FAQ For New Quilters Part 1

I've found a lot of different kinds of batting at the store. How do I know what is the best type for my quilting project?

Batting comes in various materials including 100% cotton, 100% polyester, a combination of the two, wool and silk. Wool and silk are extremely expensive and not usually used in average quilting projects. If you are machine quilting, then 100% cotton is a good choice. For hand quilting, I recommend a mixed of 20% Polyester and 80% cotton with a thin glaze of polyester on each side. This helps prevent batting separation in the wash, and fibers popping up through small holes in the fabric after the quilt is completed.

I'm using a cotton batting, but I'm concerned that it will shrink when I wash the quilt. Can you pre-wash cotton batting?

Yes. Both cotton and wool batting will shrink at least 3 inches so pre-washing is a smart idea. Fill your top loading washing machine with water (no soap), then turn it off, and push the batting down into the water until it's all submerged and let it sit for about 15 minutes. After the time has passed set your machine to spin and drain. DO NOT AGITATE! When the tub is drained, dry the batting in your dryer using the Permanent Press setting.

My neighbor gave me some batting that she's been storing for years, and when I took it out of the bag there were fold lines all across it. How can I remove those?

Simply toss the wrinkled batting in the dryer on air fluff for about ten minutes. This works with any type of batting.

What does it mean to piece a quilt?

A quilt is made up of three basic layers, the backing which is often a solid sheet of fabric, the batting which is placed in the center, and the top which is the front of the finished quilt. The top can be formed in many different ways. It can be as simple as a single sheet of fabric or made up of various shapes of patterns of material sewn together. It can also be a combination of square blocks that have been embroidered or appliquéd individually.

Piecing a quilt is the process where various shapes of fabric are cut and sewn together in a pattern or design. All the seams are on the back side and the finished top is approximately the size of the finished quilt.

I'm making a king size quilt but I can't find a piece of fabric wide enough for the backing, and I don't want a seam running down the middle. What can I do?

You can purchase Wide Quilt Backing fabric, 108" - 118", large enough to back a king size quilt without piecing. Check with your local fabric store or search 'Wide Quilt Backing Fabric' online.

I'm not sure how big my quilt needs to be to fit my Queen-size bed. Any ideas?

If you have access to the bed your quilt will be used for, measure the length and width, and don't forget the depth. New mattresses, many with pillow toppers, are much thicker than mattresses use to be. The following is a list of standard sizes to get you going.
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Quilting Designs on a Baby Quilt

Congratulations! You finished your baby quilt top. The fabric and colors are superb and match perfectly with the baby's new room. Now it is time to do the hand quilting. But the dilemma is in choosing the perfect design. After the hours and time spent on the baby quilt top, the design of the hand quilting must be just right. But where to start?

The quilting design should follow the style and pattern of the new quilt top:

1. Place your baby quilt top on the design wall and study or analyze it for the elements of design.

2. Decide the amount of usage the baby quilt will receive and how often it will be cleaned or laundered. If the project will be a wall hanging, more intricate patterns could be considered as opposed to a child's personal blanket that will be well-loved.

3. Considered your time. The more intricate the pattern, the more time will be needed to complete your baby quilt and the more visually exciting the designs will become. If time is a factor, cross-hatch grids, quilting in the ditch, or outlining stitch are effective for holding the layers together.

4. The type of fabric in your baby quilt top will also determine the type of quilting design you should choose. Large or busy prints require a simpler design quilt top. On the solid colors or tone-on-tones, a decorative featured wreath or floral motif is perfect to show off that baby quilt.

5. The quilter's expertise in hand quilting must be considered. Stick to the simple patterns of outline quilting, straight lines or grids.

6. As a hand quilter, stencil and patterns will allow you to bring a design onto your baby quilt. These can be purchased commercially or traced from any pattern around the house. Freezer paper also makers wonderful and inexpensive templates. Cut out and press the freezer paper on to your fabric. Trace and stitch around the shape. Peel off and reuse.

