Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Charmed, I'm Sure

I love charm packs!  For $10 you can own an entire fabric collection and play with fabric that you wouldn't normally buy.  I can actually remember my first charm pack.  I bought it in Ohio in 2006 and it was from Kansas Troubles' Bound to the Prairie collection.  I loved to look through those beautiful squares of fabric and imagine the possibilities.  The only problem was that I could never actually decide what to make with the charm pack.  With only 5" of each fabric I was afraid that I would choose the wrong pattern or make a mistake cutting and then the pretty stack of perfectly coordinated fabrics would be gone.  Performance anxiety kept me from using the charm pack for 6 years.  But last summer I started designing projects for charm packs and I finally used my Bound to the Prairie charm pack and guess what, the world didn't end.  Now instead of hiding away in my fabric closet collecting dust, I have a little quilt that I can enjoy every day.

If you're like me and you love to collect charm packs but you're unsure what to do with them, I've got a great pattern for you.  I've made it twice, once as a gift for one of my kids' favorite teachers.  She is a Civil War buff so I made the quilt using reproduction fabrics.  I loved it so much that after I gave the quilt away I immediately made one for me.  This quilt is 15 1/2" x 15 1/2".

I actually didn't use a charm pack to make this quilt.  I used scraps from my stash.  But I know it works for charm packs because the second time I made it I used a charm pack from the Meadow fabric collection by Blackbird Designs for Moda.  I changed the borders to show off more fabrics from the charm pack.  This one is a bit bigger, 17 1/2" x 17 1/2"

Don't you just love star blocks!  And even though these stars are only 3" finished, they are really easy to make...

From 16 background colored squares cut:

4 - 1 1/4" x 2" rectangles
4 - 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" squares
(save the leftover  1 3/4" x 5" piece for use in inner border)

From 16 star colored squares cut:

1 - 2" x 2" square
8 - 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" squares
(save the leftover 2 1/2" x 3" piece for use in outer border)

Instructions for one star block:

On the back of each of the 8 - 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" squares draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.  Place one square on one background 1 1/4" x 2" rectangle with right sides together like this:

Stitch on the drawn line, press the seam, press the seam open and trim leaving a scant 1/4" seam allowance.

Repeat on the other side of the rectangle as shown below:

The final star point unit should look like this:

Repeat to make 4 star point units.

Then assemble the 4 star point units, 4 - 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" background squares, and 2" x 2" center square one row at a time as follows:

To ease assembly, for the top and bottom rows, press towards the corner background squares and for the center row, press towards the center square.

The quilt takes 16 star blocks.  Once the center of the quilt is assembled you can use an extra fabric for an unpieced border as in the Civil War version of this quilt -- I cut the border fabric 2" wide.  But here are the cutting instructions if you like the look of the Meadow version of this quilt and you'd like to use more of your charm pack fabrics:

For the inner border...
From reserved background 1 3/4" x 5" pieces and 1 additional light charm pack square cut:

52 - 1 1/2" x  1 1/2" squares

For the outer border...
From reserved star 2 1/2" x 3" pieces and 4 additional darker charm pack squares cut:

32 - 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" squares

Refer to the photo above for the border assembly.  I machine quilted this quilt by stitching in the ditch between each star and along both sides of the inner border.

So there you have it, the perfect little quilt to showcase your favorite fabrics from that charm pack you just don't know what to do with.  You can make this quilt in weekend as a gift or, better yet, for yourself!  Just don't wait 6 years to do it!!

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