Hand quilting can be a time-consuming venture — but an extremely rewarding one for the determined quilter!
There’s nothing better than having a beautiful piece of art you can hang on the wall or curl up underneath on a chilly night. Better yet, hand quilting is a craft for all sewing skill levels!
If you’re not sure how to begin or are unclear on the details involved, then worry not. Here’s a quick guide on hand quilting for beginners.
What is Hand Quilting?
Hand quilting is like sewing together a fabric puzzle.
Most quilts are made of three layers: a single sheet of fabric for the back; a nice, warm layer of batting; and a top layer made of multiple pieces of fabric sewn together to create either a coherent design or, if you’re not in the market for a real pattern, a patchwork collection of random fabrics!
It’s that top layer that makes learning how to make a quilt by hand a unique experience for everyone.
Here are some of the most basic things to know before you start your own hand quilting project.
How to Make a Quilt by Hand
First, you’ll need to decide what your design will be, and gather everything you’ll need for it.
For the back of your quilt, you’ll want a large, single piece of fabric that matches the final size of your desired quilt, with an additional ¼ to ½ inch around each side where you’ll sew the seams together.
Most quilts are made of cotton fabrics that are soft but sturdy enough to sew. Pick a solid color or a single pattern that you’ve taken a liking to!
Purchase a sheet of batting that mirrors the desired size of your quilt. Most fabric stores sell batting of various thicknesses in sheets, but you can also use felt for a heavier blanket.
Finally, gather everything you’ll need for the top. This includes any hand quilting patterns you want to create, and any colors, patterns, and types of fabric that you’ll be making the pattern out of.
Whether you choose a detailed pattern or go with the classic square design (always the best starting point for hand quilting beginners), it’s best to use fabrics that are the same or at least similar in construction to each other.
This will make it easier to stitch the pieces together without the fabrics fraying or sliding.
Be sure to wash your fabrics before sewing, so as to ensure your hand quilting fabrics won’t shrink if washed later on. This will also keep any colors from bleeding through the pattern in the future!
A basic square quilt is the easiest pattern, as it can be effortlessly laid out in a grid, allowing you to see roughly how your quilt will look when finished.
Once you’ve laid out your design, begin sewing the pieces together in rows. These rows will, in turn, be sewn together to create a beautiful hand quilted design.
More complicated hand quilting patterns are often made of simple, geometric shapes, so that they can be sewn in clean, straight lines.
Keep in mind, while sewing, that the seams need to be as even as possible. Decide how big you want your quilt to be, and then leave an additional ¼ to ½ inch of space around the edges of every piece you’re using.
It’s wise to use straight pins or safety pins for this portion, so the individual pieces do not move throughout the process.
To ensure all your pieces fit together, pause between rows to lightly iron the top sides of the fabric. This will leave you with flatter pieces that you can better adjust as needed.
The Final Product
Finally, join the layers of your quilt together. There are a few ways to do this, depending mostly on the size of your quilt.
If you’re hand quilting a full-sized blanket, it’s easiest to sew the layers together in order, and then add a border to cover the edges.
You can stack your fabrics like so:
- Backing (colored side down).
- Top design (colored side up).
Sew around the edges to combine the layers. Fold strips of fabric or ribbon over the edges of your quilt and sew them down to create a beautiful border for your design!
If your hand quilting project is child-sized or a smaller decoration, you can sew the layers without the need of additional border fabric.
Stack your materials like so:
- Backing (colored side up).
- Top design (colored side down).
This will result in an inverted design. Sew with the same ¼ inch border around the edges of your top design. When you’ve almost reached your starting point, stop about an inch away.
Trim any excess batting from the edges and cut the corners so they’re almost rounded.
Then, carefully so as not to pull any stitches out, use the hole in your edge to turn the quilt right-side out. Finally, fold the edges of the hole inward and sew the last inch closed.
From there, you can add borders, tassels, and other decorations to your heart’s delight!
Hang it on the wall or curl up with a warm drink, knowing you’ve hand quilted yourself something unique and beautiful.
Here’s a video showing more details on hand quilting for beginners.
Do you have any tips for hand quilting projects?