★ Quilting for Beginners | Free Sewing Patterns & Tutorials For Homemade Quilts ★
Learn How to Make a Quilt at Home
A quilt is made up of a top piece of fabric and a back piece of fabric, with padding (batting) sandwiched in between. The layers are then sewn together all over in either a straight line pattern or a squiggly free-motion pattern.
Quilts can be created in many different designs and colours, and the selection of tutorials below provide quilting lessons for beginners, plus many projects and how-tos for different quilt designs.
Although quilts are quite time-consuming to create, they should last many years and are perfect for special family gifts and heirlooms.
I hope you find plenty of inspiration here :-)
Quilting Introduction - A Little Summary Of What It's All About
Quilting refers to the method of sewing 3 layers of material together; the quilt top, the batting and the backing, in order to make a quilt.
The quilt top and backing layers are woven fabrics which will be seen on the outside (and so normally have some form of design/pattern), whilst sandwiched in between is the batting which is an insulating sheet of fibers.
Batting (also called wadding) comes in a few different forms including cotton, polyester and silk. It forms the body of the quilt, creating a nice padded feel. I would recommend cotton batting as the best choice for making a warm and snuggly quilt.
Quilting is a brilliant hobby to take up whether you have only just learnt the basics of sewing or you've been sewing for years, and quilts are wonderful examples of craftsmanship. They are often passed to family members as heirlooms due to the personal nature of the work, and also due to the many hours that are put into the making of them. It is a craft that takes time and patience (although the simplest quilts can be completed in only a few hours) and so it has a high level of satisfaction.
Normally the quilt top and the backing layer are quality 100% cotton fabrics, and the recommendation is to pre-wash them before sewing because there can be shrinkage - and if you wait until after you've made the quilt before you wash it, fabric shrinkage would ruin your creation, eek!
The backing layer is usually a single large piece of fabric, however it can be made by sewing together smaller pieces of fabric, and if you make an attractive design on this side you can create a reversible quilt.
With regard to the quilt top, you have a choice of many, many different designs and this is of course the side of the quilt that will face upwards and be on display, so you will want it to look great.
The simplest option is to have a single piece of fabric as the quilt top too (called 'whole cloth'), or perhaps simple patchwork squares or parallel stripes. As soon as you aren't using one single piece of fabric, you will obviously need to sew the different fabric shapes together to form the complete quilt top design, and this is called 'piecing'.
Piecing in quilting terms means joining fabric together with a seam (1/4" seam allowance is the norm in quilting) and pressing them with an iron. To achieve an accurate seam allowance, sewing machines can accommodate a 1/4" foot to make the job much easier. Accuracy is key. I would therefore recommend buying a rotary cutter and cutting mat for accurate fabric cutting, plus a specialized quilting ruler.
Quilts are often formed from 'blocks', and you will find tutorials for lots of different ideas on this page. There are many variations of block designs, with the most popular including 'flying geese', 'cathedral windows', 'log cabin' and 'dresden plate'.
For beginners I would recommend sticking with symmetrical designs with straight edges, and very basic shapes i.e. squares and triangles. Once you become more confident you can try asymmetrical designs, wavy seams and so on.
Appliqués are fabric shapes sewn onto the surface of a quilt as decoration, and this technique is useful for adding more intricate imagery to your quilt without having to piece it together within the quilt top.
There are endless designs you can create for the quilt top and can become very complex. You can really let your imagination loose with themes and patterns because so much is possible; from Super Mario scenes and photographs replicated in fabric 'pixels', to quilts made up of hundreds of different pieces and heirloom quilts formed from blocks created by different family members.
Once you have the quilt top, batting and backing layers, you can then sew them together via 'machine quilting', which is where you use a sewing machine to sew through all 3 layers in an even pattern all over the quilt. The fact that lines are sewn all over is what creates the classic textured feel of a quilt. You can either machine quilt in an ordered fashion - perhaps by sewing in straight lines all over to make stripes or in a diamond pattern - or you can use free motion quilting.
Free motion quilting requires a free motion sewing machine foot and this allows you to sew not just forwards but also backwards, sidewards and any which way you like! This means you can be creative and quilt using random squiggles or maybe flower shapes stitched all over...it's up to you, but stitches should be evenly spread over the area of the quilt.
Finally you will need to bind the quilt around the perimeter with bias tape in order to hide the edges of the 3 layers you have just quilted. You can choose to make curved corners or you can have right-angled corners, and you also have the choice of either making your own bias tape or buying it pre-made. Bias tape is a long folded strip of fabric which you wrap around the quilt edges and sew in place to make a neat finish.
Note: Clips are very useful at each stage of quilting for holding together the layers of fabric. Since quilts are quite thick, regular sewing pins are not suitable. Some people use hairclips but you can buy specific quilting clips.
Top Rated Quilting Books
Beautiful Bed Quilt & Pillow
Quilting Basics, Tips & Tools
- Quilting Basics
Comprehensive 5-part resource including a brief history of quilting.
- Beginning Quilting Series
A series of articles for quilt-making beginners.
- The Layers of a Quilt
How the top piece, batting and back piece go together.
- Batting Guide
Useful in-depth information on batting/wadding.
- Aligning the Quilt Sandwich
How to line up the quilt top, batting and back.
- Basic Rotary Cutting
Tips for using a rotary cutter.
- Using Spray Adhesive
To baste a quilt.
- Straight Line Quilting
How to sew straight lines on your quilt.
- Diamond Quilting
Quilting pattern using straight lines only.
