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Have you decided to tackle the seemingly daunting challenge of your first quilt? Would you be surprised if I told you it's actually not all that hard to learn how to make a quilt for beginners?
When I started quilting, I had a great teacher (thanks, Mom!), and I can assure you that a good quilting mentor makes all the difference. Ever since that very first quilt, I've been slightly obsessed—not to mention totally in love—with the process. So, I promise you, with a few of my tips and tricks in your pocket, you'll be well on your way to creating beautiful, heirloom-quality quilts that will be passed down for generations. And the best part is, learning how to quilt is easy with my step-by-step guide!
I find quilting to be both relaxing and so rewarding. Follow these simple steps below or watch the video to learn how to make a quilt using a standard sewing machine.
After gathering your supplies, place your main fabric on a Fiskars cutting mat and cut to 62" x 29" using the Fiskars 45 mm rotary cutter and a Fiskars ruler connector set to help you make longer cuts.
If you are not comfortable using a rotary cutter, you can use a Fiskars table-top shears that minimize fabric lift from the table, helping keep cuts straight.
Cut five strips of contrast fabrics measuring the following:
Using your sewing machine, sew the contrast fabric strips together with ¼" seam allowance.
Place the sewn fabric strips on the ironing board with the wrong side of the fabric facing you. Press each of the seams towards the darker fabric.
Pin the contrast fabric strips to the main fabric and sew.
Use shears to cut thick batting at least 2" larger than the quilt top. Use shears that help keep materials flat on your surface for straight cuts like these like Fiskars table-top shears.
Use the rotary cutter, rulers and ruler connector to cut two lengths of backing fabric to 62" in length. Sew the two pieces together to give you a backing that is big enough for the entire quilt.
With the seam in the center, trim the backing fabric at least 2" larger than the quilt top using either your rotary cutter or scissors.
Pin the quilt top, batting and backing fabric together, or use quilt adhesive to secure all layers.
Quilt as desired. I measured and marked three lines 1" apart every 4" using a heat erase marking pen, as a guide for quilting. The pen lines are erased with the iron.
Use the rotary cutter and acrylic ruler to cut seven 2½" wide strips.
Sew the strips together. Check that they are long enough to go around the entire perimeter of the quilt. Place two strips together with the right sides facing each other. The strips should be perpendicular to each other. Sew across the diagonal. Trim the excess by ¼".
Using your iron, press the entire length of binding in half.
Place the binding against the edge of the quilt. The raw edge of the binding should align with the raw edge of the quilt. Sew the binding to the right side of the quilt, a ¼" away from the edge. Leave a 3" tail at the beginning.
When you come to a corner, sew in a straight line until you are about ¼" away from the end. Pivot the quilt so that you finish stitching at a 45 degree angle to your seam. Remove the quilt from the machine and fold over the binding. Begin sewing again from the top of the new edge.
Fold the end of one binding tail to create a neat, folded edge. Place the second tail inside the folded end. Join the ends by sewing them together.
Use the Fiskars table shears to again trim the batting to ½" and then switch to your Fiskars original scissors or stick with your rotary cutter to trim the top to ½". Fold the binding and sew by hand to the wrong side of the quilt.
Learning how to make a simple quilt by hand is truly a lot easier than you may think. And once you have the basic quilting instructions down, it's just a matter of repeating the process. So, if you're looking for quilting for beginners-type directions, this is for you!
If this is your first quilt, go for a simple pattern for a small quilt. Limit your color pallet to a few colors or patterns and use a basic block pattern. Full squares or triangles made from half squares are good options for first-time quilters. Do you have a baby shower coming up? Baby quilts are smaller, so they're great for first projects. Keep in mind, you can also do a very basic "pattern" that doesn't require an actual pattern at all! With quilting, creativity is the name of the game!
You don't need a lot of tools to quilt but having everything you need on hand before you start is always a good idea. Be sure you read your pattern entirely, so you know how much and what kind of fabric to purchase. You'll also need backing fabric, thread, binding fabric and batting. If you don't have any sewing supplies, you should consider getting the tools listed below:
To make it even easier, you can start with a Fiskars beginner quilting set that contains many of the above listed tools.
This is sort of an "optional" step - but it's one I live by. Prewashing your fabric does two things: rinses any extra dye out of the fabric and shrinks it. Both of these things can ruin your quilt when you wash it for the first time. Higher quality fabrics generally don't have this issue, but better to be safe than sorry.
Before you cut your fabric, removing wrinkles will make the process much easier. Use your iron's steam setting if it has one.
After deciding how big you want your quilt to be, you can work backwards, determining the size of each square - remember to factor in a seam allowance. A good rule of thumb is to add ¼" per side. So, if you are making a quilt with 3" x 3" squares, you actually want to cut each square to 3½" x 3½". If you're using a pattern, the dimensions will be detailed for you. Once you've measured, you can cut each piece out to the determined size. You must be very accurate with your cuts. Use your clear acrylic ruler and your rotary cutter to cut each piece. Be sure you place the fabric on your cutting mat so you don't roll into the table or work surface underneath.
