How to Make a Patchwork Quilt

Freebird Ring of Flower Applique quilt pattern and Perspex templates by Carolyn Murfitt

How to make a patchwork quilt

In this “How to” style guide we provide a complete guide of how to make a patchwork quilt. Read on to learn how to make these beautiful quilts in your own home or for family and friends.

What is a patchwork quilt?

A patchwork quilt is a type of quilt in which the top layer (known as a quilt top) is made up of pieces of fabric sewn together into a pattern to form a design. In times gone by the intention was to use up leftover fabric scraps, but now patchwork quilts are very popular and decorative in their own right. This kind of quilt is also referred to as a pieced quilt, find our extensive range of quilt patterns, including many from Australia quilt designers, in our online shop. Patchwork is small pieces of fabric being sewn together to make a larger design.

The other types of quilts include whole cloth quilts, in which the quilt top is made from a single piece of fabric which is then exquisitely quilted. The quilting tends to be the feature of these quilts rather than the fabrics or pattern used.

Applique quilts are the third type of quilt, these designs incorporate fabric shapes appliqued (applied) to the background fabric. This allows much more freedom of shapes than piecing a quilt. We stock applique patterns,including applique quilt patterns.

Items needed

The following items will be needed to make a patchwork quilt:

1)    Choose a patchwork quilt pattern

The first part of the patchwork quilt design process is to select a patchwork quilt pattern. You can buy quilt patterns online, design your own, or find quilt patterns in quilting books and magazines.

Dear Jen Quilt Pattern By Jen Kingwell

2)    Choose and prepare the fabric

Choose co-ordinating fabrics for your quilt, if you are new to quilting pre-cut fabrics are great for this. They include pieces of fabric from a single fabric range so they co-ordinate well and they are all cut to one size ready to use.

If using larger pieces of fabric you will likely need to iron the fabric ready to be used. Some people like to prewash it too as fabric can shrink a little in the wash.

3)    Cut the fabric into the shapes required for your pattern.

Follow the cutting instructions in your pattern. Using a cutting mat, rotary cutter and quilting ruler is the easiest way to get accurate cuts of fabric for your quilt.

4)    Layout your blocks

Next arrange the fabric pieces you have cut together into individual quilt blocks. This gives you a chance to check you are happy with your fabric choices and planned layout before you start sewing the fabrics together.

5)    Stitch the fabric pieces together

Quilts are made of individual blocks of fabric, which are then joined together to create the overall quilt. Start by joining together the pieces required to make 1 block, then move onto the next block.

Once all your blocks are made you will then sew them together into rows of blocks, and finally sew the rows together to make your quilt top. Make sure you follow the pattern instructions to ensure they are sewn together in the correct order, otherwise you’ll have to use the seam ripper to rip the stitching out and resew them correctly.

6)    Iron the entire top of the quilt

Press the quilt top to ensure it is smooth and that all the sewing seams are flattened out before moving to the next stage.  You can press your seams open, a piece of fabric to each side of the seam, or to one side, this is when both seams are pressed towards the darker fabric so it’s less likely to be visible from the front.

7)    Add the quilt backing and basting the quilt

Stretch out a piece of fabric which is a little larger than your quilt top, either on a large table top or the floor. The right side of the fabric should be facing downwards. Tape it down to stop it from moving (masking tape works well for this). You can either use a single piece of fabric for the quilt backing, or join a few smaller pieces together to make a pieced quilt back.

Place your quilt wadding on top of the backing fabric, then add the quilt top with the right side facing upwards. Then using safety pins every few inches pin all 3 layers of the quilt together. Your wadding packet will say how far apart the pins can be placed.

If you want to spray baste your quilt instead of pinning it the spray adhesive is applied to the wadding. So, tape down your backing as instructed above. Lay the wadding on top, fold half back and spray the adhesive onto it (hold about 12 inches away and ensure you have good ventilation). Place it back onto the backing fabric smoothing out any creases, repeat with the other half. Place your quilt top on top of the wadding. Again, fold half back, spray and then put the fabric back onto the wadding smoothing out any creases, repeat for the other half. Iron both sides to fix the glue and remove any creases.

Here There and Everywhere Quilt Pattern by Anni Downs

8)    Sew the three layers together (Quilting)

Now sew the three layers of your quilt together:

  • Ensure the colour of the thread used matches your fabrics if you want it to blend in, or contrasting if you want it to stand out.
  • Start in the center of your quilt and work outwards making sure there are no wrinkles.
  • Sew through all three layers (fabric backing, wadding and patchwork quilt top) to join all three layers together.

There are many different ways of quilting, for beginner’s wavy line quilting is simple and doesn’t require too much accuracy. You could follow the seams of your fabric (stitch in the ditch quilting), mark lines onto the quilt that you then stitch along, or try free motion quilting. You can quilt by hand or by machine. The choice is yours!

9)    Add the quilt binding

It’s now time to add the quilt binding. This runs along the edge of all four sides of the patchwork quilt and protects the edges of your quilt and also adds to the overall decoration:

  • Cut your binding fabric strips as per the pattern.
  • Iron the fabric to make sure it is entirely smooth.
  • Next fold the entire strip lengthways in half (with the wrong sides of the fabric touching), press the fabric to set the crease down the middle.
  • Now pin the binding right around the edge of your quilt on the front with the raw edges of the quilt binding aligned with the edge of your quilt. Fold the first half an inch inwards (onto the next bit of binding) so you don’t have a raw edge at the start of your binding.
  • Next sew the strips into place along the entire length of the fabric, you sew close to the edge of the fabric but the exact distance from the edge will depend on the width of your binding. It’s usually a quarter of an inch from the quilt edge but check your pattern. Overlap the start and end of your binding with the folded edge you made at the start below the raw edge.
  • Fold the binding around the edge of your quilt and pin into place on the back. Hand sew the binding to the quilt back using a co-ordinating thread so the stitches aren’t visible.

Lynette Anderson Nautical Quilts Book

Visit the Sewing Directory for a more detailed quilt binding tutorial with photos.

Contacting Poppy Patch

If you need help with any aspect of quilt making let us know here at Poppy Patch, we’d be delighted to help! We can supply materials, patterns and general supplies; we also run a range of regular quilting workshops at our shop in Wellingborough which can be helpful too. Call us on 01933 227973 to commence discussions or place an order.



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One Response to “How to Make a Patchwork Quilt”

By Mary Boardman - 14 April 2020 Reply

Thanks for inspiring. Love both styles of quilts shown!

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