- Paper Piecing Method
Using paper to make it easier to piece fabric strips together.
- Mitered Corners
How to sew perfectly joined corners.
- Quilt Care
How to wash your quilt carefully when you've finished.
- Making Bias Tape
How to make your own bias binding.
- How to Bind a Quilt
By adding bias binding along the edge.
- Wavy Seams
How to sew wavy seams into your blocks.
- Pressing with an Iron
How to iron your seams and blocks.
- Using Freezer Paper
To design your own blocks.
- Paper Piecing By Hand
Cutting out and sewing hexagon pieces together.
Modern Square Quilt
Quilting Instructions for Beginners & Beyond
- Quilting; The Basic Process
A walkthrough of how a simple checkerboard quilt is made.
- Quilting 101
Such thorough instructions for beginners.
- Spring Quilt Walkthrough
From preparing fabrics to binding the quilt.
- Beginner's Quilt
Mini quilt block to practice technique.
A useful walkthrough of quilt creation.
- Quilt Construction
A helpful beginners tutorial on basic quilt making.
- Machine Quilting Tutorial
Very good instructions on making a quilt from start to finish.
- Free Motion Quilting
Tips on stitching a quilt together.
- Binding with the Quilt Back
Instead of adding a separate binding to the edges.
- Step-by-Step Modern Quilt
How to make a modern mood quilt with curved lines.
- Quilting with Voile
The pros and cons of using voile fabric.
- Photographic Quilt
How to transfer a photo into a quilt pattern.
Quilt Design & Technique Lessons
- Strip Quilts
How to go about constructing a strip quilt.
- Bento Box Quilt
Tutorial for a popular square block design.
- Quartered Square Design
How-to for a modified bento box block.
- Herringbone Blocks
How to make diagonal strip blocks.
- Log Cabin Blocks
Another popular style of quilt block.
- Wonky Log Cabin Blocks
A wonky version of the log cabin block.
- Zig-Zag Quilt
A very clear way to make this design easy to do.
- Dinner Date Block
Pretty minimalist style design.
- Drunkard's Path Block
A circle and square design.
- Dresden Plate Block
How to create a pointed star shape.
- Flying Geese
A traditional triangular pattern.
- Pinwheel Blocks
Browse through the series to find tutorials for 8 different blocks.
Quilted Tree Pillow
Quilt How-Tos & Other Patterns
- Quick Beginner's Quilt
Very simple starter quilt made from fitted sheets.
- Butterfly Mug Rug
Quilted coaster with a butterfly applique.
- Spiderweb Potholders
2 different versions of the same fab project.
- Quilted Table Runner
A smaller project to attempt before a full size quilt.
- Tall Grass Prairie Studio
Tutorials and tips galore.
- Free Quilting Tutorials
Loads of quilt making tips and instructions.
- Quilt Pattern List
Free patterns and tutorials.
- Baby Quilt
Using 6 fat quarters of fabric.
- Boy's Blanket
Super soft quilt made with men's flannel shirts and minky fabric.
- Stripes, Stars, Ruffle Quilts & More
A useful and varied list of instructions and methods.
- 3 Quilt-Alongs
Along with further help on mastering more techniques.
More Quilting Step-By-Step Tutorials
- Star Quilt
I really like the diagrams used to illustrate this tutorial.
- Verna's Quilt
Pretty design of quilt for your bed.
- Square Border Design
Minimalist design using fabric scraps.
- Colors Quilt
A classic patchwork square quilt.
- Circular Mini Quilt
Showing how to make a circle quilt with rectangle panels.
- Pinwheel Baby Quilt
Lovely quilt pattern using many pinwheel blocks.
- Circle Block Quilt
Fun polka dot design.
- Cathedral Window Quilt
Beautiful design which involves origami folding.
- Modern Quilt Patterns
Links to quilt patterns for more modern tastes.
- Hot Water Bottle Cover
Stippled, quilted project for the winter.
Cassette Tape Quilt
Q*Bert Video Game Inspired Quilt
The Best Quilting Blogs
- Oh, Fransson!
My personal favourite blog.
- Quilt Dad
A blog by a man who loves to quilt.
- Piece N Quilt
Quilting blog with tutorials and info.
- Red Pepper Quilts
Quilting updates and plenty of inspiration.
- Tall Grass Prairie Studio
A great blog on modern quilt design.
- A Quilting Life
A blog full of advice.
- Happy Quilting
Have a look at the free quilt patterns on this blog too.
- Millie's Quilting
Lots of quilt examples to inspire you.
- Anna Maria Horner
Very pretty blog to browse.
- PS I Quilt
Dedicated to the art of quilting.
If you want to make a properly finished quilt, you will need to learn how to apply bias binding onto the raw edges. If you need help with this, check out this page for instructions.
DIY Quilt Ideas & Inspiration
- Quilts for Geeks
Cool geeky and gaming themed examples.
- Finished Quilt Gallery
Gorgeous quilt designs recorded on a blog.
- Quilting Month Archives
Lots of quilts featured from different websites and blogs.
- Flickr Group
Browse through photos of quilts made by Flickr members.
- Google Images
A good place to have a look at the coolest quilts.
- Mario Quilt
Amazing pixellated Super Mario quilt.
- Manly Quilts
A few awesome quilts for (and by) guys.
- A Painting to a Quilt
Create an interesting quilt pattern from a painting.
- Hudson Bay Quilt
Great idea for turning the iconic Hudson Bay blanket design into a quilt.