Quilting 101 for Beginners

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Quilting 101 for Beginners

For many, quilting is considered an intricate art form attempted only by inspirational minds and dexterous hands. This may be true, but quilting is also an acquired skill. Beginners can quickly learn the art of quilting, especially those already familiar with the basics of sewing.


Story of Quilting

Quilts can function as family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation. They may tell the stories of ancestry. Many are used today to symbolise special events such as Christenings, graduations, and weddings.

Handmade quilts can be traced back to the ancient cultures of Egypt and China. Used for warmth, armoury, and decoration, a quilt’s basic elements consist of three layers of material stitched together with a soft middle stuffing, known as batting.


How to Start a Quilting Project

Some quilting projects are easier than others to put together. For those who are just learning the fundamentals of quilting, tips and recommendations may ease the process. First, learn the terminology of quilting, to make following further instructions easier.

Quilting Language

  • Squaresare smaller pieces of fabric that are sewn together to make larger, square pieces of fabric.
  • Blocksare pieces of fabric made from sewing nine squares together.
  • A quilt consists of threelayers: the top colourful motif, the middle batting, and the bottom backing fabric.
  • Quiltingis the sewing process that joins all three layers of the fabric.
  • Bias tape are strips of fabric used to bind the edges of a quilt.
  • Bindingis the edging of the quilt made with bias tape.
  • The standard seam allowance for quilting is 1/4 inch.


Since the process can be simple or quite complex, a beginner should aim for simplicity by controlling the size of the project. Very often the size of the quilt is determined by its intended purpose. Consider a baby blanket, chair throw, or decorative table top liner for a smaller starting project.

A crib quilt is normally 36 inches square fabric and is versatile. The layout varies according to the quilter’s creativity. For example, to design a 60 inch square quilt, each row can be 15 blocks at 4 inches square, or 10 blocks at 6 inches square. Keep the project in perspective by making a sketch of the finished quilt design.


After planning, prepare the layers. Quilting involves many small parts pieced together, and the success of each layering step determines its beauty.

Preparation involves pattern and colour selections, and buying all the materials required for the project. Note that cutting squares require a certain level of accuracy and due diligence; for beginners, pre-cut patterns available in craft shops should be considered.

Quilting Tools and Supplies

  • A favoured tool among quilters, a rotary cutter’s sharp blades cut accurately into the fabric.
  • The preferred choice of fabric is 100-percent cotton. It is important to preshrink and press the fabric prior to rotary cutting.
  • A Cutting matis surface to cut fabric on with a rotary cutter. A large surface mat is best.
  • Aquilt ruler is usedto measure fabric accurately. Beginners should familiarize themselves with its markings. Select a ruler with a non-skid surface and a lip edge to hold the fabric in place.
  • 100 percent cotton thread in neutral colours of cream, tan, or grey are ideal for most projects.
  • Long pins are necessary to pin squares and blocks together during the quilting process.
  • A basic sewing machine that sews a straight line is all that is needed. Classes and instructions on the Internet can help individuals who are unfamiliar with its use. Hand sewing is still a favourite quilting option among traditionalists, making a sewing machine optional.

Shopping Tips and Recommendations

Choose Pre-Cut Patterns for Beginners

Save many hours of cutting and preparing squares by getting pre-cuts. These are packaged fabric cut in a variety of measurements to give individuals the confidence to start a quilt project.

Choose Larger Pieces

Larger pieces are easier to assemble; therefore, projects can be completed in a shorter time. With fewer seams to sew and more room for accuracy, larger pieces are great for beginners.

Join a Beginner’s Class

An individual will benefit greatly from a beginner’s class. Techniques are clearly explained, and mapping out that first quilt becomes less intimidating. Training will also help individuals decide early in the process if quilting is right for them.



Quilting is a skill still highly prized and functional in today’s modern society. Beginners willing to learn all its rudimentary steps may find quilting not only enlightening, but also a fulfilling hobby to pass on to the next generation.

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