Friday, January 26, 2024

Simple, Sneaky Patchwork Method / Beauties Pageant 243

I’ve noticed a resurgence of a simple and sneaky patchwork method on Instagram lately. Have you encountered it? It’s the hack where you iron squares to a piece of webbing and sew entire rows of patchwork together in one fell swoop. It’s a clever shortcut—one I cannot take credit for developing—and it produces a panel with perfect points in a fraction of the time.

My Experience 

I explored this technique years ago in my Cross My Heart quilt and the corresponding tutorial. If you’re looking for a quick and easy Valentine’s-themed project, I recommend checking out the write-ups. One heart requires 49 squares and some webbing. Add in a little fabric to frame out the patchwork and make a backing, and you can sew yourself a pillow in no time!

A Perfect Pattern for the Technique

The pattern that caused social media to revisit this technique more recently was Embroidery Flowers, a free pixelated design from Tilda pictured at the top of the post. Instagram users in particular were excited about this design, and Pink Door Fabrics quickly sold out of kits for the quilt.*

Veruschka, of Pride and Joy Quilting, tackled the pattern and its more than 2,000 squares using the simple, sneaky piecing method. The big difference between her approach and mine, aside from the sheer enormity of her project, was the webbing she used: TenSisters EasyPiecing Grid Panels. Whereas I manually marked out my grids, she used a preprinted product that accommodated Embroidery Flowers’ 2-inch squares.

As Veruschka explained it on Instagram, she likely wouldn’t have been able to take on such a project without the shortcut method and the preprinted webbing. She designs complicated paper-piecing projects, and all the cut and organized fabrics for Embroidery Flowers were not something that could linger in her workspace. She needed to finish the top, clean up her space, and move on to her other work.

There’s no longer documentation of Veruschka’s process on Instagram—probably because she’s now teaching students how to design and sew their own original pixelated projects. Kaitlyn, of Knot and Thread Design, however, has posted a three-part series on how she assembled a panel with TenSisters’ panels. Check out her method on Instagram in these posts: part 1, part 2, part 3. (Spoiler alert! Kaitlyn added the step of using a glue stick to keep the squares in place while transferring a panel to the ironing board. Brilliant!)

My Advice

If you think you’d like to implement the webbing shortcut in one of your projects, I recommend doing a test first—like, make a small piece of patchwork with the technique before committing to an entire quilt with it. I say this because I did not like the results I got on my throw-size Cross My Hearts quilt. The webbing changed the hand of the finished quilt, so much so that I decided to interface the solid squares in mine. 

I have a kit for Embroidery Flowers, and when I get around to sewing it, I will machine-piece it without webbing. With all the seams necessary to sew thousands of squares together, Embroidery Flowers will be a heavy top even without a webbing layer.

This is not to say I won’t employ this technique again. If I had a patchwork pillow on my to-do list, that would be a different story. A pillow could benefit from the extra substance the webbing layer contributes to the final product.

Have you tried this patchwork cheat before? Let us know in the comments!

* The kit for Embroidery Flowers is long sold out, but there’s a second pixelated pattern from Tilda that Pink Door does have in stock as of this writing, called Flower Vase Embroidery Quilt.

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  1. I did one of these massive Embroidery Flowers quilts, kitted by Pink Door. I can say that there were many humbling moments, and I was surprised that it wasn't as easy as it seems in theory. I'm very glad I did it, and I love the quilt. It does change the hand of the quilt to have all that interfacing in there, and there are certain compromises that must be made. It is not a piecing exercise like any other, and I doubt it's a technique I'll embrace again. I like to try things that are new to me, and I also like to be humbled. It seems the less you think, the better the outcome, and the more you hold onto your previously held ideals, the more you will pay for them. I'd be happy to share what compromises I made, (ironing seams open, pressing along the way, idealizing a flat and floppy quilt top.) I'm hoping that after a few washes, the soft drape that I like will be achieved. Stay tuned...

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with that mesh product. I love the look of those pixelated quilts but I definitely do not like using products that give my quilts a stiff hand since "snuggleability" is a priority for me. If I was making a wall quilt, different story!

  3. I have never used webbing but have thought about how heavy that must make a pieced quilt top, so I'm glad you mention that. But for a pillow, that would make sense to me to have it be basically ready after piecing without the need for backing and quilting...

  4. I have heard of that method but never tried it myself. Thanks for all of the ins and outs to it. After your write up, I think I will stick with regular piecing.

  5. No, I haven't tried it, mostly because I imagine that the whole quilt will be thick, and stiff with that grid fiber forever sewn into the quilt top.

  6. Thanks, Michelle! This has inspired me to consider piecing options for a "Kona Color Card" quilt design I have in my bucket list. Maybe this will bump it up ;) xo


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