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The three essential sewing tools for patchwork

As a sewing shop that caters to both quilters and garment sewists, it warms our hearts when these crafts overlap. And the patchwork garments filling up our instagram feeds are magical! This patchwork dress by @mabelmade_ is the kind thing  patchwork sewing garment inspiration.

Mabel Made Patchwork Dress

Credit: @mabelmade_

Before we talk about essential tools for patchwork, let's break down what it's all about.

What is patchwork?

Patchwork is the craft of sewing pieces of fabric together. When we talk about patchwork quilts, the patchwork part is the quilt top which is made up of lots of smaller pieces of fabric sewn together to create a pattern that is usually geometric or improvisational.

What kind of fabric is used for patchwork?

Patchwork is usually done with woven fabrics. Quilts are often made with medium weight plain or printed cottons - commonly called quilting cottons - but both quilts and garments can be made with most woven fabrics. Linen, chambray, double gauze, cotton lawn all work.

Do I need to prewash fabrics before using them in patchwork?

As a general rule of thumb, if you're making a quilt you should pre-wash all or none of your fabrics unless you're mixing substrates, and then you should wash them all. For garment patchwork we'd definitely recommend pre-washing all of your fabrics. As we all know, fabrics can behave differently in the wash and you really wouldn't want varying amounts of shrinkage happening all over your new dress!

Is patchwork sustainable?

It definitely can be! Patchwork is a great way of using up your fabric scraps from other projects.

Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat

So now that you've been inspired, what tools do you need to get started? 

Here are the three must-have tools for your sewing kit:

1. Rotary cutter - A rotary cutter is a rolling razor blade used to cut fabrics into shapes and strips. Yes, you can get away with scissors but you can't beat a rotary cutter for precision, consistency and speed! The 45mm Olfa Rotary Cutter is suitable for pretty much every project and it's super easy to change the blade when it starts to dull (which won't happen for ages).

Rotary Cutter

2. Cutting mat - If you are using a rotary cutter, you have to have a cutting mat. We love a good self-healing cutting mat because it bounces back from the blade and stays smooth for a really long time. You'll love the 60cm x 90cm mat if you want to cut out entire garment pieces, but if you're using your mat just for patchwork projects a small mat will do just fine.

Cutting Mat

3. Quilting ruler - Quilting rulers are so important for precisely and safely cutting with a rotary cutter. The rulers are thick and non-slip so the rotary cutter blade rolls right along side the edge without jumping and the grid marks help you accurate.

Cutting Ruler

We also have a starter kit with all three of these essentials, including a small ruler and cutting mat. It's everything you need to give patchwork a try!

Quilting Starter Kit


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