Sunday, 20 January 2013

Easy peasy patchwork...

Several kind local friends (hello to you) have confessed, generally at the school gate, to enjoying the blog. However, as they have yet to discover the great joy of cutting up brand new fabric in order to sew it back together, they refrain from commenting or joining in. Yet. 
When I ordered my charm packs last week, I knew I was heading for a very easy quilt design. Sometimes, when the design is too easy, the finished item isn't so satisfying, as you know there was very little skill involved. But this next quilt isn't about that for me, it's about making a very simple, homely quilt, that just looks comforting and makes you want to snuggle up.
Coincidentally, one friend emailed to ask how to get started with patchwork, and was looking for some straightforward advice. Then another one asked why I hadn't been linking the blog to facebook lately, as that's how she follows it. 
So, this blog entry is for all you lurkers!
To start with, you will need to get hold of some charm packs. Four will make you a decent sized quilt. A standard charm pack contains 42 squares, each one 5 inches squared. The beauty of them is that you get a range of different fabrics, all from a series and therefore all working well together. Charm packs are available in all good patchwork shops, and sometimes in department stores. However, as they are small and light, the postage isn't too bad so you can easily get them online. On this occasion, mine came as part of an order from America, so they were very good value at only $36 for the four, plus postage.

As you can see, I'm using two identical packs of Bella Solids, and then two different packs of patterned fabrics. However, both these packs are fabric designed by Kate Spain, and therefore it's a fairly safe bet that they will coordinate well.

To plan my design, I started out by splitting each pack of solids into four piles. The packs are arranged in colour order, so this separated out the colours.

I pulled the duvet off the guest bed, as it was easier to lay the squares out on a flat sheet. I took one set of squares at a time (ie a quarter of a charm pack) and laid them out as they came, not trying to manipulate the layout at this point. When all the solids were spread out, it looked like this...

Unfortunately the bedsheet is bright pink, so the effect so far is not great, something like Elmer the Elephant, but bear with me... One thing I did do, was to add in one extra charm square that I had leftover from the last project. This enabled me to create a grid which is 13 by 13 squares. However, if you just have the four packs, you can do a 12 by 14 grid.

The next step was to take each of the patterned charm packs and divide them into four equal piles, again distributing squares of similar designs.

I then took one of the four piles from each fabric range, and mixed them together to blend the two ranges.

Next step was to position them randomly in between the solid squares...

At this point, it is really useful to take photos and upload them to your computer. I don't know why it is, but you notice things differently that way, and can spot clashes that you hadn't seen. It's also good to look from different angles! 

I stood and stared for ages, and made various changes. Fortunately I can leave it spread out overnight, and check again in the morning before I start sewing. I will then be back to show you the tricks of how to sew this lot together faster than you might think... 


  1. looks like a fun way to design a quilt!
    I use my camera all the time to check for color placement
    fabric choices, etc.

  2. Lots of great advice, as a non-quilter, I find it really interesting reading your process. The photo bit really rang a bell, when I used to do the odd bit of millinery (which I miss and would love to get back into) I was taught to photograph the hats in process as well, as you pointed out, it's almost easier to 'see' them properly.

    I quite like the 'Elmer' look, I think if I ever do make a quite it'll end up being solid colours with white or grey.

    Bethxx (thelinencat)

  3. Que bien te lo pasas, cololocando, amontonando y situando en la cama. Tienes razón en cuanto a que es bueno tomar fotos y verlas en el ordenador, e intentar observar desde varios ángulos. Tambien conviene despejarse un poco, porque a veces una se queda como bloqueada.
    Creo que vas a formar un top muy atrayente, alegre y con un efecto óptico bonito, bonito.

  4. Your Quilt looks great, and you need it with the weather we have been having.