How to make your first quilt

How to make your first quilt

Have you ever dreamed of creating a beautiful quilt in just one day? If so, you're in the right place! Today, I'm excited to share a simple and efficient pattern, allowing you to craft a stunning quilt quickly and easily. Whether you're a seasoned quilter looking for a fast project or a beginner eager to dive into the world of quilting, this guide will help you achieve a delightful finished product in no time. So, gather your materials and let's get started on this quilting adventure!

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 1 x Layer cake or 42 10″ x 10″ swatches of fabric
  • Rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • Quilter’s ruler
  • You will need fabric for binding – the finished quilt measures 55″ x 75″ inches
  • 1,5 yards for the border
  • Thread for patchwork, and for quilting
  • Basting pins if you don’t have a longarm quilt machine or if you plan to quilt this yourself
  • Quilter’s binding clips 
drawing of finished quilt
 

The pamphlet that comes with a layer cake from Moda shows you how to cut strips from your fabric of 10″ squares.  We want 5 x 2″ strips from each swatch.

If you are confident with your cutting skills, you can take up to 4 swatches and cut them at the same time by carefully aligning the edges, but if you are still starting out, rather do this one swatch at a time.

The strips that you’ve cut from your layer cake should be sorted in dark, medium and light tones.  A layer cake comes pre-sorted according to these, usually dark at the top, and light at the bottom.

 

I chose to stick to the light to dark layout for my blocks as far as possible.  Sometimes there are more light or dark swatches – if that’s the case with your fabric, move them around with your layout choices.

Using a quarter inch foot to make sure that all your seams are the same size, you can start piecing your strips together.  I chain piece because it’s a little faster.  What is chain piecing?

 

 

Chain piecing is a fantastic, time-saving technique for patchwork quilting that will make your sewing experience more enjoyable and efficient. It's perfect for sewing together lots of small pieces, like squares or strips, without stopping and starting for each one. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Take the first two pieces of fabric and align their edges. Sew them together using a ¼ inch seam allowance (or whatever your pattern calls for).
  2. Without cutting the thread, take the next two pieces and sew them right after the first pair. Keep the same seam allowance.
  3. Continue adding pairs of fabric pieces, one after the other, creating a "chain" of sewn pieces connected by short lengths of thread.
  4. Once you've sewn all the pairs, take the chain off the sewing machine and snip the threads between each pair.
  5. Press the seams of each pair open or to one side.  Pressing to the dark side makes nesting seams easier.
 Chain stitching patches together Chain piecing in action.
Blocks for beginner quilt

You want to stitch six strips together.

After each round of piecing 2 strips, then 4 strips and then the six strips, press your seams in the direction of the darker colour.  This is important when you start stitching your blocks and rows together to ensure an even fit and a less bulky seam.  It does this since the direction of the press will alternate giving you a flat join between the four seams.

Pinned blocks showing how to nest seams

Arrange your blocks so that you have alternating horizontal and vertical seams.  Use the quilt diagram as a reference.

Once you have established your layout, and you are happy with what it will look like, you can start stitching your rows.  Remember to line up the seams of the blocks so that you have a nice square and flat join.

Neatly joined corner because the seams are nested.

Now that your blocks and rows are all joined, you can add the border around the edges.  If you are comfortable with making a mitre border, please go ahead, but since this is a beginner quilt, I stuck to a horizontal join.  Your quilting will hide the seam in any event, so it won’t make too much of a difference.

Quilt top with a border

When you are finished, you should have something looking like this, and you have reached the quilt sandwich or layering stage.  I have added a border to make my quilt bigger.

Finished beginner quilt

You will notice that I did change my blocks around so that there is no consistent pattern for the light to dark.  My layer cake had a larger number of light and medium tone fabrics.

You now need to prepare your patchwork for quilting.  Remember that backing fabric should be bigger than the quilt top to allow for the shrinkage that will result from the quilting.

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