Sewing Sampler Quilt


Students create a quilt sampler composed of 12 fabric squares to demonstrate a variety of hand-sewing and machine-sewing techniques learned in the first class sessions of Costume Construction class.

Length of Activity

Month-Long Project

Activity Objectives

Students will learn and demonstrate competence of a variety of sewing skills most commonly used in the costume shop for sewing, alteration, and repairs.

Students will demonstrate the ability to assemble a series of smaller parts into a whole.

Students will create a map/key for the project to show where each demonstrated skill is located.

Activity Goals

The main goal of the Sewing Sampler project is to give all of the students in the class a toolbox of skills to use on future projects. The project aims to give basic familiarity with a wide range of hand- and machine-sewing skills that may be used for the next projects: sewing a standard garment from a commercial pattern, draping, and a final project. Students who are new to sewing can learn the skills, while students with previous experience can hone existing skills or challenge themselves further with how the skills are demonstrated on the sampler.

Sampler Example
Sampler Detail


Project Assignment Sheet:

Sewing Sampler (20% of Course Grade)

Costume Construction: THE108

You will be assembling a sampler or “quilt” of 12 equal squares (6” or larger), showing a variety of hand and machine sewing techniques. Each of the 12 squares, when completed, will be finished off and sewn together in a quilt pattern of your choice to become a record of your work and to serve as a measure of your skill-level and commitment to quality in your work. As such, you will be graded on completion, quality, and commitment to the project.

Be careful. Be concise. Be creative! Take pride in what you are able to accomplish. The specifics of each square will be discussed in detail in class. THIS ASSIGNMENT IS DUE:

Square #1               At least 6 rows of parallel machine stitches (straight, zigzag and choice)

Square #2               Circle patterns of machine stitches (at least 3)

Square #3               Curved and free-form rows of machine stitches (can be shapes)

Square #4               Angle (maze pattern or other 90 degree angles) of machine stitches

Square #5               Button (w/thread shank) & machine buttonhole, snap, hook & bar (hand sewn)

Square #6              Rows of 7 basic hand stitches (running stitch, backstitch, prick stitch, cross stitch,

hemming stitch, locked hemming stitch, & slip-stitch) at least 5” sample of each

Square #7               Two seam finishes (bias tape edging and zig-zag edging)

Square #8               Seams: Single or Double top-stitched seam, French seam, Flat-felled seam, &

under-stitched seam

Square #9              Gathers/Ruffles

Square #10            Pleats (chose at least two: box, single, cartridge) and at least 2 darts (plain and football)

Square #11             Zipper (centered or lapped application)

Square #12            Name or Initials

Helpful hints:

  • You may wish to draw out some of your patterns with chalk or erasable fabric marker before sewing.
  • Be sure to rinse out markings before turning in. Tailor’s chalk works well on dark fabric & irons out.
  • Remember that you will need to have a seam allowance of at least ½”, so if you wanted 6” finished squares with a ½” seam allowance you will need to cut your squares to 7”.
  • Chose thread colors that will show up well (contrast) on your fabric for this project.
  • Match up squares carefully & don’t forget to press seams open.
  • All raw edges must be finished off using one of the techniques we discuss in class. Trim off any loose thread tails before turning in project. You may add a back/quilting to sampler or not.
  • Feel free to use a less conventional quilt configuration and/or chose a theme/color scheme for the quilt!
  • Please include a paper “key” or map that shows the location of each of your numbered squares.

Sewing Sampler Project Grade Rubric:

25 pts MACHINE STITCHING & ZIPPER     (Squares #1-4 and 11)

25 pts HAND STITCHING (Squares #5 & 6: Seven hand-stitches, button, button-hole, snap, hook & eye)


10 pts DESIGN & CREATIVITY (Includes Name Square #12)



 Time Required

I teach this project over the first week of an intensive 3 ½ week course in Costume Construction. The students are in class 3-4 hours/day for active hands-on instruction and put in additional studio hours outside of class to complete the project. So, in a regular semester, this project might be closer to a month-long project. In all, students put in roughly 10-12 hours of learning/practicing time in class and another 10-20 hours outside of class (studio time and afternoon/evening hours) to complete the project.

Because the sewing machine is required for a large portion of the project, I encourage the students to do as much of the hand-sewing at home as they can so they may use their on-site time on the machines. The more the students can actively participate in hands-on skill-learning (sewing at the same time as the teacher), the better for really learning the skills. If a student assistant can be utilized, this can be a great help, as so much of the teaching ends up having a one-on-one component.

Whenever a student needs a refresher on how to do a skill during work-time, I’ll yell out “I’m showing gathers/seams, etc!” and anyone who is shaky on a skill can come see it demonstrated again.

Required Materials

  • Fabric (I let the students use our scrap fabric for this project and make sure I approve all of their choices—ex: that quilting cotton might be a better choice than the stretch sequin or silk charmeuse)
  • Thread (regular for machine and silamide/hi-mark for hand-sewing)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Serger/overlocker (could be done without, but I like to have them serge all of the squares to get comfortable with the serger)
  • Hand-sewing needle (thimble, if desired)
  • Notions: Four hole button, hook and eye/bar, sew-on snap, zipper (7”)
  • Quilt batting (totally optional)
  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
  • A 6.5” x 6.5” clear quilter square is a handy tool for cutting in this project or a clear 18” ruler is great, too
  • Tailor’s chalk or washable fabric marker


The teacher can swap out any skills as they find useful for their own students. I have modified my list of required skills for the project over the years to what best fits the needs of my own shop and skills that I like to know my students have in their arsenal when they come to work in the shop (I pull all of my work study students from those who have successfully completed this course).

Samplers could also be made more uniform for ease of grading (this one takes some time commitment to grade), but I have always found the students enjoy the project more when they have the freedom to choose their own design. I have had students create pillows, pillowcases, skirts, scarves, and even a pair of dice from the sampler project. Students can opt to purchase their own fabric (ex: I had a student make a Barbie-themed sampler), but typically, the scrap fabric we all have around works great.

Farm-Themed Sampler


Here’s my grade sheet for the project. I typically give some positive written feedback, as well as guidance on ways to improve. I give points for any attempt at each of the skills and higher points for successful demonstration of the skill.

Costume Construction T108       Sewing Sampler Project Grade

/25     MACHINE STITCHING & Zipper (Squares #1-4 and 11)

/5 rows of machine stitching

/5 circle patterns

/5 curved rows

/5 angle/maze pattern

/5 zipper (centered or lapped application)

/25     HAND STITCHING (Squares #5 & 6)

/3 button

/2 running stitch

/2 backstitch

/2 button hole

/2 prick stitch

/2 cross stitch

/3 hook & eye

/2 hemming stitch

/2 locked hemming stitch

/3 snap

/2 slip stitch

/25     SEAMS, EDGE-FINISHES, GATHERS & PLEATS (Squares #7-10)

/4 two seam finishes (bias tape edging and zig-zag edging)

/2 single or double top-stitch

/3 under-stitched seam

/2 French seam

/2 flat felled seams

/6 pleats (choose 2–box, single, cartridge)

/3 gathers/ruffles

/3 2 darts

/10  DESIGN & CREATIVITY (includes name square #12)



/100 TOTAL



-Jenny Nutting Kelchen (adapted from original project by Laura Thudium Zieglowsky)