How to Make a Pieced Quilt
Learning how to make a pieced quilt is on many women's lists of things they want to do… eventually. It is a skill that was handed down from mother to daughter for generations but was largely lost during the 20th century. With a renewed interest in crafts and skills resulting from the back to nature and simplicity/homesteading movements in the 1960s, quilting experienced a renaissance of sorts. More and more, beginning quilters are searching for instruction, discipleship, and clubs to help them hone the skills they have and learn new ones.
Quilting does take time but it isn't hard to learn. While many purists choose to quilt by hand it can be done by machine. There are hundreds of styles and techniques, with no right or wrong except personal preference.
As with any craft it is a good idea to choose small projects and do bigger and more complex projects as your experience and confidence increases. Small projects might include:
- Pot holders
- Wall hangings
- Crib quilts
Just remember to choose simple patterns, go slow, and follow every step carefully.
Choosing Your Pattern
Of course the first step to creating a beautiful quilt is choosing the perfect pattern. Here are some tips for choosing a pattern that won't frustrate novice quilter.
Choose a simple pattern.
Choose a pattern based on straight lines, squares and triangles. These are easier to cut and piece than curved patterns.
Don't use stark contrast but colors that are more muted. It is best if they are small all over patterns. This way your mistakes will show less.
Once you have decided on a pattern print it out (if it is off the Internet) and cut out the template shapes.
Learning How to Make a Pieced Quilt
Once you have your pattern ready to go it is time to actually begin making your quilt.
Trace the Templates
Place your templates on the fabric according to the instructions. Usually you will need to add ¼-inch seam allowance around the template. Stack the shapes in piles according to shape and color, and how they are to be used in the quilt.
Start to Sew
Use the edge of the presser foot to guide your seam; it is not necessary to mark it. Make sure that the seam is exactly ¼ inch away from the edge of the fabric each time you sew for best results. A standard seam will allow the pieces to fit together exactly when you begin to piece the whole quilt.
Place the first two pattern pieces right sides together under the presser foot. Sew slowly, feeding the fabric through the machine. Sew to the other end and cut the thread. Repeat with the rest of the pattern pieces according to your instructions.
Always press your seams together and in the same direction. The best way to have a sturdy, lasting quilt is to press all the seams toward the center.
Sew the pattern pieces into blocks according to your pattern. Once the blocks are assembled measure them on each side. Trim the blocks to the same size with a rotary cutter.
If your patterns requires borders added to the blocks sew the left side on first and then the right side. Once that is done sew on the top and then the bottom.
How to Cut Pieces and Patches
Assembling the Quilt
Once the blocks are done it is time to assemble them. Your pattern will probably have assembling instructions similar to the following.
Sewing the Blocks Together
Place two blocks, right sides together and sew the length of one side. Unfold the blocks and place the next block right side down over one of the attached blocks. Sew the blocks together.
Continue on until you have strips the width of the quilt.
Sewing the Strips Together
Next you will need to sew the strips together. Place two strips, right sides together and sew a ¼ inch seam the length of the strips.
Open the strips and sew the seams in the same direction (toward the center). Continue on until the quilt until the quilt is assembled. Add the border if your pattern calls for it.
The Quilting Process
- Iron your pieced quilt top.
- Cut the backing fabric about four inches larger than the quilt top.
- Lay the backing down wrong side up.
- Center the batting on top of the backing. Trim it to the same size as the quilt bottom.
- Place the top over it right side up.
- Using a basting stitch sew a diagonal seam from one corner to the opposite corner. (Top left to bottom right). Now sew another diagonal seam from the other corner to its opposite corner. You should have a basted X over your quilt. This will hold the layers securely and allow you to quilt more easily.
Using a Quilting Hoop
Use a quilting hoop to keep your quilt taut. Place the quilt in the hoop and bring the second hoop over it. Secure it tightly. As you finish one area of your quilt you will move the hoop to the next unquilted area.
The thread can be part of the design or not, whichever you wish. You can use a thread that blends in or stands out to create a look you love. The choice is totally yours.
Begin quilting ¼ inch away from your seams or "stitch in the ditch" – in the indentation created by the seams themselves. Just follow the lines of the pattern for your first quilt. As you gain experience you can make more detailed designs.
Binding the quilt is a simple process that finishes the project. You will need a 2 ½ inch wide strips of fabric to fit around the quilt. Cut your chosen fabric on the bias to give it some stretch. Sew the strips together with short seams until you have a long strip that fits around the quilt.
- Trim the quilt and make sure the edges are even.
- Baste the edges together very close to the edge of the fabric.
- Fold the binding in half and press.
- With the quilt top facing up match the raw edge of the binding strip with the raw edge of the quilt, right sides together.
- Sew with a ¼ inch seam.
- Now press the binding strip seam in the direction of the binding strip.
- Fold the other raw edge of the binding strip under and sew it to the bottom of the quilt.
- Press and remove any basting threads.
Just Follow Directions
The first time you read through the instructions making a pieced quilt will sound complicated and difficult. Just follow the instructions carefully, go slowly, and you will find it is much easier to do than to explain. Give yourself plenty of time, and plenty of practice, and you will be creating quilts in no time.
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