The Complete Quilting Guide for Beginners
If you have ever wanted to learn how to quilt, you need look no further than our complete quilting guide for beginners! Quilting is a timeless art form and can be a very fulfilling hobby for every age, gender, or sewing experience level. If you already know the basics of sewing and using a sewing machine, then you are ready to try quilting!
In this guide, we will take you through the entire quilting process, from start to finish. That’s right--everything you need to know, from choosing a pattern and fabrics, to creating the quilt top, to basting the quilt layers together and finishing the quilt--it’s all here! We can’t wait to help you create your first quilt, so let’s get started.
Step 1: Preparation
Choose a pattern
The first step in our quilting guide for beginners is to choose a quilt pattern. There are lots of beginner quilt patterns that are easy enough for a novice quilter.
For your very first quilt, making a patchwork quilt is a great way to learn the basics. A patchwork quilt is simply rows of colorful squares sewn together in a grid pattern. If that seems less-than-exciting, remember that there are all kinds of ways to customize a grid to create unique designs! Whether you make a simple checkerboard pattern or a MinecraftTM pixel art quilt, a patchwork quilt really allows you to be creative.
Using a smaller baby quilt pattern can also be a great way to practice your quilting skills before moving on to a more ambitious, full-size quilt. Want to start even smaller? Try making a mini-quilt, or a quilted pillow!
Choose your fabric
As a quilting newbie, you probably don’t have an established fabric stash to choose from yet, so that means it’s time to go shopping! Woohoo! Look for high-quality quilting cotton so that your quilts are built to last. Local fabric stores will have many prints to choose from, but online shops (like ours, hint hint) often have a larger selection, carrying everything from classic patterns to trendy prints from top designers.
If coordinating patterns yourself sounds daunting, you may want to consider using a bundle of pre-cut quilting fabric. For example, fat quarter bundles are a common type of pre-cut fabric collection that make quilting a breeze, and there are many beginner-friendly fat quarter quilt patterns.
You knew that picking fabric would be an important part of quilting, but choosing the right quilt batting for your project makes a big difference in how your quilt looks and feels, so choose with care.
You will also need basic sewing supplies: a sewing machine, coordinating thread, your cutting tools of choice, and lots of straight pins. And of course, no sewing kit is complete without a seam ripper! You’ll also need a clothing iron so that you can press your fabrics.
Wash and press fabric
Once you have chosen your fabric, don’t forget to wash it before you move to the next step. This ensures that your quilt won’t shrink later, and that your fabric colors won’t bleed. Pressing the fabric is important too: deep wrinkles will make fabric difficult to work with.
Step 2: Creating the quilt top
Cut out and arrange pieces
The next step we’re going to talk about in this quilting guide for beginners is creating the quilt top. Start by tracing out the pattern pieces and cutting them out. If you are creating your own pattern, remember to leave room for a seam allowance around the edges of each shape. You can use fabric shears to cut your pieces, but with a rotary cutter, mat, and clear quilting ruler, cutting precise lines is almost foolproof.
Place the fabric on the cutting mat, and the ruler on the fabric. You can use the ruler to trace pattern lines and measure, and then use it as a hard edge for your rotary cutter to create perfect cuts every time.
Once you have cut out all the fabric pieces, arrange them on the floor or a table so that you can see what the finished quilt will look like. If you are making a patchwork quilt, this is a great way to experiment with different color configurations and find what looks best.
Sew pieces together
If you are using a quilt pattern, it will often include directions about the most efficient way to sew your pieces together. For a patchwork quilt, it’s as easy as sewing each row of squares together in a line, then sewing the rows together to create the full grid. In more complex patterns, you may need to sew the pieces together in a specific order.
When sewing quilt pieces together, make sure to be precise with your seam allowances, or else pieces may not fit together the way you expected. It is also good practice to iron the seams down flat after you have sewed the pieces together.
Step 3: Finishing the quilt
Trim batting and backing
The final step in our quilting guide for beginners is finishing the quilt. Now that you have created the quilt top, it’s time to put the other pieces together. Start by trimming the quilt batting and the backing fabric.
Again, if you are using a written pattern, then it may have instructions for exactly how big the batting and backing should be, but as a general rule, you can trim them to about 2-3 inches longer than your quilt top on each side.
To baste means to hold layers together temporarily. You can baste the layers of your quilt with pins, with a spray-on adhesive, or both! Make sure the quilt top and the quilt backing are facing the correct directions (with the decorative sides outward), with the quilt batting in the middle. Then, secure the layers together by spraying them with adhesive and pressing them together, or by pinning through all three layers.
Be careful during this step to make sure there aren’t any wrinkles in any of the layers. If you start pinning from the middle and work your way outward, it is easier to avoid wrinkles and folds.
Sew layers together
Now it’s time to sew your layers together, also known as quilting! Usually, you will sew long lines of stitches in a grid pattern. If you are making a patchwork quilt, then you may be sewing directly on the seams of square pieces you sewed together for the quilt top. You may want to sew diagonal seams as well.
Seams that are closer together will better hold the quilt layers in place and will look more professional. It’s also a good idea to sew a seam around the entire border of the quilt.
If you are worried about keeping your lines straight, try using an air erasable marker or a water erasable marker to draw exactly where you want the lines to be, then stitch over those lines. Water erasable marker lines will disappear when you wash the finished quilt, while air erasable marker lines naturally disappear in 4-14 days!
Create the binding
The final step of making a quilt is creating and attaching the binding. The binding is fabric that goes around the perimeter of your quilt, creating a polished edge. You can read our in-depth guide to quilt binding here, but the general idea is that you will cut out strips of fabric, sew them together, pin those strips along the border of your quilt to create the binding, then hand sew the binding to your quilt.
Creating the binding can be a time-consuming, but highly rewarding step in making your quilt. After you have finished the binding, the quilt is done!
We hope this complete quilting guide for beginners has given you all the tools and confidence you need to start making your own quilts! For more sewing tutorials, don’t forget to keep checking our blog, where we have new guides and tutorials posted every month. Happy quilting!