How to Make a Pre-Loved Patchwork Gift
Did you take lockdown as an opportunity to clear out your wardrobe? Yep. Us too. Charity shops were bombarded with donations when the world began to re-open in the Summer of 2020. But many councils charge the charity shops near you for the bags full of clothes that are left on the street overnight. If the charities can't resell your recycled clothes, then the shops are often also charged for disposal fees. As a result, many charity shops have paused accepting preloved donations - for now.
Fast fashion is one of the worst contributors to the climate crisis, and many of us can probably admit to having more clothes than we wear.
Everyone has preloved items in a wardrobe that doesn't fit, perhaps it's thanks to your lockdown effort - thank you PE with Joe!, or because the kids have had yet another growth spurt. We've been wondering how we can use old jumpers and clothes to help get us cosy in autumn - arguably the cosiest season.
Patchworking in the UK is historically associated with domestic economy - a way to use scraps of fabric to extend the life of clothes, but also as an activity. Its history is not limited to historic domestic gender roles either - in the 19th Century, male soldiers created military quilts that were posted overseas.
Patchwork blankets are a great way to spend the winter months, and you can involve the whole family. Not only do they offer a fantastic way to use preloved clothing and fabric to create something new, but they can also make an incredibly special gift. Do you have to distance from family members this Christmas? You've got a couple of months to create a personalised gift. You don't need to find a fabric shop to make a gorgeous blanket gift; your preloved threads are perfect!
We're going to give you tips to make the perfect patchwork blanket or throw. We love the idea of using the old jumpers we couldn't clear out over summer, to make a home-from-home feel.
All the Gear
While you can put together a patchwork with a needle, thread, fabric and a sturdy pair of scissors, to get the best results, you will need a few tools:
A Rotary Cutter
A Cutting Mat
A Clear Acrylic Quilting Ruler - 6.5in x 24in.
If you're starting from scratch, Creative Grids offers all you could need for your project.
Lay Down the Law
Before you do anything else, you need to clean and iron your fabrics so they'll cut and thread beautifully.
Next, lay out your fabrics and start playing with textures and work out your approximate size. Take photos of your design, so you have a reference for later on.
TIP: Don't feel you have to cut your fabrics to the same size or shape - let your inner creative free! The great thing about patchwork is that no two blankets are the same - just like you.
Cut Right To It
Once you've got your idea it's time to start cutting your fabric. The key to successful patchwork is in the precision of the cut.
Layout out your fabrics on your cutting mat and, with a pencil, sketch out the shape that you want. Place the quilting ruler around half an inch away from the line and press down on the ruler and, with your free hand, use the rotary cutter to get a nice clean edge.
You can see how this works in practice here.
Arrange your cut pieces on the floor and start sewing!
It's a Stitch-Up
Whether you've got a sewing machine or you're a needle and thread kind of person, stitch on your original pencil lines, leaving the overhang of half an inch. Don't worry about how it looks at the back; we'll cover that!
Work methodically, sewing your patches in sections of five or six and then attaching those sections. If you're doing squares, stitch a row at a time before connecting the rows.
Blanket's Got Back
Now you've got all your patches together, and the top of your blanket is looking gorgeous, it's time to add the back.
Stretch out a piece of fabric which covers the entire length of the patchwork design and stitch to the back of your patchwork. Warm fleece material makes a perfect backing for your patchwork.
If you want more tips, we love Poppy Patch - if you're based around Northamptonshire, they offer excellent courses in patchwork quilts and patchwork - you can find more information on their website.
Cottonpatch has fantastic supplies - sadly, their Birmingham stall is closed thanks to Covid-19, so they really value online support through their website.
You can also find some incredible videos on patchworking - we really love this t-shirt blanket!
Do you want to reduce your fast-fashion habit for more sustainable options? A simple swap for your clothes shopping is to go to charity shops. Vogue has put together Britain's Best Charity Shops For Finding Pre-Loved Treasure.
If you need a little more inspiration, follow @knickers_models_own. Caroline began the account after she lost her mother to cancer. Determined to raise money for Cancer Research UK, Caroline embarked on a project to style herself for one year using only preloved clothes through 2015. Not only did Caroline smash her target, but she's also become a huge advocate for the preloved fashion world and her styling is amazing!
Finish with a bow
If you are making a patchwork as a gift, they're perfect for sending to a faraway loved one as they're so squishable! We'd recommend using a box (reused, obviously) if you can. But why not wrap your patchwork like the gift that it is? If you're sewing in time for Christmas, we've got some gorgeous eco-friendly wrapping paper that we guarantee will bring a smile to the face of your favourite people. View our range of beautiful wrapping paper in our shop.