Sewing a quilt is for some, a dream. While they may sew a little, many people do not think they can tackle an entire quilt project. The key is to start with a small quilt project and a simple pattern so you do not get overwhelmed and quit. There are several tricks of the trade when it comes to quilt making which make the process of quilting so much easier with better results.
The Beginning of Quilts
Quilting is the process of layering fabrics together to make one blanket that is warmer than a single layer of fabric. Evidence of types of quilts date back to ancient Egypt and Mongolia. However, the quilts we see today became popular in the United States in the early 18th century, as pioneers needed bed covering that would keep them warm. Pioneer women would make patchwork quilts by cutting up old and threadbare fabrics, saving only the sections that were still usable.
Using a Sewing Machine
Where quilters of old would hand sew all their quilts, using a sewing machine takes much less time than hand sewing and the stitches hold better.
Sewing machines allow you to chain stitch. Chain stitching is when you sew a repetitive pattern of pieces without stopping. For example, if you have to sew 100 triangles together in pairs, sew them all instead of working on each individual block at a time. Do not cut the threads after each pair of triangles. You will end up with a long strand. Clip the threads in between to separate.
Some of the tools you need for machine quilting are sharp needles, quilting thread, a regular presser foot and a running foot. Use your presser foot as a guide to make ¼-inch seam allowances.
The fabrics people have made quilts from have varied over the years. Homespun was popular during the 18th century because it was available. Different fabrics put into antique quilts often shrunk at varying rates, making the quilt pucker. 100 percent cottons are the choice of most quilters today as it is easy to work with. Fabrics that are too lightweight will tear. Thick layers of fabric catch in your sewing machine, damaging it.
There are literally thousands of quilt patterns with more emerging each day. For beginning quilters, find a pattern that uses only straight seams and larger and fewer pieces per block. Curved pieces are difficult for beginners to work with on a sewing machine. Small pieces of fabric have a tendency to get stuck in the sewing machine.
Beginning Quilter Tips
You cannot iron enough when sewing a quilt. Iron after each seam or at least after completing each quilt block. Iron the seams to one side, not flat as you would when sewing clothes, to help you when machine sewing the pieces together.
Butting the seams up against each other will give you crisp corners and points. If you iron all your seams in the same direction, it is easy to butt the seams when piecing two blocks together. This also allows your sewing machine to continue stitching right over the flat seams instead over thick, bulky layers. Bulky layers have a tendency to break your sewing machine needles.
- "Creative Scrap: Quilting With Bits and Pieces"; Jeanne Stauffer: 2006
- "America’s Glorious Quilts"; Dennis Duke and Deborah Harding; 1987
- quilts image by Christopher Martin from Fotolia.com