Module 9: Patchwork
So, this module is all about patchwork. I must begin by stating that I was definitely not looking forward to this, having tried patchwork years ago ... it just wasn't for me!
Anyhow, I was determined to get the most out of the exercises for this and began with a positive attitude. I am not going to explain every process, as it would take too much time and be quite boring for you to read here, but there are lots of books and internet sites with good instructions. I will just show the stitched samples I made, with brief details. mainly this shows that fabrics can really make a difference to the finished piece and accuracy is key to good quality work.
The first sample was to be: Grandmother's Garden; using the English method over papers.
Although relatively simple to design and work, surprisingly, this is a really enjoyable and satisfying type of patchwork. The design was simple to plan out. It is important to make sure that each piece is exactly the same so that it lies flat when complete. I chose 4 fabrics for the patchwork and a contrast for the background. The hexagons were cut from paper (drawing round a card template I had made) and then the fabric shapes were cut with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Each piece is folded over the paper and tacked in place. They are then hand-stitched together, following the design plan. Here is the competed sample, stitched by hand onto a backing fabric.
Sample 2 was 'Mixed Piecing' - made in the same way as sample 1, but using a variety of shapes. I am a glutton for punishment and so,I decided to challenge myself when designing this. I didn’t want to make something too simple, so there are 4 shapes. It wasn’t easy to make as there are over 90 pieces and the sample only measures about 20 cm wide, but I learned a lot about this type of patchwork. It is especially vital to make sure pieces match exactly or the work will not lie flat, but the way the work lies is also affected by the type of fabric. The lighter green fabric, although cotton, is not as crisp as the others. I think it would have been better to starch it before working.
Here is my plan: the 4 shapes are 2 different sizes of square and 2 different pentagons. I planned for 4 main fabric colours and 1 accent colour
In the photo above you can see the pieces joined together, with tacking stitches still in place. The blue shapes on the right were my templates. I used the inside shape to draw out the paper pieces and the outside edge for the fabric. The width of the card frame was 1/4 inch, thus giving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Sample 3 was 'Strip Patchwork' .. made from long strips, cut in various ways and then stitched together. This is a piece made from a jelly roll that I already had in my stash and yes... it is boring! I know I could have been more enthusiastic by using more interesting fabrics, but I haven't got a endless supply of money! Also, by now, you should be realising that these samples are merely a means to an end and so, just get on with it.
Sample 4: Folded Patchwork:
Small, folded pieces tacked into place and then framed with a fabric overlay. I really wasn't sure whether I liked this or not, but the overlay really made the difference.
Sample 5: Cathedral Window Patchwork. This was more interesting and I loved the finished effect.
Sample 6: Secret Garden variation: Again, a lovely effect and the small print design works really well here.
Sample 7: Crazy Patchwork. Well, obviously this was always going to be my favourite method! I love being able to include both machine and hand embroidery, and also added extra items that I have made, such as crochet or tatting. Spot the little crochet bird!
This is a super way of creating new fabrics using up your scraps and is definitely a method that I will use again. It lends itself well to larger textile art work, which I will be using to create new artwork over the next couple of years.
In the end, I really haven't changed my mind about patchwork, but at least I gave it a good go - and I did find out about crazy patchwork, which I do like.
Do you have a favourite type of patchwork? What do you use it for? I would be interested to know.
The next episode will look at Module 10: Fastenings & Trimmings. This is a great module - so much fun to do!