a quilting question…

02.16.12 | a curious thing happened...

Despite my best attempts to resist it, I have fallen down the quilting rabbit hole. Only temporarily though–and I’m not sure my somewhat feeble, amaturish attempt can be called quilting. But the quilt we have draped over the sofa in our living room is far past the point of needing to be repaired (it’s threadbare and has bits hanging off it–I hide it when we have company over). It was a special quilt because it’s the one I had as a child, but it’s just too old. I spent the last few months we were in Florida scouring the thrift shops for pretty, vintage pillowcases to use in a quilt top. But then of course, we moved and I got distracted by other things!

Until one evening in the past month when in a fit of insomnia, I pulled the stack of pillowcases out and promptly cut out a series of 12″x12″ squares and whipped them together to form a quilt top! (Pictured above.) But now, I’m stuck. I’ve Googled and looked at books, and I’m afraid I’m just getting more and more confused about quilting. All I want is a simple quilt–no fancy stuff–with a wide border, a colorful binding and calico back. Machine quilting too (I’m not going to have the patience for hand quilting, as much as I like the look). So I thought I’d ask my knowledgable readers: if you quilt, what are your favorite, not-intimidating quilting how-to’s? As I said, I’m just looking to make something simple–and I don’t think I’m going to become a die-hard quilter (garment sewing really is my true love). So just the basics, I guess–but in plain English!

So any help would be appreciated. The sooner I can wrap this project up, the better our living room will look without the ragged quilt that is gracing it at the moment (though I’m eying the bits that are still intact for repurposing into something else… What, I don’t know yet!).

February 17, 2012 · 72 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing · tags: , ,

Charlotte February 17, 2012 at 06:43

Lovely! I’m planning to start my first quilt later in the year, made up of the repro fabrics I’ve done, along with fabrics I’ve used in dresses and record bags.

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha’penny Vintage

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LadyD February 17, 2012 at 06:53

Have you thought that maybe a patchwork quilt might be a great way to use your collection of handkerchiefs?
Well I’ve done it 2 ways before.
1. tack the backing and wadding in place quilt the middle, bias bind the outside edge, done.
2. Sew your boarder on (mitred corners) then tack backing and wadding together, then place backing to right side of patchwork, sew 3 edges then pull inside out so its right side outside, Close open edge, quilt the middle, done.

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Larri February 17, 2012 at 06:55

Your quilt top is lovely! I’ve just begun my quilting journey. I really like “Diary of a Quilter” blog. There’s a beginner’s series that’s been very helpful. Here’s the link: http://www.diaryofaquilter.com/p/beginning-quilting-series.html Looking forward to seeing your finished quilt! Happy Friday! ☺

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LadyD February 17, 2012 at 06:57

Unlike clothes…quilts always fit. ;)

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LadyD February 17, 2012 at 08:55

I’ve done one big quilt the rest have been smaller projects. I was shown how to make patchwork quilts by a neighbor who has a house full of patchwork quilts. I like to quilt by hand.
You could use your handkerchief collection to make a patchwork quilt. :)

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LauraD February 17, 2012 at 07:02

Casey, you’re going to need a few quilting supplies. First of all, you need wide masking tape. Take your backing fabric (it needs to be at least 3″ wider/longer than your top) and lay it on the floor. Now tape down one side and stretch it a little when you tape down the opposite side. Repeat so you’ve got all the sides taped down. Next, lay your batting on top of that, and then your quilt top. The quilt top should be the smallest, then the batting, and then the backing. Next, you need spray adhesive. Fold back the batting and top and use the adhesive over half the back. You need to hold the can at a 45 degree angle about 2 inches from the backing. Fold the batting and top down on the adhesive, then fold the other side over and repeat. Next, repeat between the layers of the quilt top and batting. After everything is stuck down, take quilt pins (they have a bend in them that makes this easy to do) and pin all three layers together around the edge at about 1″ intervals. This will keep it completely together for stuffing it through your sewing machine.

For machine quilting, you’ll need quilting thread and your zipper foot. For something simple like this, I’d recommend stitch in the ditch. And for binding, this works. I got sucked into quilting making baby quilts for my niece and nephew. I make one occasionally, but I prefer the instant gratification of garment sewing!

