How To Patchwork

When you decide to learn how to patchwork, you dwell into a world that involves putting together pieces of fabric to create a beautiful design. The process is an age-old technique used to utilize fragments of fabric that were left behind after cutting out the bits needed to make a particular garment or item. These fragments tend to be of unequal shape and size, thereby adding a new dimension to the design falls naturally into place.

Modern day techniques that are a part of learning how to patchwork involve cutting out the fragments into particular shapes and sizes so as to ensure that you get some sort of symmetry in what you design. In the end, patchwork has more to it than merely stitching together random pieces of cloth, especially because of the way the quilt or design needs to attract attention at the end.

How to Patchwork - the Early Days

When you are learning how to patchwork, it is always important to know how everything began because it gives you an idea of the concepts of patchwork and why they were decided to be what they are. Patchwork has been around since the Egyptian civilization, when there were examples of patchwork-cloth & -fabrics that were placed as grave offerings. About 5,000 years ago, patchwork made an appearance in Chinese culture, also being used for the decorative aspect rather than functional.

When it came to producing armour for soldiers, protection from the cold was also important and wasting good quality woollen fabric didn't seem right. As a result, bits and pieces of wasted fabric were used to line the insides of armours, thereby helping keep the soldiers warm under those cold metal armours.

It wasn't until the 11th to the 13th century period that patchwork made its presence felt in the world of quilts. Europe was becoming colder and for most people, quilts were a necessity but something that they couldn't spare cloth for. The pilgrims took the technique of patching together pieces of cloth, from Europe, to America and during the Great Depression, many people found a lot of warmth thanks to this little technique that allowed them to piece together cloth to make fabrics.

How to Patchwork - The Structure

In general, when you learn how to patchwork, you are taught that the top-most layer is the one where the patchwork goes, in the case of a quilt. Layers are generally tied together with pieces of yarn instead of stitches and knots are made to hold everything together. So the patchwork layer becomes the top, the batting comes next and a regular piece of fabric is used for the bottom layer or the backing. Normally, people use a running stitch to keep the batting together, under the patchwork, however you can also use random quilting stitches to do two things - contrast the patchwork patterns as well as hold the batting in place.

The truth is, learning how to patchwork will tell you there's a little bit more than just this layer-business. In fact, there are three distinct structures that are used to create the patchwork, something that you will implement when you put into practice your knowledge.

Blocks are the most common form of patchwork that you will be taught about. This simply involves square pieces of cloth that have been cut out of fabrics of different shapes, creating patterns that either match, have different hues of the same colour or are made of contrasting colours. Each patch is, traditionally, a square of around 8 to 10 inches, sewn together in rows.

One of the most interesting things you will learn about, in your "how to patchwork" lessons, is the "crazy quilt".

This was one of those examples where there was no pattern and whatever you could find, was used to create the top layer of the quilt. The shapes of each piece were different, as was the size and the colour. Basically, it didn't matter what you put together as long as you put something together. Add to that some crazy embellishments and you have one weird but cool-looking quilt.

Overall patchworks are the second kind of techniques you will need to know. This is all about putting together geometric shapes to create a pattern that doesn't need to have any specific meaning. It could just be a shape or even be in the form of something like an animal or bird. Basically, checkerboard prints and value progressions of hues come out of this kind of patchwork. Finally, there is a style of patchwork called strip piercing. As the name suggests, it is about creating patchwork designs out of strips of fabric, that are stitched together in repeated patterns to create something like a flying geese pattern.

Learning how to patchwork can be a lot of fun because of the kind of freedom it offers. Play around with materials and colours because no matter what you end up with, remember that you can always use in your own home!

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