This is my favorite part! Lay your quilt out according to the finished design you want. Move pieces around, swap prints in different places. Let your creativity take over. This step is best done on the floor, where you can spread out. Once you're satisfied with the design, pick up your patches in rows, being careful to keep them in order. Working left to right, simply pick up and place each piece on top of the last from the previous row.
You want to take care to sew a perfectly straight seam so you don't end up with a puckered finish product or with unmatched seams as you work your way down the quilt. Sew several individual rows together. Remember - be careful to use a straight stitch and to be precise in your ¼" seam.
After you have all your long rows sewn together, you need to press the seams so they'll lay flat. Flip your quilt upside down, so the unfinished side is up. Iron each seam flat, alternating directions. The first row, iron the underside of the seam flat to the right side, the second row, iron flat to the left side and so on.
Once your rows are all together, it's time to sew each row to the next, again taking care to use a consistent, exact ¼" seam. Take row 1 and row 2, turn them both inward so the finished sides are facing one another. Sew, using a straight stitch just like you did when making the rows. Repeat until all your rows are aligned and sewn together.
This time, you'll iron the front side of your quilt. Use the same technique and process you did with the rows, alternating the direction you iron the underside seams flat.
You're now at the basting step. Basting will temporarily hold your quilt "sandwich" together - a quilt sandwich refers to all the layers of your quilt...the front, the batting (or stuffing) and the backing.
Correct order for layering quilt
Line up your quilt perfectly, working out any wrinkles and smoothing from the center out toward all directions. You can either use pins or basting adhesive spray.
If you use spray, you want to spray each layer before adding the next when you're making your sandwich. If you pin, you'd simply use safety pins starting in the center, and moving out in all directions. You could also opt to use both techniques—spraying and then pinning—if you want to be extra careful.
Decide how you want to stitch your quilt together before you start. You can be super fancy, or you can stick to a simple, straight lined, rowed pattern.
Binding gives a quilt that finished look you want, with a soft border all the way around the patchwork. There are several ways to bind your quilt, and ultimately the method you choose will just come down to personal preference.
There's no right or wrong answer in terms of "which is better" when it comes to hand quilting vs. machine quilting. For quilt making, the way you go about it really just comes down to a matter of choice.
Benefits of Machine Quilting
Drawbacks of Machine Quilting
Benefits of Quilting by Hand
Drawbacks of Quilting by Hand
More commonly known as patchwork quilts, the pieced is one of the most common of quilt styles - it's made up of patches of material pieced together.
Appliqué is a technique where you sew shapes onto a background to create a beautiful design.
This technique is quite popular these days. It's created by stitching your fabric design onto a patterned, oftentimes numbered paper foundation. Think of it like paint by numbers...only quilting.
Similar to regular paper piecing, English paper piecing is a traditional quilting style that uses shapes with many sides, like hexagons. Similar shapes are cut out of paper, and the fabric is folded and basted around them. Each individual shape is then whip stitched together by hand.
This heavy cotton is great for home quilters. It has a pretty sateen finish and doesn't drape due to its heavier weight. Keep in mind that because it's so heavy, you can use a light batting with this quilting material.
Widely considered one of the, if not the, best cotton fabrics to quilt with. Its high quality and it will shrink less than cheaper cotton versions.
This natural linen-cotton blend is by Robert Kaufmann and is loved by quilters all over, especially when combined with weighted styles of fabric.
A bit transparent, voile is a lightweight cotton that can almost be described as silky. It's a popular option for backing your quilt.
Another fabric by Robert Kaufmann, quilter's linen is actually made from cotton but has the look and feel of linen.
Most quilters use a simple running stitch when quilting by hand. Insert the needle through the front of the fabric, catch a little bit of the back and then reinsert through all the layers.
You make a quilt sandwich by placing all the layers together, including: the backing, the batting and the top of your quilt. Keep in mind that the bottom layer should be right side down, and the top should be right side up.
Batting is the cottony, thick material that goes in the center of your quilt. It’s what gives the quilt a “poofiness” once you stitch your pattern.
A quilter's knot is a very small knot that can go through one layer of fabric so you can hide the tail in between the fabric.
How long your quilting stitch should be really depends on if you're machine sewing or sewing your quilt by hand. If you're using a machine, set your stitch length to about 2½" - 3". If you're stitching by hand, you want about 8-12 stitches per inch.
Quilting blocks are any units you sew together. To create your quilt, you assemble all your quilt blocks together to form a pattern or design.
Quilting is actually a type of sewing. It's the process of stitching together two or more layers of fabric.