GETTING STARTED IN QUILT MAKING
Quilt making is one of the most practical of the needle arts and I think one of the most beautiful. Simply put quilting is just sewing toghether three layers, top, filler and backing using running stitches.
There are many kinds of quilts. Please refer to my guide on types of quilts to see the variety.
One of the easiest types to make is the log cabin quilt. Also one that is called a patchwork which is really just squares sewn together.
Your quilt can be tied or quilted with running stitches. Many serviceable quilts are made with tying only.
What you need to get started
Quilting requires very few supplies. You probably have most of them already on hand in your sewing kit such as pins, pincushions, scissors, rulers.
Special items just for quilting are the type of needles - the 7s and 8s, called betweens are used for quilting. They are shorter than the standard sharps and are easier for a quilter to handle during long sessions of quilting.
The thread you need is a white cotton quilting thread. Just ask at the notion store for it and they will head you in the right direction. Seldom do you need any other color than white for making quilts.
Thimble - this is essential for quilting. You could try a leather one or a metal one. Personally I have tried both. I find the needle slides to easily off the metal one and the leather thimble is awkward. So what I use is a bandaid wrapped around my finger. It works very well for me. I tape my middle finger and I find that this saves my hand from the needle. If you find you just can't use a thimble, then try the bandaid method.
Pencils are needed for tracing quilt designs onto the quilt. A frame is needed to keep your quilt taut while quilting. I use a very large round one sometimes and I also have a plastic rectangular one. Both of these are lap frames and work very well as well as take up a lot less space than a huge quilt frame for the whole quilt. If you have the space by all means use a large quilt frame.
Your batting should be polyester. For my doll quilts I often split the batting in half. You can also use flannel in miniature quilts. I've seen quilts made with an old blanket as the batting.
For the backing the old knowledge was to use muslin and indeed many quilt stores carry muslin just for this purpose. However more and more quilters like the back of the quilt to look as smart as the front. For my miniature doll quilts I use cotton in a variety of prints and plains. Don't limit yourself to muslin unless you want to achieve a certain effect with it.
Templates- you can purchase templates ready made or make your own. To make your own, use index cards, card stock or lightweight plastic (such as what comes in margarine tub lids)
Patterns: There are hundreds of quilt patterns from the easiest such as the log cabin to very intricate ones.
Make the top by machine or by hand. Press all seams to the darker material side so you don't have a shadow showing through when the quilt is held up.
For the quilting you can quilt by hand or by machine. I find that quilting by hand looks very nice, allows for adjustments when quilting that a machine might not allow and will show off your handiwork.
A running stitch is used whereby you take up several tiny stitches and then pull the needle through. This is the basic running stitch used for piecing the top and for quilting.
When doing the quilting try to make your stitches even - you will get better with practice at it. It is very easy to do.
Locking stitch : This stitch is used to end a row. You go over the last stitch which secures it (locks it) so it doesn't all pull out on you. Never make knots in your quilt. Use the locking stitch instead.
The only thing else you need to do now is bind (hem) your quilt and possibly add a pocket on the back for hanging. But this information is for another guide in the near future.
Thank you for taking the time to read my quide. If you have found it helpful please let me know. If any of it was confusing to you, let me know and I will try to make it clearer for you. Happy quilting!