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beginning to quilt

(35 Posts)
warthog Fri 10-Oct-08 17:32:41

can you start quilting with just a pair of scissors, needle, thread and material? or do you need anything else?

i've got a book that demands a long list of stuff and since i don't know if i'm going to be hooked, i'd rather not start out with a huge cost outlay.

MeAndB Fri 10-Oct-08 20:10:31

I suppose in theory thats all you need. But this would mean you are hand sewing it all, is that what you really want to do? It takes me 3days on the sewing machine to make it. Youll need flat head pins as well as safety pins to hold it all together.

bran Fri 10-Oct-08 20:16:36

What do you want to make warthog? An actual quilt, or something smaller? I think hand sewing a quilt would take forever (although my mum did hand sew a pair of large patchwork curtains when I was a child).

I think the reason for doing it is important too. If you are looking for something to keep your hands busy while watching tv then hand sewing will be fine. If you actually want to make a quilt sometime this decade then you might want to consider using a sewing machine.

warthog Fri 10-Oct-08 22:06:47


well i wanted to make a quilt for my dd1 and was thinking of doing something similar to this one. but i've never quilted before, so i was assuming that you'd have to sew on the hearts and leaves by hand anyway? i guess when you sew the wadding on you'd do that with a machine?

i was expecting this to take a fair while, while watching tv etc. and then when i'd done all the hand-stitching bits, buy a machine to do the rest.

is that feasible or do you think it would take too long?

Niecie Sat 11-Oct-08 12:42:09

Lovely quilt Warthog.

I would get a rotary cutter and a cutting mat for the straight edges - much better finish. You will need a decent quilters ruler too.

The flowers and leaves you can cut with scissors obviously.

If you buy a sewing machine get one with a quilting foot but practice before hand as it is quite hard to do - I am doing a course at the moment (evening classes) and had a go at machine quilting and it is quite difficult.

Actually, that is quite an ambitious quilt so I think it would be money well spent to do an evening class yourself to get the techniques.

Yes it would take a long time to piece together. I would be thinking months (lots of them) rather than weeks. Hand quilting is nice as you can do it in front of the telly but it will take a long time. If the quilt is large it is difficult to handle in a machine as well although you could pay somebody with a long arm quilting machine to do it for you but it would be pricey.

bran Sat 11-Oct-08 13:30:31

That's quite a modular (and gorgeous) quilt, so although it is complicated and it will take ages you can at least do it in little chunks. The hearts and leaves are appliqued on, have you done applique before? The background is made up of 12 white squares so you will only be working with reasonably small piece of fabric (probably 12 or 15 inches square) until the end when you sew all the squares together.

I think it would be much better to use a pattern if you can find one, that way you won't need to work out how big you need to cut all the pieces. I'll have a look through my (many, many) books and see if there is a suitable one that I could lend you, if you like. I don't do much applique though so I might not have exactly what you're looking for.

The usual estimate for quilting is that it will take about the same amount of time as the patchwork. Even machine quilting a single quilt is quite hard work, if you hand quilt you would normally need to use a frame of some sort otherwise the layers tend to move around and you get lumps. TBH the quilting part of it is so far in the future that you don't really need to worry about it yet. Come back to MN and ask for more advice when you get to the stage of buying a sewing machine. I have several great books about machine quilting that I taught myself from if you are interested. You will need to do a few small practise quilting projects first though, it would be very unwise to learn as you go on a quilt that you intend to use.

warthog Sat 11-Oct-08 18:19:12

i was thinking of doing a small single quilt, so hopefully not too big to handle in a normal machine. i had my eye on the bernina 440 qe which is a quilting machine i believe? but yes, that's far in the future!

bran, that would be great if you have a pattern for that. actually the thought of owning quilting books is fantastic! can you recommend any good reference type ones that every quilter should have?

i was imagining blowing up one of the squares to the size i want and printing it off. then tracing round the shape and using that shape as a template to cut out my material (with a 1cm border).

i haven't read any quilting books - perhaps i should!

what technique do you think the laurel's stick is done in? is it just thread in a thick stitch like a zigzag or is it actually material?

thanks so much for the advice! but surely ALL quilts take a long time just because they're so big?!

is the term 'quilting' purely referring to sewing the front onto the wadding and backing?

bran Sat 11-Oct-08 19:25:42

I have this book for techniques. This one is supposed to be very good too.

