Sunday, April 28, 2013

Quilting 101: A Beginner's Experience

Growing up among talented seamstresses, I have been surrounded by the comforts of handmade quilts. I slept with miniature versions as a child. My mother even made me a quilt out of my t-shirts to fit my college dorm bed (most comfortable blanket I've ever experienced). So, I'm somewhat surprised it's taken me this long to try piecing a quilt myself, but when I saw this modern chevron pattern on Pinterest, the wait was over.
The "professional quilter" version.
It's a small quilt, good for a first timer, and made entirely of triangles which made piecing easier.  Since J has a quilting design up his sleeve, we wanted a good practice run and purchased a basic quilting book for tips and tricks. 

The book I use, included as a photo because
I can't find any of the progress shots of my quilt.
I highly recommend doing some research before starting any quilt. The fabrics you choose are important, as are the methods you use to cut your pieces.  Some basics I've learned so far include:
  • Buy cotton fabrics with little to no stretch
  • Wash and dry all fabrics prior to cutting
  • Remove fabrics from the dryer promptly to prevent deep wrinkles
  • Press your fabric, don't iron it
  • All fabric must be straightened before measuring cuts
  • Always buy larger cuts than you think you need, as straightening fabric often shrinks the useable amount
Of these, the most surprising to me were the difference between pressing and ironing and the amount of fabric I lost to straightening.  Apparently, ironing fabric is the process of sliding an iron back and forth across fabric whereas pressing is the direct setting of an iron on fabric, picking the iron back up and setting it directly down on a different section of the fabric.  The latter guarantees you are not stretching the fabric as you press out the wrinkles.

As for the fabric straightening, unfortunately fabric cutters and bolts of fabric aren't perfect. And, as with most things, some or more perfect than others.  I had a few pieces of fabric so crookedly cut that to straighten them meant losing a couple inches, which prompted yet another trip to the fabric store, which prompted a color change when they no longer were carrying the fabric I started with.
So far, the piecing experience of quilting has been quite enjoyable.  There's something zen about repetitive craft practices for me, and that's precisely what quilting requires.  We'll see if I continue to feel that way when I get to the process of making my own binding.


  1. I really need to get back to my quilt. I haven't touched it in more than two years.

    1. I think of you every time I work on it. Knowing you were working on one helped me believe I could do it!

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