Postage Stamp Quilt

Friday, December 24, 2021

 Hi friends!  Today I have a really special (long) post for you!
Today I want to share a quilt that took me two years 
and about 85 hours to complete - my Postage Stamp quilt!


I got so many questions on Instagram every time I posted pictures of this project 
so I will try to cover all the FAQ's here.  First, let me start at the beginning...

THE INSPIRATION

My grandmother passed away in October 2019.  
She was the one who taught me how to quilt and who my pattern company is named after.
After she passed, my mom and aunt asked if I would finish a couple of the quilts she
had been working on so we could give them to family members.


This red, yellow, and green 9-Patch quilt one was one of them.  
I don't know the name of the pattern but I know it came from a magazine. I remember her 
working on this quilt over the years and I know each individual square finished at
3/4".  Can you believe that!?!  The quilt top was finished many years ago so I just got it longarm quilted (with a Baptist Fan pattern) and then I bound it by hand.  


The back was white with colorful buttons and the binding is black with red and yellow 
flowers on it, as you can see here.  The backing fabric was hanging with the quilt top 
in her closet and I believe I picked out the binding fabric from her stash.
This quilt went to my aunt Janet and her husband Dave.


The other quilt I finished at that time (I have 2 more I still need to finish!)
was this little baby quilt.  I think the squares finished at 1-1/4".  My aunt and I chose
the back and binding fabrics from my grandmother's fabric stash and then I had it 
longarm quilted with the Interlocking Orange Peel panto by Karlee Porter.


This quilt went to one of my cousins.


So after finishing both of those quilts made by my grandmother,
I was inspired.  I never thought I would make a Postage Stamp quilt;
too intense for me!  But I got the itch around that time to make something 
with tiny squares and a little while later I made my first blocks.


CUTTING

I cut 1-1/2" squares that would finish at 1" each.


I did not do all my cutting at once.
I found that I liked to cut batches of squares, both bright and white, whenever
I was running low or got tired of the ones I had in my pile.  It was a nice
way to break up all of the sewing.  


When I was actively working on my
Postage Stamp quilt I would keep piles of squares by my machine so I could
easily grab and sew.  I didn't put too much thought into what fabric went where.
I just tried to space out colors to create balance.  When I needed a break from
that project I simply put the squares in a ziplock bag.  They didn't get wrinkly
so it was easy to pick up where I left off the next time I was ready to work on my quilt.

FABRIC

I used lots of different whites, creams and low volumes for my
"whites".  If you look closely at some of the following pictures you'll be able to tell.  
From far away, everything reads as white but the quilt still has a really scrappy 
feel to it.  Plus it was a great way to use up scraps!  
As far as the brights go, I used alll the colors.  My only requirement was 
there had to be enough contrast between the brights and whites.  There are several fabrics
of my grandmother's in this quilt.  Including a few squares that have remnants of
her embroidery!  Those are my favorite!


ASSEMBLY


There are several ways to assemble a Postage Stamp quilt.

You can strip-piece units together.  But since I used scraps for all of my pieces
I cut squares and sewed them together one-by-one.  I didn't mind; in fact
I preferred to do it that way so it would be extra scrappy!  But of course, you
could strip piece if you wanted.


For the most part, I chain-pieced rows together to make regular, small 9-Patches (above).
I made some that had brights in the corners and some that had whites in the corners.
This was such mindless sewing and I quite enjoyed it!  Immediate satisfaction!  
Then I sewed nine of those 9-Patches together to make big 9-Patches that had
81 squares in each block.  I figured out it took me about 45 minutes to make a block
(maybe about an hour with cutting).



Towards the end of this project, I switched from making small 9-Patches to just
chain piecing squares together to make a row for the big 9-Patches.  I started by sewing tons
of pairs of bright and white squares together.  When I got bored I separated the pairs 
and then sewed them together to make units of 4 squares each.  
Once I had all those sewn together I sewed 2 of those units together plus one extra 
square to make a row of 9 squares.


PRESSING

After I made each block row, I pressed the seam allowances toward the dark/bright fabrics.
After I sewed the rows together, I pressed the seams open.
I pressed everything as I went.  It may seem daunting but I honestly
got faster the more I did it.  It really wasn't too bad.  I definitely
recommend pressing as you go and pressing the seams open will help your 
quilt lay nice and flat.

