Creating a quilt is a great, out-of-the-box way to save your cherished memories for yourself or a loved one. A personalized, homemade quilt is a great gift to give someone as a memory and even family heirloom.
Additionally, quilts are a great way to use scrap fabric that you have or to hold onto some old materials such as old t-shirts, sweatshirts, and blankets that are taking up too much space in your home, but you want to keep because of the sentimental value. Creating a quilt can even be therapeutic, and a great activity to do to pass the time that has a great payoff of your beautiful, handmade quilt at the end of all of your effort.
If you are ready to make a quilt for yourself or someone else, read on to learn how to make a quilt from scratch.
Table of Contents
- Pick Your Pattern
- Choose Your Fabric
- Cut and Arrange Your Fabric
- Start Sewing Pieces Together
- Choose Your Batting
- Basting Your Quilt
- Quilting Your Quilt
- Trimming Your Quilt
- Making the Binding
- Binding Your Quilt
- Labeling Your Quilt
- Taking Care of Your Quilt
- Enjoy Your Quilt
Pick Your Pattern
First, pick the pattern that you will be using for your quilt. If this is your first-ever quilt, you may opt for a smaller pattern to learn with. A baby blanket could be a great place to start! Your pattern will determine the overall look that your quilt has, such as choosing squares, half squares, patchwork, or more difficult patterns that create a certain design within the quilt like a star or strips.
Choose a Beginner-Friendly Pattern
For your first quilt, a beginner pattern that won’t be too difficult or cause you too much stress will be your best option. There are a few beginner patterns to choose from, and most utilize simple squares, patches, and triangles to achieve the overall look. Basically, you want a basic block pattern that you can utilize for your quilt for a beginner-friendly quilt pattern.
A very basic quilt pattern for a beginner would be taking two different types and/or patterns of fabric and making every other square that same piece of material, which creates a patchwork-like look. If you want to opt for a more interesting look for your quilt that isn’t quite that basic, you can find many beginner quilt pattern templates online to help you out and guide you through how to make the pattern that you would like to create. For other ideas, try looking through some sewing books for beginners.
Try Using a Charm Pack
A charm pack can be a beginner quiltmaker’s best friend! Basically, a charm pack is a bundle of squares (usually 5 inches) of precut quilt fabric. You can buy bundles with a variety of coordinating fabric, usually from a designer’s collection. The charm pack may have a theme of the colors, designs, or theme (such as a holiday like Christmas or Halloween) to help you create your quilt. Charm packs are an easy, fun, and fast way to create a quilt that will come together easily.
Though a charm pack makes it easier for you to make a simple quilt, such as with a patchwork layout, you still get to choose where you want each square to go and put together next to one another.
Choose Your Fabric
Just like with any blanket, you can choose what fabric(s) you want to use in your homemade quilt. Fabric made specifically for quilting will be made from durable cotton that will stand up against use and washing.
Cut and Arrange the Pieces
To begin, you need your pieces in the shape and sizes that you will use in your quilt layout design. If you don’t have a charm pack to make it easier, you’ll need to cut your own fabric, which should be done very carefully! A great quilt starts with accurate cutting, which will require some tools. Rotary cutters and a self-healing cutting mat will come in handy when cutting the fabric for your quilt. Additionally, a clear acrylic ruler will help you determine the most accurate sizes when cutting your fabric. To neatly and accurately cut your fabric, first press it so that it does not wrinkle or move as you cut.
Once all of your pieces are cut, it is important to arrange your pieces as you want to have them formatted in the quilt itself. This step is crucial to ensure that the end quilt you have in mind is actually how the quilt will come out, and you aren’t missing any pieces or creating a pattern that will not be a great square or rectangle quilt at the end.
Take a Picture for Reference
Once you have your layout and arrange the pieces as you want them to look in to complete your quilt, take a photograph (and don’t lose it!) so that you can reference it as you are working on your quilt. This will come in handy if you forget the exact placement of some of your fabric pieces.
Start Sewing Pieces Together
Now that you know how you want to arrange your quilt and have your photo of what it will look like when complete, you can begin to start sewing pieces together! Now you are really beginning to create your quilt. Follow the pattern that you are using and keep this in mind as you begin.
Face Good Sides Toward Each Other
With the good sides toward each other. In sewing, the “good” side of a piece of fabric is the side with the pattern, or the front of the fabric. Begin to sew the pieces together. Start with your top row, sewing the first two squares together on their good side.
Sew in Straight Lines
It is important and makes your overall quilt-making process easier if you sew in straight lines for each row. Complete one row at a time, and sew each square straight amongst the next, ensuring that you do not start sewing crooked. And whatever you do, don’t try to sew around corners at this point.
Iron the Seams Flat
Once you have some pieces sewn together, you want to keep them consistent by ironing the seams flat so they do not stick up or stand out against the fabric. This will flatten your squares and keep everything looking neat.
Choose Your Batting
Batting, otherwise known as the cushiony layer of the quilt, may be made from wool, cotton, or polyester. You can typically buy this in bulk rolls according to the size of the quilt you are making, which leaves a lot of the guesswork out of the question.
Basting Your Quilt
This isn’t the same basting that you’d do to your Thanksgiving turkey! Basting is how you hold the different layers of your quilt together (including your backing, batting, and fabric squares), which can also be called your “quilt sandwich.” Once you do this, your quilt is less likely to pucker up or get messy looking in the process.
