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Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… How to Plan a Simple Patchwork

The world of patchwork and quilting is vast, and if you just want to get started with something simple it can be a bit daunting. It can be especially tricky if you want to use scraps or small quantities of fabric and you’re not sure if you’ve got enough to achieve what you want to do. Here are some hopefully helpful tips to get you started…

1. Start Small

Rather than embarking on a cover for your king size bed, begin your voyage into patchwork by sewing a lap or cot sized quilt or small play mat. That way you can work out if this craft is for you and make something manageable. The sewing techniques are the same so you’ll be set up for larger projects too.

2. Squared Paper is Your Friend

I absolutely love squared and graph paper, and using it to plan your patchwork will really help. If you take a look at this example, I’ve planned a crib quilt that should measure 36 x 36″ or 90 x 90cm. Taking into account the 1cm seam allowance I’ll be sewing with, each square will need to be cut to 12 x 12cm and I can fit in nine squares across and nine squares down. I decided to use five different fabrics and set about planning how they could fit in with a pattern.

Here is my plan. The four corner blocks are all the same and there are three other designs with the central one only being used once.  This illustration may appear a bit naive but it makes a really handy reference. There is no need for you to get the colouring pencils out or fill in the pattern, I just did that for japes.

Planning a simple quilt resized


3. Take Your Time with Your Design

Selecting your fabrics can be time consuming; if you’re working from your stash you will be limited by what you have in your collection. Take time to cut out a 12 x 12 cm square of each option, this will help you to see if what you’ve selected really works rather than laying bigger pieces side by side.

4. Work in Blocks

For this quilt I have created blocks of nine squares, so three rows of three to make nine blocks in total. By breaking it down this way I can create the patchwork gradually and can make changes to the layout if need be. Working in rows can be a really useful approach but I reserve this for a more casual creation.

5. Feel Free to Change Your Mind

The design process doesn’t stop until the patchwork is complete. If you put your blocks together and something isn’t right, don’t be afraid to unpick, make changes or even start again – it is so much better to have a project you’ve spent time on and love, than a quick fix that you don’t even like.

So why not give it a whirl? Enjoy the process and make a simple heirloom piece that you can be really proud of. In my next post I’ll tell you how to sew your squares together to complete your well planned patchwork top.

Patchwork Image for planning post

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