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★ Quilting for Beginners | Free Sewing Patterns & Tutorials For Homemade Quilts ★

Updated on April 7, 2015

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

Beautiful Starburst Quilt.
Beautiful Starburst Quilt. | Source

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'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.

Beautiful Bed Quilt & Pillow


Modern Square Quilt


Hanging Quilt


Quilted Tree Pillow


Roundabout Quilt


Cassette Tape Quilt

A fun retro idea!
A fun retro idea! | Source

Q*Bert Video Game Inspired Quilt


Bias Binding


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.

Quilting Video Help - Watch Demonstrations of the Basics

Unisex Fraction Quilt

I think brightly coloured fabrics look fab against a grey background.
I think brightly coloured fabrics look fab against a grey background. | Source

Have you ever made a quilt?

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Please Leave a Comment!

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    • jen17 lm profile image

      jen17 lm 

      5 years ago

      I really like your lens! I am an avid quilter myself and I think your lens would be a great help to beginners to quilting - you have a lot of the basics covered and lots of helpful tips and resources. Also, I really love that quilt on the bed with the cat sitting on it, the colors are so bright and inviting!

    • ruthclark3 lm profile image

      ruthclark3 lm 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I shall be back for inspiration and for tutorials. I consider myself a beginner in many of the techniques. Your lens will help to educate me. Thank you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Quilting is on my list of things that i want to learn!

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 

      7 years ago

      This lens is amazing for folks like me just getting started with making a quilt

    • BSieracki profile image


      7 years ago from Corbin, KY

      i might give it a try

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      This is a great collection of quilt sites. You've done a wonderful job of compiling them all in one spot. Added to the Squidoo Quilting Neighborhood Angel Lens.


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