Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Make A Quilt - Part 2 - Do the Quilting

It is Quilting Week on Crafty Homestead!  Monday was Part 1 of How to Make A Quilt and today we press on with Part 2.  This is the part where you are actually quilting and not just sewing so it is aptly titled "Do the Quilting."  

Here is where a quilting/walking foot attachment for your sewing machine would be nice. Normally sewing machines have a dainty little foot on them, but a quilting foot is a little heftier.  It helps to feed the thick quilt (now we are working with three layers of fabric) through the machine.  Here's what mine looks like:

Part 1 - Make the Top
Part 2- Do the Quilting
Part 3- Binding and Embroidery

Step 18: Okay so we left off with your quilt top being done, yay!  So as I said that is the top part.  Now we need to add the middle and the back.  

The middle is called quilt batting.  It makes the quilt warm and thick.  I always use a batting called Warm & Natural Cotton Quilt Batting.  It is sold at JoAnn Fabrics by the yard and it is very expensive (I want to say maybe $20 a yard but I can't remember exactly) so I only buy it when I have a 50% off one item coupon.  They come out very frequently so you shouldn't have to wait too long.  They have a pure white color that is more expensive, but unless you're working with white fabric the creamy colored one is fine.  A normal bolt of fabric is somewhere around 32" wide, but Warm & Natural batting is crazy wide, like 90" wide.  So wide that the width of it has always been enough to be the length of my quilt!  So if you are making a quilt that is a yard and half wide you buy a yard and a half of the batting, etc.

Once you are home with your batting you need to lay it out on the floor and lay your quilt top on top of it.  Cut (with fabric scissors [fabric scissors are very sharp & using them on paper dulls them], not the rotary cutter unless you are more anal than me) around your quilt top and leave about 2" (I didn't leave enough so don't cut this close) of extra batting around your quilt top.  As you quilt things will shift and the extra gives you some breathing room when it comes time to bind.

My edges are never straight. Sigh.

Step 19:  Now lay your batting and quilt top (they should cling together as you pick them up) on top of your backing piece.  

When you are at the fabric store for your batting get your backing piece as well.  I always use cotton flannel for my backings because it is so soft and warm.  They have cute patterns and nice solids to choose from (at least at Joann Fabrics they do).  Your graph paper scale drawing will help you figure out how many yards you need for your backing piece.  

If you're making a baby quilt or lap quilt (3'ish x 4'ish) you can get regular fabric and have the backing be one piece.  If you're making a bigger quilt you can sew two pieces together or make a piecemeal backing like I am doing with my current quilt:

Cut the backing piece even with your batting piece (again the 2" of extra fabric to play with will come in handy when you're done quilting). 

Step 20:  Now that you have your three layers cut and in place you need to pin.  I hate pinning, but for the first few quilting lines you NEED to pin.  

But before you pin you have to decide what kind of quilting lines you want.  For your first quilt I recommend quilting "in the ditch" when means you quilt in the little "ditches" created in between squares.  On this Double Irish Chain quilt I quilted diagonally.  But here's three other quilts I quilted in the "ditch:"

These are the other 3 quilts I made for my nephews and niece. The quilt in this tutorial is for their little sister.  The blue one in the back is the first quilt I ever made and will always be my favorite

So you don't really see the quilting lines from the front, but you do from the back especially if you pick a contrasting thread color.  

Once you know what lines you'll be quilting you need to pin the three layers together alongside the first line you'll be sewing.  You start in the middle and work your way out to the edges.  When it's all pinned you roll up the right side of the quilt so that it fits through the "neck" of your sewing machine. Like so:

Step 21: Thread your machine with the color thread that you want to show and switch to your quilting foot.  Then you QUILT!  Go slowly and help feed the fabric through and do your best to stay straight.  Here is what quilting lines look like from the back:

Step 22When you finish the first quilting line pull the quilt out from the machine and spread it out on the floor again.  It is easily for wrinkles to develop in the backing fabric and once you quilt over a wrinkle they're hard to fix and they'll bug you forever.  

So when it is laid out on the floor flip it over and smooth the backing out.  Then pin your next line and roll up the right side of the quilt.  And quilt again!  For now you are doing all parallel lines.  You can do every square if you want or every other square.  It depends how big your squares are and how quickly you want to be done.  But the more quilting you do the better the quilt looks.  It is just true.  More work = more beauty.  Ain't it always the way.

Step 23: Keep working your way out until you reach the edge of your quilt squares.  As you get close to the edge you may not want to pin anymore, but still do your best to keep pulling the backing smooth.

Step 24Now you work your way left.  But instead of having a huuuge quilt roll trying to get through your machine's neck, flip it around.  Again when you roll it up try to keep it smooth.  Those wrinkles will drive you nuts.  When you reach the other edge you're half done!

Step 25: Now you will start crossing all your quilting lines and make nice squares on your backing like this:

Step 26: If you have a border I like to quilt along the edge of it:

Step 27: If you have a border it's fun to do some "pretty" quilting since it'll be seen from the front.  I did this pattern on my first quilt and it's my favorite.  It's pretty easy and looks impressive.  The only flaw is it'll hurt your wrists.  

You can get a fabric pencil, but I lost mine years ago and just use a regular pencil.  I have a template for this pattern that I got at JoAnn for cheap.  You have to do some figuring out with the corners because it doesn't always work out nicely with the template and you'll have to freehand a bit.

Draw out what you want so that you can follow it.  This pattern is just repeating arches, but you do it twice opposite each other and when they meet it makes pretty scallops.

Step 28: Sew really slowly because you have to slowly rotate the fabric to follow the lines.  Follow your path as best you can.  Turning the fabric is what hurts your wrists after awhile, but beauty is pain.

When you get to the top of an arch put the needle down into the fabric and rotate the quilt so it's lined up with the next stitch needed:

Then keep chugging along.  When you've gone all the way around and are back to where you started backstitch a little.  Also if you have to change the bobbin at any point when you start up again go over your last few stitches before you do new ones to help hold them in place.

See how the one line is sewed and the other is waiting to be sewed:

Step 29:  Now do the same thing again on the other line all the way around.  Then you're done with quilting! 

Step 30:  You can see that when I started I quilted every other square.  But then very late one night just a day or two before giving this quilt as a gift I suddenly thought that on the other 3 nephew/niece quilts that I had quilted every square.  So I went back and quilted all the squares because I am crazy.  But it looks so much better!

 Turns out I didn't quilt every square on the other quilts. Sigh.

Step 31: Now you're ready to bind the edges of the quilt.  Coming Friday!


  1. Really impressive. So many lessons you learned from doing each quilt.

    1. Yeah each quilt makes me better because I usually try something new each time