Quilting on a Sewing Machine Made Easy

One of the most common reasons that causes people to start sewing is the idea of quilting.

What is Quilting?

When you sew more than one layer of fabric together in order to make a padded and thicker piece of material, this is quilting. The name comes from the popular creation of quilts for a comfy night’s sleep.

In general, three layers are used. The top fabric is known as the quilt top. Insulating material – batting – goes inside. A backing fabric is normally added. There are, though, many variations upon this basic formula.

A needle and thread from your sewing machine will join up these layers of fabric. Running stitches, straight stitches and rocking stitches are frequently used. These stitches vary from the purely functional through to more elaborate and decorative varieties.

In addition to quilts, wall hangings, clothing and other textile products are used as quilting projects.

How To Make a Basic Quilt

The first job is to go and get yourself a choice of fabrics. One good idea is to start off with a large multicolored piece. Look for other colors that would coordinate well with this main fabric. Use your imagination and be creative!

You will also need some other supplies so here is a quick list to simplify that process for you…

  1. Sewing machine
  2. Thread
  3. Straight pins
  4. Basting pins
  5. Needle
  6. Batting (100% cotton or bamboo)
  7. Fabric (squares) – 36 squares, 5.5 inches each
  8. Fabric (border) – 2/3 yard or 2 foot
  9. Fabric (binding) – 1/2 yard
  10. Fabric (backing) – 1.5 yards

In terms of equipment, an acrylic ruler makes trimming a breeze. Micro tip scissors and a rotary cutter will help with precision cutting.

Quilt Top

First thing’s first, you’ll need to start with the top of the quilt and work from there.

Follow these simple instructions to get going immediately.

  • To make the basic blocks for your quilt, you’ll need 36 squares. Trim the fabric to strips 5.5 inches wide. Once you have these strips, trim them again so they are 5.5 inches square. Assemble them in a large 6 x 6 square. Experiment and make sure you get the design you most want.
  • Get some straight pins. Move across each row pinning the squares together. Then, with your sewing machine, stitch them together. Use a straight stitch and an inseam of 1/4 inch.
  • Once all rows are seamed, press those seams flat. Use an iron. Make sure that they are all done in the same direction. Taking the seam lines as a guide, match a row to the one beneath it. Pin the right sides to one another. Again, with a straight stitch and 1/4 inch seam, machine stitch them
  • You should now have all the squares joined up nicely. Press all the seams you have just added. Again, ensure that you press them in the same direction.
  • It’s time for the border. Trim four strips of material so that the measurements are 5 x 44 inches. Trim to length if necessary and machine stitch to the edges of your top. Repeat for the two strips which will border the top and bottom of your quilt. Finish by again pressing all seams.

So, that’s it. With little effort expended, the top of your quilt is done and ready to go.

Layering Your Quilt

Think of this stage as much like making a sandwich. You will want to add insulation – batting – to produce a nice, thick material.

This part is also straightforward…

  • Find an open, flat space and lay out your backing fabric. Iron and press the material.
  • Place your batting on top of this. Put your quilt top on next, right-hand side facing upwards. Smooth everything over and eliminate all wrinkles. Note: If you allow an extra 2-3 inches of material, this will accommodate any bunching or shifts during the process of machine quilting.
  • You now need to baste your quilt. Large safety pins designed for quilters are ideal. Work outwards from the center. Using one safety pin for each block, secure all the layers nicely
  • Now it’s time to use your machine with a walking foot. Quilt 1/4 inch off each seam. As you sew, roll up each side of the quilt.
  • Once you are done, you need to prepare the quilt for binding by squaring off. All this means is sewing around the edge of the quilt about 1/8 inch inward.
  • Cut the edge from these squared-off seams. Make sure enough extra remains to fill the binding with. 1/3 inch should be more than enough.

Now your quilt top is finished and you’ve layered it properly, you need to make the binding.

Binding and Finishing

You are getting close to the end of your first quilting project now.

The last part can be tricky so be sure to take care and time to finish everything off expertly.

  • Cut 5 strips 2.5 x 44 inches. Machine stitch them together at right angles. Go from one corner to the other using a diagonal straight stitch. Trim off a small triangle from the corner.
  • Repeat with the other 4 strips and you will now have one long binding strip.
  • Fold the strip in half and use an iron to press.
  • Using straight pins, attach the binding strip to the top of your quilt. Make sure that the folded side faces in. Leave a tail of 8 inches where you start the pinning. When you reach each corner, make a small folded triangle pointing upwards.
  • Attach a pin to either side of the triangle. You will need to join up strips by folding and pinning them.
  • Lay the right side of the binding inside the folded piece of the strip. Secure it with pins.
  • Use a walking foot on your sewing machine. Stitch around the edge of the binding. Keep away from the rough edge by about 1/4 inch. At the corners, backstitch slightly, raise the foot, flip your quilt over, lower the foot again and start in sewing that side of the quilt.
  • Fold over the binding to the backside. Use a pin to secure it. Hand stitch to the back of the quilt. Be sure to use a needle which is small and sharp.
  • Now for the finishing touch. Choose a thread which coordinates well with your binding. By stitching through the interior of the quilt, your stitches will appear invisible. Micro-tip scissors can be useful at this stage. And voilà: your quilt is complete!

Well, as you can see, getting started with a quilting project really isn’t so hard.

There is plenty of advice available online, lots of videos you can watch to illustrate things clearly and classes you can attend if you like that sort of thing.

The only thing limiting you with quilting is your imagination. Be creative and get started today!

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