How to Patchwork with
Techniques, Instructions, Designs and Free Patterns
Picture courtesy of
Ginaellen of Dreamstime.com
INTRODUCTION ON HOW TO PATCHWORK
Learning how to patchwork is no
different to how it was learned back in the 1800s when patchwork first
came into vogue. And the basic tools have remained the same; needles,
thread, pins, fabric, templates and a pair of scissors.
Today there are lots of craft shops who
offer patchwork lessons, or you might even think of taking a patchwork
holiday. There are lots of places on the Internet offering patchwork
holidays. Two very good ones are those found in Scotland and France.
HOW TO PATCHWORK AND USING THE RIGHT NEEDLES
Needles for hand-sewing should be short
and fine, known as "betweeners" as these needles slip into and out of
the fabric with ease. If you are a total beginner you will probably
want to start with No.8 needles, as these are more manageable when
first starting out.
However, as you get more practice and become more
proficient, you can then use No. 10 needles which will allow you to
make even smaller stitches. If you are going to use your sewing machine
for quilting, then the size of the needles you will use will be
determined by the thickness of the material.
HOW TO PATCHWORK AND USING THE RIGHT THREAD
Thread used should be
quilter's thread which comes in all sorts of different colors. This
type of thread is stronger than ordinary thread and it is less likely
to break or knot. However, it is best to use synthetic thread with
synthetic fabrics, and 100% cotton thread, or a cotton-polyester thread
with cotton fabrics.
You can also run your
normal machine thread through beeswax, which you will find in your
local craft shop, to strengthen the thread and prevent it from
Select a color that
matches the darkest fabric that you are using. If your patchwork
project has a number of different colored fabrics, use a neutral
thread that will blend in with all the fabrics of your project. Such
colors that work successfully here are ecru or gray. However, you will
be the best judge here for what will match.
HOW TO PATCHWORK AND USING THE RIGHT PINS
When pinning your work never use
stationery as they are too blunt, nor should your use rusty pins, as
they will mark your fabric. Use dressmaker's pins that often have
glass-heads as they are sharp and easily pierce through layers of
HOW TO PATCHWORK USING A QUARTER SEAMER
The quarter seamer is an ideal tool to
help you rule your seams accurately and quickly. It is usually made of
perspex and is a quarter of an inch wide on all four sides.
HOW TO PATCHWORK USING A CLEAR RULER
You will need a clear, plastic ruler.
This is a great little gadget as there is no chance of shaving off a
piece of the ruler when you are cutting through layers of fabric. Make
sure that it is well marked, and ideally it has both imperial and
metric measurements, as they are still both used in patchwork.
HOW TO PATCHWORK USING FRAMES AND HOOPS
Hoops or quilting frames should be used
to contain your fabric, which then makes it easier to get those
stitches as neat as you would like. Both of course have their
advantages. The hoop is ideal for pieces that are small and can be
transported from place to place. Larger projects such as bedspreads
will need a quilting frame. This then limits where one can quilt and is
not that easy to take from place to place.
HOW TO PATCHWORK AND CHOOSING THE RIGHT FABRIC
When you start your project you will be
tempted to buy all sorts of patchwork
fabrics. However, you should choose your
fabrics wisely as wool, stretch-fabrics, open-weave and crepe fabrics
are really not suitable
for patchwork. And where silk will give you a
luxuriant finish, it slips a lot when you work with it, and makes it a
difficult fabric to use as a novice. Whatever you choose, you should
make sure that the different pieces of fabric are of all a similar
Medium-weight 100% pure cotton
are the simplest to start off with. Avoid those fabrics which are
lightweight and heavyweight fabrics such as velvet and curtaining, as
again they are more difficult to work with. However, cotton has a
tendency to fray, and this is something you must be aware of when
sewing your projects.
All fabric must be washed
to pre-shrink and also to make sure that there is no bleeding of dyes
in the fabrics you have chosen. When you wash your fabric choose a mild
detergent and avoid conditioners. When washing your fabrics wash the
lighter fabrics separate from the darker colors.