Every inch of your quilt top does not have to be stitched. Strive to keep a balance in the quilting throughout.

Find a theme in the fabric design and repeat this in your quilting pattern of your baby quilt top. This creates a feeling of unity and can be used to enhance the applique or patchwork of your quilt top.
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Quilting: Never Out Of Fashion

Quilting has been a time honored and centuries-old tradition in many countries spanning the globe. There is no surprise it is still popular today and as each generation takes up quilting, more variations emerge and are passed on to enjoy.

Though quilting was initially carried out to provide warmth and protection, today's quilts have become pieces of art as well as treasured heirlooms. Some have been passed down throughout family and other collected at auctions and flea markets. The have a timeless beauty of their own.

Aside from serving its purpose as a blanket, a quilt can be a perfect gift for a new bride or a new mother. Many cultures today provide hand crafted quilt's as gifts to new brides on their wedding day as a rite of passage. Many quits are displayed on racks or walls and used as art. They can provide a sense of comfort to just about any space.

The Typical Quilting Process

During a standard quilting process, three layers are used. These include the top fabric or quilt top, the insulating material called the batting, and the backing material. It can be done by hand or by machine. The top normally consists of a pattern that has been carefully pieced together usually in block form. When the block is completed, all pieces are sewn together and the middle and backing are them attached to form the blanket.

A hand quilter will use a frame or a hoop to keep all pieces together while using a variety of basic running stitches in and out of each piece while stretched taut. It's at this point where details are sewn with as little or as much as the quilter prefers. From the outlining of patterns to hand stitching every petal of every flower in each block. This is time consuming but often the most rewarding part of quilting.

Machine quilting on the other hand, involves a sewing machine to sew the pieces together. In very much the same way, layers of fabric are stacked together, laid-out, batted and backed on a flat surface. They are pinned and the pieces are then moved through a sewing machine. This can be done in block form as in hand quilting or as a large piece. Again, the details are determined on the style preferred and the quilter's experience. This is a much faster process than the hand quilting and often a good place for a beginner to learn with quick results.

Quilting Today

Today, quilters use several designs and styles in their own pieces. Some are imitation from ancient designs. Some have an ethnic effect. Some are either modern or post-modern-inspired styles. There are many to choose from and in all degrees of complexity.

There are even specialty shops where classes can be held for the novice to the old hand. Where you can use existing patterns or have one created especially for you. You can learn to use strips of fabric from special garments from the past and embellish with new pieces from today for a one of a kind quilt.

Quilting can be done by oneself or enjoyed in a group setting. However you choose, you will find it immensely rewarding. Where your creativity can be expressed in designs and patterns.
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Quilting - 2 Different Quilting Techniques

Hand Tying A Quilt

The first method of quilting to consider is hand tying a quilt. This is often considered the easy option but it can actually become a design feature of the quilt.

This is naturally a hand quilting option so the first thing is to thread your needle with suitable thread. Ordinary sewing thread would not be strong enough. Many embroidery threads would be too thick and would risk putting holes in your quilt (quite apart from being very difficult to pull through) so you need to use something in the medium range of threads. Personally I use about 3 or 4 strand embroidery thread. Deciding on the colour is a matter of choosing whether you want the knots to blend in with your quilt top or stand out from it.

Having threaded your needle, then, pull the thread so that the ends are level with each other and you will be sewing with double thread. Push your needle through from the top of the quilt and bring it up again about 1/4 inch from where the needle went down. Push the needle down again through the first point and bring it up again through the second point. This extra step to create an anchoring stitch is not essential but I find that it helps to strengthen the knot.

Pull through to leave about 2 inches of thread at the end. Cut the thread 2 inches from the quilt top and tie a double knot with the ends. Trim the threads if wished, but no closer than 1/2 inch from the quilt top or you will weaken the knot. That is honestly all there is to it, but now you have to think about where to put the next knot.

Some types of batting only require quilting every 8", but I feel safer with about 4" gaps between quilting. You could tie the knots near the corners of your patchwork quilt blocks or use them to make a design within your quilt blocks.

