A patchwork quilt is always incredibly popular, and it isn’t hard to understand why. Their look epitomizes what quilts are all about, and they also make great options for people who are just starting to quilt. You’ve come to the right place whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been quilting for years, if you’re interested in great patchwork quilt tips.
Patchwork quilts are simply quilts that have small patches sewn onto them, and the patches can come in various colors, designs, sizes, and even textures. They are each very unique in their own way, meaning you can get very creative with them, and they are fun to make as well.
Getting Started with a Patchwork Quilt
Compared to many other types of quilts, making patchwork quilts is fairly simple, and you’ll start with at least two or three dozen small pre-cut pieces of fabric, all in the shape of a square. The 10” x 10” size works great for these types of quilt, but the actual size is up to you. To be honest, the shape is also up to you, but for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to use square-shaped pieces for this article.
To make a basic quilt, here are the basic steps.
1. Lay the Pieces Out in a Design
With this quilt, you can start utilizing your creativity from the very beginning. Lay out the patches of fabric on a table in any design you like, then play around with the pieces until you get a design you love. You can choose seven rows of five patches, eight rows of six patches, or anything similar to this.
Take your time with this step, and every time you come up with a new design, snap a picture of it with your phone so you don’t forget what it looks like. Once you decide on the design you like best, you can move onto the next step.
2. Sew All of Your Squares Together
Take your squares and sew them together row by row. In other words, sew the first row of squares together, then start with the second row. Make sure you leave a seam allowance of about 1/4” so you get a nice clean look in the end.
When you’re done with this step, you’ll have several rows of square patches that are sewn together by row. The next step is to iron each of the seam allowances, but iron them in the opposite direction. Once you’re done, you can go onto step #3.
3. Sew All of Your Rows Together
An attractive patchwork quilt consists of rows of patches that you can arrange any way you wish. When you get to the intersection of a row, go ahead and put a pin there to make it easier once you start to sew. You’ll then want to sew all of the rows together but once again, there should be an allowance of 1/4”.
Once you’re done with this step, iron the pieces so they lay nice and flat.
4. If You Like, Do Your Borders Next
Borders are not necessary when making a quilt, but if you decide to place a border on this quilt, create strips that are three to four inches in size to start. Take the width of your quilt (or the length, depending on what side you’re working on) and add three inches, then attach the border and make sure you trim it properly.
At this point, you are ready to do the actual quilting, so you can move onto step #5.
5. Get Ready to Do the Quilting
The backing that you use should be wider than the top of the quilt. Many sewists add an extra four inches or so on all sides, including the top, bottom, and the two sides. Most people do the quilting themselves using a quilting sewing machine, but if you are used to sending your quilt to a long-armer for completion, it’s especially important to make sure you’re using extra backing.
Next, go ahead and baste the quilt together to get ready for the next step of the process.
6. The Quilting Itself
When it comes to patchwork quilt tips, you’ll find that you can do the actual quilting in one of several ways. These include:
- Diagonally: If you quilt diagonally, it creates a diamond-like pattern that many people love
- Across the wavy lines: If you quilt this way, keep in mind that you don’t have to be precise about it
- Straight: Quilting in a straight line gives it a contemporary look; keep the lines about two inches apart
- Freestyle: You can use the “stipple” design and a free-motion design for uniqueness
These are the basics when it comes to making a patchwork quilt. Remember that you can use fabric pieces of any design or shape, including pieces that are shaped like an octagon, rectangle, or even a circle if that’s what you prefer. Once you start working, you’ll quickly realize how simple it is to make one of these quilts.
Patchwork Quilt Tips: Tips to Make the Process Easier
Even if you are a beginning quilter, the patchwork quilts tend to be simple to understand and to make, and you can get very creative with every one of them. Nevertheless, there are some tips you can follow to make the process even easier, and below are some of them.
1. When You Unpick a Seam, Do it Carefully
Unpicking has to be done the right way or you could accidentally cause damage to the fabric. One thing you don’t want to do is start pulling your seam apart. This might cause the pieces to be misshapen, which means that they’ll be difficult to work with in the future.
Make sure that your unpicker is very sharp and that you go slowly and carefully the entire time. Try to cut every three or four stitches for the best results because this way, the seam should come apart easily and quickly.
2. Make Sure That You Iron the Entire Time
As you’re making your patchwork quilt, you should be ironing seams the whole time. Your iron should always be very hot and dry; never use a steam iron to press your seams. Iron the seams when they’re closed first, then re-iron them while they’re open.
