Sewing Project: Red Patchwork Pillow

When your old clothes are too bad to sell on or give away to charity, there are still so many ways to give them a second life. One option is to cut it up and create patchwork.

Now, I’m no expert in creating patchworks – in fact, I think they’ll laugh. But, inspired and in need for a new pillow case for my living room, this is how I created my patchwork pillow. Or what comes close enough to patchwork.

What You Need

  • 6 different fabrics
  • pen, paper and ruler
  • pins
  • sewing machine
  • needle and thread
  • scissors
  • white chalk

Some painter’s tape, if you want to create a template

And…. lots of patience and some spare time.

Seeing Red

I didn’t want the patchwork to be too bold in composition (hey, I’m a designer!). So, I looked for 6 different red clothing items to cut up, all with patterns that go well together.

Oh, one tip, try to avoid really stretchy fabrics. Believe me, you’ll thank me later. Better yet, try to find fabrics that are alike in type.

Beginner Level Design

The size of my pillow is 44 x 48 cm. I chose the easiest way to create a pillow case. No zippers or buttons to close it, just a simple fold. It’s the envelop pillow.

So, to make the pillow, you need a big rectangle of fabric that you can fold and seem on the sides. For my pillow size, you need to create a rectangle of about 46 x 100 cm from all your patches. The seems are 1 cm, which is quite generous, so you can decide to adjust.

To create the fabric, you puzzle!

Prepare And Cut Your Patches

Use pen, paper and ruler to create a templates for your patches. I’ve chosen to use 4 different sizes of patches:

4 x 8 cm
8 x 8 cm
12 x 8 cm (leave this one out if you want to make it easier on yourself)
16 x 4 cm
16 x 8 cm

Use seems of 0.5 or 1 cm (I used the latter). Make sure your templates include the seem lines. This means that that the patch of 4 x 8 cm, is actually 5 x 9 cm fabric. It’s vital to get all the patches straight and alike.

Pin your patch templates to your fabric and cut, cut, cut away. Believe me, you’d want to just spread this over a few nights while your watching the telly.

Once you got your patches cut, make sure to copy the seem lines on your patches using the chalk. I’ve used these lines to line up the patches and make sure that the seem is straight… or as straight as can be.

Create A Template

Basically, this template functions as your pattern. At least it did for me. I’ve used the painter’s tape on a table to create a template to lay out all my patches in. It was just so helpful to see it all come together before sewing anything. I taped the outer lines of the complete piece of fabric I needed (100 x 46 cm), but I also taped the fold lines. This allowed me to really piece together the patchwork.

When laying out your patches, you can make it as complex as you want. The easy way is to make patches line up like a clean framework with straight lines going from left to right and top to bottom. This will save you the use of thread and allow you to work quicker.

Of course, I personally chose not to do this. Safe yourself.

Pin it together

Now you got it pieced together, the next step is to pin some patches together, so you can start sewing. I lined up my patches by using lots of pins.

In step one, you pin the corner and the side lines, just so the fabric is in place and can’t move. However, these pins are just placeholders. Once those are place, you pin the definite pins. These get pinned the right way for them to pass through the sewing machine. Lastly, you remove you first placeholder pins.

Start sewing

Now, you can start sewing.

I’m positive patchwork can be done way more effectively. I sewed bit by bit until the whole rectangle came together.

And the finished product:

The front

Once, I got the rectangle finished, I sewed extra fabric as a border on the back of the pillow, just to make ik look better:

The back
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