TUTORIAL: Fading Charms Quilt

Haul out that big bin, bag or box of scraps and start cutting your favorite size charms. Whether 2-1/2″, 2″ or 1-1/2″, this quilt will be a beautiful use of your bits and pieces of fabric. If you don’t have scraps, jelly rolls, 5″ charm packs, layer cakes or honey buns are a good starting point, too.

Don’t let the number of small pieces scare you off.  If you sew together only 20 squares a day, you will finish the top in less than 2 months.  So, gather up scraps.  Beg them from friends and neighbors.  Put them in a pile, and start sewing.  You’ll have a “wow” quilt when you are done.


72″x72″ (using 2-1/2″ squares)

54″ x 54″ (using 2″ squares)

36″ x 36″ (using 1-1/2″ squares)

NOTE:  In the following directions the first dimension given is for 2-1/2″ squares.  Those for 2″ and 1-1/2″ will be given in order in the parentheses following.


At least 846 charms squares cut to the size of your choice.  My sample quilt used 2-1/2″ squares, but the pattern will accommodate 2″ or 1-1/2″ squares equally well.

2 yards (1-1/2 yards, 1 yard) Background Fabric

4-1/2 yards ( 3 yards, 1-1/4 yards) Backing Fabric

batting suitable for size of quilt

 5/8 yard (1/2 yard, 1/4 yard) for Binding


1. Create your solid charm blocks.  Each block is described in terms of blocks wide x blocks long.  You will need the following:

1 block 10×10, 2 blocks 4×12, 2 blocks 4×20, 2 blocks 2×22, 2 blocks 2×26, 2 blocks 1×28, 2 blocks 1×30.

 2. Create your alternating charm/background blocks.  Cut 4 (4, 3) strips of background fabric Width Of Fabric (WOF) x 2-1/2″ (2″, 1-1/2″).  Subcut these strips into 64 squares 2-1/2″ (2″, 1-1/2″).  Piece two blocks 1×32 each using 16 background and 16 charms squares.  Piece two blocks 1×34 each using 17 background and 17 charm squares.

3. Whew!  All the hard part is done. You should have a total of 17 separate various size charm blocks.

4. Now for the background fabric.  Cut the fabric into strips 2-1/2″ (2″, 1-1/2″) wide and WOF.  Sew them together end to end so you can measure your background pieces off of the strip.

5. Start with your center 10×10 square.  To surround this you need two pieces of background fabric 20-1/2″ (15-1/2″, 10-1/2″) long and two pieces 24-1/2″ (18-1/2″, 12-1/2″) long.  Attached the shorter pieces to the top and bottom and the longer pieces to the sides.

6. Using your charm blocks that are 4×12 and 4×20, attach the shorter blocks to the top and bottom of your quilt and the larger blocks to the sides.

7. Now, another round of background strips.  You will need two strips 40-1/2″  (30-1/2″,  20-1/2″ ) and two strips 44-1/2″ ( 33-1/2″, 22-1/2″).  Attach the shorter ones to the top and bottom and the longer ones to the sides.

8. Back to colored blocks.  Attach the two  that are 2×22 to the top and bottom of the quilt and the two that are 2×26 to the sides.

9. Background again.  This time two strips that are 52-1/2″ ( 39-1/2″, 26-1/2″) and two that are 56-1/2″ (42-1/2″, 28-1/2″).  You’ve got it–top and bottom, then the sides.

10.  Color pieces this time.  Attach the two  that are 1×28 to the top and bottom of the quilt and the two that are 1×30 to the sides.

11. You are getting there!  Background strips again.  Two that are 60-1/2″ (45-1/2″, 30-1/2″) and two that are 64-1/2″ (48-1/2″, 32-1/2″).  Top and bottom.  Sides.

12. OK, the “faded” colored round.  You are now working with the strips that alternate background and colored charms.  Check your layout and make sure that the corners will meet with a background square on one block matching a colored charm on the other block.  It will appear to be continuous wrap.  The two 1×32 blocks belong on the top and bottom and the two 1×34 blocks on the sides.

