For years now, I’ve been using a worn-out 2.5” cardboard square to make good use of leftover bits of fabric. (Nothing fancy — it’s cut from a case of beer!)
If I have a scrap of fabric that’s too small to put back in my regular (colour-coded) fabric bins, I quickly trace as many 2.5” squares as it will hold …
… then cut them out and stick them in a plastic bin for future use. OK, several bins.
(Why 2.5”? Well, a 2.5” square will actually result in a finished 2” square after you add 1/4” seams on all four sides. Quilting involves a lot of math, which is probably a good thing because I need regular math practice.)
My original plan had been to stitch a zillion of the tiny squares together and make a huge crazy quilt. I did that for a while — until I’d made a 4’ x 5’ stretch of quilt top — before I decided I was sick of the project.
I still had hundreds, even thousands, of those tiny 2.5” squares. I just didn’t want to have to stitch them together, one by one, trying to align thousands of intersections where four squares meet. Ugh.
Then I came across the idea of making what’s called a “postage stamp quilt” (lots and LOTS of tiny squares) using a cool “cheater” method that involved SEWABLE iron-on interfacing.*
(You can get any kind, but make sure it’s lightweight and SEWABLE, not the sticky no-sew kind or you’ll gum up your sewing machine needles and curse the day you bought the wrong kind.)
My squares each measured 2.5” so I knew a 5×5 layout would require a 12.5” x 12.5” piece of iron-on interfacing. I cut a 13” square just to be safe, knowing I could easily trim a bit off the edges.
I put the interfacing bumpy side up (meaning the gluey part was up) and had fun arranging a 5×5 grid of colourful little squares.
Some people draw a grid on their interfacing and then fill it in, but I found I was able to keep it relatively straight by starting in the middle and working out.
Since the glue wasn’t activated yet, I could play around with the layout until I was happy with the placement of each square.
I pressed a hot iron down onto the grid a few times so the heat would melt the glue in the interfacing — sticking the squares together in their grid.
I ironed the grid carefully until I was sure every square was stuck in place, and then I could pick up the grid easily. All 25 tiny squares had become one big square!
This part is fast and SUPER satisfying. I made a whole bunch of big squares in no time at all.
Of course, I wasn’t finished.
The 5×5 squares couldn’t be used in a quilt yet. They would look awful because the edges around each tiny square would fray and expose the interfacing underneath.
In order to finish a square, I flipped over the first row (of tiny squares) and stitched all the way across the back — about 1/4” from the crease — to seal in the raw edges.
Once I did each row, the back of the block looked like this …
I did that with each vertical row, and then I pressed the “stick-up seams” flat and did the same with each horizontal row.
Then the back of the blocks looked like this …
I flipped each block over and pressed it from the front. The finished result was a perfect 5×5 grid where every intersection was tidy — no wonky areas where four squares don’t meet correctly — and it didn’t require a single pin to get anything painstakingly aligned. WOW!
Once I figured out this method was genius, I got on a roll and made 5×5 grids until I ran out of interfacing. It was addictive!
I loved pawing through my bins of scrappy squares and picking out different block themes — Christmas, Halloween, superheroes — or playing with different colour combinations.
When I have enough finished blocks, my plan is to add white sashing (borders) around each square — mostly to keep the themes separate so you can appreciate each block individually — and then sew them together to make a gigantic colourful quilt.
Don’t forget to pin this post for later so you can refer back to it.