18 Quilting Tips For Beginners and Experienced Quilters

Here are some tips for those that are new or inexperienced quilters. These are also good reminders for us seasoned quilters as well. Enjoy!

  1. Choose a quilt pattern in keeping with your level of expertise. There are thousands of quilt patterns to choose from, but your choice could mean the difference between a finished quilt and just another craft project.
  2. Decide what size of quilt you want and see if the quilt pattern you are working with can be adjusted. Do you want to use your quilt as a bed spread (to the floor on 3 sides and up over the pillows), do you have a footboard or pillow top mattress pad or will you be using a bed-skirt? Consider how the quilt will be used when determining the size.
  3. Choosing the colors for your quilt – Do you want the quilt to be the focal point of the room? Is your quilt to blend in with existing décor or maybe you just want a quilt in your favorite colors?
  4. Choosing fabric for your quilt – Quilts can be made from almost any fabric – but using the highest quality of 100% cotton you can find will give you a quilt that will stand the test of time.
  5. Choosing your quilting technique –you can tie your quilt, stitch your quilt by hand, use your sewing machine to do the quilting or have your top custom quilted by a long arm machine.
  6. Choosing the batting – many types and thicknesses are available. After you’ve chosen the quilting technique to be used – the selection of batting is easier. Some bats work best if tied, some work well for machine or hand quilting but if you’ll be hand quilting you’ll want to stay away from anything with scrim. Some of the materials available are polyester, cotton, wool and even alpaca.
  7. Determine how much fabric you’ll need to make your quilt – most patterns will give estimates based on the size of the quilt. Be sure to make any necessary adjustments for changes you’ve made to the quilt pattern.
  8. Gather all of your tools – rotary cutters, rulers, scissors, iron, etc. before you begin.
  9. Cutting your fabric – this may be the most important step in making your quilt. Not being precise with your cutting can result in running out of fabric as well as throwing off the overall design, shape and size of your quilt.
  10. When it’s time to piece your quilt blocks – remember: 1/4-inch seams will give the desired result and must be maintained throughout your quilting project. Smaller seams can cause fraying and uneven wear – larger ones can cause bunching and a mixture of the two will certainly throw off the points of stars or the matching of quilt blocks.
  11. Pressing and/or trimming the quilt blocks as you go is very important. Skipping this step can also throw off the overall design of your quilt causing bunching and gathers.
  12. Measure each quilt block – they should all be the same size and shape.
  13. When your quilt blocks are made – experiment with your layout. Many quilt patterns can be altered depending on how the quilt blocks are laid out. Turning the quilt blocks even 1/4 turn can alter an entire design. Be creative and find the quilt design you like best.
  14. Once you’ve chosen your quilt design lay out your entire quilt and pin the quilt blocks together in rows numbering each row.
  15. When you start sewing your quilt blocks together – keep your 1/4-inch seam allowance in mind and be careful to match points and seam joints when putting rows together. Pressing every other row in the opposite direction will give a better fit when sewing rows of quilt blocks together.
  16. Press entire quilt top and hang away while you move on to the backing. It will be tempting to just use a big sheet for the backing of your quilt. Don’t!! After you’ve gone to so much trouble to choose just the right fabrics for your quilt top take a moment to think about the back of the quilt. Choosing a complementary fabric will make it seem invisible and enhance the beauty of the quilt top. Choosing a bold color or pattern can give you the versatility of a reversible quilt. Quilt backing fabric is available in most cloth stores and comes in widths about 110 inches wide, which will accommodate most quilting projects. However, if that isn’t an option for you – any cotton fabric can be pieced to make the quilt backing and you will be much happier with the overall result. Press and square up your quilt backing.
  17. If you’ve decided to quilt your project yourself the next step is to “sandwich” the three layers – quilt top, batting and quilt backing. Hold them together with safety pins or by basting stitches. If you’ve chosen to have your quilt custom quilted by a long arm machine or by hand, your quilter will want you to skip this step and send them the quilt top and quilt backing unattached. Check with your quilter to find out their preferences.
  18. After your quilting is done – the binding is the next step. Again there are many methods to choose from – select the one that works best for you and your quilting project. The best way to add the binding to your quilt is to sew it to the topside so that it flips to the back to cover the seam. Hand stitching the binding down to the back of your quilt with very small stitches (5-7 to the inch) will not only secure it tightly but your stitches will be invisible to the eye so as not to alter the design of your quilt top. It will be tempting to hurry through this step in order to finish your quilt – don’t!!

Happy quilting!

Ryan