Quilting For Dummies book cover

Quilting For Dummies

By: Cheryl Fall Published: 02-27-2006

Quilting is a fun hobby — but where do you begin? Get the know-how you need to create beautiful quilts and decorative quilted items 

If you’re interested in taking up quilting as a hobby or simply looking for new project ideas, Quilting For Dummies is for you. From selecting fabrics and designing a quilt to stitching by hand or machine, this friendly guide shows you how to put all the pieces together — and create a wide variety of quilted keepsakes for your home.  

You may think you need some sewing experience before you can start cutting and piecing, but that’s simply not the case. You can use this book even if your sewing expertise stops after threading a needle. Quilting For Dummies starts at the beginning, helping you to gather the right quilting tools, fabrics, and thread. From there, you’ll design your quilts and sharpen your sewing skills. Finally, you’ll see how to piece your quilt together and add all the finishing touches.  

The book contains illustrated examples, step-by-step instructions, plenty of projects and patterns, plus helpful advice on 

  • Performing simple stitching maneuvers  

  • Selecting the right quilting fabrics and threads 

  • Creating new templates to produce original patterns 

  • Designing your masterpiece 

  • Learning new sewing techniques and quilting fundamentals 

  • Making sense of quilting software 

  • Saving time with rotary cutters and other cool tools 

  • Quilting by hand or machine 

  • Getting creative with applique 

  • Choosing new sewing machines and materials 

Quilting For Dummies also features more than a dozen  patterns for projects to get you started and information on quilting software and internet resources. Discover quilting timesavers, ideas for displaying your creations, how judges of quilting contests review the quilted art, and so much more! 

Articles From Quilting For Dummies

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Quilting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-17-2022

Quilting results in pieces prized for both usefulness and beauty. The long history of quilting offers ages-old tips, and modern technology throws in some shortcuts, if you want to take them. But the lingo hasn’t changed very much and tips for choosing quilting fabric remain practical as well as creative. Knowing how to apply common fabric yardages to quilting is useful, and so is having a list of all the materials that go into a finished quilt.

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Framing Your Quilt with a Beautiful Border

