Learn to Quilt with Expert Advice from Contemporary Quilters

Get tips on quilting for beginners, advanced to basic quilting techniques, and more with Quilting Arts TV Series 1100

Do you want to learn to quilt? Do you want to create beautiful quilt art, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you have some experience with easy quilts and want to build on your basic quilting skills?

It’s easy to learn to quilt when you have easy quilt patterns plus clear instruction and support from expert quilt artists. Remember, even expert quilters were novices once, and you can benefit from their experience and tips to learn how to make a quilt for beginners like you.

Why not start with some beginner’s quilting projects, like mini quilts and easy quilt patterns, that will teach you simple construction, composition, and free-motion stitching. Learn how to fuse and stitch by creating fiber postcards and silhouette quilts, small wall hangings, patchwork pillows, or placemats. Think how satisfying it will be to complete your first quilting project!

Another great way to understand how to make a quilt for beginners is patchwork. Contemporary patchwork quilts may look complex, but they’re easy quilts to make once the pattern is broken down for you. We have instructions for small quilts with beginner quilt patterns that are easy to follow—soon you’ll learn to quilt creating wholecloth quilts, landscape quilts, and quilt projects for home décor.

Advice on Quilting for Beginners:

1. Join a guild. Most communities have quilting guilds. They welcome new members and are eager to teach beginners quilting. Guild members are a great source of information, encouragement, and friendship.

2. Take classes and workshops. Every teacher offers something different, and their expertise will be invaluable as you learn to quilt.

Sewing Machine Secrets: The Insider's Guide to Mastering Your Machine
Get the most out of your #1 tool, your sewing machine. Learn to choose, use and maintain your sewing machine, master basic quilting techniques, and much more!

3. Choose the right basic quilting supplies. Invest materials and tools like good quality thread, sturdy cutting tools, and a reliable sewing machine. Check out Sewing Machine Secrets to discover incredible expert advice to help you make the best choices when it comes to buying and using your sewing machine. You’ll be glad you did!

4. Start with small, easy quilts. Choose a small art quilt or beginner quilt patterns like a nine-patch for your first project. Learning how to make a simple quilt will teach you the basics you’ll need for more advanced projects.

5. Learn the lingo. Get familiar with basic quilting terms. Before long you’ll understand most of the terms you’ll need in order to follow a beginner quilting pattern, but be sure you look up any unfamiliar terms that you come across before continuing.

6. Relax, enjoy, experiment, but most of all, have fun!

Basic Quilting Terms

Appliqué: Sewing one or more smaller pieces of fabric onto a larger background, by hand or by machine.

Basting: Most often, basting refers to long stitches used to hold the top, batting, and backing of a quilt together. These stitches are removed when the quilt is completed. You can also “baste” with curved pins or spray adhesive.

Batting: Also referred to as filling or wadding, batting is a layer of material (usually cotton, polyester, and/or wool) that is used as insulation between the top and bottom layers of a quilt. It comes in a variety of weights, from low loft to high loft, and sizes. Most batting is natural (undyed) but it is also available in black. The batting is secured to the top and bottom using quilting stitches that go through all three layers of the quilt sandwich. The type of batting used depends on the nature of the project.

Design wall: A neutral colored “wall” where quilters hang quilt blocks to preview their layout. The wall is often covered with flannel or batting so the blocks stay in place without pinning.

Echo quilting: Quilting stitches that echo the shape of the block or shape they are next to. The stitches are placed very close to the piece they “echo.”

Fat quarter: A fat quarter is a ¼ yard of fabric which measures roughly 18″ x 22″ instead of the 9″ x 44″ cut that you would get off of a bolt. This size allows you to cut out larger pieces. Fabric is frequently sold in individual fat quarters.

Free-motion embroidery/stitching: A type of machine stitching that allows you to move around the fabric sandwich in any direction, creating geometric, flowing, or random patterns. Sewing machines must be specially equipped for this function, or must have the capacity to lower the feed dogs (the “teeth” that normally keep the fabric moving through the machine in a straight line).

Fusible webbing: Very thin sheets of webbed, dried glue that can fuse fabrics and other fibers together when activated by heat. Comes in cut sheets or on a roll, housed between two layers of release paper.

Hanging sleeve: A hanging sleeve is a fabric “pocket” on the back of a quilt. The sleeve is centered on the back of the quilt, approximately 1½” in from either side, and stitched in place. People will often add a sleeve to a wall hanging/quilt and then slide a dowel through it to keep the piece “flat” when hung.

Mitered corner: A corner (usually of a border) that is joined at a 45-degree angle, like a frame.

Outline quilting: Quilting stitches that follow the edge of each fabric piece, and are either next to the seam or in it (known as quilting “in-the-ditch”).

Patchwork: Patchwork, sometimes referred to as pieced work, refers to a method of sewing together smaller pieces of fabric (or other materials) to create a larger design. Traditionally, patchwork involves geometric shapes that are precisely cut to the same size, but contemporary methods often take a more freewheeling approach and use fabric pieces of different sizes and shapes.

Quilt sandwich: This term refers to the three layers of a quilt: the quilt top, the inner quilt batting, and the backing fabric.

Raw-edge appliqué: Stitching or fusing one piece of fabric to another without turning the edges under.

Rotary cutter: A sharp cutting device, similar in shape and function as a pizza cutter, that can be used with a straight edge to accurately cut fabric.

Sashing: Sashing is strips of fabric that are sewn between pieced blocks to separate them while joining blocks together to create a quilt top. Sashing is sometimes continued around the outside of the quilt top to create a border.

Self-binding: This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to finish a quilt, though it is slightly less sturdy than other methods. To self-bind, trim the excess backing fabric so that it is even along each edge of the quilt, then fold it over and onto the front of the quilt. Slip-stitch the backing fabric in place to finish.

Stitch in the ditch: Stitches that are sewn parallel to the seams of components in a quilt. The stitching is done very close to the seam and preferably on the side of seam that does not have seam allowance pressed underneath.

Strip piecing: This patchwork technique involves a series of fabric strips that are sewn together along the long edges to form blocks of fabric. The resulting blocks can be used as is or cut and re-stitched to create many different effects. This technique is the basis of Seminole patchwork.

Thread painting: Using a sewing machine like a paintbrush; free-motion stitched images and designs.

UFO: The remnants of quilts started, but never finished are affectionately referred to as UFOs by quilters. UFOs are unfinished objects.

Water-soluble stabilizer: This fine polyvinyl fabric feels like very thin plastic. It needs to be doubled in an embroidery hoop to be stitched on, but is ideal for creating lacy patterns. When immersed in hot water, the background polyvinyl disappears leaving just the lacy embroidery.

Enjoy your new quilting explorations!


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