13.  LAST ROUND!  From background fabric, cut two strips that are 68-1/2″ ( 51-1/2″, 34-1/2″) and two strips that are 72-1/2″ (54-1/2″, 36-1/2″).  Attach to top and bottom then the sides.

14.  YAY!  You have a beautiful, pieced charming scrap quilt.  Well done!

15.  Finish by creating your back, making your quilt sandwich, and prepping for quilting.  I am planning on a simple straight line quilting pattern myself and will update with pictures once they are available.  Last steps are binding and label.

Thank you for joining me on this quilting adventure!  I welcome comments and suggestions and would love to see pictures of your quilt so they can be added to the Fading Charms gallery.


Susan’s finish, modified to American Hero standard size…

Mary’s version

Lillian’s Version

Birgit’s Quilt

Clair’s version

Very green quilt


A Fading Charms

Chrissi made a beautiful variation that she is handquilting

Deborah did a beautiful hand quilted version, too.  Don’t you just want to wrap up and sit outside?!

And Holly did one, too…

2013-06-10 09.43.51

Renelle made this one from her boy’s shirts

2013-07-24 15.20.15

Jenny made one, and said: 

I just wanted to share a photo of a wall hanging I made using your Fading Charms tutorial. It all came about when I found myself with many poorly cut hexagons from a failed Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. The largest salvageable piece I could consistently cut from the hexagons was 1 ½”. Several quilting buddies advised me to just toss the pieces and move on, but I couldn’t. I remembered your tutorials, took a look and realized I could make something from all my squares. After weeks of turning my hexagons into squares I began sewing and a wall hanging was born. I machine quilted it myself with a serpentine line in graduating squares from the middle four squares on out. I love how it turned out and am I look forward to making more postage stamp quilts and using more of your tutorials in the future. Thank you for sharing.

22 Grandma's Postage Stamp 07 15 13

Cathy said she had the scraps and this was the perfect project for using up a bunch of them. I love her crosshatch quilting.


Marilyn shows her color sense in this bright and heart-happy version!

HOME - photo

Miriam is seeing TRIPLE and made a Fading Charms quilt in each of the three sizes.  Amazing!

photo 1

Linda’s quilt has been thoroughly inspected and deemed worthy by her trusty assistant!


YOUR quilt here…

71 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: Fading Charms Quilt

  1. This tutorial is getting bookmarked. I’m really looking forward to making this quilt someday, once I get some more practice with handsewing. I love the look of it. Thanks for writing this up for us all! 🙂

  2. i am on my way!!!!! i have most of my 2.5″ squares cut and the center block done..will put my background strips around it and proceed from there..it sounds like your tutorial is right on!!!! thank you…yours is beautiful..

    1. Hi merrie…My name is Pat and I along with many others love this quilt…Is there a pattern for it and where can I find it> I have all the scraps (2 1/2″) but I’m not sure how many white background squares are needed…If you have any info on it please contact me at Patpagels@gmail.com Thanks

      1. For the outer pieced section which alternates print and background squares, you need a total of 66 background squares. There are two sections that will use 16 each (total of 32) and two sections that use 17 each (total 34). I hope this helps.

  3. I’ve been waiting on this tutorial. I have the center block finished and all the squares cut. Hope I get to work on it this weekend.

  4. Deanna,
    I’m printing it right now and hope to make it someday. I like the idea of sewing 20 a day. I might be able to accomplish that!
    Have a great day.


  5. What a great tutorial for a fabulous quilt!!! Yay for you for doing it and sharing it with us!!! 🙂

  6. I worked on mine today, and on one for American Heroes. The AmHero one has the second border from center, and mine has the first from the center!

  7. Love, love, love this quilt. I have a box full of small squares….I am definitely going to do this as one of my next projects….just as soon as I finish at least 4 of my UFOs!

  8. This is perfect for all of my 1 1/2 ” strips left over from making a log cabin quilt! I will get started today!

  9. I am planning to do this quilt right away. Get started any how. I love the look of the quilt. I have a container of 2 1/2 strips that I can start cutting from.
    Thank you for sharing this quilt pattern.

