I don’t relax, I almost relax and find something to stress about.  That means it is time for a project.  Simple projects are my form of mindfulness.  This is a good beginner’s patchwork project and for me means that I can keep my mind occupied but still relaxed.

When I discovered the Petit Fleur Alphabet Cot Quilt Panel (see below) at my favourite fabric store The Eternal Maker I fell in love with it.  The snag? I don’t have young children and my nieces and nephews all have their nurseries sorted

Image of the Petit Fleur Patchwork Quilt Panel and Four Coordinating Fabrics
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No inspiration struck until we were packing to go on holiday this year.  I wanted to pack my laptop but not in the large (and if I’m honest ugly) case that we had.  However I couldn’t leave it unprotected whilst travelling through France. There are plenty of simple laptop sleeve or cosy sewing patterns out there on the internet but it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t need to spend money on fabric. I simply needed to make the fabric from the patchwork panel I already had.

The final laptop cosy is waterproof & padded. I think it ticks all the boxes for a cute and very… Click To Tweet

As with most patchwork projects, this project has three phases; Phase one is piecing the fabric together to a size and shape to suit the project, phase two is quilting it to provide padding for the computer and phase three is making the actual sleeve. This first post covers Phase One only as it it pretty detailed.

The Patchwork is very straightforward and suitable for a first project.  The quilting is also straightforward.  Putting the cosy together is a bit more awkward as it is dealing with vinyl and thick quilting but I managed it all on a normal domestic sewing machine with a standard general purpose needle.

Phase One – Patchwork:

Grid showing all the equipment needed for this project
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Collage picture showing all the materials necessary for this project
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  • 1 Cot Panel or other Patchwork cotton fabric to cover approx. 50cm x 80cm (for a 17″ Laptop) – I used the Petit Fleur.
  • Coordinating fabrics to make patches for spots where the colours do not quite match up.
  • Quilt Batting (I used this Polyester Wadding but decided to use it double thickness)
  • General purpose sewing thread
  • Backing Fabric of your choice – I used a coordinating fabric from the same range. 50cm x 80cm.
  • Coordinating Bias Binding – 3metres
  • Iron On Vinyl ( I used Thermoweb Gloss Heat ‘n’ Bond).
  • 2 x 5cm squares of interfacing in three weights – I used iron on standard medium vilene, peltex 71f fusible one side heavyweight interfacing and a fusible cotton interfacing. Basically any scraps I had left over!

Step One:

Pre wash the fabric you intend to use in a net or pillow case to stop it fraying too badly.  If it is patchwork fabric then put it on a cotton wash with no fabric softener.

Step Two:

Iron the panel flat. It is important to get all creases out of the fabric before the next stage.

Step Three:

Using paper scissors cut a length of iron on vinyl that will fit part of the panel (it isn’t wide enough to do the whole panel in one go!) Peel the backing paper off and put the sticky side onto the front (picture side) of the panel. Smooth it into place with your hands.

Image showing lengths of iron on vinyl placed across the panel in the most efficient manner
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Step Four:

Put the backing paper shiny side down on top of the vinyl and use the iron (on a medium heat setting, with NO steam) to put pressure on each area in turn for eight seconds (You should have seen my husbands face at me standing there counting “one – Mississippi – two – Mississippi” over and over!)  Make sure all areas have been heated and DON’T put the iron on any uncovered areas of vinyl or you will end up with a messy iron sole plate to clean (ugh).

Step Five:

Flip the fabric over and press all areas on the back of the fabric for around four seconds for each part.  This should finish adhering the vinyl to the patchwork panel.

Step Six:

Using a cutting mat, quilting ruler and rotary cutter cut up the patches of the panel with a half inch seam allowance all the way around.

Patchwork usually works with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. That makes me nervous so I make it wider when I can! Click To Tweet

This short clip shows you how to use a rotary cutter to cut a straight line on Cotton fabric. There is no sound, therefore no language barriers.

Standing up to do the cutting gives you the most reliable pressure and be sure to roll the rotary cutter away from your body.  The picture below shows you how to line up the quilting ruler to get the correct seam allowance.

Image showing how to line up a quilting ruler to obtain a half inch seam allowance on the patchwork block
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Step Seven:

Layout your cut pieces to decide what order you want to patchwork them together in (I wanted alphabetical order for this panel but it might be as simple as what looks pretty!)

Step Eight:

If there are any “gaps” in the layout (for example where you don’t want two patches of the same colour next to each other) cut panels to fill the gaps. I used plain coloured quilting cotton in coordinating colours and laminated each piece as before.

In order to make the envelope type flap you will need to add four extra “patches” that are cut diagonally to create the shape

I used one of the printed panels as a template to cut the rectangles.

Three image collage showing the steps of cutting the diagonal patches
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I then lined the quilting ruler up so that the line half an inch in from the edge rested on the exact diagonal.  When you cut with the rotary cutter you then have a panel the correct size with a seam allowance.

Step Nine:

At this point I usually take a photo with my phone so that I can remember what the order was that I liked.

Pay Attention - if your pattern only makes sense in one direction lay out your patches to accommodate this. Click To Tweet

Image of patchwork squares being photographed with a mobile phone
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Step Ten:

Using the sewing machine (set to a medium length straight stitch) sew together rows of patches (you will sew the columns together later)

Step Eleven:

From the back of the fabric press the seam allowances left on one row and and to the right on the next (why, will become clear!) Use a pressing movement, rather than a normal ironing one.  If the iron moves around too much it curls the edges of the fabric/vinyl mix and that is really annoying!

Photo of iron pressing seam allowances of patchwork blocks in one direction
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Close up image showing seam allowances pressed in opposite directions on next door rows
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Step Twelve:

Trim all the ends of thread off of your sewn rows so that they don’t get in the way and tangle up in the next stage of the patchwork.

Image showing scissors trimming ends of threads from patchwork rows
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Step Thirteen:

“Nest” the patches of the rows together (this was why you pressed the seam allowances in opposite directions) and then use clips to hold the two rows together whilst you stitch.

Close up shot showing the seams of the patches being nested into accurate positions.
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Using clips (pins will make holes in the vinyl) clip the row into position and sew. (If you need to, use an air vanishing maker to mark your stitching line across plain panels). Use the photo for reference to make sure that you get the rows in the right order and the right way up!

Collage showing preparing the rows for sewing together
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That is it! Phase One is complete!

Photograph of the completed patchwork section
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Next week  Phase Two – Quilting and Assembly.

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