First patchwork/appliqué/quilting project

I recently joined a book club. We read Tracy Chevalier’s novel The Last Runaway. It’s not only a great escapist read, but a major plotline concerns quilting. And being of an impressionable nature, I was immediately keen to try out what patchworking/quilting is like.

A couple of days later I walked into a craft shop and came across the Cath Kidston book Patch!, which is a great introduction to patchworking, appliqué and quilting. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of Cath Kidston products. I kind of get the idea, but find the fabrics a bit twee. But I got this book hugely reduced because of a printer’s error – some pages from the German edition had been inserted by mistake: no problem for me, though! – and the book is great for beginners. And it included a giveaway project. And wouldn’t it have been a waste not to do anything with it….

The project is a bag with an appliqué flower, which is made using traditional English paper piecing technique. Here’s a tutorial for you to see how it works. Basically, you cut out a paper shape, then cut out a piece of fabric that is slightly larger than the shape, you wrap the fabric around the shape, gently finger-pressing the edges down, and you baste around the edges.

flowers 3

paper piecing flower petals


The resulting fabric shapes are then whip-stitched together.







flower 1

stitching the petals of my flower together



You’ll need to be careful that the shapes line up properly. Small variations in the shapes result in wonky designs – and small variations may result from folding the fabric slightly differently or having cut out a slightly differently shaped template in the first place. Luckily fabric is forgiving and you can even things out by aligning your shapes carefully before you stitch them together. I didn’t and so my flower formed an oval rather than a perfect circle. Luckily the overall design hides this quite effectively… The finished flower is then stitched on the backing material.

flower 2

flower pinned on bag material

After the appliqué design has been pinned on its background, it’s probably best to use a hoop or a frame to fix it to the background.


design with hoop

After you’ve sewn the design into place, it’s time for the actual quilting to begin. For that you carefully stitch around the edges of the petals using a running stitch. I then sewed together the bag and added some buttons and a ribbon to prettify it further. As I still don’t have a sewing machine, the whole thing is 100% handstitched. Here’s the finished bag!


I’m quite pleased with my first effort – it certainly won’t be my last. I can feel a proper quilt coming on…


About alycevr

Academic, translator & maker of things
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