Today we are going to chat Quilting Basics for beginners. I hope you find this helpful, especially if you’re participating in our new block of the month series and may not have a lot of experience quilting.
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 🙂
Table of Contents
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 a 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.
Three Things you Need to Know
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 is an EXCELLENT resource.
Now onto a few of the basics…
1: How to Cut Fabric for Quilting
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 ½ x 3 ½ square. I began by cutting a strip of fabric to slightly larger than 3 ½ “. I then cut off the selvage edge.
Next measure over 3 ½″ from the cut end. Use the marks on the ruler and make sure everything stays square. Just look for the 3 ½″ 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 ½″ x 3 ½″. 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.
2: How to Sew Quilt Pieces Together
Quilt pieces are sewn with right sides facing with a ¼″ seam allowance. You MUST figure out on your machine where the ¼″ mark is. Once you think you’ve found it do 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 ¼″ mark. Quilts are designed so that the “math” of it all adds up, taking into account ¼″ seam allowances. If your seam allowance is ⅜″, for example, your quilt pieces won’t fit together. Think of it like pieces in a puzzle. They have to be exact to fit together.
3. How to Press Quilt Blocks
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 loosen 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 iron’s tip 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.
If you missed any of the posts in this series click HERE for an index of all of them.
Here are the ones posted thus far.
How to Pick Fabric for a Quilt
hey! thanks for that. 😉
Melissa Mortenson says
No problem.. It is a great book. I refer to it all the time.
This is so wonderful! Thank you! I am a basic seamstress and quilter and am learning a ton from these posts.
Melissa Mortenson says
I’m so glad I can help!
Hannah Riggs says
Absolutely LOVE your blog! I am 100% brand new to quilting, and have been trying to figure out as much as I can before jumping right it into it. This has by far the most helpful site I have read. It has definitely made me even more excited to begin as well! Thank you!
I have several old blocks from my grandmother. Should I pair them with new fabric or just preserve them?
Rachelle Steenkamp says
I am a beginner. I have never do a quilt before. Whant to start now.
Just browsing Pinterest & saw your site. I signed up for your emails, but, I want to make sure that I receive your emails about your ‘Block of the Month’. Looking forward to doing this along with others. Thanks.