Modern pojagi patchwork seam tutorial

sample seam with title "modern pojagi patchwork seam tutorial"

Modern pojagi patchwork is not like normal quilting. It is a single layer of fabric and is reversible. There are no exposed raw edges or seam allowances; no “right side” and “wrong side”.

It is based on traditional pojagi – an ancient Korean fibre art. Women of the past used fabric to make wrapping cloths to protect and store household items. Sometimes they were whole cloth or embroidered, but often they were patchwork made of clothing scraps.

Today pojagi has moved beyond wrapping cloths and the techniques are used for many items – both functional and decorative.

The Korean term for this seam technique is “hot po” which means “single”. Traditionally it is done by hand, but this technique is done with a sewing machine, which is much faster.

fabric window hanging in greens that looks like stained glass.

Pojagi can be done with many different types of fabric, but one of the best options for westerners is batiks.  They are reversible and beautiful and the weight is easy to work with. Most importantly, they are readily available.

Contrasting thread is shown in the sample, and in pojagi, contrasting thread is normally used. The stitching is part of the design and is meant to be seen, not hidden. It is quite common to use a high contrast colour.

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There are two different methods for doing this seam. If you only have two pieces of fabric, it is easier to use the simple pojagi seam method.

If you are joining two pieces that have a seams in them, this will be the method to use.

1. Baste

To begin, lay the two pieces next to each other, as they will be in the finished project. Then slide one over the other so that they slightly overlap (about 1/8 – 3/16″). It doesn’t matter which one is on top.

two strips of fabric basted together on the long edge

If you are joining long pieces, it will be helpful to pin together to hold while you are stitching.

With a long machine stitch, baste the two pieces together. After the basting, they should still lay flat, or the finished piece will not be flat.

2. Fold & Press

Fold the bottom piece over the top piece and then press.

two strips of fabric basted together and folded.

Here is the piece pressed and ready to go. The fold-over at the top is just under 1/4″. Don’t worry about exact measurements. Just try to keep it straight and flat.

3. Stitch

strips of fabric stitched together

Sew with a regular stitch length just past the edge of the folded-over fabric. The seam allowance will be just over 1/4″. Approximate is good enough. Usually the edge of the presser foot is a good guide.

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4. Open & Press

stitched fabric with seam pressed open.

Press the seam open. The seam allowance is there, but it is loose.

5. Stitch

Topstitch along the edge of the seam to keep it down. You can use an edge stitching foot if it is easier, but with practice you can just eyeball it.

reversible pojagi seam

You’re done!

On one side of the finished piece, you see two stitching lines. On the other side, you only see one stitching line, but the seam is finished on both sides. These sides are interchangeable. All the raw edges are tucked away inside.

If you do garment sewing, this seam might look familiar to you as it’s basically a flat fell seam. Using this in patchwork will open a world of possibilities. Use it in curtains that look like stained glass!


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sample seam with title "how to sew a modern pojagi patchwork seam"
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Elizabeth DeCroos - Epida Studio.

Elizabeth DeCroos

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.

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