  10. I am in a postage stamp swap and have hundreds of the little squares. I’ve started my quilt and have the center done. Now for the next round. I love the look of this quilt and have an overflowing basket of 2″ strips, which will be the size I make my next Fading Charm quilt! Great tutorial and thanks for sharing. ~Shirley

  11. Awesome tutorial – now I finally know what I will do with all my precious scraps! Thanks so much for sharing this, I’m your newest follower.

  12. I found my boxes of cut 2 1/2 inch charms and have counted out 800 and there are still more in the box. I am going to turn this into a rectangle by adding 6 rows across the middle. Haven’t calculated the number of additional charms yet, but am printing the instructions so I have a visual to work from. Finally something to do with all those charms I traded for back in 2000.

  13. I like this design a lot, and I do have enough scraps! Not nicely cut up already, though. I have been planning to start the scrap organization project, but it keeps getting set aside. I like your white borders and the darker ones in the next photo. I guess I’ll sew the squares first and then ponder the background. Nice that it can be done that way. I have a couple weekend retreats coming up–seems a good project to do while talking.

  14. Deanna! As we just discussed, I’m trying really really hard not to start anything new, and then I see this! You’re no help at all! I want to make this quilt so badly — all three versions. I have boxes of pre-cut squares just dying to be used up in them. Shall I start calling you an enabler? Heehee

  15. Awesome quilt design! I found you when you posted on Prairie Moon Quilts about the 350 block challenge, then I saw your blog header and looked at your tutorial page and BINGO! I found it. I have a whole bunch of 2″ scrap squares sewn as Leader/Enders and now many are 4 patches and 16 patches. With just a little bit of work I can get this top together. Thanks so much for sharing this. I think I may use a solid yellow as my background, but I really like the look of yours with the solid white. I’ll dither a bit over that.

  16. If someone who has enlarged this pattern could send the numbers, I would be appreciative. I can sit down with pad and pen, but why reinvent the wheel. I have the center made but could easily enlarge it but of course that calls for increasing the remainder of the rows. I too would prefer a rectangle. Thanks

  17. I just finished piecing this quilt and posted the photo on Quiltville’s facebook page, Sorry I don’t know how to post a photo here as I don’t have a blog. I really enjoyed making this quilt and found the instructions very clear and easy to follow. A friend has already claimed it as her own and refers to it as “my quilt” ! I may just have to give her this one and make a second one for myself

    1. I’m so glad that Judy posted her quilt on Quilting Board…it led me here! What a great quilt! I LOVE this kind of piecing. 🙂

  18. I just finished the quilt top and it looks fantastic. I made it with plaid shirts my boys promised to love and didn’t.

  19. I was cleaning my sewing room last night and found I have bins of scraps. This pattern caught my eye and I am ready to try it. I am so fascinated when I see others scrappy quilts at quilt shows. This pattern gives the scrap dimension, so off I go to my sewing room to make it happen. Thanks for the tip of sewing 20 pieces a day this way I won’t be overwhelmed but it will keep me intrigue to complete. I can’t wait to see the finished project. I will post it when I am done. Thanks so much for sharing! Jill E. from AZ

  20. I love this Quilt pattern. My husband’s grandfather had a a bunch of old ties that he didn’t want and I wanted to make a quilt out of them. I have been looking at a lot of patterns and I haven’t found one that I like until I saw this one. I’m super excited to make it.

  21. I’m halfway through sewing my top. I redesigned the middle block to make a heart, since my quilt is being donated to raise money for my friend’s second adoption and the theme is “All for Love”. Thank you so much for sharing your design. I’ll try sending in a picture when I finish.

      1. I finally finished the quilt. I’d love to send a picture. Can I post it or is there another way.

  22. Hello, I just finish the top if m’y Fading Charm Quilt, squares 3,5,
    So happy, it’ s time to Hand Quilt now!!!

  23. I love this pattern. Any way to adapt for twin size. I’d like to make one for my 3 year old grandson using blues and greens and creams. Thanks. Paula

  24. I would love to share your pattern with a group of ladies at a quilt class. The class will be free to them, just a chance to share scraps and sew for a couple of hours with each other.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It is nice to hear from you.

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