Quilting is a very popular form of needlework, and with good reason. Quilts are versatile items that can be used as bedspreads, quilts, wall hangings or table runners. The techniques required to produce such beautiful pieces might seem daunting at first but they’re not! With the help of this article we’ll discuss 12 different techniques every beginner quilter should master in order to create their own beautiful work.
Become Familiar With Quilting Terminology
Quilting has a fascinating history and is actually something of a catch-all term. There are many different types of quilted items, each involving their own techniques – some are even made without the use of a sewing machine! The most famous type of quilt is probably the bedspread, but nearly every other household item you can think of has also been covered in fabric and sewn together! It might seem hard to believe, but the art of quilting is estimated to be over 5000 years old – it’s one of the oldest forms of needlework known to exist.
Learn about the history of quilting
A Brief History of Quilting
Modern quilting has its roots in the Native American tribes that inhabited North America prior to European arrival. These peoples took pieces of animal skin, scraps of fur and even items like tree bark and sewed them together to create soft clothing for both themselves and their families. The canny quilters began experimenting with cotton in order to replace these scarce materials, which led to the creation of a new type of fabric: the very first quilting cotton.
Quilts in the Modern Era
The word quilt has its roots in the verb ‘to quit’, and it’s easy to see why: until recently, quilters were essentially just using one long strip of material and sewing together smaller strips into a larger whole. Quilting traditionally involved using a needle and thread to sew a quilting cotton over a wadding (basically a large pad of material, usually made from wool). The quilter would then add embellishments such as decorative stitching and embroidery.
It’s All About the Fabric
One of the most important quilting techniques to learn is about the qualities of different fabrics. Fabrics are at the core of everything quilters do, after all. Every quilt is made by the careful combination of different fabrics to produce a complex and beautiful texture – be it a simple geometric design or an intricate floral print.
While some materials are more suited for specific tasks than others, all quilting cotton comes in three basic varieties: single-ply, two-ply and double-brushed.
Single-ply fabric is exactly what it sounds like: a single strip of material, such as flannel, that has been woven into a length and then sewn together. The alternative, two-ply thread is made by stitching together two lengths of thread to create something called the ply. These plies will then be sewn together to form a strong, durable thread that’s perfect for quilting. The third type of material is double-brushed cotton, which has been brushed to create a soft and fluffy texture that’s comforting against the skin – but also unsuitable as quilting material all on its own! It too needs another layer stitched over the top.
Every quilter has their own personal preferences, but it’s important to know about these different materials so you can choose what will work best for your specific task. One type of fabric might be perfect for sewing together layers but terrible for adding decorative touches like embroidery!
Identify Basic Quilting Techniques
The exact term you use to refer to any type of quilting will vary depending on where you live. Sometimes the terms are interchangeable, but often they’re used to refer to very specific tasks! Here’s a brief introduction to some of the most common words and phrases every quilter should know.
Stripe is the American English term for the diagonal rows of stitches you see in many types of finished quilt.
New to quilting and or need to update your tools, see our What to Look for in a Quilting Iron
Railroad tracks, also known as ‘cross hatch’ or ‘crosshatching’, is a technique that involves using parallel lines to create an effect like intersecting railway tracks – it’s perfect for creating criss-cross designs!
Waterfall (or cascade) is a term used to describe diagonal lines that run from the upper left of a quilt and cascade downwards. It makes a lovely quilt pattern.
Chain stitch is exactly what it sounds like: tiny chains of stitches created by stitching back and forth across a piece of material! This is another type of design that works best on single-ply fabrics. Alternately, you could use another form of quilting cotton to create a series of velvet-like designs.
Decorative stitching is a great quilting technique and is just what it sounds like! Quilting cotton can be used to add all sorts of ornamental touches to your finished piece, from small circles to elaborate flowers. This requires basic embroidery skills, but even novices can produce beautiful results.
The Spiral Stitch is another decorative design that you want to add to your quilting techniques book of knowledge. It is best used on single-ply or double-brushed fabrics, but it can be fun to try out nonetheless! You don’t need any extra equipment or materials – all you do is create a series of stitches in the same direction, gradually moving them closer together until they form one long, continuous spiral. Quilters have been using this technique for hundreds of years, so it’s definitely not something to be learnt lightly!
Running stitch is a simple design that involves simply sewing a series of straight lines across a quilt. For an interesting variation, try criss-crossing the stitches to create a chevron pattern!
Super Stitches Sewing: A Complete Guide to Machine-Sewing and Hand-Stitching Techniques
The Straight Stitch is the most basic of all quilting techniques. Whether you’re using a sewing machine or just hand-stitching, simply sew long lines across the material in one direction to create something that looks like a series of connected straight lines. You can also add extra embellishments with decorative stitches and stitching, but this is one of the most straightforward and simple techniques to master.
