Quilting for Beginners

Shoofly beginner quilt

Shoofly beginner quilt

Quilting for beginners is an enormous subject.  When I began quilting I read books, attended workshops, read magazine articles and googled anything connected with beginner quilting.  What I hope to do with this series of articles on quilting for beginners is to draw together in one place the things that I learned from all these different sources.  In addition, I have tried to present the articles in a series of bite size chunks in a logical order for someone who is a beginner quilt.

The quilting for beginners articles

This quilting for beginners series begins with a look at design, colour and size for your beginner quilt and then progresses to the practical how to quilt, with what I hope are clear and easy to understand instructions for each step of the process.

You’ll find that beginner quilting is just that – a series of steps, each one taking you further along the road to making a completed patchwork quilt.  You might just find that then you become as hooked as I am and start on your next quilting project immediately.  Good luck!

Click on any of the links below to take you to the relevant article in this quilting for beginner series.

Beginner quilting tips

Guide to quilt sizes

Quilt design

Colours in quilts

Quilt colour value

Colour temperature?

Quilt squares and quilt blocks

Sizes of quilt blocks

Shoofly quilt block used in the beginner quilt

Calculating fabric required

Rotary cutter safety

How to cut fabric straight

Cutting patchwork blocks

Quilt block seam

Sewing quilt blocks

How to trim quilt blocks

Quilt sashing

Squaring quilts

Quilt borders

Border for the beginner quilt

Quilt wadding or batting

Quilt backing

Layering quilts

Pin basting quilts

Thread basting quilts

Spray basting quilts

Hand tying quilts

Machine quilting

Quilt binding

I have written four books that are available as kindle or print books:

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  1. Some time ago I made a christmas runner with french braid design. Ican`t remember how I did it . Would you show the design again please?

  2. Hi Rose,I did hand quilting many years ago, Ilove many of your patterns,and would love to use one to teach my granddaughter hand quilting .Just thought that although the patterns are for machine quilting I would check to see if they can be done by hand.Love the site.
    Regards Naomi

    • Hi Naomi. What a great idea, to teach hand quilting to your granddaughter. I don’t hand quilt, but I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t hand quilt any of the quilts that I show on my website.

  3. Hi Rose, I’m so glad I came across your website. I’m contemplating making a baby quilt and I’ve found your information & tips very encouraging. As I’ve previously done quite a bit of sewing, I wonder if you finish the seam allowances with zig-zag or overlocking. If so, because you say the seam allowances should be pressed to one side & not apart, would you finish off the seam allowances by sewing them together?
    Also, I was interested in your starter kit which you mentioned in a previous post, but the link doesn’t seem to work. Are you still selling them?

  4. Michele Dickey says:

    I know this has been around for a while but my gosh I found it very very helpful!!! I love how it it set up as well. I knew a few of the things well so I was able to skip them easily. If I need to review something I can go right to it. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this. I can’t wait to get started!!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Michele. You’re using it exactly as I had planned when I wrote the articles – something that you can keep dipping into whenever you want. When I began quilting I found that much of the information that I looked at seemed to assume some prior knowledge of quilting terms – which I didn’t have at that time.

  5. Maureen poole says:

    As a ‘newcomer’ to patchwork and quilting I would be grateful for your advice.
    I want to make a ‘Memory Quilt’ for my granddaughter from my late husbands shirts.
    They are mostly small check twill cotton, so could you advise what sort of pattern would be best to use.
    Thank you

    • Hi Maureen. As this is intended as a memory quilt, I think that I would just use squares of the shirt fabric. This will then showcase the fabrics rather than any quilt design. It also means that you will have only one type of fabric within the quilt. Good luck.

  6. Sounds like I need to clarify MY question. Approximately 6 minutes into your video, you mention importance of sewing sashing strips to blocks from one side/direction so the sashing strips will line up correctly. After reviewing your video again, I now understand what you were explaining.
    Very informative video–thank you, Rose!

  7. Referring to your batik stained glass quilt, please clarify which direction the black strips should be sewn as I’m not understanding this process. I would like to set up blocks as you have done.
    As a newbie to quilting, could you also explain why it makes a difference to sew black strips in certain directions?
    What fabric did you use to finish your quilt backing and binding–batik fabric?
    How much additional fabric was needed to complete for binding and backing?
    Appreciate your input and help!

    • Sorry, Sandra – I’m not quite sure what you’re asking about the direction of sewing. If you want to make the same quilt that I made, then just follow the instructions and photos. The idea is just to have black sashing between all the pieces of fabric. I used batik fabric for the binding (you’ll need about1/2 yard to be safe) and for the backing I used ordinary quilting fabric – you need a piece roughly 44″ square.

  8. indigomoons says:

    Hello Rose. I found you on YouTube and decided to check out your blog. I’m so glad I did as I have found your instructions very helpful. I am new to quilting but not sewing yet I found I am having a simple dilemma that is as of yet unresolved. I am making the cathedral window quilt by hand and have a few questions that I could not see very clearly in your video. Is the thread doubled for the hand stitching or single? How exactly are the pieces sewn down; running stitch that is sewn flat on the curved pieces or a whip stitch that is almost invisible? I tried both and thought that the whip stitch was correct but my pieces laid flatter with the running stitch on top and made the curves look nicer. I want to do it right and will take out the incorrect stitches so any advice here will help. Thanks for all that you do!

