If you have seen my patterns, you have probably noticed my collection of window hangings. These patchwork window hangings look like stained glass. Even though they are patchwork, they are different from regular quilting.
If you are a quilter, you need to forget all of the quilting “rules” you have learned over the years. Even if you are a patchwork expert, this technique is different.
Here are the most common questions that I get asked about the patterns and the process of making them.
How are the black lines made?
Many people assume that the black lines are strips of black fabric.
There is no black fabric used in these pieces. The seams have many layers of fabric, and that stops the light from coming through. That is what gives it the stained glass effect.
What fabric should I use?
You can use any type of fabric for this technique, but I strongly recommend batik fabric for window hangings. Batik fabric is reversible, so you don’t need to worry about a right and wrong side. It is easy to find in any colour you would want, and it glows like stained glass in the light.
What colour thread should I use?
Thread colour is a personal choice. In traditional pojagi, which this technique is based on, a contrasting colour is used and stitches are visible.
So you could use a contrasting colour or try to match one of the colours you are piecing with.
No matter what colour you use, it will sometimes be a contrast to the fabric you are stitching on. You could rethread your machine every time to match the top and bottom fabrics, but I don’t recommend it.
If you are determined to have your threads match, the best option is something one of my students created. Use white thread, and then colour it with permanent markers to match the fabric after all the stitching has been done.
How do I do the seams?
There are a few different methods for making these seams. The finished seam looks the same, but they are put together differently.
Most commonly, you will use the Simple Pojagi Seam method. If you took home ec, you might recognize this as a flat fell seam. It is sometimes used in garment making, especially blue jeans.
The Simple Pojagi Seam can be difficult to press if you are joining pieces that have a lot of seams in them. (This isn’t usually a problem in garment making.) So if pressing is a problem, then the Regular Pojagi Seam is the solution.
The Regular Pojagi Seam is based on traditional pojagi hand-stitched seams.
Which side of the seam is the right side?
When you stitch the seam, you will notice that one side of the seam has two rows of stitching and the other side has only one row. By far the most common question that is asked in workshops is “How can I get all the seams the same way?”
If you are using this in a window hanging, trust me when I say that It Doesn’t Matter. These seams can be flipped and it won’t make a difference.
The stained glass effect is made because the seams are dark. This means that in a window, you can’t see the stitching.
Even in light where the stitching is visible, it is not noticeable unless you are standing very close.
There are always people that say “You say it doesn’t matter, but it matters to me. I want them all the same way.”
If that’s you, then I’m sure you can do it. But it will mean thinking through each piece and how it will fit in the finished project. My patterns are not written with that constraint in mind. Be sure to have your seam ripper handy!
I think pojagi should be a relaxing change from precision piecing. Seam allowances don’t have to be exact, and we don’t worry about matching seams. Trying to get all your seams the same direction just adds stress that doesn’t have to be there.
How do I hang it?
I like using clips on rings to hang it, but some people like to add a hanging sleeve or tabs. Any of those options works fine.
Will it fade in the sun?
Over time, it will fade in the sun. The time it takes to fade will be determined by the strength of the sun.
I have pieces that have hung in my windows for years. They are a bit faded, but they still look great.
My personal philosophy is that things should be used and enjoyed, not stored in closets to keep perfect. So if I use a window hanging every day for five years, and it gets worn out, that is okay with me.
Most people have more fabric in their stashes to make replacements!
More tips (things you didn’t ask)
Offset seams where possible
In quilting, people usually want the points to meet. It is very satisfying to make a block and have everything line up perfectly!
But pojagi seams have many layers of fabric. Matching seams will result in a lot of bulk. Whenever possible, offset them so that they lay beside each other and not on top. This will make stitching them much easier.
Don’t worry about precision piecing
Pojagi has a more modern, improv feel to it. Don’t worry about precision piecing.
Even within my patterns, there is room for small variations. Pieces are stitched and then cut down to size to allow for small differences in seam allowances, etc.
When students realize this in workshops, they start to relax. Even though it’s a new technique, it doesn’t have to be scary.
Relax and enjoy the process
Have fun with the technique.
Let go of your perfectionist tendencies and enjoy the process. The results will be beautiful.
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Elizabeth DeCroos is the designer and teacher at Epida Studio. She loves to work in quilting, pojagi and embroidery and teach these techniques to others.
Learn more and get her to speak to your group.