’t there to compete with the star.
To make great patchwork work, it’s also really important to use a variety of scales and textures. They also provide more contrast and interest in the patchwork. This post goes into a lot more detail about scale, value and texture when choosing fabric for quilts.
Here’s the finished result. I cut additional 5″ x 5″ squares from the pieces from my stash for a total of 90 squares and laid them out 9 across by 10 rows down. The finished size of this quilt is 40.5″ x 45″.
You can easily resize it to any size you want just multiply finished 4.5″ x 4.5″ squares (the finished square size) to any width or length desired. (Graph paper can be your friend if you need a visual.)
Depending on your quilting method, if you’re careful with a 40.5″ wide quilt, you can get away without having to piece a back as long as the yardage is wider than the quilt top.
Here are a few of my favorite patchwork squares quilts from over the years:
Clockwise from top right: Blue and Green quilt for my son (the one with horse photo bomber), Valentine’s Table Topper, Throw in a few stars for an added dimension to a simple design, Red and Black Plaid Flannel, and a Baby Quilt from years ago.
You can also see a bunch more ideas on my Simple Patchwork Pinboard.
So here’s a quick summary for making your Patchwork Work:
Use Precuts for variety and saving time
The Scrappier the Better
Boost your precuts with fabric from your stash
Use Blenders – show-off the divas
Use fabrics with a variety of scales and textures