Schnibble Quilt - Quick, Easy & Two-sided




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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    19 Discussions


    this is just what i needed to make my kids christmas quilts!! Its Nov, 18th and I am so excited about this way if quilting my scraps!! Thank you !!!

    This is a great quilt to use up your scraps. I have found over the years the BEST basting spray is 505.

    Wow, I just came across your quilt. Love it!! I'm just learning how to quilt. I like this method of quilting that reduces the bulk of the whole thing beause I only use a regular sewing machine. I'm going to set aside a container and label it "schnibbles" and start tossing my fabric strips in it. One day I will have enough to make this quilt! Thank you for the great instructions.

    Ooh, so fun! Going to start one of these tonight for my 1 year old granddaughter. Everyone who makes one should come back and post a photo of their finished quilt!

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!just found this quilt and LOVE it!!! SORRY.....but I'm just too old fashion to have pleats, so I dug out some quilt basting spray I bought about 3 years ago and sprayed my batting with it and then "stuck" the back square to it. NO PLEATS!!!....and the needle did not stick or gum up. It seemed to make up twice as fast as my first attempt....which had about hundred "pleats". I looked on and they still carry it. It is supposed to be enough for 3 Queen sized quilts and is around $15.00. I think I might have seen it at Joann's fabric too. Wonderful stuff!!! I see alot of people getting quilts made this way for Christmas since I've had to really downsize my sewing room and have a chest of drawers full of scraps.

    1 reply

    I am going to look for the basting spray. I just completed two. One for a friend and one for our family reunion (as a prize). The family reunion one had a slightly heavier fabric for the back and I didn't have any pleats. The one for the friend has just a couple of pleats. Good luck with your Christmas presents. Everyone who I've given a quilt really appreciates it...and it looks like way more work than it really is.

    Love the idea, but you lost me in the explanation of the binding. Not understanding how the striped border was attached to the blocks on the back. I will be making a king size....

    1 reply

    I added a drawing on attaching the binding to the edge of the quilt in step 4. Before you get to the edge, you will need "hide" the seams that will be created on the
    1. Sew one row of blocks together. Press the seams flat. Topstitch a short piece of binding over each seam. (18" of binding). Sew the rest of the rows and press seams and topstitch binding over each seam.

    2. Sew row 1 to row 2. Press seam flat and topstitch a piece of binding over the seam (about 78" of binding). Sew the remaining rows and press seams & topstitch binding on each seam.

    3. To bind the edges, open up the binding (that you worked so hard to iron) and fold down the top edge about 1" ...then on the schnibble side, match the raw edge of the binding to the edge of the quilt and sewing about a 1/2" seam stitch the binding to the edge of the quilt. Flip the binding around the edge of the quilt to the back side and topstitch the (folded) edge of the binding to the quilt. I end up with a binding of about 1/2" on the schnibble side and a binding of about 1 1//2" on the back (which matches the size of the other binding strips that cover the seams.
    Hope this helps - along with the drawing.

    WOW! The quilt backing is really a beautiful touch!

    I LOVE this idea!! I have made many scrappy string quilts and usually back them with flannel or fleece to avoid quilting something so heavy. This is a wonderful idea that cuts down on the one step in making a quilt that I try to avoid. Thankyou!

    Great idea --
    In step 2, are you sewing the strips to each other, or directly on top of the batting? I guess it's on top of the batting, which is why you quilt as you go. Are there any tips to keep it aligned/keep the batting from puffing things out of place? Do you need a wider seam allowance than the traditional quilters 1/4 inch? Normal stitch length?

    1 reply

    Sew the schnibbles directly onto the batting (and through the backing square). While you are sewing on the strips, the batting tends to warp, but try to keep the back fabric flat. (I have several pleats where the fabric folded slightly on itself.)

    As for keeping it aligned, it doesn't matter if it goes slightly wonky, or if it is crooked, or even if you accidently sew on a schnibble with the back of the fabric showing rather than the front. With all the colors and patterns, no one can tell if it is not perfect. The seams can be whatever width you want, some of mine are much more than 1/4". And yes I use a normal stitch length.

    Schnippelche sounds like a West Prussian dialect, I heard my grandma using it sometimes. So it might well be proper German, just from areas that aren't Germany anymore these days!

    Lovely quilting, I should really get my sewing machine out of storage...

    Hi, I'm German and have never heard of the word "schnippelche" here we call what you mean "Schnipsel" or "Schnippel" (e.g. in Berlin).
    Great jop on your ible!

    1 reply

    You're right, I looked in the PA German/English dictionary instead of the German/English dictionary. I should have used your word "Schnippel" Thank you for the correction. But I'll still use my spelling and pronunciation. How do you pronounce "Schnippel"?

    Beautiful! I love your technique of quilting as you go. It makes it so easy!