Make patchwork sew easy

Bungalow sewing basket, �45, Cath Kidston. PA Photo/Handout.
Bungalow sewing basket, �45, Cath Kidston. PA Photo/Handout.

Patchwork throw

A stunning but simple patchwork throw, made up of large strips of fabric, features in The Great British Sewing Bee book. It’s an easy project, as it’s just a matter of stitching the strips of silk, velvets and velour upholstery fabric together and backing them with a lining fabric.

The finished throw measures approximately 118cm x 160cm (46½ in x 63in), but you can use the principles to make a throw any size simply by using more strips and cutting them longer.

You could use alternative fabrics – cotton shirting, synthetic velvets, printed cotton, satins and sateens or silks.


l 60cm (2/3yd) each of two different upholstery-weight fabrics (fabrics A and B), both at least 122cm (48in) wide.

l 50cm (1/2yd) each of two more upholstery-weight fabrics (fabrics C and D), both at least 122cm (48in) wide.

l 1.7m (2yd) of a solid-coloured curtain-lining fabric, same width as strip fabrics.

l Sewing thread in a neutral shade that works well with all the fabrics.

Skills set:

The techniques used are even slipstitch, and stitching straight seams.

Cutting guide:

For this throw, the 12 strips of varying depths were cut from fabric 122cm (48in) wide, which makes up the finished width. You can make a wider throw by using fabrics 150cm (60in) wide. Alternatively, piece together two or more strips to make up any preferred width – cut the strips so that the joins don’t all fall in the same place. When calculating your strip widths, allow for seam allowances of 1.5cm (5/8in) all round each strip.

From fabric A: cut three strips – one 9.5cm (3¾in) wide, one 18.5cm (7½in) wide and one 24.5cm (9¾in) wide.

From fabric B: Cut three strips – one 16cm (6¼in) wide, one 20cm (8in) wide and one 24cm (9½in) wide.

From fabric C: Cut three strips – one 9cm (3½in) wide, one 12.5cm (5in) wide and one 20.5cm (8¼in) wide.

From fabric D: Cut three strips – one 9.5cm (3¾in) wide, one 12cm (4¾in) wide and one 20cm (8in) wide.

Step One: To make the patchwork throw: cut the strips. Using the cutting guide, cut a total of 12 strips, from selvedge to selvedge. To match the featured throw, follow the given widths.

Step Two: Stitch the strips together in pairs: Work out the best composition by laying out the strips right side up, side by side and with the long edges touching, rearranging them until you are happy with their arrangement. With right sides together, pin the strips together in pairs along the long edges. Stitch together the first pair of strips. Repeat with all the other strips, so you end up with six pairs. Press the seams open.

Step Three: Stitch the pairs of strips together. Do this as precisely as possible, so you have three sets of four strips. Press the seams open as you work for perfectly flat pieces.

Step Four: Next stitch the three sets of strips together. Press the remaining seams open. Now press the wrong side of the patchwork top using a hot iron and lots of steam. Work in parallel with the seams. Repeat on the right side. For fabrics with a deep pile, don’t apply pressure behind the iron as this will flatten the pile.

Instead, hover the iron over the fabric and use plenty of shots of steam. To neaten the raw edges, mark a line close to the edge of each side at right angles to the seam lines using tailor’s chalk and a steel edge. Use sharp dressmaker’s shears to trim down this line.

Step Five: Complete the throw top: Lay the lining right side up on a flat surface and lay the patchwork top right side down on top of it. Smooth out the layers and pin them together around the outer edge of the top. Trim the lining to the same size as the patchwork. Stitch the top to the lining around the edge, leaving a 30cm (12in) opening in the seam along one of the short sides. Press the seams flat to embed the stitches and also press the seam allowance back around the 30cm (12in) opening. Clip off the corners of the seam allowances, taking care not to cut too close to the stitching.

Step Six: Hand sew the opening: Turn the throw right side out through the opening. Then use a knitting needle (as it has a blunt point) to ease out the corners. Hand stitch the opening using even slipstitch to close it. Finally, press the whole throw flat so the seam lies exactly on the edge for a professional finish.

l The Great British Sewing Bee by Tessa Evelegh is published by Quadrille, priced £20. Available now.

Shirt cushions

Men’s stripy shirts can quickly be transformed into surprisingly stylish cushions, as shown in ReCraft.

For the project, you need any largish shirt.

Firstly, turn the buttoned shirt inside out, then lay flat on a table.

Measure your cushion pad and draw a square on the shirt of the same dimensions plus 1cm (½in). Cut out, pin and sew all the way round. Trim seams, undo buttons, turn through and press. Put in the cushion pad and button up.

l ReCraft: How To Turn Second Hand Stuff Into Beautiful Things For Your Home, Family And Friends by Sarah Duchars and Sarah Marks is published by Frances Lincoln, priced £12.99. Available now.

Get the kit

If you’re joining the crafting craze you need to get kitted out before you start.

Hobbycraft has everything to help a novice get started, including a Multi-Stitch Sewing machine, £22.50, available from stores, as well as craft materials and project ideas (

Cath Kidston, dubbed the ‘Queen of Craft’, has a haberdashery range which is decorative as well as practical. Her red-roofed bungalow sewing basket is £45 and cotton patchwork squares £25.

Pretty up a handicraft table with Kidston’s retro-style range, which includes a heart-shaped pin or button tin, £5, a lattice rose tape measure, £5, and armchair pin cushion in matching pattern, £8 (0845 026 2440/

l The Great British Sewing Bee is on BBC Two on Tuesdays.