Quick side note here:
I never pin when I piece. If you're really accurate in your cutting
and piecing all of your seam allowances should be able to nest together nicely.
I'm sure that saved me a lot of time while making this quilt.  I have some tips saved
in my Instagram highlight bubbles on precision piecing and cutting.
Check it out @gigis_thimble.


As I worked on this project, I found it helpful to set little goals for myself.  I started by 
making two blocks and kept trying to double the number of
blocks I had until I finished.  One month I challenged myself to 
make 100 little 9-Patches and towards the end of this project, I challenged myself to make 1
big 9-Patch a day until I was done making all of my blocks.  I always tell myself,
"A little progress every day adds up to big results!" and that is definitely the case
with a Postage Stamp quilt!


Because there are a gazillion seams in this quilt, it is heavier than normal.
The seams can start to stretch apart because of the weight and become 
harder to match up.  So I would recommend that you make two halves of your quilt; 
press the row seams and then sew the 2 halves together to complete your quilt.

Here I am at the halfway point:


And here is the finished quilt top.  An exciting moment!



FINISHING

I bound the quilt in this red and white gingham fabric that I had in my stash.



I also had this rainbow fabric in my stash that I had bought recently for another project (that didn't turn out how I wanted so I gave it away).  The fabric is 55218-20 from the fabric line Shine On by Bonnie and Camille for Moda.  I used it for the back of my quilt and I love it.


My friend Jen Ostler quilted it with the Scribble Hearts panto.
She always hides an object in her quilting for her clients to find so this time
she did a rainbow.  It took me forever to find but I think it's darling.
It's much easier to find from the backside of the quilt than the front!


One of my Instagram followers sent me a picture of her Postage Stamp quilt that had been
quilted with the Scribble Hearts panto and I thought it was sweet and fun so I decided
to do the same on mine.  I love the quilting community where we can all 
inspire and learn from each other!


I've been buying custom quilt labels from Ever Emblem for the last couple of years.
I get the 2" cotton fold-over, sew-in labels and I've been really happy with them.
They're really inexpensive and a quick way to label your quilt.


Well that's it!  I think I addressed all of the FAQ's!  Please let me know if I missed anything.
Just to recap here is a quick breakdown of all of the details...

DETAILS

Finished size of individual squares: 1".
Finished quilt size: 72" x 90"
Total number of big 9-Patch blocks: 80
Layout: 8 x 10 blocks
Total number of 1" squares: 6,480
Start date: December 27, 2019
Finish date: November 3, 2021
Longarm quilter: Jen Ostler in Highland, UT (@drycreekquilter on Intstagram)
Quilt panto: Scribble Hearts
Hidden object in the quilting: rainbow
Backing: Rainbow 55218-20 by Bonnie + Camille for Moda
Approximate time to make this quilt: 85 hours
Batting: 100% cotton
Machine pieced
Hand-bound
1/4" seams




I hope you enjoyed this post!
Like I said, please let me know if you have any questions.
I'd love to know what you think about this project
and whether or not YOU might make a Postage Stamp quilt someday!

Happy quilting!

96 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with this beauty!!!

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  2. Your postage stamp quilt is so lovely and a true labor of love! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. WOW, BEAUTIFUL! There is no way I'd ever do a postage stamp quilt as my piecing isn't accurate enough to get it done right. I'm jealous of you guys that can accomplish that kind of perfection. I'll just enjoy vicariously through you. Merry Christmas!

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  4. This turned out to be so gorgeous! It does take a lot of time, especially when you are making it with squares instead of strip piecing, but as you say, a little bit at a time and persevering makes it worth while. I am making a similar quilt, using a different constant instead of the low volume for each block. My blocks are the same size as yours, and I make them using the second method you mentioned, a row at a time. I am really enjoying it. I hope mine turns out to be as pretty as yours.

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  5. I almost never read a blog...just enjoy the pics. But I read this entire blog and fully enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your inspiration for this wonderful heirloom!!!

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  6. The quilt is beautiful! Thank you for explaining your process. I have a lot of patience, but I think you have more! :o)
    Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

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  7. Gorgeous! Might have to make one as my leader and ended in 2022 😁🥰

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  8. I have always wanted to make one of these quilts. How kind of you to share your detailed method with us. I've written it all down and can't wait to work on it between projects in the new year. Thank you.

