When looking for a quilt design, there are a myriad of quilt pattern options to choose from. That can be a little overwhelming. Here are a few basics about how to work with quilt patterns. Most quilting patterns have some things in common: A list of fabric requirements and directions for cutting the fabric, assembling the pieces, and laying out the quilt.
Part 3 of the Beginning Quilting Series
Tips when working with (most) quilt patterns:
- It’s a good idea to read the pattern all the way through before you start cutting into your fabric or sewing – helps to get ‘the big picture’ of the project.
- Some patterns give experience levels such as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Start with something simple for your first projects and save the more advanced designs after you’ve gained some confidence. Saves some possible frustration.
- Patterns can be found individually packaged, in books, magazines or online. I’ve got a whole slew of free quilt patterns and tutorials here. Many of them are very beginner friendly and a perfect next-step after this first, simple patchwork quilt. Another great resource with hundreds of free quilt patterns is Fave Quilts. I also have a shop with over a dozen popular quilt patterns here.
One of the fun aspects of quilting is coming up with your own design. Some things to consider:
- Graph paper and a ruler are helpful tools.
- Keep in mind the basic rule of quilting: always sew with a ¼” seam allowance. (This might seem really small if you are used to sewing clothes.) Therefore, you need to add that seam allowance on to all four sides of your shape.
For example, if you want to make a quilt out of 4” squares, you need to allow ¼” of fabric on all sides of the square for the seam allowance. This means you need to cut a 4 ½” square. If you want to create a 4” block out of four different squares you want four 2”finished squares, which means you will need four 2 ½” squares. This will create an unfinished block at 4 ½” and a finished block at 4”.
Yes, quilting does require math. (See? Your elementary school teacher was right!) I look at it as a way to keep my brain from total atrophy and an effort to stave-off Alzheimer’s.
For this project, as we continue on our Quilt Along, we are going to make a simple patchwork baby quilt measuring 42″ x 42″ using 81 squares 4″ x 4″ (finished) with 3″ wide borders on all sides. Therefore we are going to cut 81 squares 4½”x 4½”. The quilt will be laid out 9 x 9 squares.
Fabric requirements for Beginning Patchwork Quilt:
- nine ⅛th yard pieces for blocks*
Most stores will cut ⅛th yard pieces, but not all. Might be a good idea to ask first. I am using 10 different fabrics because I want two prints in each color, so I’m getting ten ⅛th yard pieces. Because I’m nerdy like that. If it’s easier, you can use 5 ¼ yard pieces. Just depends how many different fabrics you want in your quilt.
- ½ yard for border
- ⅜ yard for binding (this is the outside edge that finishes the quilt)
- 1 ¼ yards for back
*[PRECUTS OPTION: If you choose to use Charm Packs instead of cutting your own fabric squares: these squares come pre-cut at 5″. You will need 2 Charm Packs. You can either cut them down to 4 ½” squares and use 81 squares like the quilt above, or you can leave them at 5″ and will only need 64 squares for a quilt layout of 8 x 8 squares. OR you can do 9 x 9 squares and leave off the outside borders. Either option works. Everything else will be the same: sewing, borders, quilting, etc.]
Up next Tuesday in our Quilt Along Series: Cutting Fabric