I started quilting when I was in my 30’s. It became quite addictive, seeing a beautifully finished product right before my eyes, something that I had made myself. I have made about 25 to 30 quilts up to this point, some of which were baby quilts for friends who just had a baby. My favorite patterns are the Bear’s Paw, Dresden Plate, Log Cabin, Fans, and Drunkard’s Path to name a few.
A quilt is not only for the purpose of keeping warm, but it can also be a work of art. To me, quilts ARE art. You can put them on a bed, drape them over a chair, or hang them on the wall. Either way, they are beautiful to look at.
There are several ways to make a quilt. I will try to cover a few of them here. There are also a lot of supplies one might think to get before embarking on a project. I would also recommend, if you think you might only make one or two quilts in the near future or in your lifetime, I would suggest that you NOT go out and purchase every piece of quilting paraphernalia that’s on the market. It can turn out to be quite a costly undertaking.
You might want to start out small and just try either a lap quilt, something to throw over the back of a sofa or chair, or a baby quilt. These are much easier to handle for the first time quilter. Don’t try anything super large, such as a king size bed throw. It could be overwhelming.
- You need a basic color scheme in mind. You might not be able to decide until you view the different fabrics at your fabric store. Cotton blend fabrics are the easiest to work with. Note – it is suggested that fabrics be washed and ironed before cutting out pattern pieces.
- Quilting thread. Quilting thread is a must, over any other type of thread as it is slightly waxed, stronger and easy to work with. It lasts longer and doesn’t twist up or break when quilting.
- Needles. If you plan on quilting by hand, there are specific needles you can use for quilting. I myself, find these needles to be somewhat small, but each individual has to see what works best with their own hands.
- Ruler and tape measure for designing and/or measuring your quilt pieces.
- Scissors. Again, if you’re not going to be making a lot of quilts, I suggest that scissors will suffice over the rotary cutter and mat.
- Graph paper. This is essential if you’re designing your own quilt pattern. The squared off sections can be a big help in making your pieces uniform so they match up perfectly. Note- remember, when cutting out the pattern pieces, allow 1/4″ extra for seam allowance.
- Quilting hoop or quilting frame.
- Quilt batting.
Simple Quilt Ideas
To make a simple quilt, again, there a few different ways to do this. Usually a basic 9 patch is easy enough to start off with. If you want to get a little fancier, check out some patterns on quilting sites or in quilting magazines.
Lay out your material on a large flat surface (kitchen table works well). You can cut your squares any size that suits you, but let’s go with 4″ squares for this purpose.
You will need two different patterned fabrics. Cut several 4 1/2 inch squares. While alternating the two colored pieces, sew squares together to make a 12 inch block. Make several of these blocks, depending on how big you want your quilt to be.
Then using a solid color fabric, cut several 12 1/2 inch squares. Now, alternating the solid color squares with the patterned blocks, sew together.
Now that you have pieced your quilt together, iron it out, making sure that the seams are lying down flat before you proceed to the next step.
You will now need your batting and backing. You can either purchase a large enough piece of material for the backing, but a good quality flat bedding sheet works just as well. I prefer to just buy sheets to use as backing. Your backing should be at least 6 inches longer and wider than your quilt top for finishing off at the end.
Place your backing on a flat surface (the floor works well), then place your batting on top of that and your quilt top last (your backing and batting should be larger than your quilt top). Be sure that all three pieces are uniform and flattened out, and that nothing is bunched up. You can pin the pieces together with safety pins for the time being, then fasten it tightly to either a quilting hoop or quilting frame.
You have two options for the quilting step. You can either yarn tie it or actually “quilt” it together. Yarn tieing is simple enough as you just knot tufts of yarn in uniform lines throughout the quilt. I would suggest that you tie them in the middle of each 4 inch square and the corners. With plenty of yarn tufts you can be sure that the batting won’t bunch up or shift around during usage or washing.
To actually quilt, is a little bit harder as you have to be sure that everything stays nice and taut. Using a running stitch, sew around the square blocks with your quilting thread. Make your stitches as close together as you can. A good quilting stitch should have at least 8 stitches per inch. Do not pull your thread through too tightly, as this will cause bunching.
Now that you have finished the quilting procedure, it is time to finish off your edging. Cut off the excess batting, leaving about an inch showing all around. Trim off the backing at least 3 or 4 inches longer all the way around. Fold your backing over to the front of the quilt top, overlapping it an inch or two and either machine or hand sew it off.
The sign of a good quality home-made quilt is that it is nice and tight. The stitches should not bunch up too much. Also, check out your quilt from the back. The stitches should all be in line with your pattern on the front. Your quilt should look just as nice from the back as it does from the front.
You have just finished your first quilt. If you find you are now addicted, try something a little more complex, such as a log cabin or something with squares and triangles or rounded edges. You might find that you never want to actually use your quilts!