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  9. I am just finshing the hand quilting on one I started this year, only 50 x 60. I want to do a lighter brighter one now, after seeing yours. Love yours!

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  10. This is so inspiring. I’m heading to my sewing room to sort through my scraps😊. Turning bits of fabric into something beautiful and useful makes me happy. This is also a great New Year project. Thank you.

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  11. I lived following your progress on IG. Thank you for putting it all together in this blig post. You made a beautiful quilt and have memories to treasure.

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  12. This quilt is so wonderful! It's a very charming project: you must fall in love with it and stick to it in time. I have kilos of scraps and this is definitely a beautiful way to use them. And the look of your quilt really makes me jump on board. Thank you for all details in the blog, and for sharing your adventure.

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  13. How beautiful!! Love how memories of your grandmother is part of your creating. Before reading your post I would never have considered a postage stamp quilt - but your tips and slow-and-steady-wins inspiration puts it back in the 'consider' category. Thank you for sharing!!

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing your process and your quilt. It is amazing!

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  15. Wow! Congratulations! It’s a beauty

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  16. Absolutely stunning!! And I've started collecting squares in the same colours as you. When I finish up a quilt that uses brights, I cut the leftovers into 1.5 inch squares and in 20 years, I'll have enough for a quilt!! Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

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  17. Wonderful quilt, and thanks for all the explanations!!! Love it!!

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  18. I love it. I want to make one now with all my stash scraps!

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  19. An impressive amount of work that paid off. A nice story about picking up where Grandma left off.

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  20. Thank you for sharing this colorful adventure. Your gran must be looking on proudly!!

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  21. All of your quilts are so nice. I like they way you do so many at a time. I especially enjoy the Postage Stamp quilt. I seen one many years ago. I’ve always wanted to make one. Considering of starting one one block a day. Because I have other projects I started. I really do need to attempt to finish them.

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    1. Thank you! Best of luck finishing your projects!

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  22. Beautiful! This is what I'm going to do with my scraps! I plan to do cutting and piecing as time and scraps allow.

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    1. That's the way I like to do it to help break up the monotony. Have fun!
      Amber

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  23. Beautiful! I did a similar thing with the pineapple block, 99!pineapples for a king sized quilt. I don’t know how to add a photo.

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  24. Love this quilt. I am making one right now. From all the scraps I had from making my grandchildren's quilts. Funny, the backing fabric you used is one of the fabrics in my quilt! :) LOVE!!!

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  25. I love it! I have never seen a postage stamp quit before. You have inspired me to make one. Thank you for sharing. Your Quit is beautiful.

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  26. Hi I enjoyed your blog you make the process of making this quilt easy, I look forward to try and do it too. Your quilt is beautiful!

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    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy making one as much as I did! The good thing is you can make it as small or as big as you'd like!
      Amber

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  27. I love this!!! I’ve always wanted to do a postage stamp quilt, especially since my husband and I are both (now retired) letter carriers. Your tutorial is inspiring and has given me the courage to start cutting and sewing little squares together!! I really like your varied “whites” and I believe that detail will make this project even more fun for me. I appreciate your details of breaking the process down I to different smaller manageable sections. I’m starting tomorrow!!

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    1. Yay! Best of luck to you and happy quilting!
      Amber

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  28. Wow! I stumbled across this post and it couldn’t of come at a better time. A friend and I are both going to do a penny quilt starting this July at a retreat we are going to in Lancaster, PA. You have given all the instruction and tips we need!! Thank you :)

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    1. Glad I could help! Have fun at your retreat!
      Amber

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  29. I Love this quilt!! I have always been drawn to postage stamp quilts but I thought it was definitely to long of a project for me. Your wonderful pictures and instructions have inspired me and a postage stamp quilt is on my bucket list now. Thank you for taking the time to provide instructions and pictures

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  30. Thank you for sharing your beautiful quilt pattern. After seeing your lovely quilt and reading your journal I too am inspired by yours and your grandmother’s work. Although I am just beginning to learn how to quilt at 72, I am looking forward to taking on this task. Thank you!

