How to make your first quilt?

Updated: Mar 28

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.



9. Make the quilting stitches.

Have you heard of the phrase "quilt on the ditch or sew on the ditch"? If you have, then this is the moment to do it, and if you haven't then welcome to the quilting world. The ditch is the line along the seam between blocks.

For beginners, sewing on the ditch is the best way to go. It means making your quilting stitches on top of the seam lines between the blocks. In your sewing machine, you can use an ordinary presser foot or a walking foot, then sew straight lines on the ditch.

Because we're using square blocks in our quilt, the resulting quilting stitches will be gridlines.


10. Attach the binding on the raw edge.

  • Trim the extra batting and backing fabrics from all sides of the patchwork.

  • Measure the length and width of the quilt. Note*This project is 70x70 cm or 27.7x27.7 inches.

  • Cut 3 inches or 7.5 cm strips of binding fabric. Depending on the length of the fabric, you can have 4 or more strips to cover all sides of the quilt.

  • Connect the strips together by sewing the corners at 45-degree angle. Use a marker tool to draw a diagonal line for the stitch line.

  • Fold the strip into half from the starting point for about 20 cm or 8 inches. You can also iron the whole strip folded, but I found it easy to fold along the way.

  • Attach the folded strip on the quilt on any sides you want but away from the corners by at least 20 cm or 8 inches. From the starting point where you sew, leave at least 10 cm or 4 inches extra of the folded strip. This will be used to connect with the end point.

  • Use the edge of the presser foot to align the edge of the quilt while sewing the binding together. With my ordinary presser foot, I get 1.2 cm or around 0.5 inch of finished binding. *Note: In this tutorial, I'm using a walking foot that moves the quilt from the top and bottom.

  • When reaching the corners, mark a point that lies on the 45 degree angle from the corner point. Check out the image below for reference. Sew until the marked point and backstitch to secure the stitches.

  • Fold the binding strip into a 45-degress angle to make a pivot point on the corner.

  • Sew on top of the folded strip starting from the edge. Backstitch to secure the stitches. Do this in all four corners.


  • When reaching near the starting point, stop sewing 10 cm or 4 inches from the start point.

  • Fold the strip at 45 degree angle, and place the extra strip from the starting point on top.

  • Sew on top until the whole strip is attached.

  • Cut excess binding fabric, but leave at least 1cm extra allowance.

  • Fold inward the 1cm allowance.

  • Flip the binding strip to see the intersection, sew a temporary stitch on top of the fold line to secure the intersection.

  • Fold the binding strip towards the backing fabric, wrapping the raw edges of the quilt.

  • Secure the position of the fold by using clips or pins. Make sure to cover the binding stitches at the backing fabric.

  • At the corners, fold the binding at 45 degree angle to form a perfect corners.

  • Sew on top of the quilt along the ditch or below the binding seam, making sure to stitch together the folded binding fabric at the back.


The finished binding will be approximately 1.2 cm or 1/2 inch. When stitching, sometimes the stitches hit the binding strip on top, I only consider repair when it's too long or if the stitches didn't hit the back part of the binding.


CONCLUSION

If it's your first time to make a quilt, choose a simple and easy quilt pattern to work on. This can be a checkerboard pattern like in this tutorial or a nine-patch quilt. It will help you build the basic skills in quilt making, like how to work on seams.


Here is the summary of the steps when making a patchwork quilt.

As you make more quilts, you'll discover and develop your own style and methods that works best for you. Good luck and have fun quilting.

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

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

  3. Choose the fabrics and color palette.

  4. Cut the fabrics according to size.

  5. Sew the patchwork.

  6. Press or iron the seams.

  7. Make the quilt sandwich.

  8. Baste or pin the quilt sandwich.

  9. Make the quilting stitches.

  10. Attach the binding on the raw edge.

If you have further questions, please leave a comment below. And if this is helpful to you, please share this with your friends. Have fun quilting.


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Judith from Osaka, Japan. I’m a machine quilter and I love free-motion quilting using my domestic sewing machine. I like learning new quilting  patterns, designs, and techniques, which I would love to share with other quilters. If you’re looking for quilt ideas and inspirations, or you're new to free-motion quilting, then this place is for you. You can find my original works in the Gallery.

Welcome! And if ever you have questions about my works or anything about quilting, don't hesitate to contact me. Click below to learn more about my journey. Cheers!

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