How to Quilt

In learning how to quilt, there are several steps to the process of quilting which are followed whenever you sew a quilt, with very few exceptions in special cases.

Step 1 – Planning and Decision-making

The first step of quilting involves planning and making decisions. You need to decide how large the quilt will be, a general color scheme, and the pattern or design of the quilt. There are many resources, such as books, magazines, and websites, available to help you decide on the pattern or design. While starting out, it is best to find a pattern which is very close to the finished size you are planning for the quilt; it will save you the added step of having to alter or scale the design to fit a different size for the quilt.

Obviously, there is an endless selection of fabrics and colors from which to choose. Cotton fabrics are usually the best choice for quilts, though others such as flannel or fleece could be used for a comfy backing. It helps to consider quilt designs and fabric colors at the same time, to be sure that the fabrics you are considering would look good pieced into the pattern you like. For example, fabrics with larger prints may not work as well with a design made of mostly very small pieces.

The quilting pattern or design that you choose should include a list of the amounts of each fabric you will need.

Step 2 – Cutting the Fabric Down to Size

Before you start any sewing, you will need to cut all that lovely fabric into pieces. Your pattern instructions will give precise dimensions for all the pieces of fabric needed for re-creating the design for the quilt top. It is best to use a rotary cutter and plastic rulers for this step. These tools will give a precise and accurate cut. There are many types of plastic rulers and shapes available to be sure your fabric cutting is successful. Try hard to be as accurate as possible; take your time to make sure each measurement is correct. Even a small variance in the size and shape of your fabric pieces will affect the finished look and quality of your quilt.

Step 3 – Piecing the Quilt Top

Piecing the quilt top refers to the step in the process whereby you sew the pieces of fabric you just cut up into the design of the pattern you are following. The pattern instructions will tell you the order in which to sew the pieces together.

You can read more details about quilt piecing here: Piecing the top of the Quilt

Step 4 – Prepare the Backing

The backing of a quilt is the fabric used for the back. The pattern you will be piecing will be the front. The back of a quilt is most often just one large piece of a single coordinating fabric, but it is also possible to add a bit of design flair by using a few different fabrics to add stripes or other details. However, the backing should be much simpler than the design used on the front of the quilt.

Step 5 – Basting the Quilt

Basting a quilt is not quite the same as general sewing basting, although the purpose is similar. In general sewing, basting consists of temporary stitching to hold pieces of fabric together as an intermediate step while constructing something like a piece of clothing. In quilting, basting refers to using one of a few different methods to temporarily hold the layers of a quilt together while sewing the layers together with the quilting stitching.

There are several different methods to follow for basting a quilt, but the most common involves laying the quilt back flat, right-side down, on the floor, followed by the batting, with the quilt top layered face-up on top. The layers are then pinned together to hold them in place. 
Learn more about basting a quilt

Step 6 – Quilting the Quilt

Once the layers of a quilt have been basted together, it is time to sew the layers together by quilting the quilt. This refers to the sewing which is visible on the front and back of a quilt, which will form some sort of pattern or design. This can be simple squares or very elaborate designs. 
Learn more about quilting the quilt

Step 7 – Binding the Quilt

Binding a quilt involves attaching a narrow strip of fabric, or binding, around the edges of a quilt in order to enclose the raw edges and finish it off. 
Learn more about binding a quilt


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