    • Hi indigomoons. I’m glad you’re finding the website helpful. I think that the most important thing to remember with quilting is that it’s your project, so feel free to do whatever feels best for you. I use single thread for the hand stitching. I sew the curved edges flat using a whipstitch. I have seen cathedral windows curves sewn flat with a running stitch and if you feel that you prefer that look then that’s what you should use. Good luck.

  9. Gail Brasser says:

    Thank you!!! the words just don’t seem to be enough for all that you do.

  10. Julia Riding says:

    Rose, I have made the Sudoku quilt, but I wonder if you have any guidance on how to quilt it? I want it to be a quillow, so heavy quilting might not be necessary? It is also smaller – I had half a jelly roll left over so the squares are 2 inches square and the sashing is one inch wide – and to complicate it I made TWO identical quilts and stiched them together! About 36 inches by 72 inches in all! I would be grateful for any comments.

    • Hi Julia. That sounds like a lovely quilt – and an ambitious one! If I was quilting something like that I would do an overall meander quilting. You can’t do any stitch in the ditch in case it doesn’t quite match the seams on the back, and as you say you don’t want any dense quilting so a fairly large meander would probably set the quilt off nicely.

  11. Janice Gregory Luppen says:

    Love to read everyone’s comments! Helpful at times as well! Thank you all!
    I’m trying to hand quilt a baby block quilt (tumbling block) without taking away from the fabulous 3 D effect. Any suggestions? Please ?

  12. Melanie Milan says:

    Just wanted to say a huge thank you to you for this website! I have been making a baby quilt for our youngest daughter’s coming baby (first grandchild …) and would have been lost without your excellent instructions, advice and videos. I had never done any quilting before, and I only have a very old electric sewing maching – about 40 years old (!). But I followed your directions, and I now have a very satisfactory and lovely baby quilt, which I am delighted with!

    so THANK YOU!

    and very best wishes for 2015!

    Melanie Milan

    • Thanks for your kind words, Melanie. I’m so glad that you found my tutorials helpful. I used my mother’s 40 year old sewing machine for a long time and it was perfectly adequate – went backwards and forwards and stopped when I wanted it to! All the best to you for the New Year.

  13. Janice Pickford says:

    Hi Rose

    Your site has been an inspiration to me, muchly muchly thanks, now regrettably we must part. Am leaving this company shortly, but will no doubt be in contact again when settled with new email address.
    take care

    • Hi Janice. Glad you’ve enjoyed the site. I’ve unsubscribed you under that email address. Good luck with whatever comes next.

  14. Rose, I am so grateful for your quilt as you go video. It’s the only one that makes any sense to me! I’m about to try it on a Christmas gift for my son however I can’t figure out how to quilt as you go when you want the quilt to have borders. What I’m planning on making has a 2 1/2 ” inner border, than an 8″ outer border. I can’t figure out if I should all the borders to the rows before they’re joined (which I think might look back to have seams in the border) or if there is a way I can’t figure out to add borders after it’s all joined? Can you help?

    • Hi Cindy. My apologies for the delay in replying. The border that you are planning is wider than I have made with quilt as you go, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to achieve it. I agree with you that adding the border to each row might break up the border a little and I think that if I was making this quilt I would treat the border as an additional quilt as you go section: sew the rows together and then make up an additional quilt as you go row of the two border fabrics. Make two of these for the top and bottom of the quilt. Make two more for the sides but with a cornerstone at each end. I hope this helps.

  15. Hello Rose I have just started in a quilting class and trying so hard!!! I have started a Shoo Fly cushion cover still at patchwork stage and now sewing my masterpiece all together. I find your tips so so valuable and a great boost when I try to finish my homework. Thanks for being here I find myself turning to you weekly xxx

  16. I am new to quilting and I have a question. I have a ton of beautiful quilt patterns that I have either purchased and downloaded or purchased books and patterns in the store and none of them have answered this question for me. How do I know if I need to add a quarter inch seam allowance to a pattern? I tried my first block and it was a disaster! I don’t sew and all of this is greek to me but I want to quilt so please help!

    • Hi Tina. Oh dear, there’s a lot to think about when you begin quilting, isn’t there. I can’t speak for others, but my patterns always give you the size to cut your squares, so the 1/4″ seam allowance is already included. I suspect most patterns will be the same. When I have a 3.1/2″ square in the cutting requirements it is because I want a 3″ finished size square in the quilt. I hope that helps, but do come back to me if there’s anything else that’s not clear.

  17. Breda Flood says:

    Fantastic website. Can I be included in your class on the 17th as I must make arangements to fly over.Perhaps you would be good enough to confirm if I can attend.
    Thank you and keep up the lovely work.

  18. Hi, where can I find a supply list and of what the beginner quilter needs? Also the helper tools that would make quilting easier?

    • I feel that the basics are a cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter. I sell them as a starter kit here: http://shop.ludlowquiltandsew.co.uk/quilters-starter-pack-10-p.asp. When you are sure that you want to continue quilting and have more idea of what sort of quilts you will be making, then you can start browsing for different templates and tools. It’s very easy to spend a lot of money and then find that you don’t use many of the things that you have bought. Hope that helps. Rose

  19. Kathy Fair says:

    I really enjoy and have learned much reading your blog. I am new to quilting, but not sewing. I am doing a block of the month and am trying some of your techniques on this month’s block. Thank you so much.

    • Thanks for your comments, Kathy. Good luck with the block of the month. I enrolled for a couple at the beginning of the year, but I’m struggling to keep up with them. rose

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