How to make a simple patchwork quilt part 1 – Working out the size, design and fabric needed.


My Thursday evening sewing ladies are making their very first patchwork quilt. Patchwork quilts can take a long time to complete which often makes it quite a daunting task to even start for beginner sewers and some intermediate sewers. There are lots of different design you can choose from and if this is your first quilt the design really is everything in terms of success and enthusiasm!
Here is a selection of quilts I’ve made over the years…

quilt 01

This quilt is the first one I ever made and I started it when I was 18 and finished it when I was 20. It’s a king-sized quilt and made entirely from hexagons and the design is a well-known traditional patchwork design called ‘Grandmother’s flower garden.’ It was far too ambitious a project for me to do as a first quilt as the hexagons are small and have 6 sides to sew especially as I didn’t have a sewing machine when I started it and half of it I actually hand sewed! I admit to loving and hating this quilt in equal measure in the 2 years it took me to make but as it’s seen me through university, living on a boat for 3 years, picnics with my family –no 3 son is sat on it in the photo – and it currently spends its winters on our bed keeping us warm. It’s now 19 years old and I love it!

quilt 02

This quilt I made as an example of my work to use at craft fairs. It’s made from lots of recycled fabrics and I used white squares with appliqued cupcakes on to add design and interest. The flower border breaks up the white squares and I added a wide pink fabric border to finish it off. I like to add borders to my quilts as I think that just like a picture frame pushes your eye to the main part –the picture; I believe the fabric border does the same with the patchwork design.

quilt 04

This quilt is another appliquéd quilt and I used my sons’ old baby grows and cot bed sheets to make it. I cut the sheets into squares and from the baby grows I cut hearts and hand sewed them onto the squares using blanket stitch. This took forever and if you have a machine that does a blanket stitch I would advise you to use it!

quilt 03

This quilt was made for a customer out of her fabrics and I have to say it was one of my favourites as I wouldn’t have ever chosen the colours myself but having made it both Hubbie and I said we loved it and would have it on our bed!

quilt 05

This is a quilt made as a surprise for my eldest son whilst he was away at his grandparents. It was a whirlwind to get it finished before he came back but very much worth it to see the look on his face when he saw it on his bed. This was made from cutting long strips of fabric and sewing them together as one long length. This is a technique favoured by people who make ‘jelly rolls’ quilts (Moda is the company that make the pre-cut strips) and has become very popular of late as you can made fabulous quilts very quickly so they really suit a beginner.

I love making quilts and the people I’ve made them for have always come back and said how much they like them so I hope you have as much fun making yours as I do mine!

For our quilt we are going to make a simple one using large squares. This is easy to do and won’t take too long but will also teach you the very basics in making quilts so you can then go and learn other techniques to add to your design.

Fabrics to use

Choose fabrics that are or ‘equal weight’ this means that the fabrics are similar thicknesses so you wouldn’t have denim with a thin cotton fabric. I use cotton fabrics as they wash well and are good quality so last for a long time. You can upcycle special fabrics you already have, use your children’s old clothes but also add in new fabrics at the same time. It really is up to you what you’d like to use.

I wouldn’t use stretchy fabrics as once cut they can lose their shape easily which makes them also difficult to sew. Whilst this isn’t impossible it has hard for beginners to work with stretchy fabrics.

I have my material now how much do I need?

We are going to make a single quilt measuring 140cms x 200cms. I like my quilts to hang over the sides of the bed and definitely cover the duvet. A normal single duvet is 120cms x 200cms so I’ve added another 20cms to make sure this happens. You will need a template of 22cms x22cms to cut 70 squares of your fabric. I collect used cereal packets  and make my templates out of them and once used they are then kept in a box for future projects. Draw a 22 x 22 cms square on the cereal packet then cut it out making sure you stick to the lines as closely as possible as even if you are slightly off the line the size won’t be quite right. Using squares of this size will give you the finished quilt size of 140cms x 200cms – taking off 1cm each side of the 22cms x 22cms template square for the hem.

So that’s part 1 of the tutorial. I’ve explained what we’re going to do, what design we’re going to follow and what you need to get started with your quilt.

Cutting out the fabrics does take quite some time but there are pre-cut fabrics available should you wish to buy them.

Part 2 next week -working out the design of the fabric squares and making a plan to follow to make sure the design is followed.

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About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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