MAKE YOUR OWN FABRIC : MILE a Minute technique ….

I first learned to MAKE FABRIC when I took a class at my local sewing bee back in 2005.  The instructor was snow bird and she had learned it the previous winter in Texas.  She came back in taught it to us.  Since then I learned several other methods.  I am going to post pictures of how to make your own fabric … my way.  I will post pictures and directions.  I will post tips about the methods and what makes the techniques I use better.

It starts with what you as a quilter have. I noted some of the tutorials actually cut yardage into chunks to use in their made fabric.   I use scraps and I have tons of them… going back 20 years or more.  As I pull out the fabric I discard any that are cheap, sub-standard fabrics…. Unless the fabric had meaning to me … i.e. fabrics from my mom, daughter, and family or special past projects.  If the fabric was questionable I just ironed on to fusible interface to reinforce it and used it anyways.  Once the fabric is made there are different ways of using the self-made fabric in your quilting.


I have noted that the SELF MADE FABRIC of today seems to be different from the techniques and style of fabric I have made in the past.   This is not a criticism but an observation.  I think a lot has to do with what fabric scraps the maker has available.  Many of the fabrics are blockier because they are made from strips, squares, blocks of fabric.  My SELF-MADE FABRIC tends to be wonkier and more angled because I use a lot of shaped blocks and I trim at angles. 



This was the first self- made fabric technique I learned, it was taught at the sewing bee I mentioned before.  What was really fun as everyone brought a pound of their fabrics in a bag then we threw the fabric scraps into the middle of the table.  ( We had set the rule the smallest scrap had to be at least 1-1/2 inches square.)  Strips, chunks, ugly fabric whatever we wanted to use.  Our instructor said not to try and control our fabrics … but of course I did.  I personally dislike scrappy quilts that mix types of fabrics together… I like muted, grey fabrics with other muted grey fabrics … and bright clear colors with other bright clear colored fabrics.  I mostly do not like them mixed together.  We were suppose to just grab a hunk of fabric and use it in our self-made fabric.  I, all ways the rebel, cherry picked my fabrics and only used contemporary, more modern, bright colored fabrics.

I will say that this block is often my leaders and ender projects or mindless sewing project at the end of a sewing session.  I do several blocks at a time in that I sew my retro, muted fabric into one block and modern, bright fabric into another and I do not use the same blocks in the same quilt.  If the scrap does not look good in the block I am making it does not go in.



Take a strip of fabric at least one inch wide. I often have wider because that is what I have in my scrap bag. 

Chain piece hunks of scraps selected willy-nilly down the strip.

1 sew on string 1965

Trim your fabric strips apart. I usually angle my cuts but you can cut the fabric straighter ….. it is up to you.   You now have the start of your blocks. 


I press as I go as I use a small travel iron right next to the sewing machine. The pad is on a TV table.  I also have a medium cutting mat and rotary cutter on another TV table next to my sewing machine within reach. 


.2a trim _1966-r


2-trim 1967

I sew my first patches to a new strip or to another hunk of fabric, once again depends upon what you have in your scrap bag.  Trim your patches and repeat the process until the SELF MADE FABRIC is the size you want or need.

As I progress I make sure to off -set the first patches so that the patches are not all in the center of the fabric I am making. I like a more eclectic, mixed look to my patches even though they have a lot of the same fabric scraps in the blocks.  I do try to mix up the fabric patches with different scraps so the blocks do not look the same.

3- continue to sew & trim 1969

I try to sew the added patches in a circular pattern similar to log cabin application.  That usually results in an interesting block.  Also adding triangles or hexagon shapes to the block  adds interesting angles.

4 - keep growing -1970




When the fabric is large enough I square it up to the correct size.  12.5 inch square is my favorite size.  Any cut off segments can be used on a different block.   

5- square up -1971



As I progress the block I use bigger strips of fabric to the outside of the block.  I dislike seams and small chunks of fabric on the outside as it tend to make the seams bulky.

You can make the seam allowance open or to the side that is a personal preference.  Opening the seams is time consuming so I usually just press them to the side.

Be sure your block is flat.  Press as you go with and iron or finger press.  I have seen blocks made that puffed in the middle looking like D cup breast… This is usually cause by poor technique not taking the time to trim well or press as you go.   

Style wise I try to keep different style of fabrics seperated …. brights and contemporary does not get into blocks with repro, muted, greyed fabrics.   I just think the patches look better that way..




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4 thoughts on “MAKE YOUR OWN FABRIC : MILE a Minute technique ….

  1. I just finished a pieced back – a big fourpatch, yellow in one corner, blue, red and green on the others. They’re separated by blue fabric in the shape of a cross. I don’t like a big mishmash so doing 4 separate squares was more pleasing to my eye. I cut odd angles off so I could deal with easier seams. Not bad looking. If only I knew how to post pictures.

    1. Join the TWILTER group on facebook …. we can walk you thru posting pictures there. Just put TWILTERS in the facebook search…. Your back sounds nice… I am fond of 4patches.

      Thank you for the comments … nice to know someone is listening.

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