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How to make your first quilt?

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

Are you looking forward to making your first quilt but couldn't figure out how to start? Then this tutorial will guide you step-by-step in making your first patchwork quilt.

1. Decide the quilt pattern and purpose of the quilt.

Let's work on the basic 'square blocks' pattern just like a chessboard. This is a good project for you as it will teach you how to work on seams and get familiarized with the process flow. Just like the chessboard, each row and column contains 8 blocks, with a total of 64 blocks. So our finished quilt will be a square mini quilt with 64 square blocks.

2. Sketch and plan all the measurements to get the desired quilt size.

Let's make a plan and write down all the details as much as possible before starting out. So for this quilt, I decided to use 10x10 cm or 3.9x3.9 inches square blocks to produce a 70 x 70 cm or 27.7 x 27.7 inches finished quilt. There will be 16 red blocks, 16 green blocks, and 32 white blocks. In total we'll have 64 blocks, which is the same with our chessboard inspiration.

3. Choose the fabrics and color palette.

If you don't have a huge collection of fabrics yet, then using 2 to 3 colors will also give you a beautiful quilt. I chose red, green, and cream colors because they complement each other. Check out "Color Theory for Quilter" if you want to learn more about selecting colors for your quilt. For the fabrics, I'm using a 100% cotton from MODA's French General Collection. And if you have no idea of the types of quilting fabrics, you can check this What is Quilting Fabric?

4. Cut the fabrics according to size.

Using a cutting mat, ruler, and a rotary cutter, cut the blocks. Here you can choose you own measurements according to the size you want. If the fabrics have many wrinkles, press or iron them flat. This will help you get accurate measurements. I'm using the grid lines of the cutting mat to measure and determine the cutting lines on the fabric.

5. Sew the patchwork.

The most fun part I would say, but let's be careful not to mix the blocks the wrong way.

  • Arrange the blocks on a flat surface like a table, a wall, or the floor to create the desired pattern. In this tutorial, my design is a checkered pattern, but of course, feel free to make your own design.

  • Stack the blocks per row and label each row, Row1 to Row8, as shown below. You can organize it the way it works for you.

  • Bring the stacks to the sewing machine.

  • Sew the blocks according to its sequence.

When using a patchwork presser foot or an ordinary presser foot, sew 1/4 inch or 0.6 cm seam allowance in all blocks. You can use the edge of the presser foot as a guide. Being consistent with 1/4 inch or 0.6 cm seam allowance will help us achieve accurate points on each corners of the blocks when sewn together.

6. Press or iron the seams to flatten them.

After sewing the rows, check the pattern again if there is a misplaced block. If the pattern is Ok, press or iron the seams per row, with all the seams facing the same direction. And with the next rows, press the seams in alternate directions. This will help us achieve lesser bulk on the corners of the blocks when sewn together.

7. Sew and join all the rows of the patchwork.

Sew the rows together using 1/4 inch or 0.6 cm seam allowance to complete the patchwork. Align the seams on each corners as much as possible. The seams must be facing the opposite directions as pressed. After sewing, press the whole patchwork to flatten all the seams

Mismatch points or corners may occur due to inaccurate 1/4 seam allowances. If this happens, continue sewing, unless it's too big like 1cm or more.

7. Make the quilt sandwich.

On a flat surface, make a layer, starting with the backing fabric, the quilt batting, and the patchwork on top. The backing fabric is a whole cloth wider then the patchwork. You can match the color or design of the backing fabric with the patchwork.

The quilt batting is the middle layer, which is a fiber material made of cotton or polyester or wool or bamboo. I'm using a cotton batting here. Depending on brands and materials, batting's thickness may vary. You can read more about Quilt Batting Types and Choosing the Right One here.

8. Baste or pin the quilt sandwich.

Baste or secure the position of the layers together by hand stitching or pin-basting. Another alternative way is by spray basting. It uses a solvent spray to stick the materials together. My favorite is pin-basting that uses ordinary safety pins, and it's super easy.

Make sure to flatten all the layers to prevent puckering during quilting.

Check here to learn more on 3 Ways to Baste Your Quilt.