Not your grandma's quilt
September 22, 2009 9:10 PM   Subscribe

Super-novice quilter. Looking for dumbed-down basic quilting instructions as well as resources for quilts you wouldn't find on granny's rocker or in a log cabin.

I'm completely new to quilting and in my attempt to dive right into the subject, I've found myself completely overwhelmed. My interest was sparked when I passed Quilts, Baby! in the bookstore the other day. I had no idea quilts could be so cute and fun! I want to do that! It also seems that even old patterns can be awesome with modern fabric.

My first goal is to make a small, simple patchwork quilt (at least I think it's patchwork. See?) such as this one minus the applique. Then maybe I could move onto a larger quilt - still just patchwork, at least not using blocks, like this here one. But is there a pattern for such a thing? And what sort of white fabric is used for the background? White cotton? Muslin? I'm clueless. I'm taking a class at a local craft store at the end of next month, but I can't help but want to start dabbling before then.

Resources I've discovered include:

-The Quilting Answer Book
-The Encyclopedia of Quilting Techniques
-Oh Fransson!
-Stitches and Scissors
-Previous AskMe's on quilting

What i'm looking for:

-Books/magazines/websites with easy to understand step-by-step instructions on basic patterns (I'm not ready to do blocks yet, but simple block patterns are welcome)
-Modern or offbeat quilt patterns
-Information on what tools a beginner quilter really needs
-Any tips/advice

Thanks in advance! Oh, and no offense, I'm sure your granny's quilt is just the bees knees.
posted by viachicago to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Quilt in a Day. This is a series of books, $10-$15US, each with a different pattern. The method is straightforward. (Disclosure: I learned the method from someone who walked me through it, so I didn't actually spend a lot of time with the book itself.) Quilt in a day website, Quilt in a day book on Amazon

Tools I got/borrowed:
-sewing machine (but not one for specialized quilting)
-thread, straight pins, scissors
-rolling Olfa cutter and mat for that cutter (they'll have this at a sewing store; you can get by with scissors but the rotary cutter is really a major functional improvement, makes the project easier and gives better results)
-fabric (the book will help you calculate how much you need)
-batting (to fill the quilt)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:23 PM on September 22, 2009

And you will need to iron fabrics as you go, so you'll want an iron and ironing board.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:24 PM on September 22, 2009

Stick with plain blocks or strip style quilts until you have done a few projects, they will go faster and you'll hopefully feel encouraged by how easy they can be. I really like variations of "stacked coin" quilts. I recommend hand tying to start off with, hand quilting can take a long time for a beginner. After you buy fabric, wash and dry it in the dryer before you use it...that way if the fabric shrinks a bit, it will happen before you piece the quilt. The staff at quilt stores tend to be very helpful if you have specific questions about fabric (ie. what kind of white fabric to use for the quilt you linked). Have fun! Quilting and buying fabric can be incredibly addictive, but it is also very relaxing.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:34 PM on September 22, 2009

There are quilting videos on youtube. I could not understand how to bind a quilt until I'd watched a few videos about a hundred times.

Also, they do have special templates at craft stores, but for the quilt I made recently, I went to a hardware store and had them cut me a template for the exact quilt block size I wanted to make. It was about a dollar and was easy to use with my rotary cutter. (I made a quilt made up of little squares like the one in your picture.)
posted by artychoke at 9:34 PM on September 22, 2009

Seconding Quilt in a Day. I recommend the "Log Cabin" quilt - it's really easy strip quilting and it offers a variety of patterns once you've assembled the blocks.
posted by cadge at 9:48 PM on September 22, 2009

I'm currently using this to make my first quilt. (I didn't use the charm pack they advertise, I just got fabric I liked from the local store). Very easy to follow instructions for every step - instructions for basting, binding and quilting are linked to at the bottom.
posted by frobozz at 10:17 PM on September 22, 2009

How about something like this? I made a crib sized (roughly 45" x 60") quilt by sort of following but modifying somewhat the instructions for that quilt. It was very manageable and turned out pretty well for my first attempt at quilting. There are other posts on that site about quilting that might be helpful. I found that having read a few tutorials for different quilting projects helped me understand the basics so I could tackle that project more efficiently.
posted by kitty teeth at 10:21 PM on September 22, 2009

Denyse Schmidt -- modern quilts and smaller patchwork projects, includes how-to-quilt instructions.

A couple of different blogs. That last one isn't just quilting, but there are some good ideas there.

Cute fabric -- a must!
posted by jenne at 10:49 PM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

The two best tips I ever found for quilting (after sewing for longer than I'll admit):

Lower your ironing board so you can use it when you're sitting down. Put the board and iron in a position so you can twirl around and use it without getting up from the machine. Works for me as I use an office chair for sewing.

From Threads when they had a quilt artist giving tips: for applique, back the shape you want with very light weight fabric or interfacing, the limper the better. Sew around the shape, cut out, slash backing fabric, turn and press. No more fiddling with 1/4" turn unders on complicated shapes. Makes it a lot easier to add a flower or two to your design.

My best tip: figure out how to get a 1/4" seam every time, whether using a special foot or settings on your machine. No guessing. And, because I hate puckered quilts and surprises after I'm finished, prewash/iron and colour set if necessary.

I got a book on how to do rotary cutting. I'm good with tools generally, but have an irrational fear of cutting off a finger so thought I'd learn properly. Amazing what you can do with a cutter, mat and ruler.

See if you can find the Australian Quilters' magazine, even back issues. They have some of the most cheerful looking quilts I've ever seen. Most of the patterns I've seen are basics, but they turn out different somehow. And nthing Quilt in a Day. I have an old quilting how-to book; after reading it, I can very much appreciate new tools like rotary cutters & mats. Marking and cutting each piece one at a time is a joy killer. BTW, did you look at Hawaiian quilts which are usually one big applique? Or Seminole Indian quilts which are sewn together strips recut and sewn again into what looks like a complicated design? They are so much simpler to make than they look and can make a nice border.
posted by x46 at 2:03 AM on September 23, 2009

I like The Modern Quilt and have made the Plain Spoken quilt (easy and colourful). There's even a Flickr group.
posted by KathyK at 5:48 AM on September 23, 2009

The Craftster quilting forums have lots of tips and ideas for modern quilts.
I couldn't even begin to do binding without this tutorial from Heather Bailey. Makes it much, much easier.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:24 AM on September 23, 2009

For block quilts you don't actually need a template. You can just use a ruler and the markings on your cutting mat. Also for making up your own quilts a tablet of graph paper is wonderful. Just decide what scale you want the squares to represent and you can draw whatever pattern you want and know the exact dimensions of every piece. It also allows you to color in your blocks so it is easy to tell where the different fabrics will look best.
posted by stubborn at 3:01 PM on September 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Have any of you ever had issues combining fabrics you purchased at a quilt store (allegedly higher quality) with those at a craft chain with regard to wear? I'm feeling confident enough to get started!
posted by viachicago at 6:55 PM on September 23, 2009

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