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Patchwork Possibilities

Summer always strikes me as the ideal season to work on patchwork and quilting projects. Something about mixing bright fun fabrics and prints seems perfectly suited to warm days and long hours of sunshine.

I love patchwork because it's a great stashbuster, but it's also a great way to exercise your creative muscles. Since patchwork projects often require many different fabrics, it's a great way to experiment with mixing prints, explore the color wheel, and discover new fabric combinations you may never have considered before.

Asymmetrical Log Cabin Pillow by Lisa Congdon.

Asymmetrical Log Cabin Pillow by Lisa Congdon.

Chakla Quilt by Malka Dubrawsky.

Chakla Quilt by Malka Dubrawsky.

Patchwork Growth Chart by Rashida Coleman-Hale.

Patchwork Growth Chart by Rashida Coleman-Hale.


It's these qualities that really draw me to patchwork. The same pattern can go from fun and funky to calm and mellow with just a few simple fabric changes. With so much room for fabric creativity, patchwork really gives you an opportunity to personalize and make a project that's uniquely you!

The Fall 2010 issue of Stitch has a great article called Quilting the Modern Way by Alissa Haight Carlton, co-founder of the Modern Quilt Guild. She included a sidebar with great tips for making a modern quilt, and I think a lot of them apply perfectly to patchwork. Try some of her handy ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

Make and use a design wall. By tacking cotton batting or a flannel sheet to a wall, you can instantly have a surface on which to try out designs; fabric will stick to the flannel or batting so you can test color and pattern combinations. This helps improve your design skills. If space is limited, tack the batting or flannel to a sheet of foamcore and put it away when you're not using it.

Mix fabric lines. Try mixing different fabrics from different designers and lines. So much of the design and creativity of patchwork is found in the fabric choices. You'd be surprised at the original combinations you can come up with when you don't let the fabric companies tell you what goes with what.

Use solid fabrics. Using only solid-color fabrics will make you explore color and shape in a whole new way. Bold and vivid patterned fabrics are beautiful and can give so much life to a project, but try stretching your design mind by using solids.

Keep on sewing. Don't worry if your first try isn't perfect-cut yourself some slack. This might seem obvious, but it's tough for a lot of people to do! If something on your project doesn't turn out as you expected, roll with it and turn it into a new design element or a learning experience.

These tips are great things to keep in mind when you start your next patchwork or quilted project. And don't forget that customizing a pattern can open you up to a whole new world, not just of color, but of function! Try making Lisa Congdon's Asymmetrical Log Cabin Pillow in bright outdoor fabrics to give some zest to your outdoor seating. Or use a durable fabric such as canvas as the back on Malka Dubrawsky's Chakla Quilt for a perfect picnic blanket that will be the envy of everyone at your next BBQ. The options are endless!

Check out the great ePatterns-patchwork and otherwise-in our online store (they're all 20% off for the rest of the week!) and have some fun with summer projects! Our ePatterns are ready to download and print, so you can get started sewing right away. I especially like Rashida Coleman-Hale's Patchwork Growth Chart-it's the perfect kid gift for all those summer birthdays!

Happy sewing,


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About StefanieB

I'm the Managing Editor of Stitch magazine. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado with one fat cat, one very active dog, and lots of books, crafting supplies, and video games.