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Perfect Patchwork is Possible

July 2, 2018

What are some of the key techniques every patchwork quilter should master? Here are some tips to get you started on achieving that perfect finish.

1. Match colours and patterns.

Lay out your fabrics beforehand in a bright light (preferably daylight) to check how the colours match up. Your colour palette can be drawn from one chosen fabric or from a selection of 2 or 3. Limiting your palette to 3 dominant colours will make life easier and the overall piece more cohesive.
Patterns should be balanced but varied. Bring in patterns of different densities or visual weight to add interest to your project. The fabrics below have different visual weight. Note the scale of the design, the “busyness”, and the distribution of colour.

2. Cut carefully.

Measure twice, cut once. Or even measure several times. In order for the corners of your patchwork pieces to line up you must take time to cut out carefully and precisely. Measure across your piece at different points to check your edges are parallel etc. A larger quilter’s ruler comes in handy here as it provides both horizontal and vertical measurements in addition to angles. Pictured below are some options we stock along with the new Splash coloured rotary cutters.

3. Cut from a straight edge.

Start your cutting process by cutting a straight edge along the grain. Use your quilter’s ruler to ensure your perpendicular cuts are precisely 90 degrees to your initial straight edge. This will keep your edges true and your pieces on the straight grain to avoid extra warping or stretching when sewing.

4. Press frequently.

A good iron is your best friend and you should hang out frequently when sewing especially for patchwork. Seams should be pressed to one side or the other and alternated so as not to add bulk to the quilt top. Be careful not to roll your seam and create tucks in your piece when you press. Finally, do not wait until the end of sewing before pressing. Press as you join pieces to your project.

5. Practice your 1/4″ seams.

If you are a beginner or used to sewing with a 5/8″ seam allowance then practice sewing with a 1/4″ seam allowance on some scraps before you begin. Use a 1/4″ seam foot on your machine if you can.
I hope these tips encourage you to dive into your patchwork project. Our Patchwork Picnic Blanket class is a good place to start and will teach you rotary cutting skills, tips on knowing your fabric, and how to perfect those seams. You will leave the 4-hour class with a beautiful handmade blanket or play mat. For more information see our Class page here.

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