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A Beginner's Journey into Quilting

Updated on April 2, 2013
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As long as I could remember, I have wanted to learn how to quilt. My mother would tell me stories of my great-grandmother Ida and her quilting bee which met monthly on their farm. The bee, consisting of other farmer's wives, created treasured gifts that were bestowed upon young brides and new mothers.

Ida was a remarkable woman; she was a poet, a quilter, and a farmer's wife. I never met her, but always felt her guiding hand in my life. I am the keeper of her handwritten poems and last surviving quilt. When I was a teenager, I visited her farm for family reunions; a place she had long since vacated.

One of the first strip quilts I made for Project Linus.
One of the first strip quilts I made for Project Linus. | Source

A Reason to Learn

In 2008, I joined the local chapter of Project Linus, a charity that provides handmade blankets to children in need. The group consisted of several master quilters; I had the opportunity to learn firsthand how to quilt from talented artists.

As I have found out in life, women are generous with their knowledge and are willing to help anyone who wants to establish a new skill or hobby. Being around the women in my Project Linus group, I found quilters to be extraordinarily generous people. They succeed in teaching others skills learned from their mothers and grandmothers. A few are self-taught experts who make the process a bit easier for beginners, like me. Either way, I have discovered these women love what they do and don’t mind sharing.

A simple quilt made from a charm pack and strips from fat quarters.
A simple quilt made from a charm pack and strips from fat quarters. | Source

Missouri Star Quilting Company on YouTube

Keeping It Simple

Since I had never sewn before, I started with basic, modern quilting patterns. Strips of fabric cut in different widths are what I found to be easiest for me to practice on. A simple quilt made of beautiful fabric is a fabulous gift that will become a family heirloom.

I have to admit that I truly hate to cut fabric. Plus, I’m not particularly adept at it which makes me hate it even more. But, there is a solution to this dilemma: pre-cut fabric. The selection process of pre-cut material is made fun by each style having cute names. Indeed, how can anyone resist names like jelly rolls, layer cakes, fat quarters, honey buns, charm packs, and turnovers. The pre-cut fabric is perfect for beginners who want to concentrate on sewing technique instead of exact cutting.

In addition to learning from the experts in my Project Linus chapter, I have watched countless online tutorials. A great place to start is YouTube. There is a large community of quilting experts who post free tutorials to YouTube. The tutorials are for all skill levels including basic, intermediate, and advanced. What I have found most useful is the ability to save the video, allowing for stopping, starting, and replaying as needed.

A Fast and Easy Quilt Tutorial

Finding Inspiration

After two years of quilting, I am still partial to the modern patterns. One of my favorite go-to websites for free patterns and creative inspiration is Moda’s Bake Shop. Moda makes high quality, beautiful fabric created by some of the most talented designer’s in the business.

I'm still a newbie by all standards, but, I think my skills are improving with each new effort. Sewing takes a lot of practice, as most valuable skills do. It is my hope grandmother Ida is proud of the work I have done and will continue to guide my hand in future creations.

About the Author

Catherine Dean is a freelance writer, gardener, quilter, and blogger. Her professional background includes nonprofit program development, grant writing, and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Georgia College & State University.

Her blog, Sowing A Simple Harvest, chronicles a modern couple trying to live a simplistic, sustainable life. To explore Catherine's professional credentials, visit her website. She can also be followed on Google+.

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    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      5 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Thanks for commenting Rogene! Well, our chapter is full of master quilter that also belong to a quilt guild. We also take tied fleece blankets but they are mostly donated by student groups. Best wishes for your chapter!

    • profile image

      Rogene Robbins 

      5 years ago

      I'm so gald you mentioned Project Linus. It is a great cause.

      Our local chapter encourages tied fleece blankets because they are easier and quicker to make and allow even non-sewers to get involved. I am one of the few quilters in our chapter and even though mine take longer to produce they are made with love.

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      5 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Thank you Lori! My mom would make us matching sun dresses during the 70s. That is one of my best memories of childhood. Thanks for commenting.

    • By Lori profile image

      By Lori 

      5 years ago from USA

      This is a charming Hub.

      I used to sew and quilt a lot for my kids when they were little. One of my favorite things were the little quilted vests I used to make for my daughter. They were not so hard to make and were just really cute on her.

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      5 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Fantastic! We just had our meeting this morning and took in over a hundred blankets. It is a fun and wonderful charity to be involved with. Thanks for the vote1

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 

      5 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      I have a quilt my great-grandmother made, but I only recently became interested in starting to quilt. You are so right about the many great videos online. That is how I got started, by watching several videos. I love the Project Linus idea and I am going to see if they have a local chapter. Great hub! Voted up!

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Indeed they are Millionaire Tips. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Quilters unite!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Quilting is so enjoyable. You are so right about the generosity of quilters. Most quilters are happy to pass on the knowledge and share the quilting bug with others. I am glad you found a group of quilters to learn from. Charity quilts are an awesome way to learn.

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Thanks for stopping by Rema and leaving a comment. I really love quilting, especially for a great cause. I hope you pick it up soon. Thanks for the kind words. Catherine

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 

      6 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Catherine,

      Wonderful hub. The pictures and the videos are awesome. Really felt that I should try and make one. Maybe I could try out a simple one for my new-born granddaughter. Lovely hub. I am sharing it with my HP friends so that they will also get to read this beautiful and informative hub. Thanks. Cheers, Rema.

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Thank you moonlake for commenting and voting up. I too would love to take a class but there are none in my area. It is a great activity and is a huge business in the world these days.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      6 years ago from America

      I quilted a few things when my kids were young. I really wanted to get into quilting I took a beginners class. There is really so much they know that I didn't know it helped me along the way. I love simple quilts the easier the better. Enjoyed your hub very interesting and loved your quilts. Voted up.

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Thanks Om, for commenting! Quilting is a lot of fun and very relaxing. It helps me reduce my stress level.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Quilting surely sounds like fun. Your quilted creations in the photos are very cute. I also like the videos a lot; they made me want to try quilting!

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      It is an activity that keeps my mind off my troubles and that is a great thing. Thanks for voting and commenting. Maybe one day you will pick it up...I certainly hope so!

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Thanks! I have noticed that there are not many. Maybe we can change that!

    • mvillecat profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Dean 

      6 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Oh, what gifts she left you Helena! How wonderful that you have them to remember her by. They really are works of arts created by incredible artists! Thanks for commenting.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      I have thought about doing this craft but so far not. My friend made me a gorgeous quilt and I helped a bit with it. The results are beautiful, but it does require patience. Great hub and voted up.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Always love a good quilting hub and there are not tons of them here on hubpages. Thanks for an interesting read!

    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      My grandmother taught me how to quilt by hand when I was a child and I have a few of her quilts. She also gave me a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top that was pieced by my great-grandmother that I've been casually working on finishing for a couple of years in between other projects. I hope to have it completed by this coming summer.

      Quilts really are beautiful works of art.

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