Article / Updated 01-24-2017

A border is a strip (or strips) of fabric that frame the edges of the quilt. Your entire quilt top is usually bordered, but you can also have borders surrounding your quilt blocks or as part of the quilt block design. A quilt's borders can be wide or narrow, pieced or appliqued, or a combination of techniques. Always try to choose a border that complements rather than clashes with your blocks. For example, if you have stitched together some busy-looking blocks in bright colors, consider adding a simple border. Its simplicity will complement the complexity of your blocks. If you choose a border as complicated as your block design, that complex border could detract from your design by making it impossible to tell where the block ends and the border begins. In contrast, if your blocks are simple and traditional, multiple bands of borders may be just what you need to set them off. The idea is to make sure that all the elements of your design combine to make it eye-catching. Selecting a border type Although you can have dozens of border options to think about when planning your quilt, you most likely will use one of two basic types. The easiest and most common border style is the plain border, shown in Figure 1. You can stitch the plain border with squared corners or with mitered corners, depending on your expertise. A mitered corner is stitched at a 45-degree angle to the sides of the quilt. Figure 1: A plain border can have squared or mitered corners. The squared-corner border is the simpler of the two to stitch. You can use a single wide length of fabric, or you can use several different plain borders together in one quilt. Borders with cornerstones are simple borders with the addition of a square in the corner of each border (see Figure 2). The cornerstones can be a complementing or contrasting fabric, or you can use pieced or appliqued blocks that complement the center area of your quilt. Figure 2: A border with cornerstones. Calculating border size Calculating border size is really pretty simple. Just total all the finished measurements and add your seam allowances. For example, suppose that the quilt in Figure 3 is made of 10-inch square blocks with one-inch wide sashing strips, and you want a finished border that is 10 inches wide. Figure 3: How big are my borders? To find the size you need to cut for the borders: 1. Find the size of the side borders by adding up the blocks (three 10-inch-square blocks = 30 inches) plus the sashing (four 1-inch-wide strips = 4 inches): 30 inches + 4 inches = 34 inches The finished size of your side border will be 10 wide x 34 inches long, but this is not the cutting measurement — yet. You need to add your 1/4-inch seam allowances to each side of this measurement, because this figure is the finished measurement. You certainly have not yet stitched the borders in place, so the borders are not finished, right? The seam allowances are the areas of fabric along the edges that will be taken up by the stitching. This area needs to be added to the finished measurements, or the border strips will be too narrow and too short after you stitch them to the quilt top. 2. Add 1/4-inch seam allowances to all four sides of the finished measurement. This results in 101/2 inches x 341/2 inches as the cutting size of the side borders. Now to cut two borders using this measurement — one border for each side. 3. Find the measurement for the upper and lower borders by adding the blocks (two blocks at 10 inches = 20 inches) plus the sashing (three strips that are 1 inch wide = 3 inches) and the finished width of the side borders that you fiddled with in the previous steps (two borders that are 10 inches wide = 20 inches). Now you have a finished measurement of 10 inches wide by 20+3+20= 43 inches long. 4. Add the 1/4-inch seam allowances to all four sides of the 10-inch x 43-inch length. The final measurement for the upper and lower borders is 101/2 inches x 431/2 inches. You need to cut two of them this size — one for the top edge and one for the bottom. Did you have any trouble? You're not alone if when you assembled the quilt center area, your stitching wasn't exactly perfect and your seam allowances were not quite 1/4 inch. You may even discover that the left side of your quilt center is longer than the right side of your quilt. That's okay; you can tweak it into shape by creatively cutting the borders! Here's a nice simple method for cutting your borders while squaring up the quilt top at the same time, making those uneven measurements jive once again! To keep things simple, assume that the border width in Figure 4 is 10 inches. Figure 4: Making sure your measurements measure up. 1. Measure the length of the quilt top down the center. 2. Round off the measurement to the nearest inch (assume this quilt center is 33 inches long). Since the border is going to be 10 inches wide, you now have a measurement of 10 inches x 33 inches. 3. Add 1/4-inch seam allowances to all four sides. This makes the length to cut 101/4 inches x 331/4 inches. 4. Measure the quilt from side to side and include the borders. Assuming that the width of the quilt is 22 inches, and your side borders are 10 inches wide, your unfinished measurement will be 10 inches + 10 inches + 22 inches. 5. Add the 1/4-inch seam allowances to all four sides. You've now got a cutting measurement of 101/2 inches x 421/2 inches. Stitching the borders to your quilt Before you stitch the border to your quilt, you need to prepare the border strips so that everything will (hopefully) come out okay. You don't want to end up with too little or too much border fabric in proportion to your quilt top (kind of like ending up with too much cake at the end of your frosting). First, fold each of the four border strips in half to find the centers of the strips and press the center of each border to form a crease, or place a pin at the halfway point to mark it. Find the centers of all four sides of the quilt top as well in the same manner (fold and press or mark with a pin). After you mark the centers, you're ready to stitch. As shown in Figure 5, align the center of the border with the center of the quilt top, having the right sides together. Pin through the layers at the center marking to hold them together while stitching. Add a pin to each end to hold the ends together, too. Figure 5: Aligning the border with the quilt top. Stitch the border to the quilt along its length, easing in any excess fabric using the technique described next: Be sure to ease the excess fabric in place when you stitch. To do this, place the side that has the excess (whether it be the border or the quilt top) next to the feed dogs of your machine. These feed dogs will help ease the extra length for you. Now, start stitching, holding back the top (shorter) layer slightly and allowing those feed dogs to do their job of feeding that lower layer of fabric as shown in Figure 6. Figure 6: Feeding your border through the dogs. Stitch the borders to the quilt, placing the side that needs easing toward the feed dogs and pulling back on the top layer to ease. After stitching the borders to the quilt top, press the borders outward and the seam allowances toward the border fabric.

