New sewists often want to try quilting as well. However, once you try it, chances are you will be quilting forever. Usually, people are hesitant to start something new and unfamiliar. Not being sure about the process can cause all kinds of uncertainties and fears. Can you do it by hand or you need a fancy quilting machine? Am I going to make too many mistakes, ruin the quilt halfway through, and so on and on… But, it’s not really a big deal. Quilting for beginners is easier than it seems. You just need to follow some simple instructions. And it is so empowering and thrilling to look and touch your finished project.
So, if you have any doubts, the best way to overcome them is to get started. Don’t worry in advance. You can start quilting by hand, or you can use your sewing machine. Decent sewing machines will do for most of the quilting projects. Once you get hooked (and you will), you might want to upgrade to a specialized quilting machine.
Tips and Tricks for Easy Quilting
While quilting is not so daunting it’s good to follow some rules to avoid common beginner quilting mistakes. It will allow you to make your learning curve steeper and gain confidence faster.
You should keep the tools that you need at your disposal. Get them ready in advance, so that you don’t have to look for it while you work.
- Scissors – Fabric shears and small scissors are a must for quilting. They are handy for most projects. While the rotary cutter is a tool of choice for cutting, there are areas that you can’t reach with it. So, you will always need a pair of shears and scissors.
- Rotary cutter – It is the best for precise cutting. Make sure to buy extra rotary cutter blades to cut smoother and extend the lifetime of your cutting mat.
- Cutting mat – A self-healing cutting mat protects your working surface and rotary cutter.
- Quilting rulers – Acrylic quilting rulers are essential as well. There are several different sizes and even some specialty rulers. A 24” ruler is the most common one, and it will cover most of your projects.
- Pins, needles, and clips – Choose glass head pins as they won’t melt when ironing. Breaking needles is a common occurrence while quilting, so make sure you have spare ones. Wonder clips will hold your bindings for easy sewing.
- Seam ripper – You will use it more than you want.
- Sewing machine – Most of today’s sewing machines will suffice. As for presser feet, a walking foot is the most common one for quilting.
- Iron and iron board – Any iron will work just fine, but the heavier iron the better it works.
Keep It Simple
Don’t start with intricate and complicated projects. Very often beauty lies in simplicity. A simple project can be beautiful and it will allow you to improve gradually. So, I recommend not only simple designs but also smaller projects. The sooner you finish, the sooner you will boost your confidence and motivation to improve.
Stick With One Kind of Fabric
For your first project use uniform fabric. Different kinds of fabric can get things complicated, and you don’t want that with your first project.
Cotton is the most common fabric because it is easy to sew and it’s not slippery. You need to reach more advanced levels before you start using different materials as they require different care and preparation.
Buy Enough Fabric
Running out of fabric is a common mistake by newbies. It happens often and it’s very frustrating. Somehow, you always need at least a little bit of extra fabric. So, purchase an extra half yard or even yard to make sure to avoid the inconvenience.
Prewash Your Fabric
This is an important step that even the more experienced quilters often forget. Some fabrics like silk, don’t need prewashing, so check out the label before you wash it. However, you will probably use cotton which is washable. Prewashing will allow you to get rid of extra color, and prevent undesired shrinking of the final product.
Don’t Iron, Press
Actually, you should iron your fabric before you even start cutting. However, pressing your seams is very important to make them flat and straight. Simple ironing would distort seams. So, it’s vital that you press your quilt in a correct way. Move your iron as little as possible, because you are pressing and not ironing. When you join two blocks of fabric press the right side of the fabric first. Then, you can press the seam open.
As a general rule of thumb, you press toward the darker fabric. Use the nose of the iron and move it slowly to press the seam. This way you will get perfectly flat and strong seam.
Check Out Your Seam Allowance
¼ seam allowance is used for almost all quilting patterns. It’s necessary to be consistent with each block. Furthermore, different machines can handle the ¼ seam allowance differently. So, check out your needle position. It might be a good idea to use ¼ presser foot.
You want your quilt to last, so reinforcing your stitches is necessary. Well, it’s not, but your quilt will fall apart quickly if you don’t do it. So, backstitch when you sew blocks together and backstitch when you quilt your pieces.
Choose Easy Quilt Patterns
Squares and rectangles are pretty easy to sew. However, triangles can be complicated. So, to avoid too much trouble while working on your first couple of projects use easy patterns. Assembling squares and rectangles is easy and you don’t need to look any further.
Or you can make it even easier by using pre-cut pieces of fabric. Pre-cut pieces come in different sizes. You will save a lot of time. No measuring and cutting, you just have to assemble it.
These tips will help you get through your first projects easier. It is a sort of reminder to avoid common mistakes. I would still recommend taking a quilting class or having seasoned quilter to help you out.
Anyway, if you follow the rules and keep it simple, you will feel joy and satisfaction soon. And it won’t take long before you take on your next quilting project.