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  31. This is a quicker way to do a postage stamp quilt, rather than cutting so many individual squares: https://www.redpepperquilts.com/2012/04/postage-stamp-quilt-tutorial.html

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    1. Thanks for sharing Rita's tutorial! That's a great way to do it! I was just working with scraps mostly so that's why squares worked for me! Lots of ways to do a Postage Stamp quilt!

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  32. WOW That is just beautiful! I admire your skill and patience. I would love to make a postage stamp quilt but I know I'd never have the patience to work with such small pieces. thank you for sharing the process with us.

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  33. Your quilt is beautiful. I have 2 1/2 “ squares in my sewing bag in the caravan and when hubby goes to play lawn bowls I sew up the squares into strips and press when I get home then will join on next trip. This is my holiday quilt so going to take a long time. I hope it turns out as nice as yours

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  34. I heard that for a true postage stamp quilt, each fabric is used only once. Thoughts?

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    1. Hi there. I'm not sure if that's a hard and fast rule. I think that would be hard to keep track of personally and I was happy to use up scraps so I don't mind that certain fabrics repeat. It's a personal choice I think. :)

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  35. Thank you for giving a play by play of your postage stamp quilt. It is wonderful and you should be so proud of yourself. Now I've got to go get started on one!

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    1. Thank you! Hope all those details help. Happy quilting!

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  36. Absolutely love quilts like that. I made one with 4” squares then put half inch sashing in between each one. I keep any piece of fabric I can cut an 1.5” square out of. Can’t wait to start one like yours

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  37. Love this!!
    I just might start one too!
    Thank you so much!!

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  38. What an inspiration, it's a great scrap stash buster and a lovely project to start and stop. It's also a great memory quilt to sit and browse over. It's a dull rainy day here in the UK so I'll grab my scaps and a rotary cutter and get started. Thanks again for your inspiring post

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    1. Sounds like a perfect day to spend a rainy day. Thanks for stopping by...

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  39. I love your Postage Stamp Quilt! I have been working on one for my daughter & her husband for YEARS! Problem is keep having granddarlings. 😀 And THEY need a quilt themselves. 😀
    I began it as a mindless quilt when she was a young teenager, she loved it and claimed it as her “ someday wedding quilt”.
    I used all fabrics leftovers of garments I have made for her in her life, plus once she was engaged,she added some of her to be groom boxers.😉. THEN, I have added HER children’s baby quilts fabric to it.
    Finally, IF I can keep my beloved well long enough, I can finish the last few rows, assemble it, bind it & quilt it, whew!
    She believes it will become a family “I spy” quilt, with all the fabrics of everyone’s quilts included.

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  40. Beautiful job. I must have read one of the instructions incorrectly as how do you iron with seams open when you sewed with seams nested. Thanks for your helpful instructions.

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    1. Thank you! When I sew the individual squares together I press towards the dark color and then when I sew the rows together I press them open.

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  41. I absolutely love this quilt. I read the whole blog and enjoyed your tips all along the way. As a novice quilter the information is invaluable but I can’t see me attempting a project like this. Thank you. Co Durham England

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  42. I love, love, love this quilt!!! My mother received a similar quilt when she married in the midwest in the late 1940s. Her mother in law's church friends worked together to make it. Instead of white, the color red was used. That quilt lasted a short time in quilt time as we kids spent a lot of hours looking for our favorite piece of fabric. What I would give to see it again. And thank you for the tips on how to move this project along. I'm on it.

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    1. That is so cool. Such a sweet gift from the church friends and I love the red idea!

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  43. The quilts are lovely and the postage stamp quilt is a beautiful tribute to Gigi. I’m sure she is very proud of all your hard work.

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  44. I Love a postage stamp quilt! I like the idea of using different creams and whites. What a wonderful story about you GrandMother!

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  45. I love your quilt. Your journey has inspired me to give it a try.

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  46. From 2019 to 2020 I was in Hawaii and pretty much trapped indoors due to COVID restrictions.
    We couldn’t even walk on the beaches for months. I only went to the grocery store in the early mornings, before 10 am. I mostly sat at my little sewing machine and listened to the radio. SO- one-by-one I pieced together my first postage stamp quilt top. I had been collecting 1&1/2” squares for years and years. My first quilt top which was too big and heavy for me to quilt was long armed by a friend. That quilt is named ‘10,001 Memories’. Can you guess how many one inch squares are in that quilt? The next two are twins, ‘House Arrest’ and ‘Isolation’. They each have 3,948 squares. I have completed a baby quilt with a flannel back that is named
    ‘1,008 Wishes for a Long and Happy Life’. Can you guess how many one inch squares are on it’s front. There is a quilt top ready to put with a batting and back that has over 5,000 squares AND I still have many pounds of squares to sew together. For about 20 years I have never thrown away a scrap of material from which I could get a 1&1/2” square !

