HOW TO MAKE A QUILT

Welcome to my how to make a quilt tutorial! Step by step, one thing at a time I’ll show you how to make your own quilt.

Making a quilt is a 4 stages project!

The first and the funniest of all: making the quilt top. That’s where you can play with the shapes and colors of the fabrics and let your creativity do the magic.

The second part is the basting and it’s the middle layer of the quilt.

The third part is the backing and it can be a one simple piece of fabric or can also be composed of several parts just like your quilt top. I like to make my quilts with a simple backing and usual I use just one piece of fabric, but it is a matter of personal taste, you can make it as you like.

The last part is the binding thst’s all around the quilt.

How to make a quilt

First things first: you have to chose your pattern! You can go with someone elses pattern or you can draw your own pattern. If you’re drawing your pattern don’t forget to add seam allowances to your calculations or your quilt will be a lot shorter than you imagine!

You also have to pick your fabrics and cut them as the pattern requires. It’s always better for you to have all the pieces ready to sew. This way you’ll lose less time with all the cutting and trimming.

chosing a quilt pattern

Wich materials do I need to make a quilt

You’ll need the quilt pattern, the fabrics for the quilt top, the batting (it must have one inch more then the quilt top) and the fabric for your quilt backing (add another extra inch).

You may also find usefull to have a cutting mat, a roller cutter, a ruller and a soft pencil or a fabric pen.

Sewing the quilt top

Gather all your quilt pieces and get ready to start sewing!

pattern pieces

I like to chain sew because it allows me to sew faster. And what is chain sew? Well is sewing all the pieces that can be sewn in a first phase and that don’t depend on other pieces, and then sew them without cutting the sewing thread, one after the other and leaving a small space between them. At the end you get a chain of stitched pieces and you only have to cut the thread and move on to the next phase.

chain sewing

ALWAYS use a seam allowance of 1/4 inch. If you think you’ll want to make more quilts I really recommend you to buy one presser feet for your sewing machine with the setting of 1/4 ‘.

If you don’t want to buy it you can go with the cheaper alternatives: make a mark in your swing machine (in the place where the fabric passes) with your sewing allowance, or mark down the seam allowance in your fabric with a soft pencil or a fabric pen, on the back of each piece and stich allong the line.

Do your best to keep that seam allowance the same all the way. You may think 1mm won’t show, and in a normal project it wouldn’t. But a quilt is made of dozens of pieces sewn and if each seam has 1mm deviation from the seam allowance, at the end you’ll have seams truly misaligned. Just think that if your quilt has 10 squares in a line and you fail 1mm on each square seam, you’ll end with one centimeter less in this line than you should have. Try sewing one line to another when there’s 1 cm less between them!

And you ask me: are your seams always perfect? Of course not. I Often think I’m doing a perfect sew I end up with completely misaligned seams. Keep a seam ripper close to you as you’ll need it a lot and you don’t have to be ashame of using it!

Can I ignore a misaligned seam? You can, if you like to see all the other seams unaligned. Seriously, if your goal is to have a quilt top to be proud of it’s worth all the effort you’ll have. You will see that the work pays off.

Do I have to machine sew my quilt top?

Off course not. You can a hand sew it. It will take you more time but works just fine and you’ll get an awsome quilt. I like to have hand sew projects because I can take them anywhere I go and I can work on them when I want to.

This quilt top was hand sewn:

hand sewing

The next phase is a bit boring, I must confess. And it is nothing less than press the seams with an iron. I always try to have as many pieces ready to be pressed, otherwise I feel I’m always on the way to my ironing board! And you ask: can we pass this stage? Of course not! Because pressing seams is critical to have perfect geometric and aligned seams. The better pressed they are the perfect will be your quilt. The difference between a pressed seam and a non pressed seam is enormous. And don’t forget you always have to press to the dark side! Otherwise the extra fabric will show underneath.

  pressing seams

Your quilt top will be ready as soon as you get all your pieces sewn and pressed.

quilt top

With the quilt top sew and pressed, we can move to the next stage, which is nothing more and nothing less than making a sandwish. I am not kidding, and now you’ll see why.

This is also the time for you to choose your backing fabric and decide if you want it to be a single piece, or if you want it to have several parts. I prefer it as single piece because I like how the quilting looks in the end, but it is a matter of taste.

Don’t forget to cut the bcaking with 2 inches more then the quilt top, then iron it to remove the creases.

You’ll need a clean and plain surface. Depending on the size of your quilt you can use a table, but in most cases the most efficient surface is your floor because it is broad enough to extend all quilt parts.

Grab your backing and lay it on your surface. To help keep it in place use duck-tape, like the one you use to close card boxes. Make sure the backing is laid flat without any folds or creases that might compromise your work.

quilt backing

After having your quilt backing ready, cut your basting with 1inch less than the quilt top. Lay your basting over the backing and align it the best you can. Duck tape it as you did in the backing.

quilt basting

Now it’s quilt top time. Align it with the other pieces and duck tape it so that it is stretched and has the lowest number of creases as possible. And by now you should have a perfect sandwish!

For the next step you’ll need safety pins. Many safety pins!

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To end this phase you will hold many pins throughout the quilt to secure the three layers together. You have to be very careful with the creases that may form on the underside and you have to put the pins with care and make sure your layer keep still. It’s worth losing some time here because it will make your life easier when you’re quilting.

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The quilt is almost ready for quilting. From here and until tou get back to the sewing machine, or if you are quilting by hand until you get to the embroidery hoop, you should be very careful with the way you move it so that everything remains in place.

Hand quilting or machine quilting?

The quilting can be done by hand or machine, is a personal choice. I’ve done both ways and my opinion is that a large quilt is easier to handquilt but will take a lot more time. The final result is different but equally stunning.

