How to Make A Chronicle Quilt {Recycle Craft}

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Chronicle Quilts are so named because they were made by sewing strips of fabric on newspaper- like the Chronicle- to make warm, inexpensive quilts during the Depression.

In the time when the motto was

“Use it up, wear it out: Just make do, or do without.”

….this quilt can help you “use it up”- all those scraps from your stash AND empty your recycle bin of newspapers. Plus, since it’s sew-and-flip technique, there is no fussy measuring or seam-matching- just sit, sew, and enjoy!

Let’s get started!

Start with some newspaper. (This is an insert section, a little smaller, I like that.) The newspaper stabilizes the scraps, and prevents the bias from pulling.

Start anywhere yould like with a piece of fabric, right side up. Pin it or glue-stick it if you prefer. This is a good chance to use some fun, novelty prints.

Take another scrap, and cover up one of the raw edges, placing the fabric right side down. Make sure the second piece will cover up the entire raw edge.

Sew it down, making sure you’re going through both layers of fabric. Don’t worry about seam allowances- just leave a little space, at least 1/8″.

Open the seam and press, with an iron or just your fingers. Trim the parts that overhang the previous piece with scissors.

Take another scrap, and again, cover the previous raw edges- completely. No real measuring, but make sure the scrap is long enough to cover.

You don’t have to line up the edges exactly- go a little catty-wampus if you like. It creates fun irregular shapes.

Keep up with the sewing/flipping routine until the entire newspaper is covered. When it’s all covered, flip it over. Trim along the paper. Again, no measuring-. and we love that!!

Flip it over…. ooh, ahh! Crazy and pretty. And very stable and secure on that newspaper. You see how you couldn’t do this kind of thing without some kind of stabilizer? And it’s so nice to recycle newspaper… This whole block took only 15 minutes or so.

Make as many blocks as you’d like to create the size of the quilt you want. I like to make lap quilts for seniors in wheelchairs or baby quilt- and you only need about 16 block for those.

Then join your blocks together in a traditional quilt fashion, with an 1/4 inch seam allowance. (Or more- whatever!) Then back the quilt with a nice, fluffy flannel and quilt as desired. (I like to do big “scribbles” of free-motion quilting, but do what you like.)

Then square up your quilt and bind. (Again, you can make your own, use store-bought cotton binding, or my fave- satin!)

Now, before you ask- NO, you do not use any batting and YES, you leave the newspaper in there. Wash your finished quilt in warm water, and the newspaper will break down into batting. Trust me, it works! The newsprint does not wash out or stain the fabric, either. It feels just like there is a thin batting inside, and it’s soft & cuddly. No one will ever know that there is recycled newspapers in there.

Here’s the story of this one: I was burning through my scraps, and made this one for Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital here in Cleveland. I had it all laundered an ready to go…. and then my son, then 2 1/2, saw it, pulled it down on the floor, and started to dance on it! The next day, he got sick, and grabbed this quilt to nap under…. so now it’s just part of the family.

Needless to say, this is an amazing way to recycle old clothing, too- the newspaper acts as a stabilizer and makes difficult fabrics like t-shirt knits easier to sew. Have fun and get sewing!

Who will you make a Chronicle Quilt for?

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About Jenny Barnett Rohrs

Chief Craft Test Dummy, Craft Evangelist, Founder, Editor, bottle-washer, trouble-maker, and creative whirlwind.

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20 Responses to “How to Make A Chronicle Quilt {Recycle Craft}”

  1. Becky Stancill Says:

    Wow! I had no clue how this technique worked! I love it. This may be the very thing to do for my (now grown) kids’ high school t-shirts quilts! Yay!

  2. Mary G Says:

    This is neat – it is sort of like “paper piecing” but without all the hassle. Can’t wait to try it.

    Marysewfun

  3. Debra H Says:

    How many pieces of newsprint do you use per block??

  4. Jenny Says:

    Just one. It acts as a foundation. Personally, I like the smaller newspaper sections- like the Friday or real-estate add-in sections- cut in half. They are about 12 X 14 inches. Just one sheet of newsprint as the foundation, though.

  5. Jennifer Says:

    Wow Jenny that is pretty awesome and so clever. I never knew that about newspaper quilts. Love this idea and if I ever learn how to use my sewing machine for more than a straight line I will definitely give it a try.

  6. breanna Says:

    i’m not willing to dive into this tricky quilting thing just yet…but i can sure appreciate how much work and talent you’ve put into yours! well done!

  7. Jenny Says:

    Breanna- this is the least tricky quilting you’ll ever find! Maybe try the technique out on smaller pieces and make a placemat first?

  8. Carmen Says:

    Wow! This is so cool! I’ve got lots of sheets of brown paper wrapping around and this would be such a great way to use them up! Awesome tutorial!

  9. Jenny Says:

    I would NOT use brown wrapping paper, Carmen. It’d not meant to degrade as quickly or finely as newsprint & I think you’d be displeased with the feel of the finished quilt.

  10. Vicki O'Dell Says:

    Great quilt. I’m going to have to try it out. Thanks for entering it in the Blog County Fair! :)

  11. Pamela Says:

    This is an awesome tutorial! I have already made all my squares and put them together, though I have a question. How close together are your quilting lines? If I have them too far apart will the newspaper lump up when I wash it?

  12. Jenny Says:

    I quilted mine 2- 2 1/2 inches apart and got no lumping whatsoever. That newsprint degrades perfectly- not too fine to sift through the fabric & not too lumpy. Miraculous, right?

  13. Pamela Says:

    Thank you so much for your response. I did a small test 6.5″x6.5″ and quilted about a half inch apart. It turned out well, but I will be able to get it done faster if I can do it farther apart. Thanks again.

  14. Sharon Says:

    This seems to be a great technique. I was wondering if you used more than one sheet of newspaper would it feel like a thicker batting after washing and drying?

  15. Jenny Says:

    The quilt feels plenty thick due to all the seams- you get a lot with the sew-and-flip method. More than 1 layer would get awfully unwieldy and dull your needle.

  16. Tootie Says:

    Can’t wait to try this!

  17. Ellen Says:

    Ah this brings back memories….My dear Mother in law Emma taught me this way back when I was young and slender err….. I mean a long time ago. I made a crazy quilt and won a blue ribbon at the fair. My only blue ribbon ever. It is good to know that the old ways are still out there for thrifty stitchers. I think I might make another just in memory of Emma who I miss talking with every day.

  18. Bev Says:

    This is so stinking cute and it sounds so easy to make it. I don’t know how to use my sewing machine but I might attempt doing this just to learn how to use it. Thank you for sharing.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tutorial: Chronicle quilt · Quilting | CraftGossip.com - September 7, 2011

    [...] during the Great Depression. Learn how to piece fabric scraps to a newspaper foundation. Click HERE to get the tutorial. You may also [...]

  2. Stash-Bustin’ Fabric Crafts: Chronicle Quilts | CraftHoarders - March 4, 2013

    [...] my full photo-tutorial on CraftTestDummies, and see if it doesn’t inspire you to save a day’s worth of newspapers and make a [...]

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