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Handmade quilts and home accessories by fiber artist Linda Nussbaum. See samples of past projects as well as pieces available for sale and inspirations for custom orders. To see what is currently available for sale, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Surrounded by Scraps

Filtering by Tag: You're a Charm

You're a Charm Quilt-Along — Let's Begin!

Linda Nussbaum

It's time to get this party started! But how, you might ask? It begins with just stepping back and taking a look at your fabric stash, whether it's all shelved together or spread out among different bins, sorted by color or by collection. Take it in and think about how you want to use it. Do you want to go through in a methodical way cutting a piece from each fabric working your way through stacks? Are you currently working on an unrelated sewing or quilting project that you can cut patches from as they are already out on your cutting mat? Are you thinking of using smaller patches and going to raid your scrap bins first? What comes to mind when you gaze at your fabrics?

Just a portion of my stash... thinking about color and distribution.

Just a portion of my stash... thinking about color and distribution.

Also think about what general size you'd like to use for your patches. This will not only dramatically affect the character of the finished quilt, but will make a difference in how many fabrics you will need. I have to admit I am not counting as I go (so far), but then I know I can choose from my stash without doing any repeats and have enough fabric to make 5 different quilts (a guess, but a reasonable one)! If you aren't a hoarder like I am, this is something to take into account. 1.5" hexies are a great design element, but will require many more patches than if you do 6" equilateral triangles.

Personally, I think I am going to work on 2 different quilts during this QAL and my approach to fabric selection will be different. As some of you may already be familiar, I LOVE me a good color wash quilt! The flow of color and value across the whole thing is an inspiration to me. So I am thinking that my 1,000 Pyramid quilt will be a steady wash of warm hues: oranges, yellows, reds and maybe some lime green. For my tumbler quilt I am still giving it thought. I want to go scrappy, but am undecided whether I plan to do a complete mash-up of color and print or take a more planned approach with contrasting colors alternating throughout. The process will help me figure that out. 


One discipline that this will bring up for me, and I imagine I'm not alone here, is the intention of cutting into even the "precious" fabrics in my stash. If you've been quilting and collecting fabric for as long as I have you no doubt have several pieces that you love SO much you only use them sparingly, or sadly sometimes not at all. What a shame to find a print so unique that you're afraid to no longer have it available so it never ends up in any project at all! Let's all agree to break free of that, if even with just one print. Be sure to include one or more of these "precious" fabrics in your first stack of fabrics when you begin cutting. You'll be glad you're getting some use from it and it will continue to be a favorite, so enjoy it in something you make!

Some examples of just a few of my "precious" fabrics. I will be sad when I use them up, but I'd be more so if I never used them at all.

Some examples of just a few of my "precious" fabrics. I will be sad when I use them up, but I'd be more so if I never used them at all.

The next big thing to consider is what block choice you would like to work with for this quilt. In my last post leading up to this QAL I presented a variety of some of the more common shapes often used in one-patch charm quilts. If you haven't seen that post, you can find it here or go to the Quilt-Along page from the top navigation bar on the website. As I've mentioned, I intend to work on both a 1,000 pyramid quilt using equilateral triangles (I do love the triangle quilts!) and a tumbler quilt (trapezoids), which will be a first for me. In both cases I am going with medium to larger scale (4" base on tumblers, 6" height on triangles).

My next post later this week I'll show some techniques on cutting using standard rotary rulers and drafting templates on card stock for tracing. There are also commercially available templates for various one-patch shapes. Here are just a couple sources available:

One-derful One Patch Templates by Marti Michell

Perfect Patchwork Templates by Marti Michell

Trace 'n Create Quilt Templates with Nancy


Another approach for those of you who prefer hand-work is using an English Paper Piecing (EPP) method. Various sizes and shapes available.

Paper Pieces - precut paper shapes for EPP

So, are we ready to jump in?? One thing I will be playing around with for this QAL is setting up inLinkz so we can do a share of progress and prompts. I'm still trying to figure that one out, so it may take a couple of posts before it is up successfully, but I do want you all to share your process with us here. If a link-up is not available at the bottom of the post, then please leave a comment with any links to your own blog or instagram. Let's start with pictures of your stash from which you're working and/or a picture of any of those "precious" prints you're willing to cut into and include in your charm quilt. Use the hashtag #YACQAL on IG so we can keep it all together. AND the more times you link up the more chances you have of winning the give-away down the road!

