If you’re just getting started with quilting, you may not know where to start. It can be overwhelming for newbies, especially if you have zero experience with any part of the quilting process.
The good news is that, although there’s a learning curve, quilting is a lot of fun and pretty easy to get the hang of. Use these nine tips to get started.
1. Start with Simple Patterns
Keep it simple. You may have the motivation and ambition to create those beautiful, complicated quilt designs you see online, but you may not quite have the experience and know-how to accomplish those projects just yet.
Stick to simple patterns at first. These simple projects will help you master the basics and allow you to complete a project that you’ll love and use.
Try choosing patterns with rectangles and squares. Yes, triangles are fun, and they add interest. But they also have stretchy edges that make things complicated. Rectangles and squares are also easier to cut, so you’ll spend less time preparing and more time sewing.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of creating a full-size quilt, you can always start with something smaller, like a doll’s quilt or a cushion cover. You can find lots of free patterns online.
2. Try Patterns That Use Large Pieces
Going along with the last tip, you may also want to try patterns that use large pieces. Patterns with large pieces are quicker to sew and easier to work with. There are fewer seams, too, so it’s much easier to avoid mistakes.
Quilts that have a lot of small pieces are more complicated and take more time to piece together.
Simple patterns with large pieces will help you master all of the basic skills you’ll need to work on more complicated projects. You can’t run before you walk, so don’t try a complicated project until you’ve mastered the basics.
3. Designate a Space for Quilting
You may not have the space or budget to dedicate an entire room to crafting, but it does help to have a designated space just for quilting. All you need is some floor space and a tabletop. A simple folding table will work perfectly for now. The table will give you the space you need to cut fabric pieces and sew your project.
Along with table space, you also want to make sure that you have adequate lighting. Most sewing and quilting machines have built-in lights, but it helps to have an extra lamp. Good lighting will ensure that you can actually see what you’re doing without straining.
Keep your space organized. If you have to hunt down everything you need every time you want to quilt, you probably won’t do it often.
4. Try Pre-Cut Quilt Kits
If you’re an absolute beginner who’s anxious to get started on your first project, you may want to try pre-cut quilt kits. These kits have ready-cut fabric that’s packaged and ready for use.
You can find plenty of pre-cut quilting kits online.
It may feel like cheating, but pre-cut fabrics will save you quite a bit of time you’d otherwise spend measuring and cutting. For now, it’s important to stick to the basics. You can always play around with fun shapes in the future.
Pre-cut fabrics will also give your quilt a more professional look, which will keep you motivated to keep going.
5. Press Properly
Pressing is part of the quilting process, but are you doing it right? The goal isn’t to iron the quilt, but to press it. Avoid using back and forth motions. Lift the iron up and down to press the seams. Try to avoid moving the quilt back and forth as much as possible. Otherwise, you may wind up ruining the seams.
Start on the wrong side, and press the seam once. This will set the stitches. Next, flip the quilt right side up and use the nose of the iron to gently wiggle into the seam to press it flat. A good quilting iron is a must.
6. Always Prewash Fabric
If you’re new to quilting, you’re probably eager to get started. In your eagerness, you may want to skip the whole “prewashing” step. You’ll regret that decision when your colors start bleeding after the first wash.
If you’re working with a machine-washable fabric, like cotton, it should be washed before you get started. Washing will remove some of the chemicals that were used in the fabrication process, and it will also get out some of the excess color that will “bleed” later on. Also, prewashing helps prevent shrinking.
Some fabrics, like silk, shouldn’t be prewashed. If you’re unsure about the fabric’s care, check the instructions listed at the end of the bolt.
7. Make Sure You Have Enough Fabric
Another common mistake that new quilters make is not buying enough fabric. It’s better to have too much fabric than to have too little.
You may assume that you can just run back to the store to buy more, but that’s not always the case. What if the fabric you chose is sold out now? What if they’ve discontinued that fabric?
Quilting books and patterns usually have tips on how to estimate how much fabric you’ll need for a project. With proper planning, you can ensure that you don’t run out of fabric.
If you want to be on the safe side, calculate how much fabric you’ll need and add an extra half yard. It will cost more, but will be worth it. And you can always save the extra fabric for future projects.
8. Give Yourself Time
Quilting is an art, and just like any other form of art, it requires practice and patience to master.
Don’t try to rush the process. The longer you spend making quilts, the faster you’ll be and the more skills you’ll master.
9. Find a Good Book Reference
Video tutorials and classes are great, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of having a good quilting book reference. Books are always at your fingertips, and you can easily return back to a lesson or tutorial whenever you need. Written instructions can help make tips and tricks easier to understand and execute.
Quilting is a fun craft to learn, and it’s not as complicated as you might think. Use these tips to guide you on your journey and mastering your beginner skills.
Jessie has spent her whole life sewing and crafting. Her passion is to teach others to sew, especially her grandchildren. She currently lives in Washington State and loves to spend time with her family and enjoy the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.