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Machine Quilting Tips and Tricks

Article / Updated 01-24-2017

If you have chosen to machine quilt your project, you need to prepare your machine for the chore at hand. Each machine quilting technique requires a different type of presser foot and machine setting, so read through the following information carefully. If you have pin basted your quilt together, you must remove the safety pins as you approach them. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to stitch over a safety pin. Not only does stitching over them make them difficult to remove, but it's dangerous! You could easily break your needle, sending a fragment of the needle into your eye. Preparing large-size projects If you are quilting a large project, such as a bed quilt, be sure you have a large surface to the rear and to the left of your machine to help you support the weight of the quilt. These large-size projects are very heavy and can easily pull your machine right off the table and onto the floor! Prepare any quilt larger than 36 inches x 36 inches for quilting by rolling it as follows. Lay the basted quilt on the floor and roll the two sides towards the center, leaving a 12-inch swath of quilt unrolled, as shown in Figure 1. This is where you will begin machine quilting. Secure the rolls with safety pins or bicycle clips. Figure 1: Rolling and securing the quilt. You can find bicycle clips at the sporting goods store and at some quilting stores. Bicycle clips are flexible metal rings with a small opening. They hold your pants leg against your body while cycling so that your pants don't get caught in the bicycle chain. Bicycle clips function the same way on a quilt. Just think of the rolled edges of the quilt as the "leg" and put the clip over this rolled leg, holding it securely in place. Using straight-line quilting for the beginner Straight-line quilting is the easiest form of machine quilting. The results are always good, and it's quick, too! Begin by inserting an even-feed presser foot in your machine, as shown in Figure 2. These presser feet are also known as walking feet. If your machine did not come with an even-feed foot, make a trip to the sewing center to get one. Bring your machine's manual with you so the clerk can help you find the right foot for your model. Figure 2: An even-feed foot on the left, compared to a regular foot on the right. An even-feed foot makes machine quilting smoother and pucker-free because it feeds the layers of the quilt through the machine evenly. Without it, the feed dogs (those teeth under the needle) will only feed the bottom layer of fabric through the machine, leaving the batting and top layers open to puckering because they're not being fed through the machine at the same rate. To start machine stitching: 1. Thread the top of the machine with a coordinating shade of all-purpose thread. If you would like the stitching to be invisible, use clear nylon monofilament as your top thread. 2. Load the bobbin with all-purpose thread in a color to match or coordinate with your backing fabric. 3. Set the stitch length on the machine at 6 to 10 stitches per inch. 4. Place the unrolled center area of the quilt in the machine and take one stitch. 5. With the needle up, stop and raise the presser foot. Pull the top thread tail so that the bobbin thread tail comes up through the hole in the stitch you made in Step 4. You now have both tails on top of the quilt. 6. Lower the presser foot and begin stitching by taking two stitches and then stopping. 7. Put your machine in reverse and take two stitches backward to secure the thread. You are now ready to stitch your quilt. 8. Continue stitching normally (without reversing) along your marked lines, in-the-ditch, or however you have decided to quilt your project. 9. When you get to a corner that needs to be turned, lower the needle into the fabric and raise the presser foot. Pivot the quilt in the other direction and lower the presser foot again. Continue stitching. 10. When you reach a spot where you need to stop stitching, take two stitches backward to secure the thread, just as in Step 7. Remember, you need to secure the thread at the beginning and end every time, or you run the risk of the stitching coming undone at these starting and stopping points, resulting in an unsightly 1/4 inch or so that is unstitched. After you finish quilting the area you unrolled, remove the project from the machine and unroll the sides to expose an unquilted area. Continue stitching until you have quilted the entire quilt. Choosing free-motion machine quilting for advanced projects Free-motion machine quilting requires some practice to master, but the following description will give you a brief introduction. Plenty of books are available devoted entirely to this subject. Free-motion quilting is beautiful for fancy quilting patterns, with decorative possibilities limited only by your imagination. You can use it to create graceful curved designs and floral patterns, as well as the basis for stipple quilting by machine. To do free-motion quilting, you need a special presser foot called a darning or free-motion foot. This type of foot has a rounded toe that travels just above the surface of the fabric, as shown in Figure 3. Figure 3: A darning foot for free-motion quilting. Because you feed the quilt through the machine manually, free-motion quilting requires you to disengage your machine's feed dogs: On some machines, you disengage the feed dogs by turning a knob, which lowers them out of position. On other machines (especially older models), you don't lower the feed dogs to disengage them. Instead, you cover them with a metal or plastic plate. You will find this plate in your machine's bag of tricks. Refer to your machine's manual to see how yours works. With free-motion quilting, you do not need to adjust the length of the straight-stitch on your machine at all. The speed at which you are sewing combined with the speed at which you move the quilt around under the needle determines the stitch length. This is why practice is so important before attempting a large project in free-motion quilting. After inserting the darning foot and disengaging the feed dogs, thread your machine and bobbin as you would for straight-line quilting. Place the quilt under the presser foot with one hand positioned on each side of the quilt, 2 inches or so from the presser foot. Use your hands to guide the quilt in the necessary direction under the darning foot. If your fingers feel dry, or if you are having trouble moving the quilt under the machine because your fingers are sliding on the fabric, cover the first and index finger of each hand (four fingers in all) with a rubber fingertip from the office supply store. Slowly begin stitching, taking two or three stitches in the same spot to secure the thread at the beginning. As you stitch, move the quilt, guiding it with your two hands, so that the needle follows your marked quilting lines or designs. Keeping the machine at a steady speed, move the fabric slowly and smoothly so you don't end up with gaps or overly long stitches. Slow and steady is the key here! Free-motion machine quilting takes some time to master. Start on small projects, such as pillows, placemats, or wallhangings, before progressing to larger projects. Stipple quilting is a great first-time use for free-motion quilting because you are not required to follow a set pattern. Instead, you learn to maneuver the project under the darning foot and get some much-needed experience. See also: Quilting For Dummies Cheat Sheet Ten Time-Saving Quilting Tips Framing Your Quilt with a Beautiful Border Selecting General-Purpose Sewing Machine Needle Point Types

