Quilting Hacks Every Beginner Should Learn

quilting hacksImagine relaxing in a log cabin listening to a crackling fireplace, covered by a patchwork quilt that you recently made yourself.  Fantastic!  Indeed, quilt making is a very rewarding art project and it makes for a very precious gift for your friends and family too.

In a recent article, we also described the Many Amazing Benefits of Quilting for your health and mental well-being.

The Many Amazing Benefits of Quilting

From the careful choice and preparation of fabrics to the placement of the last stitch, quilt makers give a lot of love and attention to details.  As such, some home-made quilts are passed on from one generation to another and are highly cherished as family heirlooms.

Making your own quilt is a time-consuming process but the result is almost always worth all your efforts.  We've had a lot of readers express interest in learning how to quilt so to make it a bit easier, here are some quilting hacks and tips that every quiltmaker should learn.

quilting hacks

Choosing Your Fabrics and Colors for Quilting

Let’s say you have already decided on the pattern for your quilt. The next step is to choose your fabric and if you have problems matching the colors of your quilting fabrics, you can buy one fabric first and use the color code that comes with it in buying the other matching fabrics.

Most fabric manufacturers indicate a pattern match for their product by printing a color code on the selvage edge of their fabric. These codes appear as colourful dots which you can cut off and take with you when you buy the rest of your fabric needs.  If selvage color codes are a mystery to you, stay tuned as we have an article on the topic coming soon.

Also, make it a habit to always buy a little more fabric than you are going to use. In this way, you will not have the problem of running short of materials. You can always make a rag quilt with all the scraps from your quilts later.  Or just keep it in your ever-growing stash like I do..

Experienced quiltmakers use all scraps of fabrics that they can find in their sewing rooms, so don’t throw those strong selvage strips.  You can use them to tie your coordinated quilting quarters to keep your matching colors together.  This is because the selvage edge of your fabric is woven tightly and as such, they don’t stretch like your actual fabric and are excellent materials for tying your fabric pieces together.

Storing and Organizing Your Fabrics

As mentioned above, most quilters end up with pretty sizable fabric stashes.  We've already written a lot about a Neat way to fold and organise fabric as well as Organising your stash, how to keep it neat, so we'll just link to those articles and strongly recommend that you check them both out.

Neat way to fold and organise fabric

Organising your stash, how to keep it neat

Organizing Your Bias Bindings

One of the most troublesome to organize when quilting is when you accumulate hundreds of inches of bias binding.  You can manage your bias bindings better by wrapping them around an empty paper towel tube. You can then secure one end with a piece of masking tape and make sure to slightly overlap each wrap until all your materials have been looped around the tube. If you are planning to use the binding immediately, there is no need to be very particular with this wrapping procedure however, it is always better to make enough bindings for your project. Make sure to store your bias binding on top before you call it a day so that when you continue quilting later, you do not have to look for the pieces of fabric that you need.

Also, don’t throw drop-off bias strips out because you can use them for your other small quilting projects. Instead, save all your excess pieces measuring a minimum of 12-inches. They are especially useful as Celtic appliques, applique of stems on flowers and for stained glass quilts. You can also sew them together and use as binding for a scrappy quilt or a wall hanging.

Maximize your storage space by stacking all short or fall off lengths of bias bindings together in a shallow drawer or a paper box lid. There is nothing more frustrating than looking for a small strip of cloth that you are sure you have somewhere in your sewing room!

sewing hacks

The Importance of Quilting Rulers and Rotary Cutters

When cutting your quilting pieces, use your ruler in combination with your rotary cutter effectively by positioning the lip side down securely against one edge of your template for precision. Some rulers also allow you to trim excess fabrics by providing a straight line for the placement of your next quilting fabric piece. Make sure to read the instructions that come with your quilting rulers to make your quilting easier.

quilting hacks

Put Labels On Your Pincushions

Experienced quilt makers know that keeping quilting needles organized, sharp and straight can be frustrating tasks. Remember that most sewing machine needles only have a sewing life of about six hours and dull needles can cause skipped stitches while bent needles can damage your bobbin case.

quilting hacksSo never put a slightly used quilting needle back in its original case since you will have problems to determine which one is slightly used and which one is brand new later on. When you change a needle, stick the slightly used needle in pre-marked pincushions to help you identify the sizes and point types of your slightly used needle. The rule of thumb is if you are in doubt about your quilting needles, simply dispose of them. This will certainly save you some time and frustration. So make a practice of putting labels on your pincushions.

quilting hacks

Batting, Padding or Wadding Your Quilt

This is the middle component of the quilt sandwich and you will have to carefully choose its thickness, texture, and composition. Cotton batting is ideal for small quilts and for beginner quilt makers. Aside from being easy to work with, it is also easier to achieve that even look with this natural fabric.

