Appliqued Charm Squares Quilt
My sofa quilt measures 58 x 73". For simplicity I'll use my measurement here, but this project is completely customizable and extremely forgiving. Make it the size you like and space the blocks however suits you.
4 yards cotton for the top
4 yards flannel for the backing
Two 40-count packs of 5" charm squares*
1/2 yard cotton for binding and Clover Bias Tape Maker**
72 x 80" batting***
Fabric glue stick
Chalk marking tool
Two 24" or larger clear ruler(s) -- optional, but two are useful for squaring the blocks
* I used two different lines, omitting 13 patterns. Of course you may cut any fabric into squares, but for me the whole idea was to use charm squares languishing in my stash box. If you want 2.5" squares you can cut the charms into quarters or cut jelly roll strips into squares.
** Use the binding method and strip width of your choice. I cut eight 1 7/8" strips (cut the fabric straight, not on the bias), joined them into a continuous strip, then used a Clover Bias Tape Maker to create the binding.
*** If using 5" charm squares select a batting that can be quilted up to 4" apart or more. I always use flat cotton or wool, so I don't know how this would look with high loft poly. Fusible batting or spray fusing makes things easy, but of course you can pin.
Preparing the Quilt:
Cut the top yardage in half to create two 72 x 40+" pieces. Sew along the long side to create one 72 x 80+" piece. Trim the selvage along the sewn seam and press to one side.
Repeat with the backing yardage.
Make a quilt sandwich of backing, batting and top.
Fuse layers or secure using the method of your choice.
Arrange the charm blocks to taste. No two squares are the same on mine, so I just made sure the colors were balanced. Don't worry about exact placement at this point - just decide on the layout.
Carefully stack the squares in each row in order and place to the side.
Attaching the Squares & Quilting:
Note: I got this design idea from the owner of Starry Night Hollow, my local quilt store, and it is shared here with her permission. I worked out my technique to suit my style, but I was told methods for placing the squares run between eyeballing and drawing a full grid. Do what suits you. The following is the method I worked out through trial and error.
At first I tried eyeballing using the edges of the blocks as my sewing guides, but I found that with the 5" blocks and a quilt this size, there was too much shifting (even with the glue) once I got it rolled up and ready to feed through the machine. I worked out the marking system explained here as I went, so the first rows were a little wonky. I don't like wonky, but they weren't off enough to justify ripping (I'm not that intense). I'm pointing this out because in these photos you won't see the registration marks on first photos of the center cross and those lines aren't as straight.
Place and Sew the Center Cross
Only the first two rows use the block edges to determine the seam line. After the center cross has been sewn, use the existing seams to place the new blocks and mark sewing lines. This way your seams will form a straight grid even if the block fabric shifts slightly. Because the block edges will be frayed after washing, those irregularities will disappear.
I spaced the blocks 2.5" apart. The distance between blocks and the size of your frayed edge is up to you. Just keep it consistent.
Using the seam line of the top fabric as your guide, arrange the center row of the quilt starting with the center block and working out to each edge. I folded each block to find the center and lined that up along the seam, then used a ruler to separate each block evenly.
Once you have a block in position, use your ruler and chalk to mark the placement with registration and seam marks for this seam direction only. Wait until you're ready to sew the other direction to make those marks because you may need to make adjustments for distortion. I learned to make short marks because the chalk does get on your machine - less is better.
After marking, lift the block from one side and swipe a smudge of glue from the glue stick under the center of the square, lay the square back in place, check that your registration marks match and press down.
I wanted a wide border area around the blocks and found it was very useful to mark that line near the edge to keep it straight all the way to the end. If you make a bad chalk mark wipe it off or just make a second, correct one and "point" to the correct line with a tick like this:
Roll up the quilt and sew seams from one raw edge to the other. As you get to each block check the registration marks and stop and reposition the blocks as necessary. Especially in the beginning it's good to alternate directions to minimize distortion, so I went back and forth, up and down, etc., until the quilt was well-structured.
After sewing both sides of the center row in one direction, take the quilt out of your machine and lay it out flat. Arrange the center row perpendicular to your first row to form a cross. Using the center block as your guide, arrange, mark, glue and sew as described above.
Place and Sew the Remaining Blocks
The first two rows take the most time; after those rows the the marking and sewing gets much faster and easier. I attached the rows in batches and then returned to the floor to mark and glue the next rows. This allowed me to adjust for minor distortions that occurred as the row seams criss-crossed each other.
If your dog and/or cats insist on cavorting on your quilt, employ a helper to de-fuzz your project. Cookies and milk are good incentives. You can see a square turned up for gluing in the upper right side of this photo.
Finishing the Quilt
After all the blocks have been sewn on all four sides trim the quilt and bind as desired. I used the Clover Bias Tape tool to create my binding.
I use a zig zag stitch for wiggle room and because it's fun.
"Aging" the Applique
Wash and dry your quilt. After the first wash there will be lots of strings along the raw edges. Pull them carefully sideways with the direction of the warp/weft. DO NOT yank them up from under the quilting seams. You don't really need me to tell you that, but if you use non-sewing helpers be sure to show them.
Take it outside, throw it on the ground and let the your pets run over it. Wash. Dry. Repeat. Enjoy!