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Getting the Right Start with Quilting

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If you’ve ever admired Grandma’s quilts when you’ve gone over for a visit, you might have wondered if you, too, could do something like that. It seems like a lot of work, and probably requires an expert to make something half as beautiful as hers.

While years of practice will increase your skill, anybody can quilt, with a little help, and a few tips from the pros.

What is Quilting?

For people who don’t really know much about the art of quilting, you could define it as sewing together two layers of fabric, with padding between. Usually, quilting is done to create a quilt, quilted pillow case, or possibly a larger piece of clothing like a coat.

Types of Quilting

There are three basic types of quilting, including machine, hand-quilting, and tacking.

Machine Quilting

As you guessed by the name of this method, a sewing machine or longarm machine is used for sewing together the quilt pieces into the larger whole. Generally, before you would do this kind of quilting at home, you would tack together the pieces by hand. These stitches are temporary, and only needed long enough to keep the quilting layers together until the section of quilt is machine stitched permanently.

Hand Quilting

Of course, this style is the most commonly seen in films, or read about in fiction. These quilts are often considered works of art, and often sell for hundreds of dollars. This is the most labor intensive form of quilting.

Tying or Tacking

This process is used for creating a quick project that’s needed now. You take thread or yarn and tie them together with the pieces you’re connecting into one piece. You use square knots to finish off the piece, to help prevent the quilt from coming undone or destroyed when washed.

What Quilting Supplies do you Need?

From start to finish, there’s a rather long list of supplies you’ll need for quilting, whether by hand or machine.

Cutting Tools

Quilting Supplies

You’ll need a rotary tool, fabric scissors, a ruler, and a cutting mat to get started. These help you align your fabric correctly, measure out precise sizes, and cut the shapes desired for your quilt.

Fastening Tools

You’ll need straight pins and safety pins to help keep your quilting pieces together. If you’re using a sewing machine for the actual quilting process, you’ll also need a needle and thread for basting the layers together before getting to the machine.

Sewing Supplies

For making a proper quilt, you’re going to need the following sewing supplies:

The Right Thread

When you choose the thread color to match your quilt pieces, remember that you need high quality thread. The basting thread can be cheap — it’s only a temporary stitching anyway. The thread you’re using to permanently stitch the quilt together with, however, needs to be durable. Most quilts experience a lifetime of wear and tear, and the weaker the thread, the weaker the quilt.

A Seam Ripper

This little tool will come in handy for removing basting thread, any errors in your stitching, or for pulling apart knots.

The Right Fabric

There are many types of fabric that can be used for quilting. Primarily, you’re looking for material that will last, be easy to work with, and, of course, has the look you’re aiming for.


Batting, or wadding, is the padding material that’s used between the two layers of standard fabric. This is what adds the warmth and plush feel of the quilt.

Sewing Machine or Needles

There are machines designed specifically for quilting. Others have a quilting setting on them, and work well for this as well. If you’re going the hand quilting route, though, be sure to look for quilting needles.

Other Supplies

A Good Iron

A good iron is important for flattening your fabrics and removing creases before making your quilt. If you’ve got a piece that’s pleated when it shouldn’t be, you could completely throw your entire project off by that little bit.

The Right PatternThe Willow Market

If you don’t already have a pattern in mind, we recommend checking out some sites like Keepsake Quilting and Craftsy. These, and other quilting sites, have beautiful, reasonably priced patterns that will match your taste. Traditional patterns, like those used by the Amish, to modern styles come in all skill levels, and come with easy-to-follow instructions.

Frames or Hoops

If you’re hand-quilting, you’re going to need a frame or hoop. You attach your fabric through the hoop, and then you’re able to pass the needle back and forth through the fabric. You’re able to move the fabric within the hoop, adjusting as you need to.

If you’re ready to start quilting, be sure to gather your supplies. The right thread, fabric, pattern and machine will make all the difference. You can check out sites like Keepsake Quilting, or Craftsy, and find easy to follow patterns, and get started as soon as you get home from the craft store.

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