I'll have a look through my books and see if I can find something similar to what you want. I can always scan the relevant pages and email them to you. It'll take me a while because I have <whispers> at least 50 quilting books scattered around the place. I can't have them altogether or DH would realise how many there are. I have a bit of a book problem, not just with quilting books. blush

Not all quilts take a long time, I made a lovely cot quilt based on the cover of this book and it was very quick. Anything with straight seams is pretty quick to make up on a sewing machine. So, for instance, the patchwork on this quilt would probably be done in a day, depending on techniqe. The quilting would obviously take longer depending on how it was done and how detailed it was.

bran Sat 11-Oct-08 19:26:51

I can't really tell from the photo how the stem is done, it could be embroidered. I think it's more likely to be a narrow bias tube though.

warthog Sat 11-Oct-08 21:52:00


i'm happy to buy the books. <i'm a bit of a book hoarder too. i've just moved house so i will have small bookcase next to bed that i plan on devoting to my craft books. dh not aware. in fact bookcase prob not big enough.>

if you do happen to come across a particularly good book i'd love to know, but i don't want to put you out.

i've been buying scraps of liberty tana lawn off ebay for ages now so really keen to get started. i reckon i have enough to make a rugby pitch sized quilt. must admit that i have an ambitious knitting ufo that i HAVE to finish first.

narrow bias tube eh? where do you buy that?

and where can you buy backing material that is wide enough for a single bed-size quilt?

and would you applique the pieces onto 12 separate squares of material and join together at the end, or would you do it in one big piece?

bran Sat 11-Oct-08 22:38:36

I have answers to your questions, oh yes I do, but I'm off to bed. [wicked grin]

I'll do some links and recommendations tomorrow when DH and DS go off to church. smile

Niecie Sat 11-Oct-08 22:50:38

As far as the backing material goes, it is quite hard to get one wide enough. You could try ebay. This seller for example She often has backing fabric.

You may well have to sew two normal sized widths together because the choices of colours/patterns is not huge. You could also use an ordinary cotton flat bed sheet.

But if you have blocks it is possible to quilt each individual block and put them together but I personally don't think you get such a good finish as you would when you put sew the the blocks together first, back them and then quilt.

I have a book case full of craft books too and magazines - rather too many if truth be told but they are so beautiful!

This one is a bit of a classic.

Gorgeous Loads of info in here too.

This one and this one are good for quick practice quilts.

warthog Sat 11-Oct-08 23:04:35

oooh the suspense!

niecie - about the blocks i meant would you applique onto a large sheet or would you applique onto the 12 small blocks?

thanks for the links smile i've bought a few grin

Niecie Sat 11-Oct-08 23:18:36

Oh sorry, I see what you mean.

The picture you posted looked like blocks - you have twelve or so repeated patterns so I would assume one circle per block would be the way to go and easy to handle.

I have seen quilts at shows where the whole thing is done in one piece but that looks really really hard. Imagine laying it out and making sure it was all the right place before you sewed it all on. I am a still a relative novice really despite 3 courses, a huge stash and a pile of books you could rest your chin on, so the thought of doing it as one would be a bit intimidating.

Thanks for this thread by the way - I am having a lovely time looking at all the books I haven't dug out for ages.grin

warthog Sun 12-Oct-08 12:07:42

ok thanks for the help.

have you been to the ally pally show? they have some amazing quilts there. very inspiring!

bran Sun 12-Oct-08 14:54:41

OK, I've had a look through most of my quilt books and I don't have all that much to do with applique so I couldn't find a pattern that was close enough to your inspiration quilt. Although I did find an absolutely gorgous tulip applique quilt, but it's not in wreaths the way the quilt you linked to is.

You would definitely do that quilt in 12 blocks, as Niecie said it would be hard to lay it all out evenly if it was one piece. Also it would be a pain to work with, you wouldn't be able to prevent such a huge piece of fabric getting all crumpled and grubby while you worked on it.