The quilting pattern is also a choice for you to make and is usually coordinated with the quilt top pattern. In this quilt i used a geometric quilting pattern equal to the quilt top.

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It can be floral or around a central motif. In this quilt the quilting was done by hand around the doll and I quilted flowers in the blank space, I also quilted a simple border with flowers connected by simple lines.

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This quilt was machine quilted and I used a combination of quilting patterns. At the center I made a set of equidistant lines around the central motif.

quilting patterns

In sidebars I used geometric lines to go with the log cabin and pinwheel squares, and simple lines in the sidebar in coordinated colors.

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In my Squezze my Square I choose to make a geometric quilting at each seam side, one inside and one outside, which means that there are a few more squares and rectangles in the quilt!

grid quilting pattern

The quilting thread is typically made of cotton and slightly thicker than the sewing thread. But it is also possible to use regular sewing thread to make the quilting. If you use sewing thread your seams will be more discrete than if you use the quilting thread.

quilting thread

To hand quilt you can use any needle, although it is recommended to use tiny needles, which helps to make regular stiches.

If you are machine quilting you may want to use a thicker needle (I use size 90) especially if you are going to use quilting thread. It is also comum to use a special presser feet in your sewing machine, called “Walking Foot”, whose characteristic is to have a set of feed dogs, just like the ones on your machine plate, which helps to sew a piece made of several layers of fabric, as quilts are. This presser foot pulls the top fabric layers at the same rate as the machine feed dogs are pulling the down fabric layers. This significantly decreases the folds and wrinkles in your fabric. This is very relevant in quilt making.

walking foot

If you’re making your first quilt it can be an expensive investment, but you can always use the normal sewing machine feet. If you use the normal feet you have to reduce the thread tension (you’ll have to do several tests until you find the right tension) and use the full length stich. And sew slowly in order to get a uniform distribution of the fabric and avoid those wrinkles.

Once you have your sewing machine ready (needles, presser feet and threads) it’s time to start sewing. When the quilts are large quilts the rule says you have to roll the ends. Why? To reduce the length of quilt and thereby make it easier to be pulled by the machine. The rolls helps you to have somewhere to grab the quilt and it makes it easier for you to “drive” your quilt in the machine.

machine quilting

At the end you’ll have several thread ends that need to be cut out. Pass the needle to the basting and stich a few stiches only in the basting layer, then pull the thread to the surface and cut the remaining thread.

After all the quilting is done all you have letf to do is the binding. The bias binding on a quilt is made with cotton fabric, just like the ones you’ve used on your quilt top and backing. The bias tape you buy in stores doesn’t behave the same way.

The bias can be plain or printed, striped or with dots, it can even be made ​​from scraps of fabric like this:

scraps bias binding

Making the bias is not difficult. To start, you must decide which width shall your bias have. Then you have to multiplied the width by 4 and cut strips of fabric with this width measure. Usually I like to work with 5/8′ width, so I have to cut stripes of fabric with 4 X 5/8′ = 2  1/2′ width.

The best practices demands that the fabric is cut into strips diagonally on the fabric, but honestly it makes the process harder, more time consuming and does not improve the quality of the final quilt. I cut my fabric folded to fit the my cutting mat. At this point, a deviation of a milimeter will not make a difference because the bias will be folded.

To determine the length of bias that you’ll need simply measure all the 4 sides of the quilt and add an extra 8′ to your lenght (s1 + s2 +s3 + s4 +8′), this way you’ll have plenty of bias for the corners and for the final trim.

After cutting enough fabric stripes, it is necessary to cut the ends of each strip to form an angle of 45 º. It’s in these angles that you’ll sew the strips together to form a single strip of bias.

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The next step requires attention, but do not worry if you have to rip the seams a few times. The purpose is to align the two ends of two strips so that they are as shown in the picture. Thus, after sewn, the two ends are perfectly aligned. Repeat until all strips are connected to each other.

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Now you have to press the bias. You can use a bias maker, but is not required to have it to make a perfect bias. If you use the bias maker, all you have to do is enter one end of the bias stripe and pull up out the other side. The bias maker naturally folds the fabric. While pressing the fabric with the iron keep sliding the fabric if the bias maker until all of the fabric is pressed. For the quilt the bias doens’t need the middle fold.

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If you don’t have the bias maker, the process is different: it is necessary to fold in half the entire fabric stripe first and press it with the iron. Then fold each side to meet the middle of the bias and press until the end of the strip.

With the bias done it’s time to trim the quilt for sharp edges.

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On the right side of the quilt pin baste the bias. align the egde of the bias stripe with the edge of the quilt.

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For a perfect seam, after pin basting all the bias being, cut the remaining bias with a 45º angle and sew the both edges just like you did before. This way you’ll never know where the bias begins and where it ends.

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Stitch the bias as close as you can to the first pressed fold.

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After all the bias is sewn on the right side it’s time to sew it on the wrong side. Turn the bias to the back side and fold it so that the edge of the bias overlaps the existing seam. The bias is sewn with small stitchs on its entire length. Sew using the seam as your guide and use it to hide you stitches.

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This is one of the best parts of making a quilt! It’s almost finish and you can take it with you to the couch and while you sew it you can watch a good movie! And when you’re done you can always wrap yourself on your new quilt!

You can also finish your binding by machine but you’ll have to be very carefull with the seams so that they keep over the bias. It’s not as simples as it looks!

how to make a quilt

And making a quilt is as simples as this!

What if you give it a try? You can start with a simple and small doll quilt for a special princess!

doll quilt pattern

And you can also print this how to make a quilt tutorial and all the step by step instructions by clicking the button:

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