Arrange the Layers
The first step to making your quilt sandwich is to lay your backing on a flat surface. Your backing is the back part of the quilt, and it is typically just one big piece of fabric. You can choose whatever color or pattern you want for your backing—just try to pick something that fits with the colors on the front.
Next, layer your batting (which is what the quilt will be “stuffed” with to give it more shape and make it cozy) over your backing.
The last layer of your quilt sandwich is your actual quilt top, which is the design that you’ve put together and sewn in one large piece! This will go on top.
Pin the Layers Together
Darice Studio 71, Dual Tip, 48 Pieces Alcohol-Based Marker Set. Another popular method of keeping the layers together that does not require pins is to use temporary spray adhesive to hold all layers of the quilt sandwich together.
Quilting Your Quilt
Now, you can quilt your quilt together! This will connect all the layers in one and will start to complete your quilt to make it one cohesive blanket.
Use a Walking Foot
A walking foot, also called an even feed foot, is a part of your sewing machine that will make your quilt making process easier, as it grips and evenly feeds all the layers together through the machine. You can do this by either purchasing a walking foot sewing machine or just buying a walking foot for your quilting sewing machine.
Change Your Sewing Machine’s Needle
A dull needle or a needle that isn’t strong enough can create havoc when sewing your quilt together. A sharp one will work better to more evenly go through all the layers of your quilt.
Sew Along Either Side of Each Seam
Start sewing right side up, on the right side, and sew right along the seam. Do this for the next couple of rows until you are finished sewing it all together!
Trimming Your Quilt
Once the layers are sewn together, you will want to trim your quilt to make it even again. Make sure nothing shifted and the layers are all even.
Follow the Ruler, Not the Fabric
Following your fabric may seem promising, but you never know if something didn’t turn up as even as you think or moved slightly. Follow the ruler for the best accuracy when trimming your quilt.
Making the Binding
Next, you will need to make your binding, which is the edging of a quilt that encases the raw edges.
Calculating the Binding
To calculate the binding and how much fabric you need, measure all four sides of the quilt, and add up the total. Next, add ten inches for the corners and seam allowance for wiggle room to attach it. Divide that by the width of your fabric (about 42-44 inches for cotton) and cut that many strips of fabric. Measure the width and length of your binding strips to figure out how much yardage you will need. Depending on how many strips you need based on your binding calculation, cut out your strips appropriately.
Sew Strips Together and Iron
Lastly, sew the strips together and iron to flatten them out. Take two strips and lay them down, taking your ruler to draw a diagonal line and cutting away the excess fabric. Sew along the line you drew and press the seams flat. Cut away the excess fabric.
Binding Your Quilt
One of the last steps before you finish your quilt is to bind it together.
Align Raw Edges of Binding With Quilt
Unfold one edge of your quilt to see the raw edges. Line that up with the edge of your quilt.
Next, pin the raw edges and extend the bias tape over the opposite edge at each corner. Fold it back over to create a triangle and fold the strip back over the triangle so that the folded edge lines up the with the raw edge. Do this for every corner. Leave a tail of about six inches or so for your bias tape, cut it, and you are ready to sew.
Sew Along the Edges
Take out your pins and, using a regular foot, begin to sew along all the edges of the quilt.
Sewing the Corners
Once you get to the corner, feel for that triangular fold that you made and stop sewing once you reach it. Once it’s reached, backstitch, and remove the quilt from the machine and flip over the triangle fold so it covers the stitches that you made.
Joining the Binding
When joining the binding to the front, you want to make sure that you cover up the stitch lines you made when attaching the bias tape to the back. For the corners, fold up one side and then fold over the other.
Hand Stitching Along the Edges
Close to the edge of the binding, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance or less, sew the binding in a continuous line.
Hand Stitching the Corners
Leave the needle in the fabric when you get to the corners, and rotate to keep following along the next edge and line of the quilt. When you’re knotting off a length of thread, make sure to line up your lines and backstitch when necessary to hide any of the threads.
Labeling Your Quilt
Since you made this quilt, you want to label it to show off its creator! This shows that the quilt is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation made by you! The best part is, since this is a quilt you made, you get to decide what goes on the label. You can put the name, date, pattern design, who the quilt was given to, care instructions, or whatever you choose on the label. You can find a label online that you can print out, or you can make your own.
Making the Label
To make your own quilt label, look for printer fabric sheets if you wish to print something from the computer. When making your own label, you may choose to draw or embroider designs on it, though that may be more difficult for a beginner. You can even simply get a piece of fabric and write on it with fabric marker if you don’t want to get too fancy.
Attaching the Label
Now that your label is created, you will need to attach it to the quilt. You can put the label where you choose, though the easiest way is to hand stitch it to a particular corner of the quilt.
Taking Care of Your Quilt
Once you spent all that time, energy, and love making a quilt, you want to make sure that you take proper care of it. This is a hand-made item, and it must be taken care of as such!
For your quilt’s first wash, give it a glance to make sure there are no loose threads or stretched seams to take care of first. Next, you can machine wash or hand wash, but make sure to do so on the gentle cycle with cold water with a mild detergent, and line dry or toss it in the dryer.
As you continue to enjoy your quilt and need to wash it more, you may choose to handwash since the quilt will be more gentle to handle. You also are better off letting the quilt lay out or hang to dry as to not risk anything coming apart.
Enjoy Your Quilt
Now that you know how to make a quilt, you can keep creating new designs and experiment with even more ways to create a bigger and more involved quilt. Enjoy quilting, and know that you will get better with more practice!