Hi there, Amanda from @broadclothstudio here! I love math, I really do. And I really love “quilt math”: figuring out the most efficient way to cut out all my patchwork pieces is like a fun puzzle to me! But sometimes even I don’t really feel up to doing all the calculations. I kinda just want to throw caution to the wind, roll up my sleeves, and start sewing. So, in honour of those days when I just can’t be bothered, here’s my “No Pattern (Just a Little) Minimal Math” way of figuring out the patchwork for a quilted coat just like the Hovea Quilt Coat & Jacket!
Quilt jackets and coats are the perfect opportunities to have some fun with your patchwork without a pattern! Now, that can be overwhelming for some folks, especially if you haven’t done a lot of patchwork before. So, to help alleviate some of the anxiety around having to do math or make an entire quilt top to just cut off, here’s my “three-step approach” to how I approach making my patchwork “fabric” without a pattern:
- Decide on the type and size of the patchwork blocks you want to make
- Figure out how many blocks you’ll need (by literally counting)
- Figure out how many precuts/how much yardage you’ll need
Okay, okay, sure, this assumes that you won’t be doing anything more complicated than a mix of squares and triangles, but don’t let that be a buzzkill! What I love about this kind of patchwork is that it’s a mix of straightforward constructions with a haphazard layout that’s just so much fun to watch come to life.
- Quilting ruler (my 6.5in x 12.5in is a go-to)
- Cutting mat
- Yardstick or a measuring tape (or a big quilting ruler if you’ve got one handy)
- Fabric pen/pencil/chalk
- Rotary Cutter (scissors will work too)
- Plus your usual sewing equipment (machine, thread etc)
No quilting ruler? You can get away without one by making a square template out of paper and tracing it on the back of your squares before cutting them out with scissors. I used to cut out all my patchwork pieces this way, so I can attest that it can be done!
Decide on your patchwork: squares or squares + triangles
The first step to take is to decide what kind of patchwork you want to make. Do you want to do just square patches? Do you want to add in some triangles? How about some other, smaller triangles? For my Hovea quilt coat, I decided to do a mix of square patches, half square triangles (HST), and quarter square triangles (QST). I’ve always loved scrappy quilts and this mix felt like the perfect way to lean into that vibe!
My next decision was to figure out what size the blocks would be. After some indecision (and a couple Pinterest searches for “Quilt Coat”), I decided that I wanted all my blocks to be 6”.
And here is where a little math sneaks in. Since I knew I wanted to use HSTs and QSTs, I knew that I’d have to factor in how much fabric would get “eaten” when constructing them. Fortunately, the math isn’t hard! To get all my pieces to 6”, I needed to add the following to each of my measurements to start to get my “starting” square size:
- Square Patch: +0.5in (so 6.5in for my coat)
- HST Patch: +1in (7in)
- QST Patch: +1.5 (7.5in)
Wondering what size square you’ll need? Curious as to how to make HSTs and QSTs? I’ve got all the math over on Broadcloth Studio dot com!
If this kind of math is too much, that’s okay, you can easily make a quilt coat with just square patches and skip all the triangles and all the cutting! How you ask? Let me introduce you to Pre-cuts. They’re fabulous, fun, and an easy way to buy lots of different fabric prints without ending up with lots of extra yardage and take the heavy lifting of cutting out of the equation. Standard square precuts come in three sizes:
- Mini Charm (also called “Candy”) – 2.5in x 2.5in
- Charm – 5in x 5in
- Layer Cakes – 10in x 10in
If that’s more your speed, make sure to check them out!
Methodology: grid and count
Once you’ve decided on what kind of patchwork you’re going to do and the size of your patches, then you get to lay out the grid of your patchwork before counting how many patches you’ll need. Yes, it really is that simple.
At this point, I grabbed my quilting ruler and a highlighter and marked out a 6in grid directly on my Hovea pattern. And then I counted up the boxes. For the squares that didn’t quite fit perfectly, I counted them as one if they were roughly half a square or bigger.