Strawberry Fayre sell plain muslin backing fabrice that you could dye to the colour you want. 90 inches would be more than wide enough for a single quilt. Cotton Patch have printed quilt back material, they're probably a bit wider than you need though. Hancocks of Paducah have a great range (the best I've ever seen) of quilting fabric including wide for backing quilts. They are in the States though so you have to allow for delivery costs and possibly to pay duty when it arrives here.

A bias tube is fabric cut on the bias so that it's a bit stretchy and can be curved easily. Basically you cut bias strips, then fold in half longways, wrong sides facing, and sew the raw edges together, giving a tube. Then you centre the seam along the tube and iron the seam open (you may need to trim the seam depending on how wide the tube is). When you applique it down you position it seam side down. Have you ordered The Quilters Ultimate Visual Guide? There is a page about it in that, but any How To guide will probably have a section on it.

I haven't been to the Ally Pally show for a few years, it is good. I found it a good place to buy my last sewing machine as I could try lots of different ones there. I've been to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham too, it was amazing. I wanted to go this year but it's a bit of a pain as it's in the summer hols and DH is working abroad so it's hard to get away.

Niecie Sun 12-Oct-08 16:32:56

You can buy a bias binding maker if you want to do it that way - you can chose the fabric to make it from then.

Bias tape maker about half way down this page.

I've not been to Ali Pally for years, since before the children, probably not for about 10 years. It was great but a bit of a hike for me. Did you go this weekend Warthog?

There is a big quilt show at Sandown Park in June as well which is worth a visit.

Another one I have been to is in Linton in Cambridgeshire - Chilford Hall its called. If you live anywhere near there it is on again at the beginning of November and it was pretty good the last time I went.

My Mum loves Malvern but that tends to be in the spring and neither of us has been to Birmingham although I hope to go one day.

Of course they are all an opportunity to spend money I don't have on lovely, lovely things I don't need so I shouldn't be encouraging myself. It isn't like I haven't got mountains of fabric already.

But then I don't want to spoil it by cutting it up - perhaps I had better get some more after all.wink

warthog Sun 12-Oct-08 18:05:22

thanks so much for all your help!

tbh, this quilting obsession is new - i'm normally a big knitter, but i lost my mojo. i went to the ally pally show last year and was just bowled over. i saw a quilt there that was absolutely incredible - all in stone colours - browns, blacks, creams and russets. the quilting was done to imitate sand dunes and every now and then there would be a small group of people walking along a dune - all done in stitching! was a really beautiful effect.

so that really captured my imagination and i've been thinking about it since.

i know what you mean niecie - it's all to lovely to get stuck in!

warthog Sun 12-Oct-08 18:24:47

ahem to lovely = too lovely

bran Sun 12-Oct-08 18:30:44

You would love Quilting Masterclass warthog. I love it, the quilts are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I could never make any of them, but it's great for inspiration.

warthog Sun 12-Oct-08 18:37:49

oh dear - i've bought 3 quilting books in the last day! that quilting masterclass looks gorgeous!

have you gone on classes bran?

moondog Sun 12-Oct-08 18:40:13

Wart,I'm a quilter and best way to get started for me was 12 sessions at a nightclass.
I have made tonnes since then.

warthog Sun 12-Oct-08 18:50:14

is there a particular organisation that does night classes? how would you go about searching for a local class - on google?

i've got a 7 week old so i'm not sure when i'll be able to start.

warthog Sun 12-Oct-08 18:53:06

done a quick google, doesn't seem to be much in my area. perhaps a weekend course is in order...

bran Sun 12-Oct-08 19:46:22

I haven't done any classes, I would have liked to but there wasn't anything that I could get to easily. I worked from books and did quite a few smaller projects (table runners and place mats) to start with so by the time I actually started on full-size quilts I'd ironed out the worst of the errors.

I think it's been easier for me because I happen to like fairly straight-forward geometric stuff that sews together quickly and easily on the sewing machine. All of my quilting has been on the machine too and is either straight-line or simple freehand.

If you get hooked you should join The Quilters' Guild, their magazine is very good. There is some useful info on their website too.

There is an online Quilt University which might be interesting for you, although I think it's reasonably expensive considering the teacher isn't actually present to look at what you're doing. You can email photos back and forward and ask questions though, so in that sense it's more useful than a book. It might be worth having a look on somewhere like YouTube too to see if there are any videos of techniques.

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