Beginning Quilters Tips

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Are there any tips for preventing fabric raveling?

Quick Tip to Prevent Fraying

If you prewash your fabrics by machine, you have probably suffered through the tangle of excess threads that sometimes pull away from the cut edges. Try this trick to help cut down on this problem--open the cut of fabric out flat and trip a small (1/2") triangle from each corner. Wash as usual, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised at the lack of tangled threads.

   
Beginning block patterns?

Keep it Simple

I suggest that a beginning quilter choose a simple 4 or 9-patch block for a first project. The squares are easy to cut and piece together, but still allow plenty of variations in fabric color choices.

   
Should quilt fabrics be prewashed before cutting and piecing?

To Wash or Not to Wash?

Prewashing of quilting fabric is a subject for debate among quilters. Those in favor of prewashing do so to avoid the possibility of the excess fabric dyes running and 'bleeding' onto a lighter piece of fabric and ruining many hours of hard work. Another reason to prewash all your fabric is to be sure that any shrinkage takes place before your blocks are cut out and sewn together.

Fans of not prewashing cite the crispness of the fabric as the top reason not to wash before piecing. If all your fabrics are washed before piecing, they will tend to shrink a little and give an old-fashioned 'puckered' appearance.

   
Are there any basic tips for using rotary cutters?

Use Your Rotary Cutter While Standing

The safest way to use a rotary blade is standing up at your cutting table. You need to be able to look straight down to ensure that your blade is firmly placed against the ruler. Leaning forward from a sitting position is not as steady and could lead to crooked cuts or a slice into the hand holding your ruler steady.

   
Design Wall?

Design Walls

When your quilt is still in the planning stages, try "auditioning" various fabric prints and colors by using a design wall. Take a few steps back to see how the fabrics work together.

   
What is a simple pattern for beginning quilters?

Try a Rag Quilt

A quick and easy way to produce a quilt is to try a "Rag Quilt." These are made from flannel or homespun fabric. Fabric squares are machine quilted as part of the construction and when the squares are joined together--you have a finished quilt! The wrong edges of the fabric are visible on the top of the quilt and are clipped to encourage fraying, further adding to the "rag" look. Check this link for a pattern from JoAnn.com.

   
How do I get started?

Hands-On Experience

If you are just getting started in quilting, try to find a seasoned quilter who can show you the ropes and get you off to a good start. If this is not an option, consider signing up for a basic quilting class.

   
Are rotary cutters safe?

Rotary Cutter Safety

Always, always cover the blade of your rotary cutter as soon as you finish a cut. The blades are incredibly sharp and can inflict serious damage to your hands or fingers. Several brands of cutters are on the market--Dritz makes a pressure sensitive style with a cover that automatically engages when you let up on the handle.

   
What is a simple pattern for beginning quilters?

Simple Square Quilt

If you need a quick project for a gift, try a quilt of large squares. One of my favorite project was a large lap-sized quilt made of 8.5 inch squares that was backed with flannel and machine quilted. If this is your first quilt, you might want to skip the flannel and use a smooth cotton for the backing. Flannel can stretch if you aren't diligent in basting.

Here's a photo of a small section of my lap quilt.

   
Design Wall?

Make a Design Wall

Design walls can be fashioned from a variety of materials. Flannel is an excellent, inexpensive choice. Tablecloths backed with flannel are another possibility. Pre-printed grids are also available for purchase at your local fabric or quilt shop.

   
How do I prewash my quilt fabrics?

Prewashing

When prewashing your fabric by machine, be sure to unfold the flat cuts completely. If you leave them folded as they come from the bolt, the center crease is much harder to remove by ironing.

   
How do I choose colors for my quilt?

Color Choices

For most quilters, fabric selection offers the most challenges and rewards in beginning a new project. There are many great books and articles that offer guidelines on value, hue, contrast and how they all relate to quiltmaking.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Heidi Splete