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Quilting Basics: Choosing Cotton to Match Your Style

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When searching for cotton fabrics to use in a particular quilting project, keep in mind the look you want to achieve. Is the project a casual country quilt or a more formal Victorian design? A simple pieced block can take on many different moods depending on the style of fabric you choose. Soft pastels in tiny prints can give a project a feminine feel, whereas deep browns, rusts, and blues may give the quilt a country flavor. For a high-end, decorator look, choose coordinates for your quilt. Coordinates are a group of fabrics that complement each other, or coordinate. They can be as diverse as a large-scale floral with a wide matching stripe or as similar as a softly shaded, sweet little calico with matching solids and tiny little prints. Most fabric stores display coordinate fabrics together (usually on end-of-the-aisle displays), making it easier to pick and choose the fabrics that best fit together . . . and best fit your style. You can also find bundled selections of coordinating fat-quarters and fat-eighths in many stores. These bundles are the favorite weakness of some quilters, who purchase them on a whim or to fill out their fabric stashes. To get started on matching your quilt style to your fabric selection, use Table 1 as a guide. Table 1: Fit Your Fabric to Your Style Quilt Style Fabric Suggestions Victorian or feminine Realistic florals mixed with small- to medium-scale coordinates Cottage Bright pastels in small- to medium-scale prints mixed with solid off-white Lodge Medium- to large-scale deep, woodsy-colored solids and plaids, all in shades of brown, green, rust, red, ochre, tan, navy, and sometimes black Country Muted, dusty-toned prints in all scales, plus solids or two-color schemes such as red with white or blue with off-white Scrappy Go crazy, pal! Anything goes here! Traditional Amish Deep jewel-tone solids and black; no prints Contemporary Colorful novelty prints, especially geometric prints Juvenile Bright crayon colors in solids and prints Pay close attention to the color values of the fabrics you select. Your projects need some contrast so they don't look washed-out, so for the best results, gather an assortment of light-, medium-, and dark-valued prints. In a well-designed quilt, light-value fabrics recede, dark-value fabrics pop out prominently, and medium-value fabrics hold the whole thing together. Without this variety, your quilt doesn't look like much from a distance — just a lump of fabric with batting in between the layers! Some fabric stores carry a nifty little tool called a value finder, which is simply a little rectangle (about 2 x 4 inches) of transparent red plastic that, when held over printed fabrics, allows you to see the color value without the clutter of the print getting in your way! It works by changing the color of the fabric to gray-scale, allowing you see with ease which fabrics are light, dark, or somewhere in between. The value finder's small enough to fit in your purse or pocket, so it's easy to keep on hand. In addition to value, scale, which is the size of a fabric's print, is also very important when choosing fabrics for a quilt. Just as with values, small-scale prints recede in a design, and large-scale prints can be real eye-poppers! Try to avoid using more than one or two large-scale prints in your quilt. They tend to look too "busy" and are hard on your eyes when cutting, stitching, and quilting, not to mention when you're trying to enjoy your final product.

