Schnibbling: everyone is doing it (+ giveaway)

Martingale authors inspire each other: A version of Carrie Nelson’s “X-Rated,” as pieced and quilted by Kim Brackett. Don’t miss Kim’s just-released ePatterns.


My first question, “What the heck is a schnibble?” was answered with a quick flip through Schnibbles Times Two, where author Carrie Nelson writes with her characteristic humor, “having had a past experience with using words that didn’t mean exactly what I thought they did, I did what any twenty-first-century girl would do–I searched Google for the word ‘schnibble’. . . it turned out that this quirky little word actually means a scrap, small bits of cloth, or leftover bits of fabric.”

Admittedly, the schnibbles of fabric used in Carrie’s patterns usually come from gorgeous Moda Charm Packs and Layer Cakes rather than the floor. Carrie’s love of working with precut sets has led to a wildly popular pattern line and two Martingale books, Schnibbles Times Two and Another Bite of Schnibbles.

Our Editor in Chief, Mary Green, recently finished a Schnibbles quilt for her son and daughter-in-law as a housewarming present (shown left). She based it on “Imagine” from Schnibbles Times Two and pieced the pillow fronts from the leftovers.

I’m pausing for a moment to admire her handiwork; maybe someday I’ll get there. I am not yet a seasoned schnibbler, but I’ve seen firsthand how a quilter who knows what she’s doing reacts to these patterns. I visited my aunt last spring for my first-ever quilting lesson and found a copy of Schnibbles Times Two sitting by her sewing machine. Although I had told her I could bring her any Martingale books she wanted from our Book Room, she had felt such a lust to schnibble that she ordered it online rather than wait for me to bring a copy.

Although I enjoyed my quilting lesson tremendously, I’m going to show off my aunt’s Schnibbles quilt rather than my (ahem) unfinished attempt. Here’s Glenda Wright’s version of "X-Rated," at right.

My aunt is one of many quilters who find Carrie’s patterns both accessible and inspiring, as evidenced by the lovely quilts in our Schnibbles contest and the collection of Schnibbles quilts below.

I had to ask Carrie about the popularity of her patterns.

Palmer: People love making Schnibbles quilts so much, they have "Schnibbles Parades" and "Schnibbles State Fairs." What do you think is the main attraction of these patterns? The yummy Charm Packs and Layer Cakes? The patterns in two sizes? The excuse to use the word "schnibble?"

Carrie: All of the above, and more.

Yes, the Charm Packs and Layer Cakes are one reason, as they let me play with a fabulous new fabric collection that doesn’t go with a single thing in my house, without making a huge investment of money or time.

Having options when it comes to the size of the quilt is great–except when the friend whose birthday is next month now expects the bigger quilt of the pair. It’s also nice to know the same design will work for a baby quilt and a graduation gift–though probably not in the same fabric.

They’ve been called “scribbles,” “scrittles,” and “skibbles,” though surprisingly, nobody has called them “skittles” yet. I guess that’s because nobody EVER gets candy confused with anything else.

I think the appeal is also the relatively instant gratification–these quilts really don’t take that long to make.

All of that makes them fun, and in the slightly-edited words of Dr. Seuss: [Schnibbles are] fun and fun is good.

Palmer: Can it be a verb? Can one say “I’m schnibbling?”

Carrie: I don’t know why not. I’ve used it that way, as in, “I’m schnibbling this weekend.” “To schnibble or not to schnibble”–I think Bill would approve!

Satisfied that I’m using the word properly, I reached out to several bloggers who’ve posted photos of their Schnibbles quilts. These quilts are not only beautiful, they demonstrate how well Carrie’s patterns adapt to different fabric choices. Look at the variety!


"Hot Cross," from Schnibbles Times Two. Pieced and quilted by Karen Torres.


"Cindy Lou Who" from Another Bite of Schnibbles. Pieced and quilted by Thelma Childers.


“Imagine,” from Schnibbles Times Two. Pieced by Christine Horne and quilted by Susan Thiboult.


“Bennington,” from Schnibbles Times Two. Pieced and quilted by Tiffaney Cantwell.


"Picnic," from Another Bite of Schnibbles. Pieced by Sherri McConnell and quilted by Pat Grow.


“Hot Cross,” from Schnibbles Times Two. Pieced and quilted by Suzie.


"Oso" from Another Bite of Schnibbles. Pieced by Sinta Renee and quilted by D'vine Designs by Dea.


"Lincoln," from Another Bite of Schnibbles. Pieced and quilted by Jo Kramer.


"Bennington," from Another Bite of Schnibbles. Pieced and quilted by Audrey Bretz.


“Hot Cross,” from Schnibbles Times Two. Pieced and quilted by Patty Dudek.

Have you schnibbled? Post a link in the comments to a photo of your schnibbles-inspired project, and you could win both the Schnibbles Times Two and Another Bite of Schnibbles ebooks. We’ll choose two winners one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won.

Comments are closed for this post.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing to win the Schnibbles Times Two and Another Bite of Schnibbles eBooks! The randomly chosen winners are Béatrice and Sinta.

Beatrice said:

“I have an entire page dedicated to Carrie’s designs:”

Sinta said:

“I have been coming back every day and reading all of the fun comments people have been making! I am a total Schnibble addict and I see no end in sight. All it took was a fun little pattern by Carrie Nelson and a couple of charm packs from my stash and I got hooked! It’s not only a great way to use up your stash but it’s fun to try new techniques and just play! An added bonus of being in the Schnibble parades is you get to see new little twists to the pattern that make you want to make another one and that’s how the addiction begins! I am a Schnibbler:”

Beatrice and Sinta, we’ll email you special coupon codes for your free eBooks. Congratulations!

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