If you can use a basic sewing machine, you can make fantastic patchwork projects. Follow our simple steps to making a beautiful, colourful throw or cot quilt, or just vary the size or number of squares to make a tiny scatter cushion or a stunning king-size patchwork quilt.
Choose lightweight cotton fabrics. Use up fabric scraps, buy patchwork fabrics, or take a short-cut with a set of colour-co-ordinated fabric squares (we used a "wheel" of 20 different-patterned 10in squares of fabric, from The Quilt Room).
Patchwork fabrics are also sold in "fat quarters" - a 50cm piece cut across half the fabric width.
Note: Measurements are given in inches because many fabrics sold for patchwork are American and pre-cut to inches. Centimetres are given as a buying guide, but conversions are approximate so do not swap from one to the other.
Finished quilt: Approx 38 x 56in.
To makeTo make the quilt, you will need:
- Approx. 40 x 60in (100 x 150cm) lightweight wadding
- A variety of fabrics to cut 77 x 5in squares or a "wheel" of 20 x 10in squares
- Embroidery thread for quilting ties
- 1¾yds (1.6m) of 45in (110cm) wide fabric for backing and border
- 12in (30cm) of fabric 45in (110cm) for inner border
- 5in square of card for template
- Rotary knife and cutting mat (optional)
- Sewing thread and needles
- Dressmaker's pencil
Cutting outUnless using pre-cut squares, make a template by cutting an exact 5in square of cardboard. Mark 5in squares on your fabric by drawing round the template and cut out 77 squares. Lay the squares out in seven rows of 11 squares, and rearrange until you have a pleasing arrangement of colours.
Adding borders and completing the quilt for your patchwork
Making patchworkTake ¼in seams. Tack seams if you are not a confident machine-stitcher.
1. To join top row of squares, place the first two squares right sides together. Pin, then stitch the side edge ¼in in to join. Open out and join on the next square in the same way (see diagram), then repeat to complete the row.
2. Repeat on each of the remaining rows. Press seams open flat and lay out quilt again.
3. Place the top two strips right sides facing and pin, placing pins at seam intersections to ensure a perfect match. Tack and stitch. Repeat to join all strips (diagram overleaf). Remove all tacking and press seams open flat.
Adding bordersTake 5/8in seam allowance, join pieces with right sides facing, and press seams outwards as you go.
1. Measure a long side edge of your patchwork (it should be approx. 50in) and cut two 2in-wide border strips to fit (join pieces if necessary). Stitch to side edges of quilt and press seams towards borders.
2. Measure across top edge, including borders, and cut two 2in-wide strips to fit. Attach to top and bottom edges as before.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to add an outer border, cutting 3in-wide strips. Press completed quilt top well.
Completing quilt1. Cut wadding and backing fabric to same size as quilt top. Lay wadding out flat, lay patchwork on top, right side up, and pin well in from edge. Place backing fabric on top, right side down, and tack all three layers together down the centre and across the width. Pin and tack 5/8in in from outer edge, all round the quilt. Leaving a gap in one side to turn through, machine-stitch round edge.
2. Remove all tacks and pins, turn right side out, and slip stitch opening together to close gap.
3. Quilt your finished patchwork as you choose - we machine-stitched around the border edges, then added ties of embroidery thread. To do this, thread a large-eyed needle with two lengths of embroidery cotton (use all six strands). Working from the right side, stab needle down corner of one square, right through backing fabric, and back up through an opposite corner. Tie ends together in a double knot. Trim to ½in and separate threads
Tip: If using a hotchpotch of fabrics, wash them all first to avoid uneven shrinkage. If using all patterned fabrics, as we have, stick to a limited palette of colours in the same tones and 'mood' - whether fresh and pretty, richly coloured, bright or subtle.
We used fabrics, wadding and a 'wheel' of 20 different 10in squares (£14.95), from The Quilt Room, 37-39 High Street, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1AR (01306 877307)
Sitting prettyUse the same simple method of joining squares to make pretty patchwork cushions or hangings. It's a brilliant way to use up scraps of fabric or to recycle old clothes.
How about a patchwork of cut-up denim jeans or tweed jackets, or a memories quilt of baby clothes?
Nine 17cm squares will make one side of a cushion cover to fit a 45cm pad, taking 1cm seams. For each side of the Oxford-style, flanged cushion, we simply joined four squares.