How to make a cheats patchwork quilt

Learn how to use fabric panels to create a simple quilt

Regular followers will know my sewing heart lies with making gorgeous garments for myself and (sometime!) my kids, but every now and again I like to dip into other types of sewing projects - as long as they are nice and easy and quick!

So when we had this beautiful ‘Good vibes’ collection of quilting cotton arrive from Dashwood studio I was inspired to make up a really easy and quick cheats patchwork quilt.

This type of design on fabric is becoming more popular and easier to find, we are expecting a new design later in the year as well, so in this tutorial I’ll show you how you can make a quilt and should you see a similar type of fabric in the future, you can use the same steps I’ve set out here to make a quilt again.

See the steps in action in my latest Youtube video or read on for all the steps and images to follow along with at home.

What you will need to make square quilt approx 1m x 1m

  • 1.1m of panel fabric
  • 1.1m of backing fabric
  • 0.5m of fabric for making the binding
  • 1.1m of wadding (cotton or polyester depending on personal preference)*this fabric comes really wide so out of 1.1m of fabric you’d have enough to squeeze out 2 quilts

You will also need

  • A walking for for your sewing machine - this helps the machine to feed the three layers of the quilt through the machine evenly. If you don’t have this you are likely to have more slippage of the fabric as you sew the layers together which can lead to wrinkles and the edges not lining up as well.
  • Lots of safety pins or temporary fabric spray adhesive
  • A quilting ruler, rotary cutter and self healing mat will help but can be worked around if you don’t have it.

I’ve linked the fabrics I used for this sample below. The size of the rectangles in the panel is approx 12cm tall by 10cm wide. This means that for 1.1m you may get a panel that is cut part way through a rectangle. If you don’t want any part rectangles in your quilt, you’ll have to order extra fabric.

Prepare your fabrics

At the very least I would recommend ironing your fabric totally flat before you start. You could prewash it if you wanted (I didn’t). The wadding is already preshrunk, so no need to wash that. If you don’t wash it, it’s likely the fabric will contract a little on the first wash of the quilt and will give a slightly more crinkly/puffed up look.

Lay your fabrics out and secure together

Lay your fabrics out on a large surface area in the following order to make a sandwich with the wadding in the middle:

  • Backing fabric with wrong side facing up
  • Wadding
  • Top fabric with right side facing up

Smooth everything out and try to line up the edges as much as you can. The wadding might stick out a bit.

Temporarily secure the three layers together, either using fabric spray adhesive or lots of safety pins in every other rectangle in a grid format.

Sew the layers together

Attach the walking foot onto your machine and start sewing through the three layers starting in the middle and stitching out towards the edges. Keep changing direction as well, so sew from the centre out, then pivot the quilt 90 degrees then sew out from the centre in that direction. Repeat until you have sewn in between all the rectangles on the panel.

Prepare the edges for the binding

Trim the edges down so that the three layers of the quilt are the same size. If it's not totally equal or right to the edge in any places, the binding could hide it. I’ll show you how to make a wide binding that would cover up any slight discrepancies. Or, if they layers are all lining up equally, you could make your binding narrower.

Make the binding

Cut strips, on grain, for the binding that are 4" wide by the width of the fabric. It’s quicker and easier to fold your fabric and square it up to the selvedge and then cut the strips by cutting through several layers of fabric at once. The wider you make this strip the more of it you will see on your finished quilt. This width will show 1/2" on the front of the quilt and 1" on the back of the quilt.

Join the strips up, line up the two short edges and attached together with a 1/2" seam allowance, press the seam allowances open and repeat with all your strips to get one long strip.

Then fold and press in half, with the WRONG sides facing.

Sew the binding on

With the right side of the quilt facing up, lay your binding on, starting in the middle of an edge, and pin in place, lining up the raw edges. Pin until you get to a corner and then sew on with a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving a loose section at the start and stopping the line of stitching 1/2" from the edge. Whatever seam allowance you use here will the the width of strip of binding fabric that you see once the binding is folded and secured in place.

Fold the binding on a 45 degree angle to the corner, then fold it back again on itself so that the raw edge lines up with the continuing edge of the quilt. Pin in place until you get to the next corner. At the first corner, start sewing right from the very top raw edge, and again stop when you get to 1/2" from the bottom edge at the next corner.

Repeat around all 4 corners, and when you get back to the side you started, you should leave a length of 4/5 inches unsewn and loose to make it easier to join up.

It gives a lovely mitered folded edge on the front and back of the quilt. After you have pushed the binding to the back of the quilt, you needs to fold it again to get that diagonal fold at the corner and press in place with the iron.

To join the binding

When you get back to the side that you started sewing the binding on, lay the bindings flat and work out where they will butt up against each other and finger press a fold in the binding. Open the binding out and sew the short edges together on that crease line. Press seam allowances open and press binding back in half with wrong sides facing. Then sew that section down as you did around the other sides. Then fold and press towards the back of the quilt.

To secure the binding down, I like doing an invisible ladder stitch by hand. Get a double length of thread in your needle, secure it in the seam allowance and then do a running stitch, stitching between the fold in the binding and the back of the quilt. Make each stitch run into the next but lining up the fabric edges and where one stitch ends, the next one begins. Get comfy in front of the TV and stitch all the way around the quilt to finish it off!

Well done! A lovely patchwork effect quilt!

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