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Scrap Quilt 3 – working with 1½” x 1½” fabric scraps

by Paul Leger

Yesterday, while I worked on the second scrap quilt using 3” x 3” fabric scraps, I briefly wrote about threads and how I like using neutral colors when sewing. It’s amazing how these two neutral threads blend so well with my quilting cottons: GÜTERMANN Cotton 50wt Thread 250m – Lt. Slate and the GÜTERMANN Cotton 50wt Thread 250m – Ivory.

Two spools of 250 meters GÜTERMANN 50wt Thread Lt. Slate and Ivory on a four patch.

GÜTERMANN 50wt Thread Lt. Slate and Ivory

My two go-to needle sizes are the SCHMETZ #1709 Universal Needles 80/12 and the SCHMETZ #1710 Universal Needles 90/14. When should I use which? It all comes down to the quality of the thread used. Within the same brand, such as GÜTERMANN, all 50wt are the same size threads. Other brands may be a bit thinner and others a bit thicker. With GÜTERMANN  50wt thread I use a SCHMETZ 90/14 needle. If I use the GÜTERMANN 60wt threads, then I would use a SCHMETZ 80/12 needle.

Note: Although most threads will pass through the eye of any needle it does not mean the needle is well suited for the thread. The wrong needle size could cause issues with the thread such as breakage, fraying, bad tension, and other issues. Use the correct needle for the fabrics and threads being used. This link will show all the SCHMETZ needles that are available. SCHMETZ Needles

Two – five packs of SCHMETZ needles, size 80/12 and 90/14

SCHMETZ needles

Here are the fabrics needed to make today’s quilt.

·         5150 – 1½” x 1½” squares (5120 for the blocks + 30 for the corner stones)

·         for each of the 20 blocks, four strips are needed: two measuring 1½” x 16½” and two measuring 1½” x 18½”. For these, I went looking in my scrap stash of solid-colored strips that were at least 3” x 36”.

·         1⅛” yd for 49 black 1½” x 18½” strips

Today’s quilt will measure 77½” x 96½” before quilting.

I started by cutting the 49 black 1½” x 18½” strips using the  OLFA 6″ x 24″ Ruler and the OLFA Splash Handle Rotary Cutter 45mm. Then I proceed to cut the colored strips that would be next to the blocks.

Four 1½” x 18½” strips are cut using the OLFA 6” x 24” ruler.

Cut 49 – 1½” x 18½” strips.

In Monday’s post, I wrote about using my squares cut from scraps as leaders and enders, which for the most part I do. There are days when I want to sit at the machine and sew for the sake of sewing. On those days I simply chain piece so I get to sew and sew without putting much thought into it. It’s surprising how many squares can be sewn in one day!

A chain piecing method separates ten sets of 1½” x 1½” squares.

Chain piecing

Anytime I make blocks using scrap squares, my blocks will always be sewn in multiple of twos: a four-parch, a 16-patch, or in today’s case a 256-patch.

The reason for this is, I find it easier and quicker. Once my pairs are sewn together, I pair them up with another pair making them into fours, I then take the fours together and get sets of eights, and I keep going.

multiple pairs of squares are sewn in sets of four, then sets of 8 and finally in sets of 16.

Sewing pairs into sets of four, then eight and then 16.

When there are 16 rows of 16 squares, I sew them all together to get a block.

A 256 patch block of 16 rows each containing 16 -1½” x 1½” squares.

A 256-patch block

Sew on the colored strip to each block. Start by sewing the stripes measuring 1½” x 16½” to the left and right sides of a block then sew the strips measuring 1½” x 18½” to the top and bottom of the block.

A completed 256 patch block with a yellow-orange border.

A complete block with a border.

To make the rows of blocks, divide the blocks into five stacks of four. Sew black 1½” x 18½” strips between each block and at each end of the rows.


With the remaining 24 black 1½” x 18½” strips, make six rows. Each row will have four black strips with a colourful 1½” x 1½” square between each strip and one at each end.

Four black 1½” x 18½” strips are sewn together end to end with a 1½” x 1½” colorful square in between each strip and at each end.

Make rows with black strips and cornerstones.

Sew the black strips between each row of blocks one on the top of the first row and one on the bottom of the last row.

Two 256 blocks are separated with a black strip sewn between them and a row on top.

Adding the black strips.

Once the above step is completed all there is left to do is to quilt and sew on the binding.

The completed quilt with a total of 20 blocks each contains 256 - 1½” x 1½” squares

The completed quilt, quilted by Angi Anderson.

Make sure to have spare SCHMETZ sewing machine needles at the ready (military term), can’t go wrong with SCHMETZ #1709 Universal Needles 80/12 and SCHMETZ #1710 Universal Needles 90/14.

Tomorrow, I have ideas on how to use larger pieces found in stashes. Join me!

This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: Scrap Quilt 2 – working with 3” x 3” fabric scraps

Go to part 5: 5 ideas for using large-size leftover fabric in quilting projects


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