Patchwork day

Suzie Blackman
Monday, 14 February 2011

It’s been a long time since I did any ‘proper’ patchwork, by that I mean hand sewn. It was a hobby of mine when I was younger; my mum had an amazing collection of small scraps and I used to make mini Geodesic domes (much simpler than they sound) than it sounds) from equilateral triangles, stuffed with tights to hang on the Christmas tree. I also made a tumbling blocks cushion from velvet which I’ve still got on my sofa. There are some excellent examples of tumbling blocks patchwork in the V&A collection. I found the rhombus shapes difficult to sew and align (I’m not sure why, since they’re just two equilateral triangles). I gave up hand-sewn patchwork and for the last 17 years I have I only ever machine-sewn simple squares.

Until yesterday that is, when I spent an afternoon with my regular craft buddies, under the instruction of certified patchwork expert Ril.

Sofie's beautifully coordinated hexagons

Making a hexagonal pattern from blocks much easier than I’d remembered, mainly because Ril gave us blocks made from normal paper, rather than thick paper or card as I was used to. Paper is great because it means you can sew straight through it to attach the fabric to the block. Previously I’d attached fabric round card blocks with a kind of cobweb of thread at the back. Ril’s method was quicker and gave neater corners.

Kirstie's patchwork of Liberty prints

Before I left the house I sorted out a pile of printed cottons but then decided to buck the trend and took left-over suiting fabric instead, making a feature of the selvage.

My patchwork made from British wool suiting

I had never bothered aligning the shape with the nap of the fabric as I like things a bit random, but as Ril pointed out, it looks more striking and deliberate when they are aligned. I wish had done a better job of this, or made a pattern out of the selvage.

I haven’t decided what piece will become yet, suggestions welcome.

Susan stitching, Sofie's patchwork cushion cover on the left.

Of course, no craft afternoon is complete without cake

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.


  1. Nadia says:

    Love it! Especially the suiting one. You should bring this to the next craft day! (Sometime in March… I’ll send an email soon.)

  2. Mags says:

    I love the colours and the patterns in the top picture. Very pretty.

    And cake! Cake is good :D

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