Patchwork: What It Is and How to Do It At Home

Blankets made with printed scraps, curtains in a gorgeous vintage style and colorful tablecloths are some examples that result from patchwork. This sewing technique gives a new opportunity to fabrics that you may have thought were lost.
Patchwork: What It Is and How to Do It At Home

Last update: 22 September, 2022

Sewing is a skill that’s entertaining, profitable, relaxing, and useful if you want to make your own pieces of clothing or decorate your home. A popular technique is patchwork, which involves sewing pieces of fabric together to make a new garment.

You don’t need any more experience than having an idea in mind and patiently bringing it to fruition. Used patches are also welcome. This method makes it possible to make bedding, accessories, decorations, and so much more. Discover how to take advantage of this art here!

What is “patchwork”?

Two English words baptized the concept of patchwork. Patch means “ patch of fabric,” while work means just that – “work!” The fusion of both terms in English alludes to working with scraps of fabric.

According to a definition in the Cambridge Dictionary, this refers to a piece that’s been sewn with many pieces or cuttings of other textiles. The procedure contemplates different patterns and colors.

The trend is not new; its roots lie in ancient Egypt, where they designed pieces by joining scraps. Over time, each civilization contributed its touch, expanding styles, textures, sizes, and shapes.

In order to create things using the patchwork technique, you need the same essential implements you would for any sewing activity:

  • A cutter
  • Scissors
  • Needles
  • An iron

When it comes to textiles, it’s all about the strength, size, and type. Although you can join them by hand, the sewing machine is also used. The note, in this case, is to verify that the machine has a ¼ inch presser foot to accentuate the distance at the edges.

The following types of fabric are recommended:

  • Wool
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Canvas
  • Cotton
  • Woven
  • Denim or jeans
  • Cotton flannel
Patchwork sewing
You need the minimum sewing implements to get started. Later, you can add some specialized tools that are more useful to you, depending on the designs you’re going to make.

Techniques for working with scraps

There are several methods for working with scraps. The common point that all have in common is creativity:

  • Paper piecing: To do this, you join the pieces with the paper pattern guide. You can try using geometric shapes of various colors until a block of fabric is assembled.
  • Log cabin style patchwork: To do this, you build from a small square, adding more, until you draw a kind of cabin. Some seamstresses use this style to make flowers.
  • Dresden plate patchwork: This involves sewing all the scraps, side by side, to form a circle. The pieces must be the same size.
  • Grandma’s garden patchwork: These are the patterns designed with hexagon-shaped pieces. You superimpose each cutout on another fabric, playing with texture and colors. It’s functional for coasters or decorating bags.
  • Application patwork: Draw what you want on a piece of paper, cut out the fabrics, and glue them onto the image with hot-melt tape or patchwork glue. You can use the technique on shirts or sweaters. For best results, stitch a few stitches between the pattern and the garment.

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How to do patchwork at home

First of all, it’ s advisable that you iron tbe scraps of fabric you’ll be using before you start working with them. Also, make sure to have a ruler at hand to specify lengths so that the pieces have the same proportion. If you’re making round shapes, you should use a compass cutter instead of scissors.

After these recommendations, the next step is to create pieces for your home from old fabrics or new scraps. The functionality of patchwork is evident in the following possible projects.


Replace your wallpaper with fabric rugs! After you sew all the scraps together, you can glue the result on the wall. This decorative element looks nice in living rooms and bedrooms.


If the plan is to attach scraps to the curtains, ideally, you should select translucent textiles. This allows light to pass through the accessory. This activity can be sewn by hand, by machine, or by joining the cuttings with fabric glue.

Furniture upholstery

For this craft, you need to know a little about upholstery, as long as you’re looking for a covering for the furniture. Another option is to take advantage of sewing scraps to cover cushions.


Create tablecloths with small, medium, or large figures taken from plain fabrics. You can put together squares, rectangles, diamonds or whatever shape you prefer. It’s important that the texture is flat; otherwise, what you place on the cloth won’t remain stable.

Children’s tents

Children’s tents or teepees are all the rage. Patchwork is a witty way to make these play tents. Design a large blanket to serve as a roof for sleepovers.

a tent
Tents are all the rage with kids and even for decorating backyards. You can make your own with this technique.

How to maintain patchwork fabrics

There are two appropriate ways to wash patchwork. First, you can do this by hand, to take better care of the garment. Otherwise, you can watch patchwork garmets in the washing machine in a special mesh bag. If the fabric fades, add a couple of drops of vinegar; this way, the colors will stay, and you won’t stain the rest of the garment.

If you’re working with 100% cotton pieces, it’s best to wash them before you start sewing. This is because the material tends to shrink on the first wash. If you anticipate this shrinking, there will be no surprises.

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Are patchwork and quilting the same thing?

Patchwork is often confused with quilting. The difference is that the latter is used for triple-ply quilts.

The top layer is the patchwork, the middle one corresponds to the fluffy filling of the quilt, and the last one is the lining that fuses the whole craft. This is why working with scraps of fabric works for some types of quilts, but not all quilts are made with scraps.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.