A pastime revived in recent years is that of quilting, meaning making your own quilt. Who would have guessed that with all the ready-made quilts available today that people everywhere are gravitating to making their own? Here is an overview of what goes on in that process.
If quilting is something you are interested in, the first thing to do is to find a pattern for your quilt. There are a lot of patterns to choose from, or if you want you could just use a single piece of fabric for the entire quilt. For the single fabric quilt, the quilt stitch pattern is its beauty.
If this is your first quilt, you probably want to choose a pattern with large blocks. You can get a pattern at your local fabric store. Sometimes they offer classes on quilting or even have quilting clubs you can join. It’s a great way to meet new people and share common interests. If no class or club is available there are books available to give tips on the ins and outs of quilting like the book by Carol Doak, Your First Quilt Book: Or It Should Be.
Choosing your fabric is important. Quilt quality fabric is a higher quality material, minimizing stretching or shrinking and that wears better for longer life. Threads per inch is a good way to measure what is best for quilting and a count around 70 is ideal. A higher thread count will be harder to get the quilting needle to stitch through and a lower count is a material too loose and wears out easily and will stretch out of shape as you quilt. So check to be sure you are getting quilt quality fabric.
Tools for the project will include a rotary cutter, chalk, pin cushion, cutting mat and a ruler to help square up your fabric (a 24″ x 8-1/2″ ruler is preferred for high versatility). If you are not quilting by hand, you of course need a good sewing machine with a quilting needle for the final quilting stitches and a walking foot that works together to feed uniformly with the bottom feed dog. You will also want a ¼ inch machine foot.
When you sew your patches together, be sure to use a good quality medium weight quilting thread. Make sure your seams are 1/4 inch seams. Any deviation will result in a quilt either too big or too small or that the patches won’t line up properly. Your 1/4 inch foot helps keep your seams uniform. Then iron the seams as you sew for a nice flat quilt front.
The most popular batting material is cotton or polyester. You can also get poly-cotton blend, wool, silk, and bamboo as well as organic batting, The loft is the thickness and the greater the loft, the more puffy the quilt appears when finished. Coverlets have a lower loft.
Quilt stitch the layers together. Cut strips of fabric 2-1/2 inches wide for the binding and miter cut the ends. Piece the ends together with ¼ inch seam so that the total length reaches in excess to the entire outside edge of the quilt. Fold in half lengthwise and iron. Starting somewhere at the middle edge leaving 4 inches of binding not attached, sew the binding to the quilt using a 1/4 inch seam. Stop sewing 1/4 inch from the first corner, then fold the binding down at a 45 degree angle. Fold the fabric back so it is square with the quilt then continue sewing. Follow this procedure on all 4 corners. When you reach within 6 inches of the starting point trim off the excess binding with 4 inches extra, miter cut the edges allowing ½ inch more for the seam, then sew the ends together with a ¼ inch seam. Finish sewing the binding to the quilt. Open up the binding and fold it over to hand stitch to the back side. Now you’re done!