My Quick Quiltmaking Methods

I work long days and I have a second job. Yet I manage to make at least one throw-sized quilt each month, often in a week or two. My secrets? For one thing, I stay up very late, which I don't recommend. Typically I don't start sewing until well into the evening, and usually quit around midnight.

Far more practical, I follow many of the principles found in Time-Crunch Quilts by Nancy J. Martin:

Small quilts - My quilts usually finish around 60" square. They are cuddle on the couch quilts, not bedspreads.

Theme prints - I love novelty fabrics, but many other patterns can fill a space and take the place of a pieced block.

Large blocks - Generally my blocks are 12" finished or larger. Nine 15" blocks can fill up a pretty big space. Add border(s) and/or sashing and you've got a throw.

Wide sashing - My sashing is typically 3" finished. It's an easy way to enlarge a quilt.

Diagonal setting of blocks - I don't use this setting very often, but it's certainly true that a diagonally set block fills more space. A 12" block tipped on the diagonal measures around 17".

When Nancy was a guest on HGTV's Simply Quilts many years ago, she mentioned using a limited number of fabrics. I love scrappy quilts, but for me, decision-making takes time. It's much more efficient to deal with the consistency of 3 or 4 fabrics always being used in the same position in a block. Construction becomes rather assembly line, which is very helpful when time is short.

My own shortcuts;

I construct small blocks (four-patch or plain squares) and surround them with wide strips, log-cabin style. My log cabin has one round, and is usually made from one fabric. Those blocks typically finish at 8" or 9" square. They're quick to make and I can usually crank out a set of two dozen in a couple of evenings. It's also a great way to turn a fat quarter or two into a whole quilt.

I start with several width-of-fabric cuts in busy prints, adding a few rows of simple pieced blocks to make it appear that I worked harder than I actually did. I usually add narrow sashing to separate the rows, which also makes the quilt longer. Add a wide border and it's done.

I start with one central block that is on the difficult side, such as applique or many pieces. Then I'll surround it with simple blocks and plain squares in busy prints.

I have a bunch of quilts with the label Four-Day Wonders, quilts I made from first cut to finished in a week or less. You will probably see many of the above time-saving methods demonstrated in those quilts.

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