Wednesday, 10 November 2010
I am the proud owner of a patchwork quilt-cover made by my mother. Patchwork nowadays is a very old-fashioned hobby; it dates from the time when leftover fabric was a real resource to be saved, and when women needed things to do which were repetitive and occupied the creative parts of their brains to stop them from thinking things like 'perhaps I could leave the kitchen one day' and 'wouldn't it be nice to vote.'
Luckily for me English patchwork has never quite died, and now I can see the pattern of my early childhood laid out on my bed - from the silk and cotton shirts which Mum used to wear, to the stripy red and white of my primary school summer dresses, to the lining from Dad's old favourite coat. I have also been left a hexagon template for making my own pieces, and seeing as I am now unemployed and lazing about the house with nothing to do, I have decided to create a patchwork housecoat - giving me something to do and a warm garment to laze about in. I'll post the method or pattern for that when I get to that stage, but at the moment I'm still making hexagons, so I'll show you how to do that.
You Will Need:
Stiff paper or very thin card
Scissors for paper
Scissors for cloth (if you use the same scissors then they will become blunted and useless)
Bits of old dressmaking fabric, torn clothes, grown-out-of clothes (explore handing-me-down first)
Cotton thread in a bright colour
Plastic bag for scraps which inevitably result
The last item is the most difficult to get hold of; every piece you make must have every side the same length to within about 2mm, so use a proper template such as can be printed off from here. Using this template, cut out paper hexagons; you may be able to print the lines directly onto your paper. I used my mother's metal hexagon as a stencil.
Cut out squares from your fabric pieces using your sewing scissors, so that there will be at least 1cm of seam allowance around your paper hexagons. If you're cutting up a garment, cut swaths out from between the seams first, i.e. each side of a shirt as you would iron it, or opening out the legs of trousers; folding seams around the paper is awkward and makes for uneven hexes. You could save or bin the resulting seamy scraps; if you saved them you'd be making a peg-rug, but I don't know how to do that and think that peg-rugs look like the seaweed mats which form in the oceans, so I binned them with joy.
Lay the paper hex on the wrong side of the cloth (the wrong side would be the 'inside' if you were wearing it) and fold the fabric around the corners. Using a single stitch at each corner, 'tack' the fabric to the paper as shown in these videos. Leave an inch of thread tailing off the last stitch, cut the thread and begin another hex. Stack hexes by colour so that you know how many of each you have.
Once you've made all your hexagons you can decide how you want to sew them together. Depending upon your commitment and level of extroversion, you can combine contrasting or complementary colours either in single hexes next to each other or as 'flowers' like the picture. I went for the flower option, and I'll explain how to make those in my next post.