Home DIY The Craft of Quilting for Beginners

The Craft of Quilting for Beginners


The Art and Craft of Quilting

Quilting is an ancient craft that has been used by women to recycle and reuse materials in their wardrobes and workbaskets

A well-made quilt becomes an heirloom that is treasured and passed down to future generations. Quilting is something that Indian women have traditionally practiced by sewing bits and pieces of material, adding applique and embroidery to bring out the brilliant colors of nature into their clothes. They have also recycled old saris and ghagras and men’s dhothies to make godhulis or wraps for babies. The Rajasthan quilt or razai is a work of art. In Bengal, the Kanthas are quilts made from old saris.

Quilting is now recognized as an art form and you can get creative with it. Women get together in groups and quilt as a community activity all over the world.

Here is a list of things to remember when you are a novice quilter:

  1. Choose quilt patterns made with large pieces
    This makes it easier to sew the pieces together. There will be fewer seams to baste together and when you block the quilt, you will make less mistakes.
  2. Choose simple quilt patterns that use squares and rectangles
    Circles, hexagons and triangles look awesome, but are a difficult proposition to put together. Squares and rectangles are easier to sew together.
  3. Pre-cut fabric
    If you can get pre-cut fabric to a uniform size, that will save hours of cutting fabric.
  4. Join a quilting class
    If you cannot find a quilting class near your home, look at online classes. Some are even free. Many people write blogs about quilting and there is a vast store of hints, ideas, patterns and instructions for free.
  5. Start small and simple
    Quilting is a craft that totally depends on you…your needs, your creativity and your skills. You can make a doll’s blanket or a child’s wrap, a carryall bag or a patchwork cushion or throw and then move onto single and double bed quilts. This will hone your skills and give you confidence as you work on different projects.

shutterstock_337462391The three layers of a quilt are:

The quilt top – This the final design that you can see at the top. It will be squares, rectangles, circles, hexagons or diamonds arranged together in a pretty pattern. The whole quilt has a border on four sides.

The batting –The batting is the stuffing or middle layer. Traditionally it used to be cotton, wool, down or feather. Nowadays you can get bamboo and cheaper materials like foam, polyester or poly-cotton blends. The material can vary in thickness.

The backing fabric – This is the third layer, the bottom-most one. The width of this fabric must be equal to your finished quilt as you must sew them together. It can be cotton or polyester.

The four stages to making a quilt

  1. Get ready: Select a pattern, choose your fabric and pre-wash it to avoid shrinkage issues after the quilt is made.
  2. Set out the pattern and block it: Cut and place your pieces first to tweak its pattern. Then start sewing the adjoining pieces together. You can pin together various rows before sitting at the sewing machine to join them. Finally, join the various segments.
  3. Quilting: Sandwich the batting between the top of the quilt and the backing fabric and sew them together.
  4. Binding: Sew the binding or edges together to make a neat and tidy border for the entire quilt.

Things you need

  • Ruler
  • Thread
  • Fabric pencil, marker or tailor’s chalk
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter
  • Seam ripper
  • Basting safety pins
  • Straight pins
  • Needle
  • Sewing machine
  • Batting – 1 meter
  • Fabric for squares
  • Fabric for border
  • Fabric for binding
  • Fabric for backing
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Padmini Natarajan calls herself Dame Quixote for she is forever tilting at windmills! A storyteller, poet, columnist, blogger, editor and journalist, she has specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. She has worked for over 15 years as Part-time Language Editor and Writer of manuals, curriculum textbooks and other material with an E-education organization, EZVidya/Chrysalis that is aimed at empowering Teachers, Students and Parents. She taught Vedic Heritage at Kalavardini to children from the ages of 3 to 14 and written and directed skits and plays. She won the Gourmand Special Jury Award in Paris in 2009 as co-author of ‘Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine’. Her book of short stories - ‘Crossroads: Stories from South Indian Lives’ - has good reviews on Amazon. Padmini has been concerned with paying it forward with her involvement in organizations like Sneha, a suicide prevention NGO, Canstop, Cancer Support group and many women’s organizations. Her other passion was acting, on stage, TV and screen. She is a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff, a music maniac who listens to Golden Oldies and has a strong Facebook presence. Nowadays she is an armchair activist and world traveler from the safety of her home. Quite the hypochondriac, she is exploring spiritual enlightenment through Vedanta and loves to spout philosophical thoughts to unwary audiences.