First: what is a quilt? Well, it's a sandwich of fabrics consisting of a top layer (quilt top), middle layer (wadding, or sometimes batting), and bottom layer (backing). It's usually finished with binding. The whole things makes a blanket which is viewable from both sides, so unlike most things you sew there is no 'wrong' side in the finished project.
Now there are quilts, and there is quilting. The above is a Quilt. Quilting, though, is the little stitches that you put through all three layers. These stitches are both decorative and functional. They hold the quilt layers together, but you also use them to enhance, to outline, and to decorate.
|'In the ditch' quilting|
|Patchwork squares, outlined, seen from the back|
You may decide to go diagonally across the squares, creating another layer of pattern. Or, you might decide to create an entirely new pattern on top of your squares by stitching stars, hearts, flowers, and so on.
Or, you could decide to sew a random pattern of squiggles, or stippling, using free motion quilting.
You can quilt by hand, or machine. Just make sure you buy the appropriate thread.
The following will be useful for your quilting life. There is a whole, large market devoted to quilting. In Edinburgh, I recommend Mandors. Online, try The Cotton Patch, or eBay.
- a rotary mat, and cutter
- a quilting ruler (go for a longish one, rather than a square)
- quilting safety pins, to baste, or hold your layers together, while you quilt
- quilting needles, either for your sewing machine or for hand quilting
- an iron
- 100% cotton thread
Rules for Making a Quilt
When it comes to making a quilt, really anything goes - but there are a few rules that will make your life easier.
- Always use 100% cotton thread. Over time (and we are talking a long time, but if you're making a quilt you are making an heirloom piece), other threads can wear through the fabric. Cotton shouldn't. Use thread for hand or for machine as appropriate (hand quilting thread is usually coated to make it easier to work with).
- The standard seam allowance is 1/4 inch.
- Pre-wash and shrink your fabric.
- Stretchy fabric generally isn't used for quilts. It can be, but requires extra prep - namely, making it not stretchy. Use an iron-on stabiliser to do this.
- Use a good quality wadding. You want it to be thin! The first time I tried to quilt, I bought wadding that looked like a marshmallow. It would have been good for making a puffy jacket, or a gillet, but not for a blanket. Think like a layer of felt - that's about what you're going for.
This is just a very basic explanation to get you started, Jules (and anyone else, who stumbled over here from the Octonauts pages). There are many, many more pages on the web that can help you with specifics, like what kind of quilt top to make, and what quilting method to use. But I hope this can help you on the way to becoming a quilting addict!