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How to Piece Patterned Fabrics

How to Piece Patterned Fabrics

By Janelle Cahoon, Quiltcentric

Sometimes when you’re cutting from fabric that should be just barely big enough you make a mistake or you find out there wasn’t quite enough fabric after all and you’re left with only scraps to try to eke out an extra piece or two.  All you can do is piece the scraps together as best you can.

You see this done often in antique quilts, where the makers were determined to use even the smallest scraps.  A lot of the time in antique quilts there was apparently no effort made to match the patterns at all when a fabric had to be pieced together to cut the desired shape.  Sometimes it would even be on the bias, if that’s what was needed to make up the needed size.

Today we usually want to try to match the pattern, so the piecing is less obvious.  If you haven’t done this before it can look challenging, but it really isn’t as complicated as it looks.  This is the technique I use:


  1. First, cut out the piece you need, even though it will be “missing” a part.quiltcentric_piece_step_1
  2. Take the section you’ve got (the one you want to use in your piece) and fold back ¼ inch “seam allowance” on the side of the shape that’s going to need some extra added, pressing it so it stays back.quiltcentric_piece_step_2
  3. Now move that piece over the remaining fabric.  You’ve got to find the spot where it matches exactly.quiltcentric_piece_step3
  4. Carefully flip the pressed fabric forward onto the other piece so they’re face-to-face – it’s important not to shift the fabrics.
  5. Pin the ¼ inch “seam allowance” section onto the new fabric section.quiltcentric_piece_step_5
  6. Flip open again to be sure the matching is still perfect.  If not, try again. If yes, proceed.
  7. Once pinned with a perfect match it’s time to sew the seam, exactly on the pressed seam line.quiltcentric_piece_step7
  8. With the pieces face-to-face, trim the big hunk of excess new fabric that’s on one side of the seam allowance so that it matches the correct seam allowance.quiltcentric_piece_step8
  9. Unfold again and re-cut the piece, now that you have the added section to fill in the missing part.quiltcentric_piece_step9
  10. Here’s the finished pieced-fabric piece.  The seam line for the added section is nearly invisible, and you won’t notice the piecing at all once you’ve finished your project.quiltcentric_pieces_step10


Do you have a quilt-related technique to share?  Write it up and submit it through the Contact link, above!

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