How to Put a Quilt Together

By Nannette Richford

Handmade quilts add warmth and style to any home, and should reflect the personality of the homeowner. Designing your own can be a lot of fun, as you are in control of the color and style of fabric you choose. Making the quilt top is only the beginning. How you put your quilt together will make a big difference in the final project.

Choose backing material for your quilt that complements your quilt top. A solid color is the best choice. You can either purchase fabric and piece it together to create the backing, or you can purchase a new bedsheet that is already in the dimensions you desire. Using a sheet is probably the easiest method. Sheets are available in a variety of colors and designs. Choose one that likewise complements your quilt top.

Use quilter's batting for the filling in your quilt. It comes in a roll, and is quick and easy to apply. Quilter's batting can be found in any fabric store; it is available in several thicknesses, or lofts. Higher loft batting will create a thicker quilt, but is a little more difficult to sew. If you are looking for cozy warmth under a quilt that is thick and snuggly, choose a higher loft. If you are simply aiming for a quick lap quilt, lower loft is fine. I generally use a medium loft, because it will work for any project.

Cut the backing and the quilter's batting to dimensions 4" longer and wider than your quilt top. They should extend 4" beyond the quilt in all directions.

Spread the backing material, batting and quilt top on a large, flat surface. The floor is fine, but be sure it is clean and dirt-free, and that you have plenty of room to move around the outside of the quilt top.

Choose an area where you will not be disturbed. Be sure that no one is at home, to eliminate disruptions. Remember to put the dog out if you are working in an area he is likely to access.

Smooth all layers to remove wrinkles and prevent bunching. This step is vital. Once you have bound your quilt, it will be too late to remove wrinkles!

Pin the layers together with large safety pins. Begin in the center of the quilt and work your way to the edges, smoothing and straightening as you go. Be careful not to stretch the material out of shape as you pin. Don't skimp on pins or try to take shortcuts with this step. You will need plenty of pins to hold your quilt together.

Baste the layers together with a contrasting thread that is easily visible. This is not absolutely necessary if you have used plenty of pins, but it is the preferred method of many quilters.

Tack your quilt top together with yarn or floss.You can use any complementary color, but many quilters choose white or dark yarn that blends well with the colors of the quilt. You should use one color throughout the quilt. Cut 4" sections and use a darning needle to thread the section of yarn through all layers of the quilt. Begin by inserting the needle through all three layers, starting on the quilt top. Push the needle through to the back while leaving a short, 2" tail of yarn on the quilt top. Make a small stitch back through the layers, ending with another short, 2" tail. Remove the needle. Tie the two ends in a double knot. You can trim these ends to the desired length once you have finished tacking the entire quilt. Be sure to start in the center of the quilt and work your way to the edges.

Trim the border and backing to the dimensions of your quilt top. Use a quilter's square to make sure the corners are squared off properly.

Add your border by folding and pressing the border in place and top-stitching around the border. Be sure your stitching line matches up, so that, when you make the top stitch on the right side of the quilt, the border on the back of the quilt will be stitched to the quilt at the same time.

Remove pins and basting stitches. Clip the tacking to the desired length.

Display your quilt on a quilt rack, or cuddle up beneath it and read a good book.

Tip

Some quilters prefer to tack the quilt after the border is added. If you have pinned and basted properly, it doesn't matter which method you use.

Warning

Always remove any wrinkles before binding the quilt.

About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.