Use Fabric Scraps or Samples to Make a Patchwork Throw

Use these easy instructions to make your very own sample book throw, or picnic blanket, or baby blanket, or tablecloth. (photos by Bob Farley)

A throw is handy. You can snuggle up with it on the sofa when you read a book or watch a movie, use it as a picnic blanket, a baby blanket, or even as a tablecloth overlay. Patchwork is lovely and so easy to do if you have a scrap pile of fabrics, or better yet, if you have a pile of fabric samples in the same color or pattern theme. I like an organic, freestyle method of putting together patchwork items, and I like to “throw” out all rules when I make pieced throws. No patterns, no measuring, no batting, no matching the thread, and absolutely NO ironing between steps. No need for ironing seams open, because I take care of flattening the seams with a zigzag topstitch. Only after the throw is turned right side out and nearly complete do I iron it. This throw is easy to make, reversible, great looking, comforting, and useful in so many ways.

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Step 1

 Open GalleryPick your samples and backing fabric. I like to use printed cotton pieces for the top panel and a good heavy cotton duck for the back panel. If you pick fabrics of the same fabrication (here I use cotton), it will be easier to sew them together and they will launder nicely. Make sure the fabric samples are the same size and only as thick as your sewing machine can handle. I keep all of my scrap fabrics and samples in bins and organized by color. If you do not have hoards of fabric to choose from like I do, go to your favorite fabric store or decorator and ask for their discontinued samples. You may have to purchase them, but a lot of stores will give discontinued fabrics away rather than send them to the landfill.

Step 2

 Open GalleryArrange the pieces for the top panel on the floor. As you lay them out, be creative, choose which samples you would like to see next to one another and choose fun combinations as you plan your mosaic of fabrics. As you form the rows, decide then how large to make the throw. Three or four rows is a good place to start depending on the size of the pieces. If this is your first patchwork project, go with a more manageable size and save the large project for when you have more experience.

Step 3

 Open GalleryForm the rows by sewing pieces together and zigzag topstitching the seams. Start on the right side of the top row and flip the end piece on top of the next in line to the left. Pick the two pieces up and sew together with a half-inch seam allowance. Flip the bottom piece on top of the next in line and sew those together, and so on and so on as you work from right to left, until the pieces to make a row are all sewn together. Turn over the sewn row and zigzag topstitch each seam with a contrasting thread (you can match if you want to), making sure the undersides of the seams go to one side (matters not which side) as you stitch. This flattens the seams and keeps raw edges from unraveling when laundering. Since the pieces are small, I don’t even worry about pinning, I just simply sew together and turn over to topstitch. Place each finished row back into place on the floor to keep project in order.

Step 4

 Open GalleryPin finished rows together. Starting with the top row and from the top, peel the top of the panel back and place over and on top of the second row matching the bottom edge (of the top row) to the top edge of the second row. Fabric outsides will be facing each other. Pin together at the edges. Peel back the pinned-together rows back and place over and top of the next row down and match up those edges. Pin together. Repeat until all rows are pinned together. If you are unsure of the order you are pinning them together, flip the whole pinned-together piece right side out and correct any mistakes.

Step 5

 Open GallerySew rows together, removing pins as you go.

Step 6

 Open GalleryTurn over (right side up) and zigzag topstitch the row seams, making sure you manage to keep the seams underneath straight and neat as you sew the seams flat to one side. I like to judge which side I would like to see the topstitching on as I go.

Step 7

 Open GalleryPlace the finished top panel right side down on top of the backing fabric. The fabric outsides will be facing each other. Line up straight, smooth out the panel, and pin into place. Cut out around the perimeter, being careful not to cut into the top panel’s stitching.

Step 8

 Open GallerySew around the pinned-together perimeter, again using a half-inch seam allowance. Leave open a one-foot opening to be able to turn the piece right side out.

Step 9

 Open GalleryTurn the piece right side out by reaching through the opening, grabbing a corner and pulling it through the opening. Pull the whole piece through and reach in again and push out to form the corners correctly. Now you can use your iron to iron flat the outer edges, making sure the seams are pulled out and straight to the very edge of the seam. Iron the nearly finished throw. Fold the edges of the opening in and line it up straight. Iron and pin the opening closed.

Step 10

 Open GalleryZigzag topstitch the perimeter of the throw and you are done. See how easy? You are now a pro at patchwork!

Materials

  • same-size cut fabric samples or fabric blocks
  • fabric for backing (ideally cotton duck, twill, or canvas)
  • strong and durable contrasting thread

Tools

  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • iron and ironing board
About Michelle Reynolds 

47Posts

I’m a slipcover maker who refuses to fill the trash with the cutaway bits of designer fabrics, so I strive to make use of every scrap. I live with my ...

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4 Responses

  1. It seemed too easy but it was not operating out as quick as I believed it should be. My aunt's sis later informed me that sometimes when you use two different loads of material

  2. It seemed too simple but it wasn't working out as fast as I thought it should be. My aunt's sister later told me that sometimes when you use two different weights of fabric

  3. kirsten P says:

    I just washed so many fabric pieces to do just that! Can't wait to start.
    I am also trying to put together all my son's old sports shirts for a wall hanging!
    Now I just got to find my sewing machine?

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