Quilt making is a wonderful craft and has been around for a very long time. Projects can be hand-worked piece by piece over a long period of time, or you can sew the pieces together on a sewing machine which quickens the time frame of a project.
In older times quilters used only needles, pins, scissors and thread to turn scraps of fabric into beautiful works of art. In today’s world, quilters have a variety of tools available to make your quilting easier and faster. You will still need the basic tools and as your knowledge of quilting grows you can add more advanced tools to your collection.
Quilting is simply stitching together two or more layers of fabric. Quilts can be made into any size and you can generally use most fabrics. It is best though to begin with a small and simple design first.
Tools You Will Need:
Marking Pencils–make sure that the pencils say water-soluble. No. 2 pencils are adequate for light-colored fabrics, but invest in marking pencils and pens so you will be able to use darker fabrics.
Needles–You should have a wide assortment of needles. This should include machine needles if you plan on using your sewing machine for quilting.
Quilter’s Pushpins and Tacks–These will allow you to attach the quilt to the quilting frame.
Quilter’s Pins–These are handy for adding the binding to the edge of your project.
Quilter’s Safety Pins–These are used to pin-baste layers together prior to quilting.
Qulting Thread–These are stronger than just sewing thread. Used for hand stitching. They have a smooth finish and the thread will glide easily through multiple layers of fabric.
Thimbles–A big investment with little expense. These help protect your fingers when pushing needles though heavy layers of fabric.
Scissors–Have a selection of scissors handy. Some are made for cutting fabric while others are used for thread snipping.
These are the basic tools a beginner should invest in. As your knowledge grows you will learn how to make your work more efficient by these next additions.
Cutters And Mats
A lot of time and precision goes into cutting the fabric into shapes. Using scissors may not always make an accurate cut and your hands will get tired very quickly. A rotary cutter can cut through multiple layers of fabric quickly and will not wear out your hands as quickly as using scissors. A rotary cutter can also be used for cutting leather and suede effortlessly.
A rotary cutter must be used with a cutting mat. You can find rotary cutters and mats in craft stores. Mats are sold in different sizes with grid markings. Some marks you will see printed on these mats are 1-inch grid markings and 1/4-inch hash markings, as well as some angles and bias markings. As you become adapted to the quilting process this mat and rotary cutter will come in handy.
A quilting frame will help maintain an even tension and help produce a smooth and even quilt. Without the frame you must baste the layers together more carefully. Alot more time and work is involved.
There are many types of frames available from full-size, standing frames to smaller lap frames.
As you become more advanced at the quilting process purchase some specialty rulers to help guide you. There are several types of rulers to consider. They are essential for precise and accurate cutting as your quilting designs increase in difficulty.
Templates are the traditional method of cutting fabric for quiting purposes. They are the master pattern for cutting each piece to create a quilt. You can purchase plastic templates in craft stores. You can also make your own from a clear sheet of heavy plastic or heavy cardboard.
You can use many different types of fabrics. One thing to consider is if the blends will work right with each other. It’s best not to use knit fabric with a cotton fabric.
Once again, make sure the fabric will correspond with the fabric used for the top of the quilt.
Batting is the middle layer of the quilt that adds warmth and provides firmness. Selection depends on the desired thickness of the finished quilt. Cotton batting will give you a flat-looking quilt and it does absorb moisture, so it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Polyester will make a thicker quilt and is easier to handle. It is very warm but the finished quilt will not feel heavy. Choose a batting that corresponds with the fiber content of the top and back layer materials.
Tips For Quilting
Seam allowances are generally 1/4 inch wide.
When machine quilting keep your stitch length at about 15 stitches per inch.
Seams should be pressed to one side ( the darker side) to prevent show-through.
Use steam rather than pressure to press quilts.
Use cotton or monofilament nylon thread when machine quilting for best results.
When machine-quilting keep the largest section of the quilt to the left of the needle for easiest handling.
Test all fabrics for colorfastness before cutting out any pieces.
Preshrink all fabric before cutting out any pieces.
After preshrinking press fabric with spray starch to make cutting and stitching easier.
I have been an avid quilter for many years. As a child my grandmother and mother always had a quilt in our family room they would both work on when time allowed. Quilting is a remarkable and beautiful craft.