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Postage Stamp Quilt Tutorial
Getting Started with Postage Stamp Quilts
Postage stamp quilts are made up of thousands of tiny 1 inch by 1 inch squares sewn together. Through history, these quilts were a way to use up the tiniest scraps of fabric left over from sewing. Postage stamp quilts are often pieced with no set pattern in mind, but there are no hard and fast rules about how to arrange the colors of the squares. Making a postage stamp quilt is simple, but requires a lot of patience.
This Postage Stamp Quilt Tutorial will teach you 2 different ways to make a postage stamp quilt:
Patterns for postage stamp quilts
The pattern of a postage stamp quilt can be as random or as planned as you like. The first picture on this page is actually from my postage stamp quilt which is a work in progress. My postage stamp quilt is made from fabric scraps that are randomly pieced together. Many of these scraps were from old clothes or leftover from other quilts. This method of piecing a postage stamp quilt works on a natural color theory that every color goes together in small enough bits. Look around you in nature and you will see this to be true.
Other ways to arrange a postage stamp quilt would be to group like colored fabric into stripes, alternate colored pieces with white squares, or you could use postage stamp piecing in combination with other quilt piecing techniques.
My favorite design for a postage stamp is to arrange the colors so they make a diamond shape that fades through all the colors of the rainbow. This quilt pattern is often called "Trip Around The World"
Below I have included a collection of postage stamp quilt photos.
Where to buy a postage stamp quilt
If you are not into making your own postage stamp quilt, ebay is the best place to buy one. Even if you do want to make your own postage stamp quilt, check ebay for some great designs. When searching ebay, you can find some great pre 1930s vintage postage stamp quilts
How to Scrap Piece a Postage Stamp Quilt
There are 2 ways to make a scrappy postage stamp quilt. The first way involves cutting your squares first and then piecing each square together. The second method of piecing a postage stamp quilt is to cut and sew strips of fabric then cutting the strips and sewing them back together.
Piecing on the fly results in a scrappier, more random assortment of fabric. Strip piecing a postage stamp quilt makes the process go much quicker.
Books on Making Postage Stamp Quilts
Postage Stamp Quilt on The Fly
To start out a postage stamp quilt, I cut my scrap fabric into 1.5" squares. This makes a 1" square sewn piece with 1/4" seam allowances.
I throw all my squares into a bucket (or a box, bag, whatever) and mix well.
When I am ready to start piecing my quilt, I grab 2 squares and sew them right sides together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Without lifting the presser foot, I take 2 more squares and sew them right side together. I keep doing this, basically until I get bored of sewing. This is also called chain piecing or string piecing. There will only be 1 or 2 stitches between each set of squares. Cut these pieces apart and throw them into the bucket.
The next time I come back to sewing, I will take my pieces that I have just sewn (strips that are 2 squares long) and sew them together using the chain piecing method so I have strips that are 4 squares long. I cut the 4 square chains and then sew the strips together so I have strips 8 squares long. I do this until I have strips that are 16 squares long. Press all the seams in one direction.
After I have created strips that are 1 high X 16 long, I sew the strips together using the same method, being careful to alternate the direction of the seams. I do this 1X 16, 2 X 16, 4X 16, 8 X 16, and finally 16 x 16. This is one completed block
After I have enough 16 X 16 blocks completed, I sew them together to make the quilt top.
For the quilt sandwich (top, batting, backing), I prefer to use the lap quilting method and then join my quilted pieces together. A smaller section to quilt is easier than trying to quilt the whole top at once by hand or on a home sewing machine.
How to Chain Piece (Video)
Strip Pieced Postage Stamp Quilt
The Second method of making a postage stamp quilt is strip piecing.
Strip piecing is very similar to piecing on the fly, but instead of starting with small squares you start with strips of fabric.
To make a 16 x 16 block you need Fabric strips that are 1.5 inches wide and 24 inches long (16 + 8 to give 1/4" seam allowances).
*EDIT: You can actually use strips that are any length X 1.5" wide. To prevent fabric waste, ideally your length will be a multiple of 1.5. Every 3" of fabric strip will give you two 1 1/2" squares.
*If you want to make a postage stamp quilt really fast, you could buy several jelly rolls of fabric. These are collections of fabric cut into 2 1/2 X 42" strips. This would allow you to get sewing faster.
With right sides together, sew 2 fabric strips together, then 4, then 8, then 16. Press all seams in the same direction. Do this with different sets and different colors. This will give you a block that is 16.5" X 24".
Using a rotary cutter, Cut this block into 1.5" strips across the seams you have just sewn. Throw all of these strips into a pile.
Pulling strips out at randome, Sew these new strips together to create a block that will have a finished size of 16 X 16 (actual size will be 16.5" x 16.5" before you have put the quilt top together).
Combine these blocks to make your quilt top, layer and baste your quilt sandwich and finish up with machine or hand quilting.
How to strip piece (Video)
This video shows you how to do strip piecing for a 9 patch quilt. The process is the same except you will be using smaller pieces and bigger blocks for your postage stamp quilt