Learning to Quilt
I’ll admit it. I was a little intimidated, thinking that I was probably going to be the youngest and only inexperienced member of the beginning quilting class. What would the other ladies think? Did I even have a chance at keeping up? And was the instructor going to be patient enough for a true beginner? Let’s just say I was nervous walking into my first Learning to Quilt class.
As it turns out, I had no reason to worry. The experience was wonderful, and so were my classmates.
Our instructor was a very personable woman who obviously loves to quilt. She began the five-session course by confronting our fears. She wanted to know what aspect of quilting worried us the most. Our class decided unanimously that it was the necessary precision. The evening class had been more concerned with how to choose complimentary fabrics for their projects. Armed with this information, She gave us solid information on how to overcome both of these obstacles.
Other practical information offered in the course included using the rotary cutter and mat, measuring the fabric (measure twice, cut once) and even the best type of thread to use. As we occasionally botched a seam or (in my case) scorched our fabric, the class members became very supportive of one another. Often everyone would gather around to see a classmate’s newest block and to remark on the great color choices or the lovely, straight seams.
Another great aspect of the course was the venue. By attending class right in a store, we had access to any tools we might have overlooked needing, as well as staff members occasionally interjecting really useful bits of advice. I found it encouraging to have shop customers occasionally wander through the classroom to view quilts displayed on the walls. Something about all of those people enjoying the craft would renew my energy.
Aside from my personal distaste for being awake before 11 a.m., the only real complaint I had with the class was that I thought it probably should have been a week longer. Unfortunately, the final class was only an overview of finishing your quilt top, and I would like to have had a little more time with the instructor for those steps. So, since the only problem I found with the class is that it ended, I feel confident in urging others to consider signing up.
I really recommend this class for anyone who wants to learn to quilt but just hasn’t had the chance or has been scared to take the first step. The teacher is patient but knowledgeable, and the shop’s staff is cheerful and supportive. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I have already signed up for this month’s Triple Irish Chain class and have a couple of others in mind. Not bad for someone who was clueless about quilting a month ago, wouldn’t you say?
How to prepare your quilt top for quilting.
The time spent preparing your quilt top is well worth it to achieve the best result.
Wavy borders and uneven edges will not magically quilt out and I could be forced to pleat the edges – you may end up with puckers.
Prepare your Quilt Top
• Press all of the seams well during the piecing process, ensuring that they lay flat to one side.
• Trim all loose threads from the top as they can get caught in the machine foot and tear the quilt.
• Clip all loose threads from the back, dark threads on light fabrics will be seen through the quilt.
• Remove any added accessories, such as buttons or trinkets as these will catch in the machine foot
• Ensure your borders lay flat. Wavy borders can not be quilted out.
• Fullness that is pieced into the quilt may not necessarily be quilted out.
• Stay stitch 1/4 ” from the edge of the quilt if the outer edges are on the bias or have lots of seams in them Your Backing
• Your choice of backing is very important to the finished look of the quilt and should not be an after thought.
• Please use a weight similar to the top and 100% cotton where possible.
• If you have washed the fabric for the top then also wash the backing to allow for equal shrinkage.
• Size – The backing should be at least 6 inches wider and 6 inches longer than the quilt top. This is to allow for the backing to be attached to the rollers, to allow for take up of the fabric and to give some space to support the fabric at the sides during quilting.
• Color – Keep in mind the thread color for the top will be the same for the back.
• Pattern – small busy prints will `hide’ the quilting on the back of the quilt. All over patterns can look great on a plainer fabric making a reversible’ effect on the quilt.
• Joins please remove selvedge from the seams and sew a seam at least 5/8” wide. If at all possible have the seam running across the quilt as opposed to down the center. Please note that pieced backs cannot be centered.
• Square – the backing piece needs to be square or it will not attach correctly to the rollers and it will not run squarely during quilting.
• If you supply your own batting it should be a minimum of 6 inches wider and longer than your quilt top.
Please do not attach the batting to the quilt.
Where to Sell Your Quilts
Once you have created a couple or 10 quilts you might want to consider selling them. You can give them away to friends and family members and you can even sell them for FUN AND PROFIT. After all, you will need to recoup all that money and time you spent creating your fabulous creations and what better way than to sell a few. Of course, the more inventory you can create before you decide to sell the better. And the more the make the faster you will get at making them. There are various avenues for selling your quilts and Spring and Fall are probably the better times to try and sell them. You can pay the fees for a booth at a local quilting show or even pay the smaller fees at your local Flea and Farmers Market. But if you don’t want to schlep all your inventory to any of these places you can create a website.
If you go the traditional route you will have to pay for a domain, pay for website hosting fees and setup a shopping cart. And absolutely set up a PAYPAL account. PAYPAL is a secure credit card/electronic check processing website that keeps yours and your customers information safe and secure. Check out the GODADDY website for an inexpensive website solution that will give you complete control of how you website looks like, feels like and interacts. If you are not internet or web savvy then you can even try a websites that we use by going to ETSY.
