I admit it – I like cheater blocks and novelty fabric panels. They can make quick and easy projects. And so Stars in Pink and Green was born.

Back in the 1990’s I had six of these really attractive looking stars in pink, but I was stumped with what to do with them. They were pretty and feminine, but once home the question was “now what?”

One of those aw-ha moments, and digging through the stash produced the answer. I found a coordinating print and soft green solid.

Easy assembly

I cut the blocks apart so that I had 6 individual star blocks.

Star "cheater" block

I cut the green solid into 4″ wide strips. Sewing two blocks together with a green strip between was easy and quick.

Iron all the seams flat.

Next I sewed the long strips down each side of the blocks from above.

Iron the seams I just sewed flat. Ironing really does make the quilt fit together better. It will look nicer too.

I cut the outside border 8″ wide from the print fabric, and sewed it to the blocks.

At that point, I had about two hours total into the quilt top.

That was in 1997. I hung the top up neatly on a hanger in the closet with the backing fabric. And moved on to the next project.

The top was re-discovered in November 1999. It would make a great Christmas gift for the daughter. Off to MG for machine quilting and binding. The machine quilting design was looping and simple.

Finished size of Stars in Pink and Green is 54″ x 78″ – perfect for her twin bed. It is looking rather worn these days, but now the gr-daughter is enjoying it.

Suggestions for you

As you shop for fabrics, look for cheater blocks or panels. They really are fun to work with and can be made into an easy and fast pieced quilt.

Or take several of different sizes and make them into a single top. Various size borders of coordinating fabrics will make it visually interesting. Yes, some serious measuring may be required, but it is well worth the results.

Happy quilting.




I found this “cheater” panel and the matching cardinal fabric at Paducah one year, and just had to make something for Christmas from it. This cute Christmas Cardinals wall hanging was just fun to make. It could have been much quicker if I had not gotten distracted with other quilting projects.

I started out with the center panel, added some leftover pieced squares, then a border in red. The outside border is the coordinating cardinal fabric. The machine quilting is a small stipple design by RLM. I completed it with dark green binding, and a tag on the back.

Finished size is 35″ x 35″.

Backing for Christmas Cardinals.
Backing fabric

Fabric panels are also called “cheater fabric”. My thought on quilting is that is should be fun and that whatever technique I (or you) choose to do is fine.

Here are some other “cheater fabric” quilts:

I don’t waste time on the “quilt police” that occasionally show up in my life – you know the ones – “I only do hand quilting” or “I would never use that fabric in that pattern” or “I hand piece all my quilts” or “I only do traditional patterns” or “I use cotton batting” or………. Folks like that will not change their minds if I (or you) try to explain why doing a particular thing in quilting is just fine, so do not stress yourself.  The process of quilting should be fun, satisfying, and enrich your soul.

Using fabric panels

The only real rule in quilting is to do good workmanship.  Everything else is personal – the pattern, the fabrics, the quilting design, hand or machine quilted (or tied), and hand vs. machine piecing. Do the techniques you enjoy.

Feel free to mix techniques in your quilts. Quilting and quilts should bring you joy. Your quilts can be as individual as you are. Enjoy the process.

I use a mix.  While I love the traditional look of quilts, I personally don’t want a home full of traditional looking quilts.  I like to use the colors and designs of fabric that catch my eyes.

Clip art - Make Today Amazing


NAUTICAL SCENE WALL HANGING (fabric panel quilt)

I am sharing this quilt because I thought the readers would enjoy this small quilt. It is another idea for a personal quilt for yourself or someone in your life. I love the ocean, and purchased this panel in Maine on one of my trips there. Eventually, it evolved into the Nautical Scene Wall Hanging. It is another fabric panel quilt.

NAUTICAL SCENE WALL HANGING (a fabric panel quilt)

The actual panel is larger than the part I used for this wall hanging. In the photo, the panel extends from the solid blue inside border (between bubbles and sea shells) to the center section.

I trimmed the panel up and added the blue bubble batik fabric as the outside border. It was cut 2.5″ wide.

I pieced the top while up in Maine and somewhere in my travels the top got dirty. I opted to wash it after completion so that there was no much unraveling and threads to deal with.

For quilting, I used my sewing machine. I outlined around the sailboat and the lighthouse on the panel. I did simple stitch-in-the-ditch around three of the borders.

Nautical Scene wall hanging completed.

The backing is a nautical toile. The binding is the same fabric and was cut 2.5″ and ironed in half. It is machine sewed to the front and hand finished on the back.

Backing and hanging sleeve of the Nautical Scene wall hanging.

The hanging sleeve is also hand sewn to the back of the quilt. The finished size is 24″ x 25″.

