Quilting 101 – Basics of Quilting

quilting basics 101

Quilting 101 – Basics of Quilting

Ah, quilting! There are few things in life that surpass the pleasure of creating a beautiful work of art for yourself or someone you love. As with many other forms of art, quilting needs to be done correctly in order to achieve the desired results. Quilts are often cherished as heirlooms and are passed down to the younger generations. Below you will find information to help you get started.

Quilt Design

Color is a major deciding factor in how the quilt will look. If the quilt is designed for a baby’s room, you will want the colors to be muted. Pastels in baby blues, yellows and pinks are excellent choices for that little cutie-pie.

If you’re unsure of what design you should use for your quilt, take a look at quilt kits and quilting patterns at your local arts and crafts store. There are many patterns to choose from, such as tight geometric patterns and patchwork. You can even spice it up with embroidery or appliques.

Fabric Selection

Whether you are making a quilt from scratch or from fabric specially chosen for the purpose, there are several things you should consider.


Colorfastness should be taken into heavy consideration. There’s nothing more annoying than having all your lighter colors turn varying shades of the darker colors in your quilt after putting it through the washer for the first time. Always wash your fabric before using it to test its colorfastness.

Fabric Weave

The fabric will need to be strong enough to withstand many years of washing and use if you expect it to become an heirloom. Loosely-woven fabrics are not as sturdy as tightly-woven fabrics and will rip and tear easily. To have a quilt that will last for decades, use a relatively dense fabric. Don’t go overboard with dense fabrics, though. If they are too dense, you will have a very hard time quilting them.

Cotton is King!

If you’re a beginning quilter, use 100 percent cotton fabric for your first quilts. As you become more experienced, you can move into fabrics that are more difficult to work with. Try to avoid stretchy and knit fabrics, as these are extremely difficult to sew with.

Fabrics with Patterns

When using patterned fabric, be sure to cut all pieces facing the same way up. Align your fabric in such a fashion that you are able to cut all motifs the same way. Use this diagram to ensure that all your pieces follow the same pattern. http://www.quilting101.com/making/cutting-fabric

Color Temperature

Many people fail to pay enough attention to the color balance between the fabrics they choose. Keep in mind that colors with “cool” tints such as blue and green will make a room appear more peaceful than a room with vivid “warm” colors such as red and rich purple. As a general rule, warm colors tend to excite, while cool colors tend to relax.

Buy a Little More

Always buy a little more fabric than you think you need. If you don’t use it all, you can put it aside to use for another quilt in the future. It’s better to have a little extra than to run out in the middle and discover that the store no longer sells that particular color.

The Quilt Sandwich

The quilt sandwich consists of the quilt top, the batting and the quilt backing. When assembling your quilt sandwich, you may wish to enlist the help of a friend to help keep it centered. You will need to have a large space prepared to work. If you use the floor, clean and vacuum the area to remove any debris. To prepare the quilt assembly, lay out the backing first and make it smooth. Next lay the batting on top of the backing. Be sure that it is centered with even amounts of material along each edge. Finally, add the quilt top. Pin the quilt sandwich together, starting at the center and being careful to keep the layers still. Smooth all the layers as you go to prevent any gathering or bunching.

How to Select Batting

There are three main types of batting: cotton, polyester and wool.

Cotton batting is ideal for small projects and beginning quilters. It is easy to work with and easily achieves an even look.

Polyester batting is lightweight and inexpensive. It has a tendency to work through the fabric weave and may cause “bearding.”

Wool batting is the warmest of the three. It is extremely moisture-absorbent and ideal for use in cool or damp climates. Be careful with washing a wool quilt; failure to follow the proper care will lead to warping or shrinkage.

Quilting Technique

Quilters have debated between hand- and machine-quilting methods. Each side claims that their technique is best, but the method that you choose will depend on how long you want the project to last and if you’re willing to operate a sewing machine.

Hand Quilting

Hand quilting requires a great deal of patience. Attach your quilting hoop or frame to the quilt and begin in the middle. Use small stitches. Do not rush, as haste will lead to a sloppy appearance. If you are using patchwork, start in the middle and follow the lines of your squares. If you choose to cross hatch instead, draw lines in pencil to determine how each section should be quilted. Instead of cross hatching, you can also use stippling. Stippling is a sewing technique that leaves smooth curved lines across the entire expanse of the quilt.

Machine Quilting

Modern quilting and sewing machines feature a wide variety of stitching options that will produce evenly-spaced stitches every time. Although machine quilting is faster, the finished product will lack the personal touch of a hand-sewn quilt. If you’re using appliqués, you will most likely need to quilt these by hand and perform the background stitching by the machine. Both cross hatching and stippling are easy processes to perform with a sewing machine.

Quilt Care

A quilt requires special care to ensure that it will last as long as possible. Quilts should be washed on gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. A half cup of white vinegar will help brighten the colors. The quilt should be allowed to dry flat. If there is no space to dry the quilt, place it in the dryer on low for a few minutes before allowing it to finish drying by air.


A quilt is a treasure that can warm the hearts of generations. From start to finish, quilts are a unique way to touch the lives of those you love, both now and in the decades ahead.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]

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