I got a great question over on my Facebook page yesterday about how I learnt to quilt. And I’m going to start out by saying that I wish I hadn’t learnt the way I had. If I had my time over again I would have loved to have gone to a course and learnt the basics from a teacher. But I was keen and had a little baby and a husband working away so self taught was the way I went. I had been sewing for a while and going to sewing classes and joined a quilt swap. I had never quilted but wanted to join a quilt swap and challenge myself. And this is my very first quilt from 2007!
Now this was before you could pop onto youtube and watch videos or a few good books were out but I read a few books, asked my sewing teacher how to use a walking foot, got sold the wrong walking foot, tried it, took it back, came home with the right walking foot and ta da I did my first quilt pictured above. Ahem. A doll’s quilt. Nothing too fancy and definitely not my best work but I learnt a lot with that little quilt.
Quilting involves a few techniques to master. The cutting of fabric using a rotary cutter, mat and ruler. Piecing (whether by machine or hand). Then basting your whole quilt together with a backing fabric, batting in the middle and the quilt top you’ve just pieced, then you need to quilt it (again it’s up to you whether it’s by machine or hand). And then lastly there is the binding which goes around the edges of the quilt. Phew. Quilts take time but are so much fun and so satisfying to complete. And they are addictive. Oh the addiction.
The first few quilts I did were machine pieced and hand quilted with circles or love hearts and quilting cotton. I enjoyed the hand quilting as I only had 1 baby and no real rush to finish the projects. Oh how times change. Now I have 5 ‘babies’ of my own.
After I had the twins and wanted to get through my quilts faster, I realised I wanted to learn free motion quilting. It was about this time I had discovered crazy mom quilts and loved her free motion. I watched her video and just got stuck into it on my machine. For me, free motion quilting is forgiving. You don’t need straight lines, you move the fabric around and stitch as you go. It’s very addictive and when you first start you find yourself dreaming of moving the quilt around on your machine. Practise makes perfect and it’s fun just to practise with a big quilt sandwich and cut it down to make coasters and placemats. Try it.
I made my own little video on free motion (sniffing and my very aussie accent are included free of charge!) and you can watch it here. This was a quick spur of the moment get retro daddy filming behind me for the video.
I’ve done a couple of quilting posts – this one on your free motion questions, my free motion video post here and the infamous charm square tutorial part 1 here that I didn’t get to finish because I got pregnant, sold a house, bought a house and got crazy busy. These Christmas holidays I will sit down and finish that tutorial. A fabulous tutorial if you’re after one using 2 charm square packs is over at the lovely Amy Smart blog here.
OK so the great thing about quilting now compared to 4 or 5 years ago are the great books that are out there by bloggers for everyday sewers like you and me. And here is my blog post on a few favourite quilting books – please add Sunday Morning Quilts to the list which I love too. And Block Party is another one I’m loving. I have a couple of quilting books en route to me to go under the Christmas tree and I’ll let you know what I think of them when they arrive. Yes, you guessed it. I love craft books.
I also love youtube – a few tutorials are here. But nothing beats learning in person so in short if you can find a beginners course near you then do it. It’s a great way to make friends and if you’re making any boo boos then you’ll nip them in the bud early. Just look up your local quilting/patchwork store and they should have a class list. And if you really want to start and just can’t wait then grab a charm square pack which is a pack of precut squares that you just need to join together. They make the best quilts and are a great way to start. Just google Moda charm square packs or check out your nearest quilting store to grab some
Got a question? Just ask………..