Just My Luck! Charm Pack Pattern Series, Pt. 1

Here I’ve been, quietly plotting a weeks-long series on Things To Do With A Fat Quarter, and Sew,Mama,Sew has beaten me to it! At times I fear I am much too much of a planner, and attempt to find perfection before going public, and then I miss the boat–you know, a visualizer when I should be an actualizer. I’m trying to get past that, except that I LIKE things being as close to perfect as I can get them… It’s a tough sell, let’s just put it that way.

As a part of this effort, though, I’ve decided to fast track my next series and get those started. That way, we’ll all have something to look forward to when we finish working on the projects Sew, Mama, Sew has inspired–I’ve only skimmed the titles of most of them, and I can already tell you there are one or two that made me think, “Oh, I wish I’d thought of that!”

After fat quarters, I’ve been working on patterns and projects for charm packs. I’ve become pretty obsessed lately with these puppies, really, these little 5″ x 5″ fabrics squares cut from complete fabric collections, one of each print. That yields 40ish squares, each of which is totally unique. Now, as a life-long non-quilter, that was pretty tough for me to wrap my brain around: what on earth, I wondered, could I do with 40 pieces of fabric that DON’T MATCH? As an apparel sewer, my first coherent thought was that they’d be great for applique, but in my heart I knew there was more.

I’m hoping to include some of my more complicated ideas as the series continues, but I wanted to start simply and build up as we go. Today’s project, and one I’ve been making dozens of needlessly, is a classic: Baby’s Soft Toy Blocks, each made from six charm squares.
Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy! Follow the steps below, and hope that I can figure out enough about PDF uploading to embed the pattern here. Otherwise, drop by the shop, where every charm pack comes with a FREE charm pack pattern from this series!

Soft Blocks for Baby

Requires: 6 charm squares (or 5″ x 5″ squares); poly fill

Step 1: Select 6 charm blocks of your preference. Since charm packs are all from the same fabric collection, odds are that any squares you select will work well together, but don’t limit yourself! Feel free to use some solids, some micro prints, or even (gasp!) combine prints from different collections.

Step 2: Think a little about layout. I like the reach-and-stitch method much of the time, but I also tend to think about not putting two large/loud/busy prints next to one another, preferring to have each on opposite sides of the block. But, y’know, whatever. Do what YOU like.

Step 3: Stitch 2 squares together. Stitch 2 other squares together. I like to do this one after another, without taking them off the machine, like this:

My mom uses this method, and so does Martha, so you know it’s kosher.

Step 4: Stitch those two pair to one another, so you now have a chain of 4 squares. Press open all seam allowances.
Step 5: Stitch the two ends of the chain together, making an open-ended box of four squares.

Step 6: Take the fifth square, and line up the edges right sides together with one open end of the box.  Corners should match.  Place one side under the needle and stitch along that edge.  I like to start on a straightaway, never on a corner–makes it easier to get a clean finish.

When you get to a corner seam, stop right on the seam line.
Leaving the needle in the fabric at the seamline, lift the presser foot, pivot, and lower the presser foot so you can stitch down the next side.  Repeat for all four sides.

Step 7:  Repeat step 6 for the other open end of the box, leaving a small opening along one side (backtack on either side of this opening–you’ll be stuffing through here later, and it helps to prevent stitches from slipping as you shove the fiberfil through the hole).  You’ll end up with a cube that looks more or less like this:
Step 8: Trim off the corners at a 45ish degree angle.  Turn right side out.  I use a wooden knitting needle to get a nice sharp point, but whatever.
Step 9:  Stuff with polyester fiberfill, or your choice of filling–could be kapok, or split peas, or scrap fabric, your ex’s favorite sweater, whatever’s on hand.
Step 10: Hand stitch opening closed.
And voila!!

I like the idea of placing a small bell or an empty film canister filled with beans in themiddle of one of these, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Lemme know if you do!


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  • Somya
    February 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Loved the idea. My little boy will be ready to use blocks in just a few weeks. Must do this for his 6th month B’day!

  • woof nanny
    February 16, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Such perfect timing for this, as I’m looking for a tutorial for a baby shower gift. Interesting about the split pea idea too, hmmm…
    I’m going to put appliqued letters on one side, and spell out the baby’s name.

  • The Management
    February 17, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I did something simmilar to these a year or so ago for my…what would he be…cousin, I suppose. they were great and so easy!

  • Stacy - Mae Mae's Creations
    February 17, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    What a great idea for a shower gift! I feel a night of embroidery coming on…. 😉

  • lesley
    February 22, 2009 at 11:00 am

    these are lovely! I also make soft blocks, they are such a fun gift to make for new babies. I’m getting set to open up an etsy shop quite soon.
    I love your fabric, too, and your shop. It must be so inspiring to have such awesome fabrics at your fingertips!

  • Deborah
    March 21, 2009 at 3:51 am

    I tried one with the bell and it works great. My grandson loved it. However my son suggested that running a thread from corner to corner, looped thru the bell would hold it in the middle. I haven’t tried THAT yet.

  • Whipstitch
    March 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Thanks for all the kind words, everyone! I really enjoyed making these, and have given them away all over the place–I had no idea they’d be so popular. And Deborah, I like the idea of holding the bell in place. I’ll have to give that a shot!

  • Anonymous
    May 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    This is a great idea. I’m going to make some for my nephew, but I’m going to get different textured fabrics. We all know babies love to feel different textures.

  • subha
    October 30, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I LOVE this – thanks so much for the tutorial! THis was one of my first projects (i'm new to sewing) and my daughter loves it! thanks again!


  • diana
    January 15, 2011 at 10:23 am

    these are great!
    i will be using these on my “i can totalllly make that” weekly feature on my blog.


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  • Barbara OConnor
    August 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I have been making these blocks for many years, and recently made a set for my first grandchild, a little girl, in May. I appliqued A B C on one color of each block and in an empty film cannister or empty and cleaned prescription cannister, I put a jingle bell or two, taped it closed, partially stuffed the block with polyfill, inserted the cannister and continued to stuff the block until it was full, then stitched it closed.

  • Sandra
    July 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I had a go at this tutorial tonight and found it quite easy! I stitched on some big buttons and a few little ribbon tags for baby to play with as well. Very cute thanks for the tutorial!

  • Janai
    August 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I had 12 charm squares left over from a play mat and made two of these blocks in under 30 minutes. Awesome! Next time I am going to try adding ribbons to the outside and maybe put a bell inside.