Patchworking has been around for centuries, dating as far back as the medieval period. Patchwork is the simple art of sewing fabric pieces together to create a bigger fabric piece in a beautiful design which is often used to make a quilt or an item of clothing.
Traditional quilts and their regularly repeating designs, borders, symmetry, and often quite complicated patchwork have always been made out of quilting cotton, in big part thanks to its ease when cutting and sewing. Here at Fabrics Galore we have a wide range of these fabrics, whether you are looking for blenders or for something to tonally fit in with your projects.
However, when it comes to modern patchworking and its more minimalist and improvisational style, here at Fabrics Galore we have a range of alternative fabrics that bring you all the ease and aesthetic of traditional quilting cotton, whilst also having the freshness and fun that is modern patchworking.
Can I Use Non-Cotton Patchwork Fabrics?
The short answer is yes! Natural fabrics such as cotton corduroy and linen make for great alternatives to 100% cotton, with both holding up well to the task, although make sure that the natural fabrics are pre-washed to prevent any shrinking.
The corduroy adds lovely texture and the linen’s softness and smoothness give a truly luxurious feel. The only thing to keep in mind when choosing fabrics like linen and corduroy is to make sure that the fabrics are all of similar weights, which ensures that the different parts of the patchwork will all have the same lifespan.
Using fabrics such as linen or alternative cottons also means you can add texture to your quilting, which will add a special something especially if you are using a more regular design.
As well as adding texture to any quilt, fabrics like brushed cotton or corduroy give a soft cosiness to any quilt and because of the wide range of check prints available they can be handy for making more masculine quilting projects too and work especially well when mixed with lighter weight denims.
On the topic of lifespan, we recommend that you avoid synthetic fabrics, as they tend to have an average lifespan of just 5 years and are not strong enough to handle the wear and tear of continual use. The possible exception would using fleece as a backing, this has a number of advantages. Firstly because of the padding effect of fleece there is no need to use wadding, but secondly it makes the back super cuddly and warm.
Modern Patchwork Trends
Modern patchworking has taken the fabric world by storm, and along with it have emerged various exciting new trends. A great example of these new trends is ‘eco-quilting’. In the last few years, groups such as Extinction Rebellion have brought to the world’s attention the shocking reality of where climate change is taking us. It comes as no surprise therefore that people have started trying to find eco-friendly ways to shop for fabric.
Eco-quilting is all about using fabrics that don’t leave a great big environmental footprint (which is another good reason to move away from using cotton, as each plant uses about 10 gallons of water), and so next time you find yourself in need of fabrics for your modern patchwork adventure, linen is a fantastic option – it is one of the most environmentally sustainable fibres to produce. Always pre-wash linen before you use it for patchwork.
The other way to embrace eco-quilting is to raid your fabric stash, shop for remnants or even raid your wardrobe for your old unworn denim jeans or cotton shirts to create a patchwork quilt maybe even incorporating in some of the design features such as the pockets or the button placket. Now, that really is modern.
Fabric Panels are also featuring more in quilting, which all started when makers started to use Advent panels on their designs. As more people took to crafting in lockdown, the trend for using panels only increased as it is perfect for beginners as it removed the fiddly part of cutting out all the precise pieces.
We have a great selection of fabric panels that work wonders as play mats because they use a slightly heavier cotton, simply back with some fleece and you are ready to go.
But it doesn’t have to be an especially designed panel for quilting, why not make a beautiful print shine and then add to it with some quilting. One of our all time favourite prints La Paloma makes a great quilt, no other fabric necessary and you get an opportunity to really see all the details in it.
In fact any of our jazziest prints can be used to to make a panel style quilt, and adds a modern twist - it also means you can let whatever quilting design you have chosen shine.
Raw Edge Appliqué has also been on the rise, which is where the background fabric pieces are cut to be the exact size needed, allowing for the edge to be kept ‘raw’ (not turned under to the back). This method is easy and quick to do whilst giving a distinctly modern twist to your quilt.
A Guide to Buying Patchwork Fabrics
Here at Fabrics Galore, we know that when it comes to your first quilt, knowing where to start and what patchwork fabrics to buy can seem a little overwhelming, but don’t worry! We have a couple of tips here to get you started.
- If you find a good fabric in the sale, stock up as you can combine it with more expensive fabrics to fabulous effect.
- Always check the remnants bin in a shop or shop for remnants online for small pieces that are ideal for patchwork. We update our Remnants online weekly so it is a great place to start when looking for smaller pieces or just bargains.
- If you are a beginner, ask for Fat Quarters which are a fantastic way to buy multiple fabrics at a lower price and even better they are pre-cut to the required measurements.
Where to Get Patchwork Inspiration
Look on Pinterest for the most innovative uses of patchwork you can find: we have seen a patchwork ironing board cover, a patchwork coat, jacket or dress; even patchwork curtains and bags.
Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter also features great ways to use fat quarters (not actually all about quilting).
Go to shows like the Festival of Quilts where you will come away full of inspiration, advice and a good fabric stash which has been carefully curated for patchwork and quilting.
Last but not least, call us at Fabrics Galore where our team is always ready with friendly advice.