Still have questions about how to begin? Let me know and I'll do my best to help out!

A Little Charm Talk — YACQAL #2

Linda Nussbaum

I promised an entry giving a little more information about charm quilts, so here we go. I am not an historian and claim no expertise or special knowledge on this subject, but am more than happy to share what I have learned.

As I said in my previous post, the idea behind the charm quilt is that each piece used to make the quilt top is from a different fabric. Every single one (though there are anecdotes of quilts made from all different fabrics except 2 patches that are the same). Often they were collected over time, or traded with friends or penpals. Some are done using very specific color families in the prints, while others are a total hodge-podge of fabrics, and many use light and dark values to create an overall pattern.

A quilt top found by a volunteer at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. Click on image to learn more.

A quilt top found by a volunteer at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. Click on image to learn more.

Found in Step-by-Step Quilting... Click image for source.

Found in Step-by-Step Quilting... Click image for source.

Since most of the information I have on the subject I've gleaned from casual allusions over the years and looking up sources online, I am going to just list a couple of links to information I found helpful and interesting regarding charm quilts, and hope that you do too:

Re-posting the link to a couple of Barbara Brackman's entries on charm quilts:

Credited to collection of Pat Nickols.

Credited to collection of Pat Nickols.

Another good description I found of the background of charm quilts is this post on by Judy Anne Breneman:

And one more, from Laurette Carroll on

One of many gorgeous quilts found in the link above.

One of many gorgeous quilts found in the link above.

There is quite a bit of more information out there, but a lot of the material I found online when searching "charm quilts," especially looking for images, were merely contemporary quilts made using charm squares, and often do not actually follow the "rules" of the Odd-Fellows charm quilts. But I encourage you all to do your own searches and see what you find and what inspiration it sparks!

My next YACQAL post will talk about one-patch designs and common shapes used in charm quilts. I hope you all are getting as excited about this quilt along as I am!

You're a Charm Quilt-Along — an Intro

Linda Nussbaum

Last week I made an off-the-cuff comment on an instagram photo which seems to have resulted in the suggestion to start a quilt along (QAL). And I'm kind of jazzed about that!


It's no secret that I have WAY more fabric in my possession than I will ever be able to utilize in projects. And I've also shared that recently I have not been terribly inspired creatively. Now, goodness knows I have plenty of WIPs, UFOs, abandoned class projects and quilt tops galore that need to be quilted, but none of those reignites a creative flame for me (though I have been chipping away at quilting some long overdue charity quilts!).

So when Jessica left a comment suggesting a QAL in response to my charm quilt idea, it gave me pause... and then I kind of got excited thinking about it. So I am hoping that this idea will excite many of you to join us starting in mid to late March for a charm quilt quilt-along, You're a Charm QAL (#YACQAL)

The idea is to use your own stash (or swap pieces if you need to broaden the basket... we might set up a way to facilitate that for those who would like) to make a charm quilt in the traditional sense of the term: a quilt (generally a one-patch) that only uses one piece of any one fabric - no repeats! This pre-dates fabric manufacturers putting together 5" charm square packs and other precuts from their fabric lines. This is the true sense of scrap quilting. Here is a link to a brief, yet informative, blog post on charm quilts by quilt historian Barbara Brackman.

Please excuse the lack of credit here... I thought I had saved the source, but can't seem to relocate it now. :( However, this appears to be an example of a late 19th C. tumbling block charm quilt.

Please excuse the lack of credit here... I thought I had saved the source, but can't seem to relocate it now. :( However, this appears to be an example of a late 19th C. tumbling block charm quilt.

In the coming week I'll put up a post with some examples of various charm quilts, ideas to get the juices flowing, but in the mean time check out this collection of charm quilts found on Pinterest, most of which seem to follow the original meaning of the term. Following that I'll work on outlining the general schedule for the quilt-along. Bear in mind I have never led a QAL before, so things may shift as we go, but I welcome feedback always. And more than anything else, I look forward to trying something new, having fun and seeing what you all come up with!

Stay tuned for #YACQAL!