Sewing Back-to-School: Patchwork Basics

This post is part of the Sewing Back-to-School series, 30 days of helpful sewing articles by guest bloggers. Feel free to check out the original Sewing Back-to-School post for schedule and previous posts!

Meg has a great blog, and just recently wrapped up her Finish It Up Challenge in an effort to get everyone to finish up their WIP’s (works in progress). She also makes a lot of really cool bags (this one is my favorite) that I am very jealous of!

Hello!  I am Meg of Fashioned by Meg.  Sara was so kind to invite me to share with you all about some patchwork basics.  Patchwork is so inspiring.  It can be used in a wide variety of projects: quilts, pillows, bags, toys, and all sorts of accessories.  Change up a simple pattern that you  own with a little bit of patchwork, and it adds some great charm.  There is something so satisfying about transforming your scraps into something useful and beautiful.   Here are some beautiful patchwork projects to inspire you:
So lets get started!  Patchwork is a great way to use up your scraps, so head on over to your scrap basket and pick out some of your favorites!  You can choose randomly, but I find that I do like coordinating my fabric choices.  For example in this placemat I chose a peachy colorway.  All the fabrics are not necessarily peach, but they all go well together and have more neutral tones.
I also like the look of just using one color.  For this tea towel I only used red scraps.
So after you pick your fabrics, it is time to start cutting!  I am going to show you how to make a little four patch block, and you can apply the principles you learn here to use patchwork in other projects as well.
First, you will need two different fabrics.  From your two different fabrics cut two 2 inch squares.  (If you need help with cutting accurately, please refer to Lindsay’s great post she had on using rotary cutters.)  I like to cut my fabrics into 2 inch strips and then cut them down into squares as seen below.
So, take your four squares and head on over to your sewing machine!  This is where you find a quarter inch foot a very useful tool.  This is what mine looks like.  When I place my fabric on the edge of this foot, it gives me a perfect quarter inch seam.  If you don’t have one of these feet, you should definitely consider investing in one or you can make yourself a seam guide by sticking a piece of masking tape exactly a quarter of an inch away from the needle.  For a few projects it doesn’t necessarily matter if your patchwork comes out too big or too small, but for most projects you are going to be pulling out your hair because things are not matching up.  So although it may seem like an easy step to skip, making sure your seam is accurate really can make or break your project.
  Another thing to take into account with your seam allowance is that in patchwork when you press it to the side it is best that your seam allowance be slightly less than an exact quarter inch.  This is called a “scant quarter inch”.  So I usually set my machine a few slight notches over to the right.  This way you don’t lose any of your seam to the thread or the space that is taken up when the seam is pressed to the side.
Now take two of your squares and place them right sides together.
Now sew them together using a scant quarter inch.
Open up your two squares and press the seam allowance to one side.
Sew your other two blocks together and press the seam allowance to the opposite side.
Now we are going to make our little block.  Place your two pieces together so that the seams are nesting together.  One seam is going to the right and one is going to the left, as shown below.  Pin these in place and sew together.
Now open up your block and press the seam allowance to one side, and you are finished!
You are now the proud creator of sweet little four patch block.
Patchwork is lots of fun!  So, I hope this was helpful and please stop by and visit me at Fashioned by Meg!
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