15 February 2017

Charm School

I still remember the day I first came across Moda charm packs. It was almost exactly seven years ago; I remember it well because I had just found out that the sweet little bun-in-my-oven was, in fact, a "she." To celebrate, I drove straight from the doctor's office to the quilt shop to pick out fat quarters for my baby girl's quilt. As I was getting ready to check out, I stumbled upon those beautiful little precut stacks of 5'' squares. I had no idea what I would do with them but I could not resist buying a few, just to see what I could make.
I found that playing with 5'' squares was such fun--and that there were endless possibilities with what I could do with them. I used them like building blocks and discovered a whole new world of creativity. I'm happy I finally get to share my love of these 5'' squares with you in my new book Charm School--18 Quilts From 5'' Squares. (It's schedule to be in shops March 1 but I've heard people have already been able to get copies from Amazon.com.)
Charm School - 18 Quilts from 5'' Squares
Even though the precut charm squares were inspiration for my book, it is easy to make other fabric substitutions :) All 18 projects include instructions to use not only precut charm squares, but also fat quarters, scraps, and more!
Charm School
Charm School is intended to be more than just a collection of patterns--each chapter contains a schoolhouse "lesson" or technique to apply to the 5'' squares. Start with the 5'' squares as they are, and gradually learn how to make simple alterations.
The thing I love about simple quilts is the opportunity to let beautiful fabric do the talking. Of course, it doesn't get any simpler than a basic block quilt--my Modern Basic quilt is a project anyone can tackle. By keeping those 5'' squares as is, there is an opportunity to really play around with fabric choice, fabric placement, and the finishing touches to make a bold statement. (Check out that crazy-fabulous custom quilting by Natalia Bonner!)
It was a fun challenge to see what sort of things I could dream up with the most basic of shapes. My Snowfall quilt below was made with just squares and rectangles!
Snowfall quilt
Snowfall quilt by Vanessa Goertzen.
Fabric is Evergreen by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics.
Quilting by Abby Latimer.
Gradually, we add triangle shapes to our designs. In Scrap Happy (below) triangles are incorporated to form charming little sawtooth stars in the sashing. 
Scrap Happy
Scrap Happy quilt by Vanessa Goertzen.
Fabric is Farmhouse by Joanna Figueroa, Fig Tree & Co. for Moda Fabrics.
Quilting by Abby Latimer
Using the same easy corner triangle method, we see a whole new world of possibilities opens up with quilter basics like snowball blocks and flying geese!
Up Ahead
Up Ahead quilt by Vanessa Goertzen.
Fabric is Fancy & Fabulous by Fancy Pants Designs for Riley Blake Designs.
Quilting by Abby Latimer.

Eventually, this easy corner triangle technique can help us build up to some pretty impressive block designs--Madame Butterfly being a prime example. (I've adapted my Social Butterfly Mini quilt into a full quilt pattern and made it charm-friendly :) Woohoo!)
Madame Butterfly
Madame Butterfly quilt by Vanessa Goertzen.
Fabric scraps include the following Cotton + Steel collections
Honeymoon by Sarah Watts, Lucky Strike by Kimberly Kight,
Paper Bandana by Alexia Abegg, Picnic by Melody Miller,
and Zephyr by Rashida Coleman-Hale.
Quilting by Miriam Rawson.
In another chapter, we examine how to make individual triangle units called half-square triangles. I share my favorite two methods to get them from 5'' squares, as well as my secret to getting them flawless every time.
Rock Star quilt
Rock Star quilt by Vanessa Goertzen
Fabric is Fresh Cut by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics
Quilting by Vanessa Goertzen

And of course, half-square triangles lead to quarter-square triangles...
Somersault quilt
Somersault quilt by Vanessa Goertzen.
Fabric is Daysail by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics.
Quilting by Abby Latimer.
And finally, we delve into some wonky cuts to mix things up a bit.
Lunchbox quilt
Lunchbox quilt by Vanessa Goertzen.
Fabric is Serenity by Amy Ellis for Moda Fabrics.
Quilting by Abby Latimer.
I hope you've enjoyed this peek. Of course, these are just a few of the quilts--the book contains 18 design totals--I hope you'll pick up a copy to see the rest :) 
As you may imagine, a book is a huge undertaking. I could not have done it without the amazing team at C&T Publishing, my amazing quilters (thank you Abby and Natalia!), or Susan Vaughan who was my second pair of eyes in the editing phase. Thank you for listening to my ideas and giving them wings. And of course, a big thanks to my mom for being an invaluable sounding board and wrangler of children amidst crazy deadlines.


  1. I love the book! I received my copy from Amazon Saturday. I had preordered it a few months ago.
    I am now waiting for a few fabrics so I can get started.

  2. What a great book! Love Rock Star!

  3. Thank you - I will check it out - I have just been trying to figure out what to make with a moda charm pack (Wing and Leaf) so this would be perfect.....!

  4. I'm going to buy a couple extra books to give friends just starting to quilt! Cannot wait to get my hands on this. Congratulations 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  5. Your Charm School quilts are gorgeous! I can't wait to get a copy of the book.

  6. This book sounds wonderful - I definitely have to check it out. Love the sneak peek quilts you have shown :)!

  7. I will most definitely have to check out your book as I have been buying charm squares since Moda first brought them out in these tins. I love,love my charm packs. survivor972002@midco.net

  8. I will most definitely have to check out your book as I have been buying charm squares since Moda first brought them out in these tins. I love,love my charm packs. survivor972002@midco.net

  9. I will most definitely have to check out your book as I have been buying charm squares since Moda first brought them out in these tins. I love,love my charm packs. survivor972002@midco.net

  10. I love charm squares and your book looks gorgeous. I will definitely have to buy it!

  11. Looks like an amazing book: so many fun looking quilts in it! And your portrait on your blog: that's you just as you finished the book, and you're thinking, "Whew! I'm exhausted, but it's done!!" (Happy Smile) Hugs, H

  12. Congratulations on your new book. Looks like you have added a sweet new touch to basic squares! I have been in love with charm packs ever since the beginning when Moda introduced them in "tins" with cute little patterns. Charms are so much fun plus they allow you to get a bit of the entire fabrics in a collection without breaking your checkbook! I will be looking forward to your book.

  13. This book just arrived at my local quilt shop and now I own it! I love 5" charm squares and I was so happy to see the beautiful patterns you've made for them. Congratulations!

  14. My best congratulations for your superb site! Perfect !!!

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  15. Congrats on the new book. I love it and yes already own it. I'm so excited to make the chandelier quilt and just trying to decide which of my lovely charm packs to use. I also absolutely love your fabric lines; especially Little Miss Sunshine. It's my all time favorite. Keep up the excellent work.

  16. Very nice blog, thank you for the details on the shots, it will make me progress.

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  17. I love it and yes already own it. I'm so excited to make the chandelier quilt and just trying to decide which of my lovely charm packs to use.

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  18. Charm School is a reality television series airing on VH1; a spin-off of Flavor of Love created by executive producers Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin. The first ...

  19. I read that Post and got it fine and informative.

  20. I saw the Rock Star quilt on Pinerest, so I was able to get the book to make one for my grandson. The other quilts in the book are great, too. My disappointment with the Rock Star quilt is in the instructions for construction. They're confusing and seem to produce "Y" seams if done as described (at least my interpretation). It will be a little challenging to put together, but I have enough sewing experience to pull it off myself. For the novice, however, it is not a good quilt to start with.

  21. Thank you very much for this helpful and valuable information. Great your blog, congratulations!

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