LIFESTYLES TIP - If you have a problem
with any of your colors bleeding, then try adding either vinegar or
salt to your final rinsing water to fix the dye. Re-wash to see if this
has sorted out the problem. If us doesn't, don't use it, rather find an
HOW TO PATCHWORK USING TEMPLATES
are the patterns of the
pieces that you are going to stitch together. These can either be
bought through our Country
or you can also make them at home using plastic and cardboard. The
problem in making them at home is that there is always the possibility
that they have not been made accurately. If this is the case, then you
will spoil your project as a small error on a small piece will soon
translate to a larger error on a large item like a quilt.
When you see a patchwork template there will be 2
lots of lines. One line will be made up of dashes, and the other line
will be a solid line. These lines show both the stitching and cutting
lines respectively. However, there are times when you will find that a
template will only have a solid line, indicating where to cut. You will
have to add a seam allowance to these templates, 6mm is the normal
HOW TO PATCHWORK AND CUTTING YOUR FABRIC
Use a fine, sharp pencil to mark your
fabric on the wrong side. A lead or pale colored pencil works well,
with silver and white showing on dark fabrics. When you cut your fabric
use either a very sharp pair of scissors, or use a rotary cutter and
board. Rotary cutters are excellent for cutting strips, straightening
fabric edges and even cutting out various geometric pieces. It also
makes for more accuracy when you are cutting out several layers of
fabric at a time.
Always cut your material on a mat, as
these blades are very sharp and your husband will not be amused if you
carve up the dining-room table in the interim! These mats have been
made to ensure that your blade stays sharp and the mat also helps to
grip the fabric whilst cutting. If you can find a 'self-healing'
cutting mat, these are the best to work with.
A smaller pair of scissors is ideal
when you want to trim threads, clip points or seam allowances.
Cut your squares and rectangles out on
the straight grain. Right angle triangles should have the right angle
on the straight grain, while other triangles and irregular shapes
should have the straight grain running through their centers.
HOW TO PATCHWORK AND PIECING YOUR FABRICS
After you have carefully cut out your
fabric shapes, it is time to start piecing them together. This can
either be done with hand-sewing or by machine, and in no time at all
you will have a patchwork quilt!
Now there are 2 different patchwork
techniques that can be used; the English Method, or
the American Method.
The English method can be
time-consuming, but you end up with a very professional looking final
product. How this is achieved is by tacking the fabric pieces directly
onto soft cardboard template shapes before assembling it into a
pattern. This method is only suitable for hand-sewing.
The American Method is to mark the
seams directly onto the fabric pieces and sew them directly together.
The advantage of this method is that this can be used for both machine
Both methods rely totally on care and
accuracy with the the marking and cutting of the fabric. Attention to
this kind of detail will make a big difference to the finished quality
of the project.
place the pieces right-sides together, and use a small, even running
stitch, securing every few stitches by a back-stitch, making sure that
you have a 6 mm seam.
When machine sewing,
use an average sized stitch comparable with the fabrics that you are
working with, and again leave a 6 mm seam. To strengthen the seams, do
not press them open. Press them to one side, preferably toward the
darker piece of fabric so that they don't show through. Wherever
possible join fabrics in units to form strips.
Join squares in straight rows within
each block, then join blocks into strips. At cross seams, alternate the
direction of the seam allowance to distribute the bulk of the fabric
You may need to trim the seam
allowance. This is particularly so when you find that you have a number
of seams converging to a point. Press each seam as it is completed.
HOW TO PATCHWORK AND FINALLY FINISH OFF WITH QUILTING
Often, after a patchwork project has
been finished, people like to add more interest to it by quilting
it. See this page for more details on quilting and how to finish off
your project with binding.
Looking for a free
craft forum? Visit our new craft forum and make a
contribution today! We look forward to meeting you.
HOW TO PATCHWORK: SOME FREE DESIGNS FOR YOUR PATCHWORK QUILT
Here are 6 designs for simple strip
patchwork that we hope will inspire you for your next project on how to
make a patchwork quilt.
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My work in Patchwork I thought I would show you some examples of the type of patchwork that I do, so I have uploaded a couple of examples of my patchwork.
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