We've done many articles over the years about quilting. Our readers have a lot of interest in quilting and many people have asked if we could summarize the best way to start beginner quilting for newbies.
Quilting is a branch of sewing that some of us love to get stuck into from time to time (or, for others, all the time), for the sheer love of sewing and getting totally lost to the world in finicky little details…and there’s no greater thrill than a finished product that looks and feels like loving time was spent on it. It’s one of the most thoughtful and generous gifts you can give and tales can be told in the stitches. For those of you who have been eyeing your scrappy bags full of little bits of beautiful fabrics: what better way to collect all those memories in one place than by scrap-busting with your first quilt?!
Also, you're true creative flare might not always go down well when applied to an item of clothing but on a quilt, heck…if need be, anything goes! So, with this in mind, it’s time for a little beginner's lesson in quilting…a quilting 101.
Firstly, there’s no need to go out and buy some bank-breaking specialty machine because your domestic sewing machine will do the trick, provided you know the whats and wherefores and you don't intend to cover a cathedral wall with your massive and intricate quilt. So YES, Yes you can do quilting using a domestic sewing machine!
When quilting on a domestic machine, it's best to use a walking foot. Of course, as you build your skills and take on bigger and bigger projects, it would be great to invest in a fancy dancy Bernina 880 with the free arm — I'm a huge fan of Bernina as you probably know– but you certainly don't need to start there. When using your domestic sewing machine, remember to keep both sides of the quilt rolled up and clipped to save space and trouble.
The basic quilt is constructed in three layers: the backing, the batting, and the quilt top. The latter is the part into which most of your hard work will have gone, all that piecing and patterning, all that care and crafting. Of course, what fabrics you make use of, that’s all up to you, although traditionally quilts were all-cotton.
In fact, if you're a beginner I would recommend sticking to cotton all round (cotton thread also) because you’ll find the layers don’t slip and slide so much, making them much easier to work with. Silks and Polyesters will have a tendency to slide and if you’re just starting out, you might not be in the mood for such frustrations!
As I mentioned before, quilting is a pastime done for the love of sewing and as with all labors of love, real skill comes with diligent practice. The more you practice the more detailed and magnificent your quilts will become and you’ll find the practice to be a soothing, meditational one and if you don't believe me…check out our article on The Many Amazing Benefits of Quilting.
Take It Easy:
Seriously…if you go into it guns blazing with a four square meter quilt in mind, the chances are you will put yourself off for life. Start with a small project so that you can enjoy the details, instead of getting overwhelmed with work. Also, keep your shapes simple first time around, opt for squares or rectangles until you're quite comfortable. Limit heavy detailing to a focal point instead of trying to incorporate labor intensive patterns and shapes into every block, at least when you're starting out. You can always add texture by using curved and patterned stitching instead of difficult intricate cuts.
Functional Art is More Fun:
Create items you can use, like sofa arm covers, place settings or table runners. This will give you more satisfaction in your finished product and having your work out in the open will give you added drive to improve your skills. Once you’ve satisfied your own eye, you can start making gifts and throws for friends and loved ones…finished works that you can truly be proud of. Besides, I was somewhat loathed to give My First Quilt away at first, chances are you'll also get a little attached to your first masterpiece, so let's hold back on the gift-quilting until later, okay?
Items You’ll Be Needing:
A rotary cutter, rulers, stencils and self-healing mats will save you a lot of time and wastage. A design wall so that you can plot and pin up your design: planning is vital, you can use a table or horizontal surface but I would recommend a vertical one, just to make things easier and save space. A pressing station. Pins. A seam ripper. Fabric Pencil/marker. Quilting clips: for holding the edges of your quilt together whilst you work. Oh and quilting thread, for Heaven's sake!
For FUNtastic tips on staying organized, quilting paraphernalia and the ins and outs of batting…slip on over to our article on Quilting Hacks Every Beginner Should Learn.
You should start by plotting your design and then doing the piecing of the quilt top, then you’ll sandwich your layers together and after that, you’ll bind them. That's to put it really briefly. Remember, it's all about self-expression, love, relaxation and taking time on the details.
You'll find tons of quilting patterns of every kind online. If you're keen on quilting but not to the extent of cutting out all the finicky bits yourself, have a look at these 30+ Jelly Roll Quilt Patterns, incorporating pre-cut strips and bits!
Oh and by the way…just because you're quilting squares doesn't mean you are a square: check out these Famous Women Who Love Quilt Making.
A particularly good and cost-effective way to learn beginner quilting is to take one or more of the free quilting mini-classes on Craftsy. They're totally free and will give you a good overview of what you're getting in to.