Quilting For Beginners Start Today

Quilting For Beginners


Let’s Start Quilting

Though it might seem as a daunting task,Quilting and making a quilt is not as complicated as it seems. There has never been a better time for a beginner to learn about quilt making, because of the large number of resources available, both in printed form (books, magazines) and on the web.


Layers of a Quilt

Understanding the steps involved in making a quilt will help a beginner before starting to sew their first quilt. A quilt is composed of three layers, a “top”, the upper layer that can either be made with pieced blocks or appliquéd. The back layer is called “backing”, and it’s usually a plain cloth layer. Between the two, batting is sandwiched to give the quilt warmth and dimension. These three layers are joined together with quilting stitches, either by hand or machine. When the three layers are quilted together, a binding is applied all around the edges to finish the quilt.


Make Some Decisions

Before you start making your first quilt you need to make several important decisions and purchase the materials necessary to make your first quilt.


-Pick a pattern: making your first quilt should be a pleasant experience, not a frustrating one. Beginners should start sewing a simple pattern and keep the overall size of the quilt small. A wallhanging made with four blocks is a great way to try your hand at quilting. Blocks that use square patches are easy to sew (Nine Patch, Four Patch and their variations are good choices for a beginner).


-Choose fabric for your top and backing: One hundred percent quilt fabric is the best choice for quilts. Pick cotton fabrics that are neither too loosely woven, nor too tight.

Color choices should reflect your personal taste. You will need a background fabric, a dominant fabric and one or two more in complimentary colors. Buy a little more fabric than the pattern recommends, in case you make mistakes.

Backing fabric: It needs to be as wide as the quilt top, plus four inches.

Whichever fabric you decide to use for your quilt backing, avoid using sheeting material. Fabric intended for sheets has a high thread count that makes quilting difficult.


-Batting: picking the right batting can be confusing for a beginner quilt maker. There are several types of batting available. Cotton/polyester batting (an 80/20 blend) is a good choice for a beginner quilt maker. It is easy to quilt, it doesn’t shrink as much as cotton and it fibers don’t migrate like polyester.


-Purchase basic supplies: depending on the way a beginner plans on sewing and quilting their first quilt, the list of supplies will change. A sewing machine and an iron will be the most expensive items to buy. Do a little research before you purchase these items. A rotary cutter, mat and acrylic rulers make cutting fabric easy even for a beginner. Of course you will need basic sewing supplies, pins, cotton thread, scissors, needles if you plan on hand piecing or quilting, and a thimble. A seam ripper is also very useful to undo stitches if there is a need.


Watch Your Step

Once all the supplies, pattern and fabric have been chosen, a beginner quilt-maker is ready to start. Pre-wash all the fabric you bought, press it flat. Understanding the pattern is the first step towards successfully completing a quilt. Read the cutting and piecing directions carefully. Remember the adage “measure twice, cut once”. Cut all the pieces required, then prepare to sew. A quarter inch seam allowance is the standard when piecing quilt blocks. Take your time, be as accurate as you can. Follow the piecing sequence for the pattern you chose. Press the seam allowances flat and to one side as you go. Try to press them so they will “interlock” with the other seam allowances to reduce bulk. Once a block is completed, press it flat. Try not to move the iron too much to reduce distortion.



Once the pattern blocks are sewn, they are ready to be assembled to make the quilt top. The quilt top and backing fabric need to be pressed before assembling the three layers in preparation for quilting. Backing, batting and quilt top have to be stretched on a flat surface and basted together. Allow an extra two inches all around when cutting the batting and backing. You can baste with either needle and thread or with safety pins. As you baste, make sure there are no wrinkles on any of the layers. When the three layers are basted together all the way to the edge, the quilt is ready for quilting.

Quilting itself might be the one step that seems the hardest for a beginner quilt-maker. It is really not that hard. A first quilt can be simply quilted with straight lines, stitched by machine or hand. The important thing to remember is that the quilting lines must be evenly spaced within the quilt. Do not leave large areas unquilted, as the batting there will tend to shift. The more quilting you add to the quilt, the more dimension and durability.



When the quilt has been completely quilted, it is ready for binding. Bias tape can be made from one of the fabrics purchased or it can be bought already made. The binding tape is sewn all the way around the edges on the front of the quilt, then folded back and stitched down. There are very good tutorials on binding available on the web. A few tips for the beginner quilter when it comes to binding:

-Measure the sides of the quilt and apply the exact amount of binding, so the sides of the quilt will be square and won’t ripple.

-Try to space the seams on the binding so they won’t be placed on the corners.

-Binding needs to be full. Don’t cut the extra batting and backing until you know how much you need to “fill” the binding.

-Tack down the corner folds of your binding by hand stitching for durability and neatness.


Don’t forget to sign and date the back of your quilt! Your first quilt is a milestone you will always remember

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