So, what is a Charm Quilt?
A charm quilt is a quilt that is usually made with a single shape and where each piece is cut from a different fabric. Squares, rectangles, hexagons, triangles and diamonds are probably the most common shapes used but others can be used as well. This is a fun project to work on in a quilting group, where you can trade fabrics with each other.
In this blog we start off with probably the easiest shape to work with, a square. The squares can be arranged in a variety of different configurations. But the best way to proceed is to have some type of unit. Then just sew units together and in the end the units can be arranged to balance out color.
The quilts shown here have basically the same layout. At first glance the first one, made with 3 ¾” finished size squares, appears to have those squares randomly sewn together. But a closer look shows four patch units with two squares in one block lighter than the other two. Then those squares are sewn together.
You can very clearly see the four patch units in Square Charm Quilt 2. Made with 2 ½” finished size squares, this quilt was very clearly made in four patch units with the lights quite a bit lighter than the darks.
Square Charm Quilt 3 is probably one of my favorite Charm Quilts. It was also constructed with four patch units. This time the printed fabrics were combined with a solid colored light fabric. The 1” finished size pieces are then sewn together. In the very center of the quilt is a patch with the following words, “This quilt contains 1,844 calico pieces, no two alike.” Several notes have been attached with basting stitches to some of the calico pieces. The notes contain the name of a person. My guess is that those particular fabrics came from the person whose name is on the notes.
Now you may be wondering why it is still considered a charm quilt even though all of those background fabrics are the same. You will often find a common background fabric in these quilts acting as a unifying factor. However, all of the other squares are different so it is still considered to be a charm quilt.
By now most of us have large stashes of fabric. Pull out those fabrics and stay tuned for more coming later this month on ways to make charm quilts with a variety of different settings. In the meantime, start collecting your squares or whatever shape you want to use.
12 thoughts on “Charm Quilts”
Great charm ideas. I’m still collecting (3″ squares) after almost 12 years but hope to start piecing in the next year or so. Very nice photos to keep in mind. Thanks.
a great way to use a piece of every fabric one has in the quilts they have made and now put them into one quilt
Charm quilt three with the lovely hand quilted baptist fans is a real beauty. I should make one while I still can. thanks for this lovely mini history lesson on charm quilts.
I had just decided last night to make a “Charm Quilt” for a coverlet for my quest room trundle bed. Opened my email and there was your News Letter. Thank you for great ideas.
Jinny, must every square be different for it to be called “charm”? I ask because I have been making 5 “ squares of 5 rows of 5 one inch squares for several years and think of it as a “journal quilt”. I had read about the idea of using small scraps from each quilt as I made it and then assembling them into a larger quilt as a kind of way to keep a “journal” of the quilts I as I made them. But although I have 100s, some of the small squares repeat twice within a block to create a kind of symmetry around the center square or the opposite corners. I am sure to have over a 1000 fabrics used in total but some squares are duplicates. Shall I call it a Journal Quilt or is it a kind of Charm Quilt?
Thanks for your opinion! I admire your quilts. They are always so lovely and have such interesting color combinations and design motifs.
This is a great question and Jinny wants the information to be available to all her view her blogs, she will include her answer to you in her next blog which will be coming out in a couple of weeks.
I have been making a cathedral windows quilt for around 15 years using 2 inch pieces that I cut from new yardage or whatever new fabric I buy. All my fabric has a small square cut out of the bottom.
I want to make such a quilt and decided to sew the staring pairs by using them as leaders and enderst while piecing my next quilt. It just takes a little preparation and I will get a bonus quilt
I really like and can start with a scrap collection ,may need to make a few more from scrap bin .
Have read your book over and over. Thank you for this post. Am just finising what I call a scrap quilt, 3″ squares set straight. Next one I think will follow this post set on diagonal with a consistent background.
I’ve made two queen sized Charm Quilts. A lot of friends donated fabric for me to achieve this which makes them very special. I used the 1980 QNM article and Jinny’s The Scraplook book. I used a hexagon variation. First one is fabrics from 1985-1990. The second is fabrics from 1990-1995. 787 different fabrics in each quilt. Then I finished a equilateral triangle one started by a friend from Erie, PA. That one was about 2/3 pieced when I got it with a different collection of fabrics. I finished it with my local stash.
Enjoyed your charm quilts. I have been saving scraps but not cut yet, exiting to learn more. Thank you
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