This week I got around to trying out this collage style of patchwork to use up some of my tiny scraps of fabric. I keep scraps around 1" x 1" or larger, and sometimes even smaller pieces of the rare and OOP fabrics in my collection. From time to time too many will be squirreled away in my stash, and a bag of tiny scraps will be available here.
Usually when I make patchwork the fabrics are pieced together, but this is fabric pieces layered on a background of canvas and then stitched down. Each piece has two rows of stitching around the perimeter to hold the patch firmly in place and keep the edges from fraying away (there will be some fraying anyway) and coming loose.
The next time I make this type of patchwork I'll probably zigzag the edges instead, or maybe use one of the decorative stitches on my machine. It goes so fast that the time left over can be used for some fancy stitching!
This pouch was very experimental, so I didn't use an existing pattern. The finished pouch is about 4" wide x 4.5" high.
At some point in the past it crossed my mind to make templates for different sizes of box bottom corners so I could quickly outline the corners without having to measure them out each time. I never got around to it because I wasn't sure having a bunch of different corner outlines to keep track of would be any more efficient than measuring them out each time.
But I came back to the idea after seeing a square sewing gauge tool that included a number of different measurements. It looked really useful, and at some point the idea of the square gauge merged with the box bottom corner idea and became these box bottom corner gauges.
I've been using these gauges for the last couple weeks to test them out and found a few more uses for them. Here's what I've come up with so far:
If you want to make the box bottom smaller or larger, these can be used to draw your new size corners. In the photos above the tiny zipper pouch is Size 1 from the Intro to Improv Zip Pouches, but without dividing the fabric into sections and using a 1.25" corner outline rather than the 0.75" included in the pattern. Here's another pouch where I used the 1" square to outline the box bottom corners.
One thing to keep in mind is in most cases you don't want the box bottom corners to intersect with any piecing seams (i.e. seams that aren't a bottom or side seam). So for the tiny pouch above, I knew it would be so small that dividing the fabric into sections would mean the corners would intersect with the division seams, and it would look weird on the finished pouch and probably be a pain to sew. So in this instance I skipped dividing the fabric, but in general, just keep in mind you don't want the box bottom corner to intersect any piecing seams.
I like using the cut out way to make these corners as opposed to where you don't cut out the box bottom outlines and make a wedge with the bottom corner and then sew across it to create the box bottom. The one thing I've noticed about using the cut out method is sewing the corners comes towards the end of the construction process, and the fabric pieces can get slightly off kilter as you sew.
If I don't go back and trim the corners square before sewing them, they can end up pretty wonky. They'll be angled one direction or another, or all the corners will no longer be the same size. So I've learned to clean up my corners, and these gauges are making it quick and easy to square them up.
Magnetic Snap Placement
When I want to add magnetic snaps to a project, and I'm using a 3/8" SA or smaller, 1.25" is my magic measurement for where to center the snap washer. That leaves room for the seam allowance, as well as enough space to topstitch without the snap getting in the way of the presser foot.
Spacing Quilting Lines
For some things I'll use a few quilting lines to hold together layers of fabric/muslin/fleece and these gauges have turned out to be pretty handy for spacing the lines out evenly. Usually I use this quilting on the lining, so it doesn't need to be perfect, but I still like the lines to be somewhat evenly spaced. The squares on the gauge also have a nice t-square effect that helps keep things straight.
Over the weekend I finished up this patchwork grocery bag. I don't get tired of making the grocery bags, but the one thing I run into is not having enough of a certain fabric to complete one, so making them in patchwork solves this problem. Plus it's also always a fun surprise to see how they turn out!
At this point, I have two more partially done, but only the ticking handles and lining are complete, and the patchwork panels haven't been started yet. But once I get them going, it will be nice to have these pieces of the bags ready to go.
For this bag, I started out with the blue/green/pink floral which is Elda by Marcus Fabrics. My fabric stash got a little low over the summer, so I've been out fabric shopping lately, and have been keeping patchwork in mind when picking out new prints. This one caught my eye because it has a number of different colors in it, and I knew the shades of pink and blue would be easy matches with some of the fabrics already in my stash.
Start out with at least five different fabrics. The layout gets tricky if you don't have a variety of prints and you'll find yourself running into trouble keeping the fabrics spread out. One "rule" of patchwork is to keep the same fabric pieces from abutting each other. When two pieces of the same fabric (or color) adjoin, shapes will begin to emerge and these become focal points--and usually not in a great way. Even though you are using a mish-mash of prints and colors to make the patchwork, ultimately the over all effect you are looking for is a colorful, but somewhat unified whole.
If you are having a hard time keeping prints spread out, use some small/skinny strip pieces to break things up.
Keep light background fabrics away from the bottom. The bag will eventually get dirty from setting it down, and darker colors are going to hide this better. Of course, you can always wash these, but I try not to wash mine too often. They'll look new longer and will have longer lives with less washing.
Remember the sides and bottom are folded, so make the patches along the sides and bottom wide/high enough that they show on the finished bag. If you use little pieces they may end up disappearing into the sides or bottom and if they are especially beloved fabrics, you will be sad they aren't more visible!
Try not to intersect seams. Intersecting seams are another thing that can become an accidental focal point.
Here's a sweet patchwork pouch I finished up this weekend. This patchwork piece was tucked away in my zipper pouch templates file, and when I came across it I wanted to finish it up right away, because I knew it was going to be this cute when done!
The cat fabric is a snippet of a print called Whiskers & Tails from Alexander Henry. With the exception of the big white polka dot on black at the bottom (Kei Honeycomb Dots), the polka dot prints are a mystery. The grey floral fabric is from 6+ years ago, so I'm not sure what it is called either. The pink floral is Deco State Apple Blossom.