I bought some fabrics with the intention of starting a quilt. I’ve never made a quilt before because I usually sew clothes, but I’ve been so attracted to the bright colors and especially some of the really modern designs so I HAD to give it a go. But then I got scared because the fabrics were so beautiful that I was afraid of making just one big mess and wasting or ruining the lot. This is my new quilting stash.
- Benartex Bali Batik 5 Yards Bundle (Sea and Sky)
- Matching jelly roll in sea and sky
- Free Spirit Fat Quarter Box (not shown)
- Amy Butler Lark Fat Quarter Bundle (not shown)
- A bright colored jelly roll from JoAnn
Craftsy to the rescue! Did you know that Craftsy offer some great FREE quilting classes to get you started?
Check out these:
- Block of month 2012
- Block of the month 2013
- Block of the month 2014 – including fabric color theory classes (read more here)
- Creative quilt backs
- Piece, Patch, Quilt – basic quilt making skills
I had always enrolled in the free Block of the Month classes, but never ventured in to actually start making anything. Before going back over these blocks, I wanted to get a thorough grounding in the fundamentals so I watched the free Piece, Patch, Quilt class. It’s good! Here is my review.
Piece, Patch, Quilt Craftsy class review
Lesson 1 – quilting fundamentals. What is a quilt? Explanations of common quilting terminology (such as blocks, sashing etc) and examples of typical quilts.
Lesson 2 – getting started. Essential supplies you’ll need for quilting, and tips for the organisation for your sewing space.
Then the most exciting part for most sewers – choosing fabrics. Gail shows us how to take the ‘Mommy fabric’ of our choice and use it to chose the co-ordinating pieces, including a light and a dark to go with it. I found it really interesting how when she picked out a different set of fabrics, which still co-ordinated, the overall feel was completely different.
Lesson 3– fabric preparation and cutting. Starting out with a discussion on fabric quality and why it’s important. Discussions on the terms used to describe fabric, ideal for beginners, including looking at how fabric moves and stretches. I never realised how important that was until now, just seeing the difference in the stretch of the fabric in the length-ways and cross-ways grain and how this could affect how my pieces could fit together!
Then a really interesting section about whether or not you should pre-wash your fabrics before quilting. Gail says she never does ! I think I’ll be following her advice on this. (I’m always too keen to get started!)
Then onto cutting and a look at rotary cutters and important safety tips. I needed those! I’ve given myself a couple of nasty cuts so that advice was overdue! Then on to how to use quilters rulers and the grid and squares on your rotary cutting mat. I only had a silly little mat so I’ve treated myself now to a 24×36 inch especially for being able to cut this way.
Once Gail had shown us how to cut really accurately, we even looked at Fussy Cutting, to get the best placement for patterns when using regular prints or larger designs.
Lesson 4 – laying out and designing your quilt. Gail shows us the importance of a design space for your quilt so you can preview layouts, see patterns, highs and lows, quiet and busy spaces. There are some awesome tips from other students on how to do this sort of thing at home which I’ll certainly be making use of!
Gail also gave us examples of other types of quilting such as paper piecing, strip quilting, scrap quilting, applique, hand-stitched quilts, and more.
Lesson 5 – sewing and pressing. Starting with chain piecing to save time and keep yourself organised while sewing. A look at the 1/4 inch presser foot and how to use it.
Then onto pressing and how to press seams, use of Best Press to give the fabric some body – the students all discuss their preferences and even their own recipes! Gail explains about pressing to the side and when and why to press to alternate sides. All new to me!
One area of advice I know I’ll be using a lot – what to do when your seams don’t line up correctly at the junctions! My biggest quilting fear – lack of accuracy. My favorite quote from the class-
“Don’t get mad – get even!” Love it.
We also get a great visual example of how really accurate seam allowances are so important in quilting. This example above is exactly how I imagine my first quilt will turn out – disastrous.
Lesson 7 – sashing and borders. This class opens with a revelation about thread and the difference between cross-wound and horizontal wound thread and how it should be taken off the spool when sewing. I had NEVER seen anything about this before but I’ll certainly be following this tip going forward.
Gail adds sashing to her quilt to break up those very bold patterns with plain white strips and shows us how to do this while still keeping things lining up both across and down the quilt. Then we look at borders and Gail talks though how to make decisions on the direction of prints on borders for best effect.
I also learned about ‘corner stones’, a term which was new to me, but I love the look of this on the border of the quilt.
Lesson 8 – layering and basting. Some good examples of the types and designs of fabric to choose for quilt backing. I know now that stripes are best avoided, especially for beginners.
Then a look at basting the layers including both spray basting and pin basting. Pros and cons of each and again, the students provide lots of good tips and experience here too, especially about how to work on large quilts.
Lesson 9 – tying and machine quilting. We started with the hand tying, and I admit, I really didn’t like how this looked. Kind of messy, but it would probably be nice on a much thicker, comforter style of quilt. But I really wanted to learn more about the machine quilting – I never was a big fan of hand-sewing.
Gail starts off by stitching in the ditch around the big squares of the quilt, then marks up the individual squares for straight line quilting inside too. Ok, I can do that, but all the time, I’m wondering what the back of the quilt looks like – would mine be all folded and puckered? Only time will tell on that one.
Lesson 10 – hand quilting. Nah, that’s not going to happen for me, but I watched the lesson anyway and it was interesting. I kind of skipped through this one.
Lesson 11 – binding and the quilt label. Now I know that quilt binding is a whole big subject all in itself and probably warrants a set of classes. Since I started to learn a little about how to use bias tape for binding, I’ve learned how difficult it is to get a neat finish and to make sure that you always catch the back of the binding when sewing from the front.
We learned how to do a squared off corner binding rather than a mitered corner and I thought it was a good idea for those new to quilting and binding. After so much work, it would be a shame to mess it all up with some dodgy binding.
The binding was sewn to the front by machine and then hand sewn on the back with invisible stitches.
Lastly, Gail gave us advice about how to add a label to our quilts to document when and by who it was made and how to use a museum quality archival pen so the quilt can be handed down for generations to come!
The total running time for this class is 197 minutes I think – that’s 3 1/4 hours of expert quilting tuition for free. I’m really glad I took this class, and should I ever gain enough confidence to actually cut into those lovely fabrics and start to sew – you’ll be the first to know about it.