It’s important to be well-versed in all these terms, remember that you’ll be using them frequently enough that you probably won’t have to look anything up when it comes time to actually use them! It’s best used on single-ply or double-brushed fabrics, as it creates an interesting raised effect.
This is a quilting term that refers to sewing along the outer edges of a material to keep them together and prevent them from shifting. It’s also sometimes called ‘stitching in the ditch‘. This can be done by hand or with a sewing machine using a straight stitch!
Alternately, you could also use double-sided quilting tape to keep your layers of fabric together instead. This is especially useful on larger projects like quilts, where it can be difficult to sew all the way around.
Top stitch is a simple design that can make a big difference – all you need to do is top-stitch along an already-finished quilted design to define or enhance it! This is a great way to add extra embellishments, especially if you’re using decorative stitches.
Polish Up on Your Rotary Cutting Skills
Rotary cutting is a technique that involves using a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat to cut out perfectly even strips of fabric. You can achieve amazing results with this simple technique, so it’s definitely worth mastering your rotary tools and cutting mat as early as possible!
Need help choosing a cutting mat: We have you covered! 7 Best Cutting Mats for Quilting
Now that you’ve got all those tricky terms down pat, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a go at creating your own quilting masterpiece!
Quick Piecing Techniques
Piecing is the process of sewing two or more different pieces of fabric together to create a larger piece. It’s often used by quilters to join smaller sections of material into one large, finished whole – but it can also be used for things like clothing and quilting!
Knowing how to piece together is an essential ability for any sewer. It’s also one that every beginner has to learn at some point or another – which can be a bit intimidating, since there are lots of different techniques out there, and it doesn’t help that quilters have their own jargon! That said, there are plenty of quick piecing techniques out there that are easy to learn!
Learn How to Press Your Quilt Blocks to Improve Accuracy
Pressing is a crucial part of the piecing process when making your quilt blocks. It’s also a lot easier than it sounds – all you have to do is iron your seams flat! By following a few simple presser tricks, you’ll be able to perfectly align and flatten your seams in no time!
A great iron can make all the difference! 10 Best Irons for Quilting
Accurate piecing starts with good pressing. In this case, that means taking care when you iron your seams in place! You can use a number of different methods for this depending on what kind of fabric you’re working with.
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Today, quilting has become one of the most popular forms of needlework. It involves sewing together layers of fabric with batting and backing material to create blankets, quilts, quilted wall hangings and more! Quilting is both an art and a form of self-expression, which means that it’s also pretty fun to learn – but considering the prevalence of all those difficult terms like ‘piecing’, ‘pressing’ and ‘binding’, it can be intimidating to get started.
Luckily, there’s no need to be intimidated – all you really need is a little bit of knowledge and the right mindset.
Learn to Sew Borders the Correct Way
If you’re quilting something like a king-sized bedspread, there’s every chance that you might need to sew on borders. To do this, simply cut strips of fabric that are twice as wide as the desired border and attach them the same way you would with any other seam!
Quilting is all about building up layers of fabric – but it’s also important to make sure that every seam is properly anchored. This means doing it as you sew, not afterward! Most quilters opt for double-sided fusible webbing, which has the added benefit of eliminating any need for pinning.
Trim your Borders for Better Accuracy
After your quilt has been pieced, you’ll need to trim it. This is another step that’s easy enough on its own – but if you don’t do it properly, your finished project will be out of whack! Here are a few tips on how to get the most accurate results:
Learn Mitered Binding
Binding is a crucial part of quilting, especially if you’re creating something like a bedspread. If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry – there are plenty of easy methods that will have you mastering this technique in no time!
You can also work mitered binding into your piecing to create more intricate designs. This is a great option if you’re looking to come up with something truly unique.
Quilt as You Go
The quilting process can be time-consuming and tedious – which is why this trick is such a God send! By using this quilting technique and working your quilting into the piecing process, you’ll significantly reduce the amount of sewing involved, making it much easier (and more fun!) to get your project finished quickly!
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Have Fun While Learning Quilting Techniques
One of the biggest problems a lot of beginners quilters have is worrying over every little imperfection and error. It’s easy to get hung up on this stuff – especially if you’re a perfectionist!
But here’s the thing: no one is perfect, not even and experienced quilter or professional. In fact, quilting has become so popular these days that many sewers have started turning their creations into art pieces! This means that it’s totally acceptable for seams to be off by a few millimeters, or for your batting to be slightly uneven.
Conclusion for Quilting Techniques to Know
Quilting is a popular form of needlework that involves sewing together layers of fabric with batting and backing material. It can be used to make bedspreads, quilts, wall hangings, table runners and more. These 12 quilting techniques every quilter should master should help you improve your quilting and allow you to create beautiful pieces!
Have some of your own tips to share, let us know in the comments below.