How to Make Patchwork Clothes

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Patchwork was originally designed as a way of using up scraps of fabric, but nowadays many sewing enthusiasts purchase small pieces of fabric to get just the patchwork colors and patterns they want. You can make just about any type of clothing out of patchwork, but simple clothing patterns with large pieces, such as a vest or skirt, work best. You can use any type of patchwork design you like to make clothing, but simple rectangles are the easiest to cut and sew.

Things You'll Need

  • Clothing pattern
  • Measuring tape
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine

Spread out one of the clothing pattern pieces. Measure the widest part and tallest part of the pattern to get an idea of how big the patchwork will need to be.

Decide how large you want the patchwork pieces. Fewer, larger pieces will take less time to cut and sew, but smaller pieces will give the clothing more of a patchwork look and allow you to use up smaller scraps.

Figure out about how many patchwork pieces you’ll need, including an extra 1/2 inch on each side of each piece for seam allowance. For example, if your vest front pieces are 30 inches tall by 15 inches wide, you could use six rectangles, each 8 inches wide by 10 1/2 inches tall, or 10 rows of pieces, each 3 1/2 inches high.

Cut the scraps into pieces that are all the same height, but not necessarily the same width. Arrange the pieces in rows, in an order that you like. You may want the patchwork pieces to go from light to dark, in alternating colors or in random order.

Pick up the patchwork piece on the left side of one row. Pick up the next piece and flip it over. Place this piece right side down on top of the first piece. Pin them together, then stitch them together along the right edge using 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Unfold the patchwork pieces. Pick up the next piece and flip it over. Place it right side down on top of the second piece. Pin them together, then stitch them together along the right edge using 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Continue stitching patchwork pieces together this way until the row is complete. Press all the seams open.

Sew the other rows together the same way. Pin two of the rows right sides together and stitch them together along the long edge. Continue sewing the rows together until the patchwork is complete. Press all the seams open.

Pin the pattern to the patchwork. Cut around the edges of the pattern.

Repeat Steps 1 through 9 for all the pattern pieces (or cut some of the pattern pieces from a piece of whole fabric). Sew the pieces of the clothing together following the pattern directions.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can make the entire outfit out of patchwork, or just part of it. For example, you may want to make a patchwork front for a vest and make the back out of a solid piece of fabric, or add a row of patchwork along the lower edge of a skirt.
  • Use caution when working with scissors, pins, irons and sewing machines.
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