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Patchwork and Quilting Guide for Beginners

Updated on August 11, 2016
Patchwork Quilting
Patchwork Quilting

Originally, patchwork quilting evolved more for its use as a warm provider than for decorative purposes.

This unique craft is thought to have begun in the time of the Crusaders, a time when soldiers needed warmth as well as protection from skin chafing caused by wearing heavy and abrasive armour.

During the Colonial era in America, while most of the peasant women were busy spinning yarn, weaving, and making cloth under dank and terrible conditions, women of the wealthier class prided themselves on their fine needlework.

They excelled in fine embroidery works, patchwork, and quilting using large cloths meticulously stitched by hand with fine needle-crafting techniques.

The traditional way of making patchwork quilting is easier than most quilters of today can imagine, and though it’s a wonderful handicraft that gave immense pleasure and satisfaction, sometimes, it took them months of painstaking work to successfully complete one large patchwork quilt by hand.

Today, patchwork stitching for quilting can be done either by hand, or by using a sewing/quilting machine.

List of Items Required for Beginner Patchwork Quilters

  1. Rotary Cutter/Rotary Mat
  2. Clear plastic rulers
  3. A square ruler - 12" is a great size
  4. 1/4" Presser Foot
  5. A few colours and variety of threads
  6. Machine Needles (80/12)
  7. Hand sewing needles if you plan to stitch by hand
  8. Seam Ripper
  9. Scissors
  10. Iron
  11. Straight Pins

Quilting Techniques Using Stitching

Patchwork quilts can be elaborately decorated, and boldly contrasted with stitching techniques.

Quilt stitching can be fashioned into complex lines, designs and patterns to emphasize, and add to the richness of the patchwork quilts. This can be achieved by using sewing threads that are boldly coloured, multi-coloured, metallic, or highly contrasting to the quilt fabric's colour.

On the other hand, clear and invisible nylon threads, or plain and coloured polyester threads can be used by working the stitching into the seam lines of the patchwork block pieces.

How to Do Patchwork

Traditionally patchwork quilting is a simple 6 step process, and the use of hand or machine stitching is entirely up to the quilter.

The first 3 steps are:

  1. Choose or sketch your desired pattern, decide on the texture of fabric you wish to use and the batting that will be required.
  2. Make your measurements and cut the fabrics to the correct shapes and sizes to make blocks from the patterns created.
  3. Piece together - sewing the cut pieces of fabric together - using a sewing machine or hand. Now sew or stitch by hand the formed blocks to make the finished top surface.

Quilters can also create unique designs by either using a quilting software program, or by drawing first on paper and then transferring the paper sketches onto the fabric surface before proceeding with cutting into pieces and then stitching together.

Beautiful Quilt Design
Beautiful Quilt Design

How to Quilt

You should have three layers of fabrics now:

  • The patchwork quilt surface
  • The batting
  • The backing

The next 3 steps are:

4. Use these three layers to make a "sandwich" by arranging accordingly; top surface/batting/backing.

5. Proceed with quilting by hand or use a very simple sewing machine (a hand sewing machine is also fine to use). Sew through all layers of the quilt sandwich

6. Square up and trim excess batting from the edges then machine sew the binding to the front edges of the quilt, followed by hand-stitching of the quilt binding to the quilt backing.

Patchwork and Quilting Tips for Beginners

  • Practice sewing a 1/4" seam before embarking on quilting tasks.
  • Press your fabric (Best Press or Magic Sizing restores the fabric finishing), before cutting the fabrics.
  • Do read all instructions carefully and follow all notes to the letter!
  • Make out a sample block before cutting all fabrics in case of unexpected errors whilst cutting.
  • Don't move the fabric when cutting, because both hands must be very steady to ensure accuracy.
  • Don't try to start by making a huge bed size patchwork quilt because if you are a beginner, you may quickly become discouraged.

You can find hundreds of wonderful deals, patterns and textures, from fabric stores on-line, including "how-to" quilt books, and CD’s step-by-step guides on quilt making.

They also stock quilting kits and other exciting patchwork and quilting paraphernalia, to make top quality quilting and patchwork creations.

Enrolling For Quilting Classes

If you decide to enrol for quilting courses, don't choose a quilt class that is above your skill level.

Start at the beginner’s level, even if you have some knowledge of patchwork quilting.

You will have the opportunity to learn new tips, new ideas, trends and styles that beginner quilters wouldn't know about, without professional instructions and guidance.

© 2009 viryabo


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    • creativelycc profile image

      Carrie L. Cronkite 6 years ago from Maine

      Great hub, I am a seamstress, but I never made a quilt. This is something I really need to start doing. You gave great instructions in this hub for me to get started.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Glad you find this informative creativelycc. Sewing is a great craft and i know you must enjoy it tremendously.

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a nice comment.


    • BevsPaper profile image

      BevsPaper 6 years ago from Central Indiana

      What a lovely and useful hub! I so love old patchwork quilts! They truly are pieces of art. As I pick up an old quilt I always wonder about the woman who made it and why she chose the pattern that she did. I like to trace her quilting stitches and think about the hours that she so lovingly put each stitch in place.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Patchwork and quilting is a great art craft that must never be forgotten.

      Painstaking hand craft works of the past rank as some of the best heirlooms today.

      Thanks for your nice comments Bevs.


    • angel115707 profile image

      Angel Ward 6 years ago from Galveston, TX

      I really want to learn this too...great hub!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      You'll love every minute of it angel. A wonderful craft, patchwork and quilting is.

      Thanks for visiting angel.


    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are beautiful quilts. Quilting is certainly addictive.

    • profile image

      Ministers Wife 5 years ago

      Thank you for the refresher on quilting for beginners. I am just preparing to begin teaching my 11 year old daughter how to make her first patchwork quilt. We are both looking forward to it. Even though this is an old hub, i thought I would say thanks! Blessings.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for visiting Ministers Wife. Its wonderful to know that the art of this craft of old is being passed on to a new generation.

      I'm sure your daughter will enjoy learning how to quilt, and being a child of the "new age", i bet she will be able to bring in new innovations into the art of quilting.


    • mvillecat profile image

      Catherine Dean 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Thanks for the history on quilts. Although I make modern ones, I love seeing the old works too.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 4 years ago

      Thank you for visiting mvillecat. Glad you enjoyed.

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