Lightweight and not very expensive, polyester battings pack extremely well and will add that desired swelling to your quilt. It just has the tendency to work its way out through the weave of your fabric.

Wool batting is ideal if you are making a quilt for use in a cool and damp weather. It provides warmth and absorbs moisture easily. Just be careful when you wash your wool quilt as it warps easily so be careful to read instructions when you buy your wool.

It is also helpful to take note that a thin lightweight batting is best for beginners because it is easier to sew. Try to make small and even stitches over the whole quilt so your needle and thread only have to go through a thin batting piece. And if you want a thicker batting and are making a quilt for your bed, it will be a lot easier if your batting is tied and not quilted.

So, if you are a beginner quilt maker, I hope these quilting hacks and tips will help you discover the joys of quilt making.

If you're an experienced quilter and have any additional quilting tips to share, please leave a comment in the notes below.

Happy quilting!

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15 Responses to Quilting Hacks Every Beginner Should Learn

  1. Pingback: Low Tech Quilting Hacks - Ann Baldwin May Art Quilts

  2. Charlie says:

    I have appreciated so many of your hints and tips. I would suggest not to use the masking tape on any fabric as It tends to leave a residue. Your thought on saving the binding scraps in a drawer all their own is super. Thanks.

  3. Sharon Melvin says:

    As a beginner quilter and advanced seamstress I find these tips helpful. I am a 69 year old grandmother and have been sewing since I was 12.

  4. Kathy says:

    Loved the tips. I am returning to sewing as a 70 yr old grandmother. I’d like to make a quilt but have to learn how. You have encouraged me with these
    articles. Thank you making them easy to find.

  5. Kathy says:

    Loved the tips. I am returning to sewing as a 70 yr old grandmother. I’d like to make a quilt but have to learn how. You have encouraged me with these
    articles. Thank you making them easy to find.

  6. Beverly Campbell says:

    My friend Kathy was a fairly experienced quilter and got me involved. My first “quilt” that she helped me make was a 40×40 wall hanging using the log cabin pattern. It was really easy so I made my son a twin quilt with the same pattern. Turned out great but I learned my lesson on buying fabric. The quilt was made in the 1970s and I bought Joanns least expensive fabric and by years end, the seams were unraveling. So much for my sons’ quilt that became our dogs’ bed. He loved it! Since then I have made more quilts with high end fabric…it is well worth it in the end. Good luck to all making their quilt!

  7. judy wilson says:

    I remember that my grandma used to make quilts for me every year for Christmas. Passing on that tradition to my kids is important to me, so I want to learn how to make nice quilts for them. Knowing these tips will make my first attempt at making a quilt much easier. I’ve never been skilled at cutting fabric in a straight line, so I can understand why I would need rulers and rotary cutters. It’s really cool that there are some rulers that allow me to trim excess fabrics, so I should look for that to cut my materials more easily.

  8. John Whistler says:

    I’ve been wanting to try these out. Thanks for the tips.

  9. Rosemaryflower says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips

  10. Cynthia Siskin says:

    Love the pink pincushion. I’m going to look for that pattern now.

    • Rebekka says:

      Hello Cynthia, I’m just reading this blog post now. Did you ever manage to find a pattern for that pink pincushion? It looks lovely! Rebekka

  11. wonderful article. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Bridgette says:

    Thanks for this article. I learned a few things I did not know. I never knew why there were the colored spots on the side of the fabric, I thought it was from printing. Silly me. 🙂

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Bridgette, thanks for your comments and support. I’ll have an article on these selvage codes coming out in the next few days, so please stay tuned.

  13. Pingback: CraftCrave | DigiFree | CraftCrave

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