Once I had counted all my squares, I doubled them as needed (two sleeves, two front pieces, etc) and added them all up. And then I divided them by three to figure out how many Square, HST, and QST patches I’d be making…which is exactly the number of starting squares I’d need of each!
At this point, you may be asking “but how did you know that you needed that many squares to make your mix of squares and triangles?” That’s the best part of this kind of quilt: no matter how I divide up the patches between squares, HSTs, and QSTs, the number of fabric squares I put in will create the number of final patches I need (two squares make two HSTs; four squares make four QSTs, etc).
Once I knew how many starting squares of each I’d need, I figured out how much yardage I would need. The great thing about quilting cotton is that it typically has a 42in width of fabric (WOF). So I just figured out how many 6.5in/7in/7.5in squares would fit into 42in and roughly how many WOF strips I’d need of each of them and translated that into how many yards I’d need (I typically sketch out yardage on the back of a piece of paper).
And then I went to the fabric store to see what fabrics I wanted to play with. I found seven fabrics that looked great together and did some back of the envelope math to figure out how much of each I’d need to have enough squares. And that was all of my math!
Time to Patchwork
Once I washed and ironed my fabric, I started sewing my triangles together (you can read more about making QSTs here and HSTs here). Then I trimmed them and my squares all down to my unfinished block size (6.5in unfinished to get my 6in finished patch size).
When it came time to sew them all together, I laid them out over the pieces of my pattern and sewed them together that way to roughly fit the size of the coat pieces as required. If I had sewn them all together into a large piece of patchwork “fabric” I would have needed more patches to fill in the excess. One word of warning: when making patchwork, you’re always working with a 0.25in seam allowance!
Once I had all my oversized pieces, I then quilted them before sewing them all together. And I couldn’t be happier with how my patchwork party turned out: it’s the perfect amount of haphazard!
| LOOKING FOR MORE HOVEA POSTS? |
Here’s the full list of Hovea inspiration and ideas:
- Inspiration & Ideas for Hovea
- Hovea Tester Roundup & Hovea Curve Tester Roundup
- Traditional Korean Textile Arts with Youngmin Lee
- Beginner Quilting concepts with The Weekend Quilter
- Top 10 tips from a quilters first journey into Me Made Clothing with Shannon Fraser
- Introduction to Indian Kantha Quilting with Manjari Singh
- Simple Log Cabin patchwork tutorial with Scribbly Gum Quilting Co
- Wholecloth quilting with Natalie Ebaugh
- Introduction to Japanese textiles and embroidery with Mari Yamada
- How to make a patchwork quilt design without a pattern with Broadcloth Studio (this post!)
- Modern Quilting with Porfiria Gomez
Here’s the full list of Hovea tutorials & Hacks:
- Sewalong | How to Choose Between Hovea & Hovea Curve
- Sewalong | Common Hovea pattern alterations
- Sewalong | Quilting prep
- Sewalong | Quilting Design & Planning
- Sewalong | Tips for machine quilting
- Sewalong | Tips for making a patchwork jacket from scrap fabrics
- Sewalong | Basic Binding Method for quilt coats
- Sewalong | Pockets and Seams Quilted Views BDF
- Sewalong | Inset Sleeves Quilted Views BDF
- Sewalong | Final Finishes Quilted View BDF
- Pattern Hack | Sewing a Hovea Dressing gown
- Pattern Hack | How to make a quilt coat from a vintage bed quilt
- Sewalong | Unlined pockets Views ACE
- Sewalong | Lined pockets Views ACE
- Sewalong | Flat Sleeve Insertion Views ACE
- Sewalong | Ties & Hang Loop Views ACE
- Sewalong | Hemming Unlined Views ACE
- Sewalong | Full Lining Views ACE
- Sewalong | Collar band Views ACE
- Sewalong | Belt & Belt Loops Views ACE
Don’t have the pattern yet?!