Patchwork in-the-hoop is the method of creating patchwork blocks using your embroidery machine. It is a matter of hooping stabilizer or background fabric, and then following the instructions to create a patchwork block that looks like you made it the traditional way. Essentially, patchwork in-the-hoop is a form of foundation piecing with your embroidery machine.
Some of our blocks will have additional elements that a traditional method does not require like embroidery designs, appliqué, and decorative stitching.
Tools used in our patchwork in-the-hoop products
Yip, you'll need one of these. Read my blog post on the topic to help you decide. Essentially you need at least a 5x7" hoop. As for the sewing machine, straight stitching is all you need, with some specialist feet like a 1/4" foot and a walking foot.
Essential! Build up a stash for your projects by adding a fat quarter here and there or using bundles. 100% cotton fabric is best, and try to stick to quilter's quality cotton. A full blog post on fabric is also available.
There is a large variety of batting available on the market, especially internationally. In South Africa, stick to a lightweight batting, as soft as you can get.
For some of the projects like the pincushion, you will need fibre fill. Scrap pieces of batting will also do the trick if you cut them in small pieces. I also like to use polypropylene balls to add some weight in projects like Fuzzy Wuzzy. These balls are small, hard plastic balls that are used for making shopping bags generally. Most teddy bear making shops will stock them.
Needles for your sewing machine, embroidery machine and for hand stitching. I am not a big fan of hand stitching, so don't expect many projects to need this! It is good practice to start every project with a new needle in your embroidery machine and for some large projects like the Medallion quilt you will need to change your needle regularly.
A rotary cutter helps to make sure you get smooth straight lines when cutting your fabric. I use it with a quilter's ruler on a cutting mat.
Embroidery scissors have a nice sharp and curved point to help get to small short pieces of thread. You will also need appliqué scissors. I prefer Fraliz classic embroidery scissors because the handle is raised and the point is curved. The duckbill scissors have never appealed to me.
For turning projects inside out you will need a tool that won't poke holes in your project and will ensure crispt neat corners. I use a "purple thang".
I use a fabric glue pen available from sew line. It is about the size of a fabric marker and has refills when you run out. It will also dissolve in water so it is not a permanent adhesion.
Spray glue is used when I have large pieces of fabric for appliqué. It adds stabilisation and makes sure you don't have puffy appliqué. This is also temporary and you can reposition the fabric. I don't use this over my embroidery hoops, but rather spray the fabric over a piece of flipchart paper laid out on the floor. Some of the glue will get on your embroidery hoop, and I use whiteboard cleaner to clean this off after every project.
I also use appliqué paper in many of my patchwork projects. You can read about this technique in the project instructions. You will need a mini iron to do this.
I do recommend that you invest in a mini iron if you want to do a lot of patchwork in the hoop. It makes your blocks much neater than when you only use a glue pen.
You will also need a home iron to press your fabric and to apply starch to your fabric before cutting. I have a steam station that only uses steam for heat which is great when you use alternative fabric and it doesn't burn your embroidery thread. A dry iron works best for appliqué paper and starching.
Any tape will work really, whether it's masking tape or scotch transparent tape, but I prefer to use painter's tape. It's blue in colour and it doesn't have as much tack as some of the other tapes. This means that it doesn't leave any residue on your fabric, and it is safe to press over it. Tape is used to keep webbing or ribbon and sometimes fabric in place while making projects in-the-hoop.
Amazing as it may sound, this little gadget is wonderful for removing loose threads and fluff from your projects.
Do I really need to mention these? Well, threads are available in different weights. I mostly use machine embroidery thread, even for my quilting. It gives quilts a lovely sheen. To make patchwork I use a 40wt but for quilting, I sometimes go lighter.
Winding up multiple bobbins before you start your project will help save some time during the process. You can also use prewound bobbins if you have them available.
Pins are also available in a menagerie of sizes nowadays. Use some that have glass heads so that they don't melt, and also keep quilter's safety pins on hand.