September 10

An Introduction To Quilting For Beginners

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Quilting is the art of assembling a unique blanket out of smaller pieces of fabric. It involves planning, craftsmanship, and aesthetic sensibility; this makes it an excellent hobby. Getting into quilting for beginners isn’t hard, especially since the Internet is overflowing with detailed guides and general tips. This overview will help you get ready to dive into the quilter’s world.

introduction to quilting with woman measuring a block on a quilt

Tools And Techniques

Quilts are thousands of years old, and proud quilting traditions run through many different cultures around the world. While the most traditional quilts are still hand-sewn using very labor-intensive techniques, you’ll want to start out with a sewing machine. If you stick with quilting, you may want to invest in a longarm quilting setup, but this takes up a lot of space (often more than 10 feet by 3 feet).


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The first dedicated quilting tool you should invest in is a rotary cutter. Accuracy in cutting your fabric is vital if you want your finished quilt to line up and look good. Rotary cutters make you both faster and more accurate when cutting, and good ones aren’t very expensive.


On the technical end of the business, you’ll need to master the quarter-inch seam early on in your quilting career. This is a bit less generous than the traditional five-eighths seam used when sewing clothes, so if you’re already an avid sewer you may have some habits to unlearn. Hitting the measurement precisely isn’t quite as important as being consistent: You’ll need to practice until you can produce the same size seam over and over.

The Brilliance Of The Block

The quilt as a whole has three pieces: the top, the batting, and the back. You’ll spend the vast majority of your time putting together the top, and this is where all the artistry and innovation show up. While more exotic quilt styles involve complex patterns for assembling the top, in quilting for beginners it’s best to stick to the square block. Six inches is an excellent size for your first quilts. It doesn’t take many six-inch blocks to build a quilt, but the pieces aren’t so large that anyone’s block is irreplaceable.

Blocks can be patterned in any way you desire. Geometric shapes assembled out of contrasting fabrics are popular, as are embroidered blocks. When you’re starting out, stick with something fairly simple. Go beyond unadorned blocks, though! Making up blocks is a huge part of quilting. Select an easy-to-craft pattern (there are plenty of pattern indexes online) that has some visual interest.

Assembling Your First Quilts

Each individual block needs to be sewn together before you assemble all of the blocks to make the front. This is why accurate seams are important; there are so many seams in a quilt that small errors will start to multiply rapidly. Work in an assembly-line fashion, completing each block and comparing it with your previous work. Don’t be afraid to set aside a block that comes out with bad dimensions.

Sewing your blocks together also requires care. Seams and blocks should be pressed flat prior to assembly to ensure that the finished quilt is even. Most beginning quilters start by sewing strips of blocks together and then assembling the strips to produce the finished top.

The top, back, and batting are assembled next and basted together so that they remain aligned while you sew them. Your quilt needs to be capped off with a border, a simple piece of fabric folded over the edges. Hand-sewing the rear of the border is traditional to provide added strength.

This overview is really just a first peek into quilting. You’ll want to gather plenty of additional information before you start planning your first quilt; you’ll need to learn more about your different fabric options for a start. With this general guide laying out the rough path that will lead you to your first finished quilt, though, you should have a good idea of what to expect.


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