Introduction: Schnibble Quilt - Quick, Easy & Two-sided

I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country. My mom spoke "Dutch" to her brothers and sisters and lots of Dutch words and phases were used when they spoke English to us kids. ( In case you don't know about Pennsylvania Dutch - it is really a German dialect and not Dutch at all!) Schnibble (pronounced shnibble - rhymes with kibble) means a little bit of something - so it could be little bits of fabric for this quilt or little bits of paper when you cut out something or little bits of yarn or... almost anything else. The German dictionary lists the word schnippelche as a noun meaning snip, but growing up we always pronounced it I'm using my version.

This quilt is based on string pieced quilts, but I use the construction of each block for the "quilting." As you sew on the schnibbles, you are quilting each block. You then sew all the quilted blocks together to make a full size reversable quilt. I have attached photos of 2 quilts. One is made up of 25 blue cotton  blocks and fits on my queen size bed, the second is 16 blocks and is a lap quilt made of  purple corduroy fabrics.


25 squares of fabric - 18"  - BACK SQUARES
25 squares of batting - 18" - BATTING
SCHNIBBLES = strips of fabric - varying widths & lengths12 strips of fabric 3 1/2 " wide for binding at least 80" long.
Sewing machine
Scissors or rotary cutter
18" template of acrylic or cardboard (optional - you can carefully measure and cut squares by hand)

BACK SQUARES:  Cut out 25 squares of fabric for the back. I use 18" squares and end up with a finished quilt that is 78" x 78" which I use on a queen-size bed. Use fabrics that you like, because this quilt is reversable and you want both sides to look good. The squares can be all one fabric or you can use coordinating colors.

I use a rotary cutter and an acrylic template to cut out my squares. For the 18" square template, I went to the local glass cutter and had them cut a piece of acrylic - they smoothed the edges. It cost about $17. You could easily use a cardboard template and cut them by hand.

Cut BATTING:  Cut out 25 squares of batting at 18" to match the back squares. Any kind of batting that you like, I have used polyester and cotton...and have some bamboo waiting to go. 

Lay one of the back sqares face down and lay one square of batting on top

SCHNIBBLES:  Rip or cut strips of fabric into various widths (I use strips from 1 1/2" to 3 1/2".) Use a lots of different colors & patterns. The weight of the fabric should be similar, Don't worry if the weights are slightly different. Cotton fabrics last longer then polyester, but if polyester is all you have you can certainly use it. I use whatever I have in the back room. 


START SEWING THE SQUARES: From corner to corner (diagonally) , place one schnibble strip face up and the second schnibble face down on top of first strip. Sew one edge. Try to sew straight, but don't fuss if your seam goes slightly crooked.

Fold open the strip so both are now face up. Place next piece face down on top of one of the strips and sew seam. Then fold open. Continue until half of block is covered to the corner. Flip block 180° so you can work on the part that isn't covered with schnibbles... continue sewing schnibbles til you reach the second corner.

Flip block and add strips until you get to the second corner. When you have all your schnibbles covering the batting, turn over and using the back block as a guide, trim excess schnibble. Cut off sections can be used for short schnibbles needed near the corners. After I sew all my blocks, I use my 18" template and square up the blocks using the rotary cutter.


When all blocks are "schnibbled" and squared. Lay out all the blocks on the floor and arrange into a pleasing pattern. Pin the blocks in each row together with safety pins to keep in order. Pin a small numbered paper on the first block of each row to keep them in order (eg ROW 1, ROW 2, etc.). Sew the blocks together into rows of 5 blocks with the seams on the BACK SQUARES (Schnibble sides face each other) Make a zigzag pattern with the quilt lines. Sew all five rows. Then iron the seams flat.

MAKING YOUR BINDING: Using your 80" long strips of fabric ...Iron each long edge of the 80" binding strips towards the back to create a width of about 1 1/2". (This is definately the most tedious part.)  The raw edges will be inside the binding when you sew it on.

Sew the wide binding over the seams to cover them. My mom uses a zigzag stitch, but I use a straight stitch. If you sew a little crooked - no one will notice. (It is easiest to sew the binding on the seams of each row before you piece the rows together.) Trim extra fabric at the edges of the blocks.


Sew the first two rows together. Iron the seams flat. Sew the binding on each row's seam as you go. (If you wait to put the binding on the quilt after all blocks are sewn together, the quilt's weight and bulk are hard to work with, which is why I add binding as each row is completed and/or added.)

BIND THE EDGES  Using the same binding fabric...Bind the edge. Open one edge of your binding strip and lay it face down  on the schnibble side of the quilt, long side aligned with the edge of the quilt . If you fold the "top" narrow edge of your binding down about 1 inch, it will make a finished corner when all four bindings are attached. (you will also want to fold over the "bottom" narrow edge at the end of your binding.  Sew all four bindings to the edge of your quilt.

I sew the binding on the schnibble edge first with a narrow seam, then turn and sew a wide width on the back side, so it matches the width of the binding that covers the other seams.

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