Quilting for Beginners

I had thought about trying to learn how to quilt for years before I actually did. The first thing I needed to realize was just how flexible and simple it can be. I guess I always thought that quilts were very complicated, and made up of various shapes which are difficult to cut and sew together – kind of like tangrams.

However, quilts can be made from any shapes at all, and the most simple to start with are squares. If you are unsure about consistently cutting the same size, you can even buy the fabric pre-cut into five-inch squares. Then all you have to do is arrange a pleasing pattern of fabrics and sew them together.

Another possible barrier to some people may be the idea that specialized equipment or sewing machines are required. This is not the case. I do all my quilting on a standard home sewing machine. While there are larger, specialty machines for quilting, and it may be easier to get a more professional appearance, it is still possible to complete a quilt without one. Maneuvering the fabric and quilt as it grows larger can become a bit of a struggle, but with patience and determination it can be done.

Quilts are usually made up of three layers – the quilt top, the batting, and the backing. The quilt top is what would be considered the front of the quilt, and this is where most of the detailed design work will appear.

There are countless possible quilt designs. You can find designs, layouts, and instructions in books, magazines, downloadable files, and even for free online. The description will usually include a difficulty rating so you can know what you are getting into. 🙂

The process involves selecting fabrics and deciding how to arrange them for the pattern you are making. It is amazing how different fabrics can make the same quilt design look totally different. Once you have your fabrics, if they are not all pre-cut into the size and shape you need, you will have to cut the fabric shapes required. The pieces of fabric should be cut carefully and precisely so that the quilt top will be the correct size and shape once it is complete.

Obviously, the size of the quilt to be made will determine how much fabric and how many pieces will be needed. It is usually not too difficult to add or subtract rows from a quilt design in order to get just the size you want. In the beginning, however, it is probably best to start with a smaller size, such as a lap quilt or baby quilt, since the larger the quilt becomes, the more difficult it is to work with it using a standard sewing machine.

The process of planning, constructing, and finishing a quilt follows several predictable steps. These quilting steps will be pretty much the same for most of the quilts you will sew.

Learn more about how to quilt and the quilting process
Learn more about quilt piecing
Learn more about basting a quilt
Learn more about quilting the quilt
Learn more about quilt binding
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