I recently promised Helen of Drop One a tutorial on a very simple way to get started with patchwork. I've been beavering away in the studio for the last two days, so may I now present my Easy Peasy Tutorial. The instructions show me using a rotary cutter, ruler and mat, but if you don't have these, don't worry - I'll give you separate instructions at the end.
So, lets get started. First you will need two fat quarters (that's the size of the material, not my bottom!). It works best with contrasting colours
Iron the fabrics well - your cutting will be much more accurate without creases. Put the fabrics right sides together, square on the board. Cut a straight edge along the side that measures approx 21", then cut a strip 5" wide
Then cut this strip into 5" squares - I've turned two over so that you can see the wrong side of both fabrics
We are now going to start sewing, using a quarter inch seam. I have a quarter inch foot on my machine - if you don't have one, you can either mark the seam line using a ruler and pencil, or measure a quarter inch away from your needle and put a line of masking tape on the throat plate to act as a guide. We are going to chain-piece, which makes things quick and easy. First, fold a piece of scrap fabric in half to use as a thread catcher - put this under the needle and sew almost to the edge. Have your first squares ready to sew onto as you sew off the thread catcher - this stops the machine chewing up the edge with the first few stitches
When you are almost at the end, have your next squares ready to feed in, and repeat with the others. You will have a string of bunting!
Cut off the thread catcher, but don't cut the squares apart - turn them round and sew the opposite side in the same way. Now you can cut them apart, turn them found and do the other two sides . You should now have for squares like this
Now, I know that at this point you are shouting two things at your computer - first, why didn't I just sew round each square? It's much more accurate to do it this way. Second - you stupid woman, you've sewn those squares together, that's not much use. Don't panic - all will now be revealed! Decide which of your two fabrics you want to be your centre, then on the other fabric, take your ruler and pencil (use a white pencil for dark fabrics) and mark both diagonals
Now comes the tricky bit - you have to pinch the two squares apart, folding the marked square on one line
That was tricky, the next bit is scary - you have to take your scissors and snip on the other line
It gets easier now - carefully cut along your two lines
Open out the triangles and hey presto, abracadabra - you have made your first block!!
Next, you have to press the block. Unlike dressmaking, patchwork seams are pressed on the right side, and are pressed to one side, not open. In this case, flip the triangles over, so that the seams lie outwards.
That was easy really, wasn't it! So, do it all again with the other three squares. Now, you have to trim the blocks to make them nice and square (this is part of the easy peasy bit - you can correct minor discrepancies in your stitching!)
Can you see that I have centred the block on the thicker yellow lines - this is so I can trim an equal amount off each edge - trim the blocks to measure 6". They will now look like this
Looking good -but, hey, now you can do patchwork, let's keep going! So, go back to the fabric that you used for the centre square, and cut four 6"squares, and do it all again - sew the two squares together, mark diagonals, pinch, cut, press -and, wow, look what we have now!
We've done the scary bits, we're on the home run now. Flip block two to the left, on top of block one, and block four on top on block three. Put a pin in the right hand edge, to remind you that's the edge to sew. Sew the two edges and press the seams - remember to press them to one side - and this time press one to the left and one to the right
Now we are going to sew our last seam - butt the two seams up, so that your stitching lines are matched up
Pop a pin in to hold the seams in place (put the pin in at right angles, to make it easy to remove just before you sew over it). Press your last seam .... and step back and admire your first piece of patchwork!!!
So what will we do now with our block - I'll tell you that another time!
As promised, what to do if you don't have a rotary cutter etc. You will have to make cardboard templates (I use cereal boxes). Mark and cut out five, six, and seven and a half inch squares. Use the five inch template to cut out your first squares, lining the template up with the straight grain of the fabric and drawing round it with a pencil. Then use the six inch square to do the first trim - centre the square to cut an equal amount off the four sides, then the seven and a half inch sqaure for the final trim.
I hope you have enjoyed this little tutorial - I had great fun doing it - especially when I had to take photos with my left hand, as I am very much right-handed! (and the photo of pressing the seams - on the first attempt the lens steamed up!) Please leave a comment telling me if this has inspired you to try patchwork - but be warned - it's addictive!!