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Ten Time-Saving Quilting Tips

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Quilts today, while continuing to add warmth to a household, are no longer a necessity, but rather a means of self-expression — a glorious work of art in fabric! Quilt-making today is a hobby enjoyed by men and women alike. Machine techniques have replaced tedious hand-piecing and appliqué, but modern quilt-makers still take inspiration from quilts of days past, adapting those designs and techniques to today's lifestyles. Here are some time-saving ideas to help you develop your personal stitching style more quickly and smoothly. Keep your machine clean, oiled, and in top condition. Nothing wastes time faster than having to restitch a seam because the needle is skipping, adjust the tension during a project, or pick lint out of a seam because the machine wasn't cleaned before use. Set up an efficient workspace. The "kitchen triangle" that interior designers insist upon works for quilting, too! Instead of a "sink, stove, work surface," set up a "machine, pressing, work surface" triangle. Position everything so you only have to take a few steps in between. This saves time and energy when working on large projects. When piecing, choose one neutral thread color that works well with all fabrics. This saves the hassle of changing thread color for every fabric. Divide the work into manageable units that can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes time. Then you can work on them when you know you have some wait-time ahead of you, such as when waiting for a phone call. When working on small units, finger-press the pieces open rather than running to the ironing board each time. To do this, simply run your fingernail over the seamline of the opened unit to press the seam allowance open. You can press the pieces at the ironing board later. Chain-piece whenever possible. You can cut the units apart later, perhaps while watching television or helping the youngsters with homework. Likewise, trim all thread tails at once. Work in shifts. Divide your time by cutting out all of the pieces at once, followed another time by stitching units together, then the units into blocks, and finally the blocks into a quilt top. Stitch on the run. Are you working on a project which requires hand appliqué or hand piecing? Pack a resealable plastic bag with your fabric, thread, extra needles, and a small pair of scissors so you can work on your project just about anywhere. Tote your project with you during those endless lobby loungings at the dentist's or doctor's office. Keep it in the car and work on it while waiting outside the schoolyard during carpool duty. If you're bringing your project along on vacation or an overnight visit, bring a 75-watt light bulb along so you know you'll always be stitching in good light. Hotels are notorious for using low-wattage light bulbs. When doing hand appliqué, piecing, or quilting, keep several needles threaded at all times. Threading needles is a great job for the kids. If you're interested in measuring the amount of thread you put into a quilt, a great time to measure is when you thread your needles. Simply cut enough one-yard lengths of the thread at one time for any number of needles (working in 10s would help). Thread the needles and place them in a pincushion. Keep track of the number of yards cut in your notepad. Hey, some quilters go in for this stuff! Buy prepackaged binding rather than making your own. Binding is usually sold in 2- to 3-yard units.

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How to Select Fabric for Quilting

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A quilt is all about the fabric used to make it. Sure there’s batting and backing, but the design and integrity of a quilt comes from the fabrics you choose to compose it. Use the tips in the following list when choosing fabrics for your latest quilt or for your stash of materials for future quilts: Always purchase 100 percent cotton fabric for your quilts. Avoid anything that has polyester fibers. Cotton handles beautifully, holds a crease well, and isn’t slippery between your fingers. It’s also the traditional choice for quilting. Select fabrics that compliment each other rather than clash. For example, if you choose a large-scale floral as the focal point of your quilt, complement it with two or three smaller print fabrics that don’t compete for visual attention with the large print. Also, choose colors that are similar to the ones used in the larger print. Be adventurous. Sticking to all small-scale prints makes a quilt look like it’s made from solid fabrics when viewed from a distance. Varying the scale of the fabric designs adds interest from both near and far. Try something out of the ordinary now and then. Mix things up by experimenting with woven plaids or warm, fuzzy quilter’s flannels. You can even mix flannels with regular cotton fabrics; in fact, flannel quilt backs are wonderfully cozy! When in doubt, choose fabrics from the same collection. Fabric manufacturers do the work for you so by creating collections of fabric in different colors and print scales meant to be used together so you can rest assured that everything works well together. In addition, sometimes store personnel assemble collections that go well together, just to give you some extra ideas to ponder. Pop your fabric into the washing machine as soon as you get home, then dry and press it before storing. Taking care of this prep work early on guarantees that the fabrics in your stash are always ready to use when inspiration strikes.

