Monday, November 08, 2010

10 tips for the beginning quilter.

This picture was taken back in March.  And no, I'm not actually teaching
Cameron how to sew.  I'm waiting until she turns 3!
Whenever someone finds out that I’m a quilter they

a) look at me like I’m a freak
b) tell me “I could never quilt – it’s way too hard”.

They probably have it right with the freak part, but they could not be more wrong with quilting being hard. Quilting is one of the easiest things in the world. If you can sew in a straight line, you can quilt.

Here are my top ten tips for the beginning quilter:

1. Find a friend who quilts and borrow her quilting tools. There is no point in shelling out a whole whack of cash on things like cutting mats, rotary cutters, and rulers until you know you like it.
2. Take a quilting class at your local sewing store. Preferably with a friend (makes it more fun and you have someone to ask questions after class when you forget which way to press your seams).
3. Start small with your first project – no bigger than a baby quilt
4. Don’t wash your fabric first – it handles much better pre-washed
5. Everyone makes mistakes, don’t worry about it when you make one, or ten. I think of my quilts like Persian rugs whose makers add an intentional mistake to every rug (the concept being that only God or the Supreme Being is capable of perfection in creativity).
6. If you feel frustrated, stop quilting and go for a walk. There is no point in continuing if your tired – you will make silly mistakes that will be a pain in the ass to tear out later.
7. Use high quality fabric. Yes it is more expensive, but it will hold up better over time and is easier to sew with. If you are going to put that much time and effort into something, it is worth the investment
8. Choose fabrics that complement and contrast each other – be brave! And make sure you absolutely love the fabric you pick.
9. If you are giving your quilt to someone, make sure they know and appreciate how much work goes into making a quilt.  There is nothing worse than finding out after the fact that they let their cat give birth on it.
10. Only give your quilt to someone who will let you visit your quilt (sometimes pictures just don't cut it!).

I hope that little list helps!  Of course, there are a lot of little tips that you learn as you go, but if you can stick with that list of ten, you'll be a quilter before you know it!


  1. DON'T wash your fabric?!?!? Don't??? That makes me hurt on the inside! As someone who once made a quilt with unwashed fabric only to have it shrink and pull and rip and unravel when I washed it, I would never, ever in one million years make a quilt without washing and drying the fabric first. Yikes! :)

    I would also pass on the tip my quilting teacher gave me which was, try to put on a load on laundry when you're working on a quilt. The idea being that you'll have to get up and attend to the laundry periodically, so you'll be able to get up and stretch and clear your head for a minute. It works for me!


  2. I stick by the "don't" as long as you are using all brand new fabric from the same line. It handles so much more nicely that way and as long as all of your seems are 1/4". When you wash it and dry it then it gets that nice stippled quilt effect. Also - all of the precuts that moda is coming out with (jelly rolls, charm packs, etc) can't be washed because they will just unravel into nothing.

    I like the laundry's easy to forget to get up and stretch.