Quilt Making How-to AdviceThere are no absolute rules to follow when you learn how to make a quilt. Quilters are constantly changing the rules by developing new, and time-saving, ways to accomplish the same tasks.
It wasn't too many years ago that quilters marked fabric using templates and cut out every patch with a pair of scissors. Some quilters still do that, but more and more people love the ease and speed of rotary cutting their patchwork. Machine quilting is another technique that's become important over the past decade.
Use these instructions to get started, but always remember that you might develop time-saving -- or better -- quilting methods of your own.
Read Quilting PatternsIt might seem a little backwards to start you off by reading quilting patterns, but I think it's an excellent way to begin learning how to make a quilt. Why? You'll become familiar with techniques that are used and you'll begin to learn quilting terms. Any quilting chatter you hear will make more sense after you've studied a few quilting patterns.
Learn About Quilting FabricsYou'll probably make the majority of your quilts with cotton quilting fabrics. I can't say this strongly enough: learn fabric characteristics before you ever wash or cut a piece of fabric.
- Find out how fabric grain can enhance or destroy your accuracy.
- Decide whether or not it's important to prewash your quilting fabrics.
- Learn how to do a bleed test and an easy way to keep fabric edges from fraying in the wash.
- Learn how a burn test can help identify fabrics.
- Want to test your knowledge of fabric? Take my Fabric Quiz.
Get Comfortable with ColorYou'll be bombarded with lots of colors and textures from the moment you walk into a fabric store. And I can almost guarantee that, unless you're already involved in similar crafts, you'll be confused at first about fabric selection.
There are no color rules, but a basic understanding of a simple color wheel can help you choose colors and fabrics for your first quilts.
Color value is possibly more important than color itself. Value refers to how dark or light a color is in relation to other colors. Even if you skip the color wheel, do learn about color value, because value differences and similarities are what work together to define the designs in our quilts.
Quilt Block ConstructionIt's helpful to have an understanding patchwork quilt block bone structure. That knowledge shows you how blocks fit together (or not) and is a huge help when it's time to design and sew the quilt.
Accurate pressing goes hand in hand with quilt block construction. If the block isn't pressed carefully, it probably won't be accurate.
If you're accustomed to garment construction, you might not realize that most quilts are assembled using a narrower seam allowance. You'll need to set up your machine to sew a quarter inch seam.
Quilt LayoutYou'll need to know standard mattress sizes before you design the quilt and buy fabrics.
If you're not using a pattern, you'll need to determine if you want blocks that are set on point or straight set -- sewn side by side.
You'll find lots of quilt layout inspiration in our quilt photo galleries.
Quilt Sashing and BordersShould you add sashing to the quilt? And do you prefer the look of straight sewn borders or mitered borders? You might opt to go with pieced borders or use a border print to make the quilt border truly unique.
Making the Quilt Sandwich
- What kind of batting will you use?
- Will you piece the quilt backing or use one of the wide fabrics made especially for that? Quilt Backing Instructions
You'll have a several decisions to make when you assemble the quilt sandwich.
Quilting the QuiltYou can quilt the quilt by hand or machine. Or you might choose to tie the quilt for a quick finish.
Binding the QuiltYou're getting close to the end when it's time to bind the quilt, and it isn't difficult to make binding strips from any fabric. Finally, you'll sew the binding to the quilt. One popular method gives you binding with neat mitered corners.
Before you finish, decide if you want to sew a hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt. A temporary sleeve can be added anytime, but a permanent sleeve is often sewn on at the same time you add the binding.
Quilting OptionsThe articles I've referenced should get you off to a good start, but that's what they are -- a start. They do not cover every quiltmaking technique, or even all of the options for each method. You'll learn more about making a quilt with every project you work on.
More Topics that Explain How to Make a Quilt
- Learn Foundation Piecing
- Make a Denim Quilt
- Make Quick Pieced Half Square Triangle Units
- Rotary Cutting Help
- Applique Techniques
- Advice Just for Beginning Quilters
- Rag quilt general instructions and rag quilt patterns.