Incorporating patchwork and quilt work into designs can be seen all over social media right now. Not only is it popular, but it has the ability to decrease leftover scraps otherwise thrown out from past designs. Patchwork is a composition of pieces of fabric in a variety of shapes, colors and sometimes fabric weights. Kind of like a hodgepodge. Patchwork is similar to quilting, but I feel like quilting is more calculated- less hodgepodge. But! I am not an expert at quilting, so feel free to share your insights in our comments below. You can read more about incorporating quilting techniques into designs in our Latest Design: Quilted Heart Bag.
Your feedback has been so positive on our Instagram when we shared our patchwork sweatshirts last year. It is now time to share with you our process for creating patchwork fabric, sewing with patchwork fabric, and tips to make it enjoyable! Read on to gain a better understanding of how we take a pile of scraps and turn them into in this case, a knit sweatshirt. You can incorporate patchwork fabric into your fabric pattern. Bonus for you is we made a Fast Forward Edition video going through the steps.
Creating patchwork fabric can be as easy or complex as you would like to make it. You could keep things simple with 2-3 colors and maintain the same dimensions for each patch cut out. You could get as complex as us, with up to 6 different colors and patch together a variety of cut out dimensions. In this section I will go over the steps you should take to create patchwork fabric for your next design!
Go through your fabric scraps to see which ones are suitable for the design you have in mind. It is important to have the pattern of your design close by to ensure you have enough fabric. Decide upon your color palette at this time. You can always remove a color if it doesn't feel right during layout. If you tend to hold on to your fabric scraps, it is best to keep a bin for wovens and a bin for knits.
With your paper patterns handy, mark out a box on your table approximately 4-6” larger than the current pattern piece you are about to lay the patchwork for. We recommend using draping tape, painters tape, or washi tape! Something you can easily remove.
Clean up all of your scrap edges to be straight and squared off. Using a quilting ruler and a rotary blade is the easiest way to achieve straight lines.
Working inside your marked box on the table, lay out possible patch formations. You can trim down large scraps to make more patches. Start thinking about where the corners or seams of the garment may hit on the patchwork fabric you are creating. It is best to avoid seams of the patchwork in these areas. It is not the end of the world, but when you can avoid bulk it is nice.
Stitch together each piece of fabric to create your patchwork fabric for each pattern piece. Be mindful to not set yourself up for any in-set corners.
Please note in our example, we are working with knit fabric and will overlock our seams with a ¼” seam allowance. If you are working with a woven fabric, you will need to accommodate for your desired seam allowance. Press seams as you go along if you are working with a woven.
Cut out each pattern piece. Our sweater has a front, back, and two sleeves. Be mindful of not placing patchwork seams on garment seams.
Mark all necessary notches. Now you are all ready to sew up your design!
For fun, we filmed the entire process of creating patchwork fabric for a knit sweatshirt, including stitching up the design. Check out our YouTube video for the full Fast Forward Edition.
Using what we have is a great way to be sustainable and slow down consumption rates of new materials. Our variety of patchwork sweatshirts were created entirely out of scrap fabric from Fabricana and Atex Designer Fabrics. This was by far our favorite way to recycle those scraps!
Designed, photographed, and written by Sheila Wong Studios.