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Quilting Lingo

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Hang out in a fabric store long enough and you’re bound to hear some quilting lingo that you may or may not be able to translate. To help you feel more comfortable and in-the-know, here’s a quick rundown of “quilt-bonics”: Appliquéd quilt: A quilt made of fabric shapes stitched to a foundation piece of fabric to create a design. Backing: The fabric used for the back side of the quilt — the bottom-most layer. Basting: Using large, easy-to-remove stitches to hold the layers of a quilt in place. You remove basting stitches after you complete the quilting design. Batting: The filling that makes a quilt warm and wonderful. Binding: The bias-cut trim used to conceal, or bind, the raw edges of a quilt. Bindings come premade, or you can make them yourself. Charm quilt: A pieced or appliquéd quilt in which many different fabrics are used and don’t appear more than twice. Bundles of charm squares are often exchanged at quilting guilds so that quilters can collect a wide assortment of fabrics. Conversation prints: Also known as novelty prints, these fabrics often have large-scale or unusual designs. Directional prints: Fabrics that have an obvious one-direction design, such as a stripe or floral bouquet with a north-south orientation. Fat quarter: This fabric cut measures 18 x 22 inches, giving you a more usable space than you have with a standard 1/4-yard cut of fabric (which would be long and skinny at 9 x 44 inches). Fat eighth: This fabric cut is a fat quarter cut in half to measure 18 x 11 inches. Fat eighths are handy when you need just a small amount of fabric. Fussy-cut: A pattern piece that has been cut to accommodate a specific design in the fabric. An example is centering a floral bouquet in the middle of a square to show it off in the finished block. Loft: The thickness of batting. Low-loft is a flatter, less fluffy batting than high-loft, which is very fluffy and plush. Long-arm quilting machine: You’re likely to find this special machine in a lot of quilting shops. Its sole purpose is to machine quilt an assembled quilt. If you don’t want to quilt your project yourself, many shops (and a good number of individuals) will quilt it for you for a fee using these machines. Muslin: Plain cotton fabric that’s either unbleached or bleached white. It can be used as a backing or in the quilt top. Pieced quilt: A quilt made of pieces that have been cut and stitched together to form a new design. Quilt top: The topmost layer of the quilt; it features piecing or appliqué designs. Strip quilting: Stitching strips of fabric together and cutting the multi-colored strip into pieces to create a new design. Subcut: Cutting an already cut piece into many smaller pieces. Templates: Premade plastic or acrylic pattern pieces or paper patterns mounted onto cardstock and used to trace shapes onto fabric for cutting.

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Quilt Shopping List

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Much of the fun of starting a new quilt comes from planning the shopping trip to get the supplies you need. Even if you’re using fabric scraps you already have, you may need to find some complementary material, and you’ll probably need backing and batting at least. Use the following list as a reminder of all the ingredients that go into a finished quilt: Quilt pattern of choice Fabrics for your quilt Batting for the filler Backing fabric that’s 2–3 inches larger all around than the finished quilt size All-purpose thread for piecing and assembly Specialty threads for appliqué projects All-purpose or monofilament thread for machine quilting Fabric scissors (dressmakers’ shears are perfect) Rotary cutter, ruler, and self-healing mat for rotary-cut patterns Thimbles and finger protectors for hand quilting Quilting hoop or stand for hand quilting Walking or even-feed foot for machine quilting Free motion foot (darning foot) for free motion quilting Templates for hand or machine quilting Enough bias quilt binding to go completely around the quilt plus 6 extra inches for overlap Quilters’ pins Glue stick for holding appliqués in place Seam ripper and needle threader, just in case

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Common Fabric Yardage Cuts for Quilting

