Quilting is a popular craft enjoyed by people across the globe. Let's talk about the different steps and supplies you will need along the way.
Making a quilt is a multistep process, and some of that process will depend upon your pattern or how you, as a quilter, like to work. If you've landed here, I am guessing you are a beginner, so I will keep this post very surface-level and provide a lot of helpful links and tutorials along the way.
Many quilters find a sense of relaxation from quilting—the monotonous sound of the sewing machine and the immense sense of accomplishment are a few things quilters tend to love about the hobby.
For me, its the visual puzzle—I absolutely love piecing and working a quilt top. Some of the rest of the process, I am less of a fan of. However, the steps are all required to finish a quilt, and honestly, they are mostly painless.
That is, unless you stick yourself with a basting pin!
So let's break down the steps of making a quilt and check out some helpful videos along the way.
Step 1: Gather Materials
If you haven't seen it already, you can check out Little Quilting Closet's list of items you actually need as a beginner quilter.
Materials can vary based on the quilt pattern you will be working (if you're working a pattern.)
Materials used in making a quilt include but are not limited to the following:
- Coordinating Thread
- Quilt Pattern
- Self Healing Cutting Mat
- Rulers (specific to the project you're working on—you will almost always need a 6"x24" ruler)
- Starch (optional)
- Rotary Cutter
- Basting Pins or Basting Spray (I use both)
- Binding Clips
It is best to use high-quality quilting cotton for making quilts. Be sure a single layer doesn't feel too thin, and watch out for big box stores bargain brands. Batting is another area where you can make a wrong turn. Like many quilters, I prefer Warm and Natural.
I have used cheaper battings, and while they were a bit more frustrating to work with (shedding during the quilting process), the end result after washing was slightly more puffy than Warm and Natural. So if you're feeling patient, a less-expensive batting might be right for you!
Step 2: Cut Fabric and Assemble the Quilt Top (Piecing)
Cutting fabric is an art form in itself—check out this video for some tips and tricks, as well as some tools that can help you get more perfect cuts.
One incredible time-saver is precut fabrics. Here are a few of the most common types of precuts on the market:
- Mini Charm Packs (2.5" squares)
- Charm Packs (5" squares)
- Layer Cakes (10" squares)
- Jelly Rolls (2.5 in strips WOF)
- Fat Quarters (18"x22" pieces of fabric)
- Half Yards (18"x44" pieces of fabric)
There are also great die-cutting products out there. I, personally, use an Accuquilt for lots of projects, and I absolutely love it. It has a low entry price point, but purchasing the dies can add up fast. Make sure you really love a die and have a project in mind before going crazy and ordering a bunch of them like I did!
If you're working a pattern, it should have very detailed cutting instructions—be sure to follow those and do your best to get accurate and straight cuts. The more wonky your pieces, the more wonky your end result will be. That being said, I do enjoy a wonky quilt. It's ok to make mistakes here—practice makes perfect.
If you're looking for some great pattern inspiration, check out our Pinterest board! I always share direct .pdf download links (yay! no ads) to each pattern.
I was very uncomfortable with cutting at one point. The more I force myself to do it, the better I become—I am trying to wean off my Accuquilt!
After cutting comes piecing. Patterns will have detailed piecing and pressing instructions—be sure to follow them closely. Always read a pattern all the way before starting.
Step 3: The Quilt Sandwich (Basting)
In the next step, you will start assembling your "quilt sandwich." This is layering the parts of your quilt so you can begin the machine quilting process.
In your quilt sandwich, there will be three layers:
- Quilt Top
- Backing Fabric (cut to size)
I used the method I learned from my first quilt, which I made with Melanie Ham's series on Youtube. If you are a complete beginner, you must watch this series.
Here is more on the quilt sandwich, including how to smooth out the layers and everything else you need to know to prep for the next step: QUILTING!
Step 4: Quilting
You're almost there—we've nearly made it through the entire quilting process (though this step can be a long one).
There are many methods of quilting: free motion quilting, straight line quilting, hand quilting. Each method can require special tools and skills—if you're just starting out, I highly recommend sticking to straight line quilting.
Straight line quilting has a clean and modern look, and it doesn't require any special tools or skills to accomplish. All you need is a a walking foot, and you're off to the races.
Free motion quilting requires a bit more skill and, often, very expensive and specialized sewing machines. If you want to try free motion quilting, I recommend starting with smaller blocks in a "quilt as you go" style. This is how I am learning and developing my skills currently. Check out this amazing tutorial from a quilt-as-you-go legend, Pauline, from Pauline's Quilters World.
Step 5: Binding and Label
This is the final step—and one of my favorite steps. This is where it all comes together. You get to bask in your gorgeous piecing and quilting work and attach this final boarder to put the cherry on top.
Binding is another step that you can accomplish in many different ways. In general, you'll need 2.5" strips of fabric pressed in half measuring the entire perimeter of your quilt + 10" for safety.
There are two methods for binding. Machine binding (binding is attached to the quilt back and finished by machine on the front) and a hand-finish invisible binding (binding is sewn to the front of the quilt and then folded over and finished by hand on the backside.) The decision is yours—it depends what you have the patience for, and also how comfortable you are with your machine and all of its feet. Here are some videos to walk you through each type of binding.
We hope this was informative and that you're feeling confident and inspired to quilt. Check out the rest of our blog for more beginner quilting tips, tricks, and product recommendations and reviews!
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