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Make a Small Quilt From Well-Loved Sweatshirts or From Newly Purchased Fleece. Meets Operation Quiet Comfort criteria.

Updated on January 20, 2019
LADS Family profile image

Loretta learned to sew on her Grandma's treadle sewing machine. She began sewing her own clothes in 7th grade and still enjoys fabric work.

3 quilts from 3 solid colors
3 quilts from 3 solid colors

Create 3' x 5' Small Quilts from Fleece Which Require no Batting nor Binding.

I make these quilts with a serger, however you can also use a regular stitch on a basic sewing machine. You may need to make your stitches longer and/or change the tension for the thicker fleece if you usually sew on thinner fabrics.

For the Operation Quiet Comfort quilt, I find it just as easy to make 3 at a time instead of just one. Otherwise, you could make one for home, one for the car, and one as a gift perhaps.

I suggest the anti-pill fleece. If you're going to this much effort and some expense, spend just a few dollars more and make them worth having for a long time.

Note: On my serger, I use barely 1/4" for the seam, which makes my pieced front slightly less than the full 3' x 5'. I can live with this. If you want the full 12" square OR if you take 1/2" or 5/8" seam allowance, then adjust your fleece purchase and template size to compensate accordingly.

Buy and Prepare Your Fleece

  • Purchased fleece must be 60" wide!! (5 Feet)
  • If you are using 12"x12" sweatshirt squares for the front, 1 yard of fleece is enough for the backing for one quilt. If you only have 3-5 sweatshirts you may want to purchase more of the backing fleece to complete the required 15 squares.
  • If you are making 3 quilts you need 6 yards. I like to get 2 yards of 3 different yet coordinating fabrics. This gives each quilt a different back and the fronts are a mixture of the 3 colors/patterns.
  • Each quilt front needs 15 squares, each square being 12" x 12".
  • Make a 12" x 12" template. Cut from a sturdy brown grocery bag or any lightweight cardboard. You can also use a square of fabric. The important thing is to keep your squares the same size.
  • Your sweatshirts are probably already washed (right?). Now wash your new fleece, don't use fabric softener, and dry it nice and fluffy.

Having puppy approved fabric is a bonus!
Having puppy approved fabric is a bonus!

Let's get Cutting

For the Sweatshirts:

  1. You may have 15 different sweatshirt designs, or you may decide to use a design from the front and the matching solid from the back which will give you two squares per sweatshirt. Just depends how many you need to use up.
  2. Cut as many squares of your sweatshirt fronts, backs, and purchased fleece until you have 15 separate 12" x 12" squares.

For the 3 quilts, if you have purchased 2 yards each of 3 separate fleeces cut your fabric like so:

  1. Cut each 2-yard piece into two 3'x5' pieces.
  2. You now have 6 pieces of fabric measuring 3 feet by 5 feet
  3. Set 3 of these pieces aside for the backing - one of each color/design
  4. Depending on the quality/method of your cutting tools (heavy duty scissors, or rotary cutter) you may be able to stack the remaining 3 pieces. If not, just cut each piece separately. It doesn't take that much more time, really.
  5. Whether stacked or individual, cut each 3'x5' yardage into 15 squares, each being 12" by 12" (or adjusted if you take a larger seam allowance than 1/4")

Arrange Your Squares

Maybe you have one special sweatshirt front, or maybe even three that you want right in the middle. Go for it. Or arrange it alternating front design, matching back, and coordinating fleece. Nothing is wrong.

For solid squares, or solid and patterns, alternate them, or have a row of each three fabrics. Each quilt can be the same, or you can make each slightly different.

Anything that looks nice to you is, well, nice. You want to end up with 3 squares across and 5 squares down. (Hence the description 3 x 5).

In the photo below, you can see the arrangements are very simple - just alternating the colors. You could make one row of three all one color, then the next row the second color, and so on, then repeat.

Dog Bone pattern with solid colors
Dog Bone pattern with solid colors

Let's start sewing!

Your squares are all arranged in a 3 x 5 grid. Good job!

  1. Take your first two squares, right sides together, and sew along one side.
  2. (Bonus: Solid fleece doesn't have much of a right/wrong side).
  3. Take the third square, place right-sides against the middle square and sew along one side. TA-DA! Your first row of three squares is complete
  4. Continue until all five rows are done.
  5. Now, place two rows right-sides together and sew. Repeat for all five rows.

Let's Finish Up!

You now have your pieced top and your solid backing. You guessed it - place right sides together.

For me the prior steps have been manageable enough - since fleece isn't slippery - that I have not used pins to keep everything together. At this point, I need to roll and jostle the fabric to fit it through my machine so I do use pins to keep it from shifting. Be sure to stay "inland" and away from your needle.

  1. Sew around three sides, and maybe part of a 4th side. In any case, leave at least 12 inches unsewn so you can turn the quilt to right-sides out.
  2. Turn the quilt right-side out.
  3. Stitch up the final opening, either by machine or by hand. You'll also want to "tack" front and back together. By machine or by hand you can "stitch in the ditch" around some of the squares. A few stitches at each square corner will do the trick also. If you are ambitious you can do a full-on quilting-design as well!

You now have a quilt (or quilts) that will serve for many years. Congratulations!

Official labels are available once you join Operation Quiet Comfort - Small Quilts Project.
Official labels are available once you join Operation Quiet Comfort - Small Quilts Project.

Just a thought....

If you like sewing small quilts but run out of people to gift them to, consider the group Operation Quiet Comfort. They support our military with "soft goods" such as these quilts, new socks, and other "quiet comforts". Or perhaps a local hospital could use these to send home with new babies or others who need them.

Also, these can be a group project. I cut the large pieces at home and took my serger to work. The squares were cut by workmates and we took turns at break times serging the pieces. These were 6 quilts as a project for Veterans Day. It's too cold to go out for lunch anyway, so staying inside making something worthwhile was great.

I've also included a photo of a "traditional" quilt - pieced, filled with batting, the backing, and the binding. They look great but take more time than the fleece.

Use your talent. Someone will be happy you did.


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    • LADS Family profile imageAUTHOR

      The Sampsons 

      4 weeks ago from The Ozarks, Missouri

      It makes a great group project for winter days.

    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      Thanks for the guide! Very useful. Making them to donate is a great idea for giving back, too.

    • LADS Family profile imageAUTHOR

      The Sampsons 

      7 weeks ago from The Ozarks, Missouri

      Thank you very much. I hope even just a few people will participate.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 weeks ago from the short journey

      A useful DIY post and thanks so much for including the encouragement to work with Operation Quiet Comfort by giving this kind of quilt.


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