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    1. Wow! That is amazing! I don't think I'll do another one. Didn't even think I would do the first one to be honest. I admire you though! They are so lovely when finished!

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    2. An alternative to making an entire postage stamp quilt, is to use these small squares as centers for star blocks (Ohio, Sawtooth). I had some leftover peach and pink fabric that I paired with white to make multi-patch centers for Sawtooth stars. (Just match the patches needed to construct the center needed for the block you choose..

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  47. My 12 year old son with my guidance is making what I called a 1inch quilt. I had no idea it was called a postage stamp quilt! He started in July and I have recently cut new squares for him. He wanted to know how tiny he could go as he love miniature things. He will be excited to know the proper name for his quilt!

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    1. That is so cool that he is doing it and that you found a project to do together! Best of luck!
      Amber

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  48. Love it.
    I am contemplating starting a postage stamp quilt, just trying to decide if I want random colors or only brights.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  49. Having all of the steps along the way is really helpful, thank you so much for sharing them. I have never thought of doing a postage stamp quilt and now have something to save my tiny fabric scraps for.

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    1. You're welcome and thanks for stopping by. Happy quilting!
      Amber

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  50. First, thanks so much for sharing your quilts. Second, thank you so much for the Emblem Label Link. I ordered some labels. They have great prices and and selection of labels sure to please any.

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    1. You're welcome! They're great labels. I'm glad you are enjoying them.

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  51. This is just so beautiful. It was so fun sharing in your journey and feeling like we were along with you every step of the way. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy your exquisite quilt

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    1. Thanks so much for cheering me on! I needed it sometimes!

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  52. This is my dream quilt. I hope I live long enough to make one.

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    1. I never thought I would make one and then one day...I just started!

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  53. Truly fabulous & a real labour of love!

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  54. Do you wash the fabric before starting your quilt? Your postage stamp quilt is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your directions.

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    1. I didn't because I was just using scraps. I don't usually prewash much of my fabric. Once in a while I do if it's a really deep saturated color and it is going to be a high-contrast quilt. I use color catchers when I wash the quilt for the first time to help soak up any extra dye floating around and I always use high-quality fabric.

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  55. Because of the COVID outbreak, I was mostly house bound from mid 2018 to fall 2019. I had been collecting 1&1/2” squares for over 20 years. It was the time to listen to music or the TV and piece together most of my collection. My first quilt, which I had machine quilted by a local professional long armed, is called ‘10,001 Memories’. Can you guess how many one inch squares are in it? The next two twin quilts are named ‘House Arrest’ and ‘Isolation’. They each have 3,948 one inch blocks. Next quilt I made ‘1,008 Wishes (for a long and happy life)’.

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  56. When piecing your version using rows, how do you handle/know which direction(s) to press the rows? Must have taken lots of patience when putting this quilt together! It’s now an incentive for me to learn a little patience!

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    1. I first pressed my seam allowances to the dark/bright squares and then I pressed my seam allowances open after sewing the rows together.

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  57. Amazing quilt, wonderful instructions and helpful tips for your beautiful handiwork! I am trying to use my scraps in a way that I don’t have to cut all kinds of sizes…lengths and shapes! This seems to be the answer! Thank you for inspiration to get me started… Sherry Melendy, Chester, Vermont.

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  58. Beautiful! You’ve inspired me to make my own!!

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  59. It is a beautiful quilt. If you make it with 2” squares, do you still call it a stamp quilt?

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    1. Thanks! I've seen people refer to postage stamp quilts with all different size squares but I also just saw something online that said postage stamp quilts are made with scraps the size of postage stamps. So I think it goes both ways but maybe (technically) they're made with 1" finished squares.

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I ♥ to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment. I read each one and try to respond as often as I can. Thanks so much for stopping by! ~Amber