The Nautical Scene wall hanging (a fabric panel quilt) is a gift to family friends who allowed me to stay at their home while dealing with mom’s final days and funeral. They are wonderful and I really appreciated all their help. This couple is very minimalist and a large quilt would not have worked. However, a small wall hanging in a nautical theme is perfect because they love the ocean too.

And so ends the story of the Nautical Scene Wall Hanging, a fabric panel quilt…

You can do this too

Making personal quilts for other people in our lives is fun and a great way to utilize the fabrics in our stash. Keeping the quilts simple can also make them fast and easy.

Here’s some other ideas for personal quilts using fabric panels:

SAILING SHIPS OF OLD QUILT (another panel quilt)

SAILING SHIPS OF OLD QUILT: The ship blocks are cheater blocks and the blue/gray alternate blocks look like waves. The red border around each ship was part of the panel. The border was a solid navy blue.

Quilt Sailing Ships of Old hanging on fence.

I like using panels for quilts – they make for a fun project and a way to save time on piecing or applique. Think outside the box and be creative.

My personal problem with fabric panels (maybe yours too) is that I see one, have some brilliant idea of how to use it, and buy it. The panel comes home, gets washed and dried, and is stored on a shelf for a weeks, months, or (gasp) years. By the time I find it again it is hard to remember why I bought it in the first place.

I solve this by keeping them together in one area, and when I want or need a quick project, the panels get pulled out. Then a choice is made, and the project is quickly finished, because of the size and there just is not that much of my sewing time involved.

Sailing Ships of Old Quilt was pieced in November of 1992, and machine quilted and bound in 1996 by BE (for the cost of $45). The quilting design was a sort of wave.

Finished size 70″ x 91″.

Cotton fabrics and polyester batting. The backing was a white flat sheet.

This quilt looked new when it was donated to a local charity in August 2002 for a raffle.

Clip art of old sailing ship

I did these two panel quilts. Hopefully they will inspire and encourage you to try something new with your own fabric panels:

Another example of a fabric panel quilt:


Proud Polar Bears quilt completed.

Don’t have a lot of time? Want something fun, quick, and personalized in a quilt? Pre-printed fabric panels or blocks are a great way to do this. This quilt, Proud Polar Bears, went together super quick and easy.

I used two coordinating prints to go with the polar bear blocks. I chose a fabric that looked like snow flakes for alternate blocks. The second fabric was all white animals for the border.

The quilt top was simple and easy to piece in 1996. It was machine quilted in 1998 by MG. It was a Christmas gift to the daughter who loves all animals. She loved the Proud Polar Bears on the front, and the cozy flannel on the back.

Finished size is 75″ x 88″.

Quilts do not have to be complicated to be loved and beautiful.

Projects using pre-printed blocks or panels can be used in simple or complex ways. What appeals to your creativity?

Polar Bear quilt displayed outside.

Ideas for pre-printed blocks and panels:

BRIGHT & HAPPY BUGS QUILT (or a fabric panel quilt)

Cheerful and bright nap size quilt featuring happy lady bugs.

This Bright & Happy Bugs Quilt is a fun nap size quilt for the four year grand-daughter “C”. It’s hard not to smile at these cheerful, colorful bugs. She loves the bright colors and has quite a story to tell about the bugs adventures when she is here.

The Bright & Happy Bugs quilt stays at our home and when “C” wants to curl up, read, or nap she gets it from the rocking chair and curls up in it. Usually there is also a stuffed animal enjoying the quilt with her.

The top is a panel that I pieced bright borders to. We picked the 3 bright colors to add. The pink and yellow strips are 2.5″ and the dark purple is 4″ wide. The outside border is 6″ wide, and is a bug print that coordinates with the fabric panel. The outside border of small bright bugs is a coordinating print to the panel. We had a wonderful time working on this together – building memories and a fun quilt.

I saw a quilt at a fabric store that was off-set like this and thought it would be fun to try. I usually do borders all the way around, like a picture frame. It is good to try something different.

RLM machine quilted it in a stipple design. I self bound it by pulling backing to front and machine sewing down using matching lilac thread.

I decided to use this really soft lilac linen for the quilt backing. It was for a previous project, and there was enough leftover to use for this quilt. I love it when things come together perfectly, don’t you?

Solid lilac backing of quilt.  Can see machine quilting design.

Size is 35″ x 58″.

Helpful tip:

Fabric panels are a fun way to make a quilt or other items for home, and there are so many available now that cover many interests and color schemes. Look around for panels the next time you are out shopping for fabric and see what can be found for a fun, easy project.

Clip art of spool of thread with needle.