stack of charm packs

Charm Pack – Quilter’s Quick and Easy Pre-Cut

A charm pack is what’s referred to as a pre-cut.  Rather than buying fabric yardage and cutting it yourself, the manufacturer has cut the fabric into pre-determined sizes.  A charm pack is specifically a bundle of forty-two (sometimes 40) 5 X 5-inch squares.

The beauty of the charm pack is that you get a 5-inch square of every fabric in a single fabric collection.  So, it is easy to make a colorful, coordinated quilt top.  However, there are seldom 42 different fabric prints in a single collection.  So, each charm pack will contain duplicates or perhaps triplicates of some fabrics.

Charm Packs Are a Great Choice for Beginners

Obviously, pre-cuts are a great choice for beginning quilters for these reasons

  1. Your fabric is already precisely cut
  2. There are many quilts you can design using a nine-patch or four-patch basic layout
  3. You can use them to create other blocks like half-square triangles, 2.5-inch blocks, snowball blocks, etc.
  4. The fabrics are guaranteed to coordinate because they are from a single collection
  5.  Charm packs are available in solid colors to add a little negative space to your quilt if you so desire

How Many Charm Packs Will You Need?

How many charm packs do you need to make a quilt? That will depend on the size of the quilt. Determine the width and length that you would like the quilt to be. The finished size of each charm square will be 4.5 inches once it is sewn to other charm squares. Therefore, if you want a quilt that is 45 X 63 inches, you will need 10 charm squares for each row (45/4.5 = 10). It will take 14 rows to make the quilt 63 inches long (63/4.5 = 14). You will need 140 charm squares to make a quilt that is 45 X 63 inches because 10 X 14 = 140.

Now, how many charm packs do you need? If you need 140 charm squares and there are 42 charm squares in every pack, then you will need 3.3 charm packs. That means you need 4 charm packs. Did you know that a layer cake is equal to 4 charm packs? So, if you have a layer cake but not enough charm packs, you’re in luck!

4 Charm Pack Squares green_red_black_white
Four Charm Square Layout (Fabric: Poppie Mae by Robin Pickens)

Those Pesky Pinked Edges

My biggest challenge when matching charm squares from different manufacturers is the pinked edge.  The pinked edges keep the fabric from fraying which is important when you’re working with small cuts.  However, there is no standard size for the pinked edge.  In the picture below, you can see that the pinked edge on the solid charms is a tiny bit smaller than the pinked edge on the printed charm.

Two Charm Squares green print and white
Charm Square on left is from the Riley Blake Designs Flea Market Collection. Charm Square on right is from Robert Kaufman KONA White Colorstory. Notice the pinked edges are different.

Some quilters measure and trim their charms, but it’s not really necessary. However, if you decide to trim the pinked edges from your charms, keep in mind that it will change the size a bit. Otherwise, match the pinked edges as best you can.  Don’t stress over it too much.

If you really want to know the ‘edge’ of that particular charm pack, measure one of the fabric squares.  Some manufacturers measure from peak to peak.  Other manufacturers measure from valley to valley.  Then when you sew, use either the peak or the valley as your ‘edge’ to create your 1/4-inch seam.

Charm Pack Quilts

You can make some easy quilts using 5-inch squares. For instance, you can simply sew the charms together in rows and sew the rows together. You can create Four Patch blocks. You can mix print and solid charm packs to create Nine Patch Blocks like we did in our Savannah Charms quilt. There are so many possibilities.

Learn More

Want to learn a bit more about pre-cuts of all types? Check out this very informative article from Cotton + Joy.

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