There’s never been a better time to take up a craft. We enjoy better access to materials, supplies, and classes. So, you can find a hobby that suits you and your lifestyle.
The crafting industry is worth $36 billion worldwide and quilting offers a fun and relaxing pastime. Not to mention, your quilts become mini works of art!
But where do you start? There’s a lot of information to take in and it can be daunting when you’re new to it.
So, if you want our best quilting tips for beginners, read on!
1. Beware of Fabrics That Can Stretch
Some fabrics have a degree of stretch. Others can pull when you try to sew them. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with uneven lines.
Use a walking (or quilting) foot on your sewing machine. This helps pass fabric layers through the machine properly.
Alternatively, use painters tape. This gives you a guideline to aim for while sewing. It doesn’t leave marks on your fabric either.
For your first quilt, cotton is a great choice because it doesn’t slide around.
2. Check Your Measurements
You might think you have plenty of fabric when you start a project. But it’s easy to mis-measure and run out part way through.
There are two solutions to this problem. First, check your measurements several times before you start.
Try using a quilting calculator online. It’ll help you convert between measurements. You can also use calculators to work out how much fabric you need for borders, batting, and backing.
Second, have spare fabric on hand. If you don’t use it in this project, keep it for a future one. Or set up a fabric swap with quilting friends.
This is also why it’s a good idea to use a rotary cutter to keep edges crisp. Use the same ruler for the squares in your project. Believe it or not, rulers can vary slightly, but you want to keep consistency.
3. Keep Your Thread Supply Full
There’s nothing worse than having your thread run out while you’re busy sewing. Make a note to check your bobbin every time you sit down to sew.
If you forget, don’t worry. There’s a solution for that too.
Backtrack enough that you can undo some of the stitches. Knot the thread and tuck it inside the quilt. Start sewing again and no one will notice.
You can do the same if thread snaps, though it’s also worth looking at causes if thread snaps on a regular basis.
Do you live somewhere very dry? This can dry out the thread and make it brittle.
Pop your thread into a plastic bag with damp kitchen paper. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours and the thread will absorb the moisture from the paper. This stops it from snapping as often.
4. Spend Time Choosing the Right Thread
You’ll need to decide if you want to use one color for the whole quilt. Perhaps you’d rather use different colors for different fabrics.
One color is easier to manage when you start out. Just remember to unwind some thread to lay against your chosen fabric.
The color is more vibrant on the spool. Laying it out gives you a truer reflection of the color.
Do you want a contrast with all your fabric? If you’re torn between two colors, choose the lighter one. It’ll always contrast better than a darker shade.
5. Plan Your Quilt First
A lot of beginners download quilt designs when they start out. It’s a great way to get a feel for how the pieces fit together.
If you’d rather tackle something more personal, draw a plan first. This will help you to work out how much fabric you need.
You can even buy pre-cut quilt squares of coordinating fabric for your first attempt.
6. Don’t Overcomplicate Things
Many find the idea of sewing a whole quilt daunting. Don’t let it put you off – simply make something smaller!
Make a crib quilt or even a cushion cover made of patches. It’s a good place to start and it builds confidence.
Don’t try to tackle designs using anything other than rectangles or squares for your first attempt.
7. Start with a Professional Finish in Mind
Iron all of the pieces before you assemble the quilt top. Some quilters press their seams open, though they may show through on thinner fabrics.
Others press seams on the side of the darker fabric to make them less obvious. Stick to whichever method you prefer – but stay consistent.
8. Assemble Your Quilt with Care
Sewing the quilt top together is your first achievement but how do you turn that into a quilt?
Cut the batting 2 inches bigger than the quilt top. The backing fabric should be an inch bigger.
Start with the backing fabric. Lay it right side down. Then center the batting on top of the backing.
Put the quilt top right side up on top of the batting. Secure the layers with safety pins to keep them together as you sew.
Using a walking foot on your machine, choose a straight stitch. Sew a straight line through all three layers on the quilt top.
Trim the backing and batting to match your quilt top once you’ve sewn your seams. Then choose a binding to match your color scheme.
9. Avoid Puffy Quilts
Sometimes the batting ends up fluffy. It makes the quilt look more like a duvet than a blanket.
Make up a pressing spray using 2 cups of distilled water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add the mixture to a glass spray bottle.
Spray this over the quilt and iron it on a low heat, which smooths and flattens the batting.
That’ll give you a supple quilt that’s ready to use or to hang on a wall if you’d rather display your handiwork.
Follow These Quilting Tips for Success
We hope these quilting tips prove helpful. And we also hope they make the prospect of making your first quilt less daunting!
Start small and master the basics. Before long, you’ll have made a beautiful family heirloom!
Why not browse our featured products to find your next (or first) project?