As you become more experienced at hand tying a quilt, you will find that it is possible not to cut the thread after each knot but keep making knots leaving loops of thread between each knot. Then when you have come to the end of the thread you can go back and snip between the stitches and tie the knots.

Ribbon Quilting

The second method of quilting is ribbon quilting which is a personal favourite of mine. Choose a ribbon that is only about 1/4" wide and one that does not have a texture that would be ruined by sewing on it, such as velvet, or one that has a design of pictures or something that would not be helped by having stitches running along the length of it. I usually choose a simple satin ribbon and let the colour provide the interest factor.

This method of quilting can best be used on smaller items such as bags and baby or lap quilts. Cream coloured satin ribbon on a brown bag or pink satin ribbon on a white baby quilt can look absolutely stunning.

Having layered and basted your three layers of quilt top, batting and backing fabric, use a fabric marker to mark straight lines on the quilt top. These might be in the form of cross hatching, chevrons, or even just diagonal lines on one diagonal only. Experiment.

Begin sewing in a corner or on the edge of a central line. Place the ribbon on top of the quilt top with the edge of the ribbon extending out a little beyond the edge of the quilt. Set your machine to zig zag with maximum stitch width and length and sew the ribbon to the quilt following the marked line carefully. At the end of the line, cut the ribbon a little past the end of the quilt and begin the next line of ribbon quilting. Always sew the lines in the same direction as each other or you may end up with some puckering of the quilt top or backing.

When you have finished sewing ribbon along all the marked quilting lines, sew a line of zigzag all round the edge of the quilt top to secure the ends of the ribbon to prevent fraying. Then continue with either binding if it's a quilt or sewing the seams if it's a bag that you are making.

Quilting Techniques

These are just two of an almost infinite number of ways of quilting your quilt. One of them is hand quilting and the other is machine quilting, but both provide a really interesting finish to your quilt without taking up an inordinate amount of time.
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Sewing - From Hand Quilting, to Machine Quilting, It's Wearable Art For Everyone!

The exact origins of quilting are unknown, though it is believed that it may be traced to the Middle East as early as the Egyptian First Dynasty. Surviving examples of quilting are seen in tomb statues and manuscript illuminations of quilted armor. Scrapbooking and quilting are each two-billion-dollar industries, and patchwork and quilting are both enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity around the world, particularly in the United States and Japan. Sewing and quilting are hobbies that never go out of style.

Sewing Machines, Sergers, Quilting Machines, And Embroidery Machines

Today's sewing machines give us the ability to work on larger quilts with more intricate custom designs. Their bobbins have more than double the capacity of older sewing machines, which helps in not changing bobbins as often with other home quilting machines. Prewound bobbins are compatible with most home and industrial machines and longarm quilting machines.

There are many beginner patterns to get you started quilting, and gives you thousands of free quilt patterns to choose from. All over the internet are a few basic, popular patterns which beginners can easily master and become more comfortable with quilting. With a little searching, you will find several types of patterns that you can use to enhance your machine quilting at home.

Quilter's Curved Needles

What machine needles are you looking for, and how many? The most likely needles to come in a box of 100 are quilting needles. 'Betweens' are shorter needles, good for detailed handwork, such as fine stitching on heavy fabric, as in tailoring. John James Needles are a favorite because of their high quality. Embroidery and metallic needles are each designed for use with specific thread - embroidery floss and metallic thread respectively. You are going to want to take stock and organize your needles and put them all in one place.

Many people have lost interest in knitting because the patterns and possibilities of quilting are much more appealing. The assembling of the fabric pieces into an artistic design, the coordination of colors, and the workmanship of the construction and quilting are just part of the fun. Many have forgotten that patchwork and quilting are two different and distinct crafts and only over the last hundred or so years have merged together. New quilters, quilters with years of experience, hand quilters and or machine quilters, all produce beautiful works through this enjoyable, relaxing, and highly artistic hobby.
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