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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fleece Patchwork (Un)Quilt

In today's installment of Do Something Sustainable for the Holidays, I'm going to encourage you to make a quilt.

No, I haven't gone round the bend here.  I am in love with this fleece patchwork quilt pattern, which is really quick and easy because there is no actual quilting involved -- that is, there is no batting between the layers and no top stitching.  Therefore, it might best be called a fleece blanket, but I like the idea of calling it an (un)quilt.

You already know of my love for the remnant bin at my favorite fabric store, Joann Fabric and Crafts.  The prices there are amazing; bolt ends and miscuts are sold at whatever that day's sale is on the fabric, plus 50% off for remnants, plus whatever coupons you have.  I can regularly score a yard of fabric for around $2.

For this project, all you need are remnants in fleece patterns and colors you like, plus a cut of fleece for backing.  Follow these simple steps:

1.  Cut the patchwork fleece into squares.  I use a 4.5 inch square quilting template because I like the look of random patches of regularly-cut fabric.  But feel free to get more complex or to try patterns like 9-patch squares (my next attempt).  Just remember that the more complex your patchwork, the more time it takes.

2.  Sew your squares together.  For me, I sew 14 squares to get the width; this is about five feet in width.  I like this width for a fleece quilt because bolts of fleece come in 58-60 inch widths, so this will fit the backing without piecing two cuts of fleece together to make the back.  That is difficult and unwieldy.  Five feet wide also allows me to put the quilt on my side of the (king) bed without disturbing over-heated hubby.

3.  Sew your width strips together to make about six feet in length.  Again, six feet is two yards of fleece, which is an inexpensive backing.  Alternately, you could patch the back as well, but that would be more work. 

4.  For this quilt, I bought a piece of bluish grey fleece for the back that was two yards long and about 60 inches wide.  It cost (after sale and coupons) about $14.  Place the backing and the topper with right sides together and machine sew on three sides, like you are making a pillow case.  For the fourth side (which would be open on a pillow case, turn the edges in and sew both sides together.  You can do this on your machine (remember, that is four thicknesses of fabric, so you may want to change to a heavier needle) or by blind stitch (which I'm going to do on my next quilt).

Voila!  A soft, warm "quilt" that really relies on the warmth of air sandwiched in two layers of fleece instead of the normal cotton and batting sandwich.  If you are crafty, you could easily sew one of these up as a Christmas gift (a lap quilt also would be nice and take even less time), or you could start one to keep your own toes toasty in the bitter months to come.  (This is particularly nice if you are participating in The Crunchy Chicken's Freeze Yer Buns Challenge.)

The Analysis

Fast:  In quilt-time, this one comes together in a jiffy.  Cut squares while you are watching TV at night, and then sew together in a few bursts of sewing.  I like to work on one of these while I'm writing, because it gives me a chance to turn away from the computer and think for a few minutes while I assemble a few squares.

Cheap:  I put my first fleece quilt together for the cost of $14 for two yards of backing fleece, plus whatever I spent on remnants.  With the remnant bin full (as it is right now with everyone using fleece to make gifts), you should be able to bring this project in under $30 with some smart shopping.

Good:  The fleece quilt is one of the (very) few things I actually like about winter.  It is so soft and warm, it follows me everywhere:  downstairs onto the couch during the day, and upstairs onto the bed at night.  I can't wait to finish another.
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  1. To try and be frugal and eco with our crafts I use op-shop finds or stained hand me downs to cut up and repurpose.

    This saves stuff out of landfill and I feel better knowing I haven't used new fabric from a unknown source, as fabric can be as bad as unsustainable clothing brands.

    Check out my blog. Dolly and I are currently working on shrinking old damaged jumpers from op-shops and turning them into warm winter scarves as gifts. I don't have lots of talent but trying to make small differences baby step by baby step.

  2. Great ideas, Frugal Down Under! I've got a stack to be repurposed as well, so I'll be checking out your projects.

  3. Thank you for the information. I am getting ready to make a quilt for my granddaughter's college dorm room. She wants hot pink, white, zebra, and black. Her pictures show it flannel and knotted together. I like the way you have sewn it. Much easier on me and I think I can please her. Again thank you for the advise.

    1. I hope you'll come back and show us your results!

  4. Do the two layers of this quilt stay in place without stitching through both layers? I love the thought of less work and the soft warmth of a fleece quilt.

    1. Yes. I have made three quilts this way so far (two of which are mine and in constant winter use), and the layers stay in place just fine. The only hard part is sewing a giant "pillowcase" the size of a quilt -- you might need a buddy to hold up the weight so you don't get your two layers askew. But they hold up like a dream!

  5. What seam allowance did you use? 1/4 inch? This is going to be my first quilt and I'm excited. :-)

    1. Kelly:

      I used 3/8", but it really doesn't much matter. The beauty of this is that it just works with whatever you like to do with your sewing. :-)

      Good luck and have fun!

    2. Thank you! I think I'm going to do cotton for the squares because I have tons of that around already, and then use fleece for the backing. :-)

    3. Let us know how it turns out! I did an almost-king-size unquilt in cotton backed in fleece that is now our bedspread.