ETSY is a seller/buyer website that gives you a little more leeway in your shop. They do charge $0.20 per item that you list and a small percentage of the amount you sell. They help you get the word out and offer videos and instructions on how to list, take pictures, involve your friends, even pay a small fee to have your items featured quickly. You have to renew your items every 4 months and pay the $0.20 per item fee again. The fees are due by the 15th of the following month. That gives you a little time to list your items and hopefully make a sale or two before they are due. Read through the help sections of any site or service you decide to use. So far we have been happy with the services we are recommending.
Sashing and setting the blocks
Well congratulations!!! All 20 of your sampler blocks are made and ready to be set into a quilt top.
The next step is setting the blocks together. We will be putting sashing strips between the blocks as a frame to set each block off from the other. Blocks can also be set without the setting strips. This is often done when all the blocks in a quilt are the same and a secondary design is created where the blocks join.
Sashing strips are simply strips that are sewn between the blocks. We will be doing simple sashing of just one fabric. You can also put corner squares at the corners of each block to add another design element.
Traditionally sashing was made with short strips going in one direction between the blocks and long strips the other way, i.e. all the vertical strips short and the horizontal long. This leads to difficulty in keeping all the columns in a straight line since the long narrow strips stretch some.
Instead we will use short strips for both the horizontal and vertical strips. Two sides of most of the blocks will be sashed and then the blocks sewn together. This is where you will use the large segment cuts. Review this technique in the basic lessons.
1. The sashing strips will finish to 2″ and so will be cut 2 1/2″ wide. The strips will be cut as a large segment cut the length of the strip needed and then the 2 1/2″ strips will be cut from the large segment cut. These will be cut at 12 1/2″ large cuts and 14 1/2″ large cuts.
Cut 1 large cut 12 1/2″ wide and 2 large cuts 14 1/2″ wide. You should get 16 (or more) 12 1/2″ strips and 32 (or more) 14 1/2″ strips from these large segment cuts.
2. Now cut the strips into the 2 1/2″ wide sashing strips. You should get 16 strips from each large cut.
3. Cut from 4 of the 14 1/2″ strips 2″ so that they measure 12 1/2″. You will need 20 this 12 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ size.
4. Sew the 12 1/2″ sashing strip to the top edge of each of the sampler blocks. They don’t have a up or down so whichever side you choose is the top. Press toward the sashing strip. Lay them in a pile right side up with the sashing strip to the top.
5. Sew 14 1/2″ sashing strips to the right side of the blocks. Press to the sashing strip. All the blocks now have 2 sashing strips, 1 on the top and one on the right.
6. Now lay out your blocks on a table, floor or bed and arrange them in the way you like. I do it on the floor so I can stand back and look at them from a distance. Below is the arrangement that I did but don’t feel that this is the only or “right” way to arrange them.
Your blocks should be all laid out in the arrangement you want. It you need to put the blocks away before sewing them just start on the top left block, pick it up and set it on top of the block to the right. Pick both up and set them on the next block to the right. Pick them all up and set them on the last block. Pin them together with a piece of paper labeled “ROW 1” onto the pile of blocks. Continue in the same manner with the remaining blocks labeling correctly until the rows all are pinned together. This will keep your arrangement in the proper order.
7. Onto the bottom of the bottom row sew 14 1/2″ sashing strips. Press to the strip. These 4 blocks now have 3 side sashing strips.
8. Onto the left edge of the left most column blocks 1, 2, 3, and 4 sew a 14 1/2″ sashing strip and press to the strip. These 4 blocks now have 3 side sashing strips.
9. The bottom left corner block now has 3 sides on it. It will need one more. Cut a 2 1/2″ strip of the sashing fabric. From this cut a 16 1/2″ segment. Sew this to the remaining side of the block. Press to the sashing.
All the blocks now have the right number of sashing strips.
Sewing the blocks together
There are different ways of sewing blocks together to form the quilt top. I will explain 2 different ways, Rows & Columns and Square Sets. Choose one way on this quilt and then try the other way out on another quilt and see which way you like best.
Rows & Columns
1. As the name indicates the quilt is sewn together in rows and columns. Lay out the top in the arrangement you want. Check with the diagram to be sure your sashings on the blocks are on the proper sides of the block.
2. Starting at the top right (row 1), flip the block over onto the block to the left. Pin the blocks together. Now do the same with row 2, row 3, row 4, and row 5.
3. Sew the blocks together chain stitching them. (Don’t cut the blocks apart).
4. Press the seam of row 1 to the left, row 2 to the right, row 3 to the left, row 4 to the right, and row 5 to the left. This will make the block seams “marry” easier when you get to that point. Remember odd is left and even is right.
5. Now do the same with the next 2 columns of blocks. In this quilt this will get all the blocks combined. If in another quilt you have more blocks just continue in the same way. If you have an odd number of rows, after you sew the next to the last rows together pin and sew the last row blocks onto the left side of the previously sewn column.
6. Now sew the 2 sets of blocks together down the center. Again chain stitch and don’t cut the rows apart. Press as before, the odd rows left and the even rows to the right.
7. Sew the rows together marrying the seams that should all go in opposite directions since you pressed them so well. Press the seams down. The next lesson will put on the borders.