Friday, May 23, 2014

The Graph Paper Quilt Along

I've always loved graph paper...something about all those little squares of possibility lying there in front of me. It was one of my favorite things to draw on as a child, perfect for creating intricate mazes when I was a teenager (any of you remember those?), and now works as my trusty sketchpad for new sewing ideas. So when I was choosing a name for my next event here at Fabric Mutt -- yes, a square centered event -- I just couldn't resist calling it the Graph Paper Quilt Along.

Patchwork Square Projects by Heidi Staples at Fabric Mutt
1. Botanics Desk Mat, 2. Scrappy Square Pillow, 3. Color Study Baby Quilt, 4. Crossword Quilt, 5. Doll's Sleeping Bag, 6. Bear's Floor Pillow, 7. Patchwork Case for Scribble & Write, 8. Mosaic Bags, 9. Another Perspective

Believe me, I love a challenging new quilt pattern; I can appreciate the joys of paper piecing and improv quilting, and I like a good sampler every now and then. Over and over, though, I find myself returning to the simplest method of quilt piecing: the humble patchwork square. I love working with squares, as you can see from the mosaic above, for several reasons. They're so versatile for one thing. The squares can just be squares, or they can be part of a bigger picture like a checkerboard, modern crosses, or a pixelated design of your own. I also love that fabric really takes center stage in a quilt full of squares, and they're absolutely perfect for fussy cutting -- something I love to do. There is a simplicity here that speaks to my soul when I'm feeling worn down or in need of fresh inspiration.

I loved getting feedback from all of you through my Giveaway Day question about your favorite kind of sew along. Quilts definitely led the pack, but not far behind were small projects which were championed by those of you who, like me, don't always have enough time in your schedule to devote to a large project. We're going to try something crazy here and see if we can have the best of both worlds. I'm offering you three options to choose from in this quilt along:

Option #1: Make a quilt. The only rule is that your quilt has to be made of squares. That's it. The size of the project (king size? lap size? mini size?) as well as the squares (1"? charm squares? layer cakes?) is up to you and so is the design made by your squares. I'll have some ideas for you to use as a starting point in my next QAL post, but start dreaming now. The freedom is unlimited here!

Option #2: Make small projects. Every other Monday I'm going to post a link to a free online tutorial that features patchwork squares, and I'll have my own version of the project to show you. If you don't feel like you can commit to a quilt, no worries! Feel free to sew along with us by sewing up a small patchwork project each week instead.

Option #3: Make a quilt AND small projects. Overachievers unite! We can do it all! If you've got the time and energy, spend a few days each week on your quilt and then a few days on the small project. You'll be overflowing with patchwork goodness by the end of this event!

I debated long and hard about having sponsors and offering prizes for this quilt along, and though it's the norm to do so, I decided against it this time. Though I love a nice prize package as much as the next person (and believe me, I do!), I don't want there to be the slightest smidgen of pressure on anybody during this event. Every once in a while it's nice to participate in a sew along with no judging, no comparing yourself to others, and no killing yourself to finish something by a deadline for the chance of winning free stuff. It's just you and your fabric having fun together as you sew something that you love...and all of us cheering you on while you do it. I'll be having link-ups here at Fabric Mutt every two weeks during the quilt along where you can share your small projects and quilt progress, and you can also post your photos in the Graph Paper Quilt Along Flickr group here. If you'd like to have an official quilt along button for your blog, just grab the code from my sidebar on the left.

So what do you say? Want to join me? If so, here's the schedule:

May 29th: Quilt Along Prep Post -- Ideas for Fabric & Themes
June 2nd: Small Project #1 & Cutting Your Quilt Fabric
June 9th: Progress Link-up #1 & Patchwork Piecing Tips
June 16th: Small Project #2 & Ideas for Your Quilt Backing
June 23rd: Progress Link-up #2 & Ideas for Quilting Designs
June 30th: Small Project #3 & Tips for Finishing Your Quilt
July 7th: The Final Link-up -- Show us the patchwork!

I'd love it if you would share the word about this event on your blogs and social media -- use the hashtag #graphpaperqal and you can tag me @fabricmutt too if you like. This quilt along is perfect for beginners or those new to any sort of sew along, so all rookies are welcome here! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Okay then...pull out your graph paper and a stack of colored pencils...ready...set...go!


  1. What a great idea! We all have enough pressure in our lives after all :)

  2. I'm in! I love graph paper too! I already have my squares cut too! ;)

  3. Spoken straight from my heart...I just did exactly that and sewn just squares...the most enjoyable, carefree thing I have done in a long time. Hope, it's ok if I still link up in June to show off my little quilt...currently waiting for a ruler from the US for FMQ, so there is a bit of a hold up. This should work out just right. Hmm... Almost tempted to do a second one!

  4. I've yet to make a simple patchwork quilt, and i love the idea of no pressure to finish on time ;)
    Count me in!

  5. I love squares. They fit so beautifully together with minimal fuss. I'm sure I can rummage up some squares to join in!

  6. I'm game ! I think ? Haven't really done a quilt along before. I did do the doctorwho along is that the same sort of thing?

  7. My very first quilt was patchwork and I seem to constantly be drawn back to them when using up my scraps. Looking forward to your quilt along!

  8. Oh, yes this sounds like fun... I enjoy squares patchwork, as I love to recycle fabric I find at 2nd hand stores. I even gave my granddaughter some graph paper, and now at 11 yrs. old she loves desiging her clothes too.....

  9. What a brilliant idea!! I loved joining in with the IG economy block sew along and I wanted to sew it and finish it because I loved it, not because there was a deadline or a prize!!

  10. This sounds great! I posted about it here:

  11. I have a fat quarter pack of Out to Sea waiting to become my daughter's big girl blanket! Or I could get crazy and make myself a new winter quilt with the wool batting on sale at Connecting Threads.....

  12. This sounds like a fun idea, if I can get my SSM5 item finished up or at least close to finished this week I\m in :D

  13. I am so into simple patchwork at the moment - it is fast, but so effective. Not sure I will have time to make anything to join in with this as I will be away, but I am looking forward to everyone elses makes :-)

  14. Sounds like a fun way to use up my collected 2" psq squares in a mini/lap quilt. =)

  15. YES! I have graph paper stashed everywhere, at my office, at home in my coffee table, next to my bed, in my purse... I'm a graph paper addict. (and I totally did mazes in HS when I was bored, which was most of the time. I've recently gotten my 5yo hooked on drawing 'mazes', it's a great fine motor and math activity!)

    I also have 2 baby quilts to whip out this summer. This QAL will be perfect for keeping me on track!

  16. Just found your blog and love it! I may have to join in on this because I am a graph paper junkie myself. :)


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