How to patchwork quilt

Updated February 21, 2017

Patchwork quilting is a craft where you get to exercise your eye for design and patterns. While the squares are easy enough to sew together, it is the patchwork pattern that you create that will make your quilt a standout. Making a patchwork quilt involves some basic machine and hand sewing. Accurate measuring and pinning is also critical to successfully completing a patchwork quilt. You can use any type of fabric and thread, but cotton fabric and polyester thread are easy to use for a first patchwork quilt project.

Choose your cotton fabrics and wash them to pre-shrink them. Iron out any wrinkles in the square fabric and the backing. Decide how the squares will be laid out in the quilt, where the ties will go, and how big you want the quilt to be.

Lay a rotary cutter mat down on a flat surface. Spread one fold of square fabric on the mat and measure with a ruler how big you would like the quilt squares to be. Bigger squares mean less sewing. Hold the ruler over the square fabric. Push the switch on a rotary cutter to expose its blade, and cut the square strips. Turn the strips sideways, place the ruler over the strips to measure and cut the squares with the rotary cutter. Trim any loose threads with scissors.

Lay out your patchwork design with the cut squares and finalise your patchwork quilt pattern. Pin two squares together, and sew a seam down the pinned sides on the sewing machine. Keep adding squares until a row is finished. Sew as many rows as you need, and then sew the rows together until the top is complete. Iron the seams flat on the back.

Lay the outside of the backing down on a flat surface. Spray it with basting spray. Place the batting over the backing, smoothing it down. Spray the batting with basting spray. Smooth the patchwork quilt top over the batting bottom side down until the three layers are flat and wrinkle-free. Baste all four corners together with a basting needle and some thread.

Cut the ties so that they are approximately 4 inches each. Thread a needle with each tie. Lay the quilt backing side up, and stitch each tie in place, usually at the corners of each square. Push the needle through the quilt from underneath so that you have two loose tie ends on top. Knot the tie ends together and trim them with scissors.

Trim the quilt and batting on each side until they are about a half inch smaller than the backing, using a ruler and scissors. Fold the half inch of backing over the batting and top to form a binding, and pin it in place. Hand stitch or machine stitch the binding. Remove all pins and basting stitches with scissors.


You can buy pre-cut patchwork squares to save on time and tools.


If you decide to machine quilt your patchwork quilt, use a quilting needle so the quilt does not bunch up and the needle does not break. Check your measurements before you cut the material; measurements must be precise in order for the patchwork quilt pattern to be even.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton square material
  • Cotton or muslin backing
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Rotary cutter mat
  • Ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Basting spray
  • Batting
  • Basting Needle
  • Polyester thread
  • Ties (embroidery floss or yarn)
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About the Author

Mary McNally has been writing and editing for over 13 years, including publications at Cornell University Press, Larson Publications and College Athletic Magazines. McNally also wrote and edited career and computer materials for Stanford University and Ithaca College. She holds a master's degree in career development from John F. Kennedy University and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in counseling.