If you’re new to the world of quilting, it can be difficult to know what skills you need to get started — or even how to begin. This is especially true if you’ve never done any hand- or machine-quilting before. From choosing and using the right supplies, to learning the fundamentals of hand-quilting and machine quilting, we’ve got eight tips that’ll help turn you into a quilting pro in no time.
The best tools for quilting
Sewing is something that most people have to learn at some point in their life. It’s not just about sewing clothes. There are lots of fabrics and materials that you can use to make quilts. For example, you can sew quilts out of old clothes, sheets, silk, linen, wool, and even paper.The first thing you need to realize as a quilter (which is to say a maker of hand-quilted fabrics) is that nothing is worse for the environment than fabrics made from mined minerals. Though mining for minerals is an underground process, because those minerals are extracted, they must be shipped to surface sites for processing. Because most fabrics are made from natural fibers, the earth anywhere near mining sites emits a terrible, noxious odor.
Because of all that bad stuff, you’ll need to be extra conscientious when deciding which materials to use in quilts. When going to get fabric, you need to know where to look so you don’t end up buying something you shouldn’t. To avoid this problem, learn what materials you can use and choose from the full list below. Standard fabrics (i.e., cotton) can be found pretty much anywhere. Try to find fabric stores that have lots of items to quilt with.Machine quilting is quick and easy. The machine uses a belt, sort of, to move the pieces around the machine. Take your time, and your quilt will turn out beautiful! Although most of the hand-quilting tutorials we found use paper, you don’t need to choose paper. Not all combinations of colors super, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Whatever you use, never use cotton for a print. Cotton is notorious for fading.There are lots of different types of paper and plenty of different types of paper types. If you buy the color of paper you want, it won’t matter what kind of paper it is, but it does matter that it is of the right type.
How to choose fabrics that won’t let you down
When you’re choosing fabrics for your next sewing project, it’s important to make sure you choose fabrics that won’t let you down.Since machine quilting employs more complicated techniques — like backstitching and joining threads — you’ll need to cultivate certain skills in order to be ready (and comfortable) when you consider the challenges involved. That’s why this quilting beginner’s guide is chock full of our best tips for getting ready and dominating sewing machine quilting.
Start the process by making a plan
Before you pick up a needle or whip out a cloth, you need to decide whether you’re interested in hand or machine quilting. This doesn’t just apply to sewing machines. Machine quilting requires receiving instructions from a knowledgeable seamstress, whereas hand quilting requires the practice of arts such as crafting and decorating as well. Choosing a side is half the battle: Selecting fabrics and sequences — and knowing which to follow and which to leave out — requires planning.
Make it fun
Whether you choose a simple straight quilt or a chunky blanket, there are lots of ways to get inspired with your fabric selection. Just remember the focus should be on making it enjoyable — whether that means taking a cat or dog quilt for a walk or going for a burger and cheesesteak meal with the family, quilting allows you to customize it to your liking. And if you prefer to do something a little more reserved, a fun quilt you customize for a friend or family member using a fun group craft project is perfect for the romantic, nostalgic or simple.
Pick your colors
Taking into account the color and fabric preferences of your family, friends and co-workers will enable you to put together the perfect outfit for any occasion. Assuming each occasion calls for a different color, make sure you select the fabric appropriately from the color wheel.
The difference between hand quilting and machine quilting
Machine quilting is when the quilting is done by the machine, which is also called long-arm quilting. Hand quilting, on the other hand, is when the quilting is done by hand. According to the Covid-19 pandemic, we may have to get creative: quilts are often the best way to help us stay cozy during the lockdown (and provide some much-needed comfort during the times when we can’t venture out into public places). Along with using quilts as sleep pajamas or costumes, two other ways quilters are preparing to tackle the pandemic are creating new quilts and quilts adapted from existing quilts and using tools to recreate cherished quilts.
“My leads are telling me we have to learn how to reorganize our closets,” says Jackie Torpy, a line finisher in Vermont. “There’s no way we can start doing hand quilting, but it gives us the opportunity for a craft we’ve had for generations. It’s a reconnection, especially on these cold winter evenings after work.” Torpy is happy to take on the challenge of learning a new skill and creating a quilt based on what she has. A good place to start is building-blocks quilts, which she learned when quilting for local school districts and is now adapting to machine quilting, using blocks of fabric for one-square-to-the-inch patterns — similar to scenes from a photo album. “Every pattern is specific to a certain project, definitely hemming, and then I base it off that block of color or fabric,” she explains. “Some of my first block quilts are pretty basic, using a fun blanket fabric to create a scene with the quilt pattern on the front and the back.”
In general, the more brightly colored your quilts are, the easier it is to show off—and the more fun and exciting the quilt is to make. A pink quilt, for example, can be impressive and fun to showcase, while a black quilt, on the other hand, will provide a soft, dignified atmosphere.
What to consider when buying a machine for quilting
There are a few things to consider when buying a machine for quilting. First, how much space do you have to store it? If you have limited space or you move around a lot, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a large, stationary machine.You may end up moving the quilt as well as the darn thing! Radical questions aside, you may also want to consider different types of quilts. Here’s our quick breakdown of what type of quilt you should go for.
A strong cost/benefit analysis can help you determine which types of machines are best for your home or workspace. It’s important to think about what you’ll be needing/using your machine for before you decide to buy it. Are you learning how to machine quilt and want a simple machine with few moving parts? A “seven-footer” isn’t the right machine for you. Does your space allow for a larger machine? A cabled (or corded) version can be a much better fit for a mini-kitchen, if space and budget allow. Always try to consider the function of your machine before buying — it’s better to make your purchase decision based on functionality, rather than brand or price, as some machines demand a certain function.
Finding answers for these kinds of questions will help you choose the machine you need — or choose the machine you don’t. Once you’ve decided what type of machine fits your needs and budget, research different options to see if they interest you and whether they come with other perks like special features and features. Once you’ve chosen the machine that’s perfect for you and your space, here are a few questions to consider before you get started:
We begin this section by reiterating the importance of choosing a strong machine that can handle high heat and high thread counts. If you have a home with high ceilings, a spinning top, or a ground floor setup, you may want to reconsider a smaller machine.
How to make your first quilt
If you’re new to quilting, it can be a little intimidating to start making your own quilts. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert to start making your own quilts. It’s not even necessary to have a sewing machine to make your first quilt.Our tips for getting started with hand quilting and machine quilting will help you pick the right supplies, learn the basics, and ensure you create a functional, beautiful quilt in no time.
In the world of quilting, there are a myriad of supplies you’ll need to buy yourself. At an absolute bare minimum, you need two basic supplies for sewing machine quilts: batting, and thread. Cotton batting is something you’ll need pretty much day one as a quilter if you want to succeed as a seasoned professional. Basically, it’s the raw material used to form the ‘bunny’ (pat), or squares, that comprise the exterior of a machine quilt. When selecting batting, it’s wise to go for a thin batting so it can easily be sewed to the quilting edges without getting pinched up. For less than $2 per square, batting will last you for years, and might even outlast your machine.
If you live outside of the U.S., you may want to consider ordering batting from another country. Many countries operate under more flexible exchange policies, meaning that your hard-earned batting will be mostly or fully exchangeable for a better product or exchange at a later date. Alternatively, if you’re not sure where to purchase your batting, order it from your local craft store. Thread is simply coarse thread used to sew garments. It is ‘wet-weight’ and can be used to stitch together strips of fabric. Quilters usually go through one roll of thread for each quilt, but if you’re new to the hobby, be sure to purchase thread that isn’t too ‘heavy’ or will take up less space.