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you’re quilting, you’re dealing with fabric and yardages. The following chart is a useful tool to have on hand when you’re purchasing fabric yardage. You can also refer to this chart when pulling fabrics from your own stash to make sure you have enough of your fabric of choice. (Measurements are based on the standard 44-or 45-inch fabric width.) Be sure to measure any large templates you plan to use so you don’t purchase a piece of fabric that’s too narrow for the task. Yardage Cut Size In Inches Size In Centimeters 1/8 yd 4.5 x 44 in 11.4 x 111.8 cm Fat eighth 18 x 11 in 45.7 x 27.9 cm 1/4 yd 9 x 44 in 22.9 x 111.8 cm Fat quarter 18 x 22 in 45.7 x 55.9 cm 1/3 yd 12 x 44 in 30.5 x 111.8 cm 1/2 yd 18 x 44 in 45.7 x 111.8 cm 2/3 yd 24 x 44 in 61.0 x 111.8 cm 3/4 yd 27 x 44 in 68.6 x 111.8 cm 1 yd 36 x 44 in 91.4 x 111.8 cm

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Tackling Traditional Bias Binding

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Traditional bias binding, as you would expect, is the old-fashioned way to bind a quilt. The binding is made from a wide strip of bias-cut fabric that’s folded down the center lengthwise. Each lengthwise half of the strip is then folded again before being attached to the quilt, giving the top and back of the quilt each two layers of binding. Traditional bias binding is the most durable binding method because, when you’re finished stitching, you actually have two layers of fabric covering the raw edges of the quilt. Because of its durability, try using traditional bias binding for bed-size quilts or anything that will undergo a lot of laundering. To make a traditional bias binding: Cut strips of fabric eight times wider than the desired width of the finished binding. For example, if you prefer a binding that is 1/2-inch wide when finished, cut 4-inch-wide strips of bias-cut fabric (1/2 x 8 = 4). Fold in 1/2 inch of the beginning of the strip so that the right side of the folded fabric faces you. Then, fold the strip in half (wrong sides facing) along its entire length, as shown in the following figure. Fold the bias-cut fabric down the center lengthwise. Press the strip carefully along the lengthwise fold, taking care not to stretch the bias. Place the pressed strip on the front of the quilt so that the double raw edge is even with the raw edges of the quilt top and the fold in the strip is toward the center of the quilt. Pin the strip in place. Along one long side of the quilt, start about 4 inches from the folded end of the bias strip. Begin machine stitching the binding in place 1/4 inch from the double raw edge of the binding. When you begin to approach a corner, slow down a bit so that you have better control, and stitch to within 1/4 inch of the corner of the quilt top. (See the dot in the following figure? That’s where you stop stitching.) Take a back stitch or two to secure your thread before cutting it and turning the quilt to the next side. Stop sewing about 1/4 inch from the corner. Miter the corner by folding the bias strip upwards at the corner so that it extends the right-hand edge of the quilt (see a in the following figure), and then fold it down so that the newly made fold is even with the top edge of the quilt, the one you just stitched along (shown in b in the following figure). Holding the folded binding in place, line up the quilt in your sewing machine so that you can start stitching the strip to the next side of the quilt, around the corner. Fold the binding up (a) and back down (b) to create a clean corner. Continue stitching the binding to the edges as described in Step 5 and mitering the corners as described in Step 6. To end your binding back where you started (what goes around comes around), trim the ending tail of the binding so that it overlaps the beginning by about 2 inches. (You left 4 inches of it unstitched, remember? If not, see Step 5.) Insert the ending tail of the binding into the folded beginning, and continue stitching through all the layers. Trim away any excess backing fabric and batting (anything that extends beyond the quilt top) with scissors. Fold the binding to the back side of the quilt and, using the blind-stitch, hand stitch it in place directly over the line of machine stitching on all four sides (see the following figure). To create the blind-stitch: Hide your knot by inserting your needle in the backing fabric a short distance from where you want to start. Bring your needle up through the edge of the binding, and pop the knot through the backing fabric by tugging on the thread. (A firm tug is all you need; pull too hard and you’ll break the thread and have to start over.) With your thread coming through the binding, insert the needle into the quilt backing directly opposite. Bring the needle up through the binding again about 1/8 inch from the first stitch in the binding. In this manner, you’ve traveled 1/8 inch and hidden the traveling portion of the thread in the quilt backing. Blind-stitch the binding in place by hand on the back side of the quilt.

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