The Secret Life of Charm Squares

Do Charm Squares Have a Secret Life?

You bet they do.
Just think about it, you see a pack of charm squares and it’s just 5″ squares of fabric that sort of match together. At this stage it really isn’t anything special other than being your favourite color or theme.
Now you open the pack and lay it out to reveal all the beauty contained within. You move the squares around in a concert of color until the pattern speaks to you. Do I want to make a bag or a quilt, maybe one of those attractive wall hangings or something made with half square triangles to make the colours pop? The more you play with the squares the more of their secret is revealed to you.
Okay, I’m in a bit of a whimsical mood as you can probably tell, but seriously I love charm squares mostly because I don’t have to think about matching colours…it’s all done for me.

The Hill or the Valley?

One of the things we found frustrating when we first started using charm square packs was where to start the 1/4″ seam from. It’s okay when charm squares are cut with straight edges, but many charm squares like Moda for instance have pinked edges.

So do you measure from the hill or the valley of the pinked edge?

This can make a huge difference in how your project comes together and it can also affect the size of the project. The answer?…we measure the quarter-inch from the top of the hill. This is because the ‘hill’ is taken into account in the measurement of the square…at least for Moda charm squares.

Some people actually trim off the pinked edges but just remember that if you do this, it will change the size of your charm square so make sure that you measure to ensure that you have the right size square for your project.

Should You Pre-wash Your Charm Squares?

It most cases the answer to that is no. If you have purchased good quality fabric, then the likelihood of shrinkage and colour run is minimal. Plus, because fabric tends to fray when being washed, the small size of the charm squares will mean that you could lose some of the size of your fabric especially as it has been cut around all four sides of the square.

How to Cut Your Own Charm Squares

Like most quilters you probably have lots of offcuts of your favourite fabrics in your stash so you could cut your own charm squares – we do that all the time. If you need help with doing this, you can check out our tutorial here.

Projects Using Charm Squares

Patchwork Cushion Tutorial

  • These are great to make using leftover charm squares as they only require 9 charm squares for the front of the cushion. This is an envelope style cushion so there is no need to worry about inserting a zip. These cushions look awesome, make great gifts, and are fairly simple to make. CLICK HERE for the tutorial.

Patchwork Tote Bag Tutorial

  • This tote bag uses 16 charm squares plus some yardage. The back of the tote bag is one piece of fabric but of course you could use charm squares on the reverse as well. We’ve also added a bit of couching around the squares which really makes it pop – it is easier than you think and doesn’t require a special foot. CLICK HERE for the tutorial.

charm-square-tote-bag, sewing, diy

Charm Packs to Purchase

Here are some of the latest Charm Square Packs from the Fat Quarter Shop. Click Here!