When your seams are ironed the right way, it makes all of your steps a lot easier. You’ll notice a very smooth, even look and the pieces will be much easier to work with too.
3. Never Tug or Treat the Fabric Roughly
It is a necessity to be gentle with all of your fabric pieces when quilting, regardless of the pattern. Even when you go to remove the fabric piece from your sewing machine, tugging at it too hard can cause a bunching up of the fabric close to where the thread is.
Even if this happens and you decide to rub it out with your hands to get the piece smooth again, it can cause the pieces to become misshapen. Bottom line: go slowly when quilting and always be gentle.
4. Make Sure That Your Cutting Is Always Accurate
Just as with any other type of sewing, cutting your fabric has to be done precisely from the very beginning. The accuracy of the cutting directly affects each and every step that comes next, which means that you won’t be happy with the results if you don’t start out with accurate cutting.
Once again, take your time and go slowly. Use sharp scissors and make sure that you follow the pattern (if there is one) to the letter. Otherwise, you might not be happy with the final look of the quilt.
5. Always Use High-Quality Thread
You cannot skimp on your thread when you’re a quilter, so these two-for-a-dollar spools of thread simply won’t do. For the best results, use a high-quality cotton thread and never a cheap or polyester thread. The 50-weight cotton thread is perfect for piecing. You can also use invisible thread for your quilting projects, it can give your projects a unique look.
Think about it this way: one spool of thread can last for a long time when you’re making quilts, so you might as well use a quality thread that does the job right.
6. Don’t Panic If You Find Mistakes
Once your quilt is completed, you may find a mistake or two, including seams that don’t match and points that are supposed to be there but aren’t. The truth is that most of the people who see your quilt won’t even notice the mistakes, so you don’t have to get depressed just because you do notice them.
In fact, some mistakes can actually add some uniqueness and even some ambiance to your quilt, so don’t be afraid to show it off when it’s done. Of all of the patchwork quilt tips, this is one of the most important.
7. Never Back-Stitch When Quilting
As opposed to other types of sewing, back-stitching should never be used on a quilt. For one thing, back-stitching isn’t necessary because each piece will eventually be sewn onto another one, creating a more permanent effect.
In addition, back-stitching can make the shape of your pieces look a little distorted and even unattractive, and in most cases it’s almost impossible to change this once it’s done.
For quilting purposes, a 1/4” sewing foot for seams should be utilized. These feet usually have a guide bar that can help you line the piece of fabric up accurately, which means that all of the fabric pieces you’re using will line up perfectly once you get to that point.
Make sure that you always use the guide bar on the sewing foot because this is the easiest way to ensure that you get a nice even look when you’re done.
9. Always Use a Well-Maintained Sewing Machine
When you want your quilt to come out perfectly, your sewing machine has to be well maintained and in good shape. You can use an older machine, but only if it works right and nothing is wrong with it. Dust and oil the machine regularly, and make sure that there is always a brand-new sharp needle in place.
You should also take the sewing machine to a professional repair store for a routine checkup and maintenance a minimum of once a year, but more often if you use the machine daily.
10. Always Double- and Triple-Check Your Work as You Go
When it comes to patchwork quilt tips, we’ve already mentioned how important it is to go slowly, but you should also check your work regularly so you’re positive which pieces of fabric are supposed to be sewn together. When you’re working with long seams, for example, make certain that your points line up and match correctly every time.
And while you can’t back-stitch, you can certainly add a few extra sewing stitches to hold your junctions together like they need to be. In other words, what you want to do is check more than once to make sure that you are getting ready to sew the right pieces together and so forth.
11. Research the Various Designs Available
When you quilt, never be hesitant to go outside your comfort zone. With the right patterns, you can create patches that are shaped like animals, diamonds, mountains, people, butterflies, stars, ducks, and so many others. Not all of these patterns are good for beginners, but you certainly have a lot of selection available when you decide to concentrate on patchwork quilts.
If you follow the instructions to the letter, take your time, and go slowly, making any type of quilt can be a lot easier.
A patchwork quilt is a perfect pattern for both beginners and more experienced quilters, and the basics of making the quilt are very simple for most people. Once you get started, you’ll quickly realize that it’s much easier than it originally seemed.
Following certain patchwork quilt tips makes it even more likely that you’ll be successful with your quilt in the end. These quilts are unique and gorgeous and are usually the perfect size for cuddling and watching television or reading a book.
Patchwork quilts also come in tons of different colors, shapes, and textures, so you can be very creative when making them.