Quilts are often cherished because they’re made with great care and love. From the choice of fabric to the stitching details, quilts add a warm, personal, and colorful touch to any room. Making a quilt for the first time can seem overwhelming. This guide will walk you through all the essential tips, tools, and techniques you need to get started on your quilting journey.
1- Pick Your Pattern
The first step in making a quilt is picking a pattern that you love. The different types of quilts and patterns can seem intimidating for a beginner, but as long as you pick a simple pattern for a small quilt you’ll do fine. Quilt patterns made with larger pieces are much faster and less complicated to sew together than those with many small pieces.
Limit your color pallet to a few colors or patterns, and use a basic block pattern. You don’t have to use an intricate, complicated pattern to make a good quilt, simple basic patterns can look just as good. With quilting, it’s all about your personal taste and creativity.
2- Gather Your Tools and Materials
Be sure to study your pattern thoroughly so you know how much and what kind of fabric you need. In addition to the fabric for your quilt top, you’ll need fabric for the bindings and border, as well as backing fabric, high-quality thread, and batting (cotton or wool is recommended).
In addition to the fabrics you’ll need the following tools:
- Straight Pins
- Batting pins
- Sharp scissors or a rotary cutter (when using a rotary cutter you’ll also need a cutting mat and a clear ruler)
- Seam ripper
- Sewing machine
3- Prep Your Fabric
Prewash the fabric to rinse any extra dye out of the fabric and shrink it. High-quality fabrics usually don’t shrink or stain, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Before cutting your fabric, be sure to iron it first. Whether you’re a hardcore quilter or a beginner, you need to have a reliable steam iron on hand. According to the quilting pros at www.QuiltersReview.com, using a good steam iron to remove the wrinkles from your fabric is crucial. For a smooth quilting process, make sure your iron doesn’t leak or burn.
4- Measure and Cut Your Squares
After deciding how big you want your quilt to be, you can work backwards, determining the size of each patch. Remember to factor in the seam allowance. A general rule is to add a quarter of an inch per side.
Once you’ve finished measuring, start accurately cutting each piece out to the determined size. If you’re using a rotary cutter, make sure to use a clear ruler to cut straight, precise lines and have a cutting mat so you wouldn’t scratch the surface
underneath. If you’re using scissors, the easiest way to do this is to draw a grid on the back of the fabric, cut a four-inch strip of fabric and then cut that into a four-inch squares.
5- Lay Out Your Quilt
This is the fun part. Let your creativity take over and start laying your squares out on the floor, according to the final design you imagined. Swap prints in different places and move pieces around. Once you’re satisfied with the design, pick up your patches with respect to their order.
6- Assembling The Patches
With the predetermined placement in mind, start sewing your squares into rows. Take care to sew perfectly straight, precise lines, so you don’t end up with an asymmetrical quilt with uneven seams. Remember to use the quarter inch seam allowance.
7- Flatten Your Rows
The key to neat blocks is getting all the seams sewn flat. After you sew your rows together, flip your quilt upside down, so the unfinished side is up and thoroughly iron each seam so that they’ll all lay flat.
8- Sew Your Quilt Together
Once your rows are all together, it’s time to sew each row to the next. Sew using a straight stitch and make sure that all your rows are aligned. Again, take care to have a consistent quarter inch seam.
- Iron the Whole Quilt
Iron the finished front side of your quilt in alternating directions so that the underside is completely flat. Focus on where the blocks meet and make sure to flatten the seams.
- Quilt Sandwich
You’re now at the basting step which temporarily holds your quilt “sandwich” together. Choose a large spot on your floor and lay down your backing, batting and quilt top in the following order:
1- Backing: Lay your backing right side down so that when you’re done, the right side will be facing outwards. Cut your backing at least 5 inches wider than the actual size of your quilt.
2- Batting (the middle layer of the quilt): Also make your batting is a few inches wider than your finished top layer.
3- Front: Lay your quilt’s front right side up and line it up perfectly, smoothing out any wrinkles.
Pin all your quilt sandwich together. Use safety pins starting in the center, and moving out in all directions through all three layers around the outside of the quilt. If you want to be extra careful, you could also use basting adhesive spray.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to stick to a simple, straight-lined, rowed sewing pattern. Once you have the thread loaded, it’s always good to do a test run of stitches on a piece of scrap fabric so you’d know if you need to tweak your machine settings.
The best set-up for stitching is putting your sewing machine at the edge of a table so the quilt has somewhere to go as you sew it.
By forming a soft border all the way around, binding covers the seam lines and gives your quilt that finished look you want. There are several ways to bind your quilt, but the easiest way is to sew down the long side seam first, and then sew the very edge of the quilt together. Your quilt is now done, revel in your awesomeness!
Quilting is a fun and rewarding process. Use this guide to help you find your feet and you’ll be finishing your very first quilt before you know it. Whether you use old t-shirts or new specially-picked fabrics, you’ll end up with a unique quilt and possibly even a new family heirloom that carries great memories and sentimental values.