It’s National Sewing Month! To celebrate, AllFreeSewing.com is hosting a special blog series throughout the entire month. Check back daily for posts featuring our favorite projects, new sewing videos and tutorials, guest blogs from talented designers and more. We’re also giving away a HUGE sewing prize at the end of the month. You won’t believe how EASY it is to WIN!
Leave a comment on any of the blog posts with the headline “National Sewing Month”. Your comment will count as an entry into the giveaway. You are free to comment as often as once per blog post (for a total of 30 chances to win!). At the end of the month, we’ll pool all of the comments together and pick one lucky winner to win the mystery grand prize. And trust us; you want to win this one!
Whether you’re already a sewing enthusiast or new to the craft, our hope is that this September will encourage you to create wonderful sewn projects.
Happy National Sewing Month!
Here’s today’s post:
When I first started quilting, I thought I knew what I was doing. I had been sewing since I was a little girl, and quilting didn’t seem much more complicated. For my very first quilt, I made a 5″ x 5″ cardboard template and painstakingly cut out each fabric square with a pair of scissors. When I was done piecing the squares together, I had a simple patchwork quilt top about the size of a baby quilt. Then, in accordance with the strict sewing rules I had learned as a girl, I put the right sides of the backing fabric and quilt top together, stitched around the perimeter, and turned it right side out. I don’t think there was actually any batting or even quilting involved in that first quilt. I had essentially made a large, empty, patchwork pillowcase.
My next quilt was a better attempt, but still only an attempt. I had read quite a bit more about quilting, and I knew the basics, but the ideas of cutting accurately, pressing seams in alternate directions, matching corners, and using a quilting foot completely escaped me. Recently I saw a doll quilt made by a nine-year-old child that was more sophisticated than that quilt.
So after much trial and error, I’m here to tell you that quilting is not complicated, but it is a skill set apart from general sewing. You can easily learn to quilt if you know the techniques and tricks quilters use to make their quilts look polished. Below, I have outlined how to make a quilt from start to finish with handy tutorials from FaveQuilts.com to guide you along the way:
1. Design The Quilt: You can either design a quilt pattern yourself or choose from the hundreds of quilt patterns we have available on FaveQuilts.com. Once you have an idea of pattern you would like to use, learn how to select fabrics that will coordinate well in the finished piecework. Then, prepare your fabrics for quilting depending on how the quilt will be used. Use this article to decide what you will need to do to prepare your fabrics before you begin.
2. Cut The Fabric: Although most people use scissors, pattern pieces, and measuring tapes when cutting out fabric for garments or other sewing projects, quilters prefer to use rotary cutters and quilting rulers. Although you can use scissors and cardboard templates for making quilts, most people find it easier to use a rotary cutter to quickly and accurately slice layers of fabric into geometric shapes. You should also buy a self-healing mat to protect your tables and other surfaces from the sharp blade of the rotary cutter. A quilting ruler is a large, heavily marked ruler that will make it easier for you to keep fabrics in place and make precise measurements. Check out the Basic Rotary Cutting Tutorial for a primer on this cutting method.
3. Piece The Fabric: There are oodles of ways to piece fabric shapes together into a pattern; that’s the beauty of piecework! But before you so much as sew one square to another, learn how to sew accurate 1/4 inch seams. Although the majority of sewing patterns call for 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch seams, most quilters sew a very precise or scant 1/4-inch seam throughout their work. If your seams are not accurate, your quilt top will develop pulls, puckers, and unevenness where the finished pieces are not the same size. In addition, you should learn to ignore the sewing rule that tells you to always press seams open. Sometimes pressing seams in an alternate directions will help you match up seams when sewing rows together. When you are ready to move on to other piecing techniques, check out our Piecing category on FaveQuilts.
4. Baste The Quilt: In my opinion, basting the quilt is one of the trickiest parts of quilting. Your sewing skills will not prepare you for scrambling around on the floor with a roll of duct tape, fervently smoothing out every last wrinkle and bubble in a quilt sandwich made from backing, batting, and quilt top. Learn how to baste quilts and try several different methods to see which works best for you. Quilting pins and spray starch are popular methods.
5. Quilt The Quilt: Quilting is what makes a quilt a quilt. Quilting refers to the stitching that sprawls across a quilt, connecting the backing, batting, and quilt top to make one thick blanket of fabric. Quilting can be decorative or utilitarian, hand-stitched or machine-stitched. Check here for tutorials on quilting by hand, including methods for hand tying quilts. You can also quilt with a sewing machine, but you will need to make several adaptations to your machine and practice a little before tackling a full-size quilt. Browse a few different tutorials on free motion quilting for more information. Once you’ve perfected your favorite method of quilting, watch our Patterns for Quilting category for decorative stitch patterns to spice up your quilting.
6. Bind The Quilt: Binding is a long, skinny piece of fabric that folds over the raw edges of a quilt, running completely around the perimeter. There are oodles of different ways to bind a quilt, whether by machine or by hand, with store-bought binding or handmade binding. Read several of our tutorials on binding a quilt to decide which method best fits the quilting you are working on. You might be happiest starting off with store-bought bias tape and machine stitching it along the perimeter of the quilt to familiarize yourself with binding before trying to make your own.
Once your quilt is bound, throw it in the wash (if you want the quilt to be soft and pliable) and swipe a lint roller over it to pick up loose threads and tufts of batting. You have finished your very first quilt! Throw it on your bed or hang it on your wall and be proud!