Today we are going to chat Quilting Basics for those of you participating in our new block of the month series that may not have a lot of experience quilting. The first block in the series posts Friday! If you missed it, click here for information regarding how to pick the fabric for your quilt!
Hey there! I know that many of you are anxious to get started on our new Block of the Month series. I have just ONE more “introductory” post to cover then our first block will be posted this Friday! YAAY we can then call it FriYAY :)
Like a crazy person I’ve decided to add a 4th “color scheme” to my blocks and will now be making 4 blocks each month. Go big or go home right? In addition to what I talked about last week, I am also going to make a Christmas quilt from the blocks in the series.
If you are new to quilting PLEASE feel free to jump in and try this! It’s just a small time commitment each month and at the end of the year you’ll be able to say that you MADE A QUILT! Yippee!!! Just try it, if it turns out badly who cares, you don’t have to show it to anyone…
If you’re an experienced quilter I hope that you’ll join in too and find the blocks a fun project to carry you throughout the year. It would also be great for the newbies to see and be inspired by the blocks made from some of you more seasoned quilters.
Okay there are LOTS of books written about the basics of quilting. I obviously can’t write book on this post as that would take forever and none of you would make it all the way to the end of reading it.
Instead I’m going to touch on 3 critical things to know when quilting. Cutting, Stitching & Pressing.
If you want more detailed information I’d recommend the book Quilt Essential by Erin Harris. It’ covers everything you from A-Z and is and EXCELLENT resource.
Now onto a few of the basics…
To cut the fabric for a quilt you need a quilt ruler, rotary cutter and mat. It is VERY important to cut your pieces accurately. If you’re off by even 1/16 of an inch it will mess up your construction.
Depending on the size of fabric you are working with (fat quarter or off a bolt) you’re going to want to get it down to a manageable size to start working with. For this example we are going to cut a 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 square. I began by cutting a strip of fabric to slightly larger than 3 1/2 “. I then cut off the selvage edge.
Next measure over 3 1/2″ from the cut end. Use the marks on the ruler and make sure everything stays square. Just look for the 3 1/2″ mark on the ruler (that’s why it’s transparent) and line it up with the cut edge.
I then rotate my piece 90 degrees and cut again to ensure my piece is 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. In this case I only needed to cut off a smidge from the opposite side.
A few tips: I do cut two layers of fabric at a time. Many people do not do this, I do. Most of the time it works out fine for me.
Use the markings on the mat and the ruler to keep the fabric “squared” up. You don’t want the horseshoes in this example running along a wonky angle.
Wear a cut glove on the hand that is holding the ruler. I mentioned before that I sliced off the tip of my finger with a rotary cutter once. You DO NOT want to do that. Trust me. Wear a cut glove to protect your hand.
Quilt pieces are sewn with right sides facing with a 1/4″ seam allowance. You MUST figure out on your machine where the 1/4″ mark is. Once you think you’ve found it run a test seam then measure it. I find it helpful to then mark that point on my sewing machine with a strip of washi tape.
Always keep to the same 1/4″ mark. Quilts are designed so that the “math” of it all adds up taking into account 1/4″ seam allowances. If your seam allowance is 3/8″ for example you’re quilt pieces won’t fit together. Think of it like pieces in a puzzle. They have to be exact to fit together.
You do not iron a quilt you PRESS it. Meaning you move up and down with your iron and not back and forth. The steam in the iron will losen the fibers in the fabric and if you move the iron back and forth you’ll change the shape of your fabric. Instead move up and down and press the seams.
Also, seams in quilting (for the most part) are pressed to one side (as shown above).
I like to use the tip of the iron along the seams on the right side to make sure that they are “open” all of the way. If you find yourself with a stubborn seam I recommend using a bit of spray starch.
When I’m pressing several pieces at a time I lay a book on top of them right after they are pressed. The weight of the book (and the fact that the fabric is still warm) ensures a nice flat seam.
Okay, that’s all for today. Like I said this is meant to be an introduction (I’ll refer back to it in subsequent posts). I’ll also be sure to post detailed instructions with each block.
Here are the ones posted thus far.
I also write for eBay and think you might like some of these “Quilty” Guides and Tutorials!! (sponsored by eBay, but all content, text and ideas are original to me).