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Laura February 17, 2012 at 07:02

The guides I used when I first started quilting were Elizabeth Hartman’s at Oh Fransson! http://www.ohfransson.com/. Her quilts are lovely and her guides are very clear – if your local library has her book The Practical Guide to Patchwork, that’s excellent too.

If you decide to use bias tape to bind it, the guide here is really good: http://smashedpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-sew-bias-tape-tutorial.html and the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fEv3VXPUEs is genius :)

Another tip that I heard recently is that you can use a thrifted wool blanket as your wadding instead of buying new – very cosy and keeps the vintage feel.

They’re lovely fabrics, and the finished quilt is going to be gorgeous – look forward to seeing it!

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Annabelle February 17, 2012 at 07:06

I’ve made two quilts, but chose to do hand quilting, since I enjoy the process. If you want the quickest process to put it together, you could use yarn ties (for a 12 x 12 block quilt like yours I would put one at each corner and then one in the center). I have a hard time with the meandering method of machine quilting, so wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner. Other options are to “stitch in the ditch”, with possibly then stitch a smaller square within each square. (Different types of batting often have different requirements for distance between your quilting. Okay this could tend to be a really long post, please feel free to email me to discuss anything I have talked about – or things I have not mentioned. I am happy to share the knowledge I have :)

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Claudia February 17, 2012 at 07:07

Thank you so much for posting this… I am in the same boat, want to make a T-shirt quilt to save the fronts of favorite T-shirts and make it useful at the same time… but have no idea how to get started… ; )
Claudia

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Susan February 17, 2012 at 07:11

Don’t get lost in the quagmire of quilting stuff out there. Some people get pretty technical but quilting like our grandmothers was really pretty straightforward.

First get a large enough backing piece of cotton fabric that it extends beyond the edges of the top by a couple of inches at least. The same for the batting. Why not the same size? Because the top may shift a little here and there. If you want the flat quilt like an old fashioned one buy some cotton batting. Warm and White batting is inexpensive and readily available — it comes in white and cream –get white since your top is so light.

Next layer it up. Back piece wrong side up. Batting. Quilt top right side up. It’s easy to use safety pins to pin baste it together. You can buy quilting ones or just use what you have. Don’t let any snag it — if they won’t pin through run them on a bar of soap – they’ll slide through easier then.

Now you’re ready to quilt! Buy some machine quilting thread (not hand quilting which has a waxy finish you don’t want to run through your machine) and Sharps or quilting machine needles in an 80 or 90 size. For machine quilting decide if you want straight line quilting or free motion quilting -or both. Straight line is easy but you will need a walking foot. Start in the middle area and work outwards. Free motion is faster but takes a little setting up and getting used to. It’s when you drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine and move the quilt top whichever way you want. Done in small sections at a time it’s manageable but takes practice. When you start and finish don’t clip your thread ends but take a needle and run them down into the layers and bury them for a bit (does that make sense?)

When done quilting cut off the excess batting and backing and then bind it. Done!
If you need more than this let me know!

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Wendy February 17, 2012 at 07:16

I agree with Annabelle, ifmyou want it done and dusted then ‘tying’ is a quick solution. I have used this on quilts that I needed to finish quickly. The tying method has even stood up on kid’s quilts, so it’s quite robust.

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Simone February 17, 2012 at 07:32

Well done for having a go at a quilt I always think there isn’t much point owning a sewing machine and knowing how to sew if you can’t occasionally turn your hands to a pair of curtains or a few cushions or a quilt. But I agree quilting books do not make it sound simple. I’ve made a couple of quilts before, I’m no expert but here is what I would do…

Lay your backing fabric face down and your bating on top of that and then your quilt top face up (so all the fabric is as it would be when it’s finished). Cut your backing fabric and batting slightly larger than your quilt top. Pin (safety pins work really well) all over so it’s really stable and the fabrics don’t slip around. I would quilt it by “stitching in the ditch”. That is stitching along the lines of your quilt top. I find this is easiest if you have pressed the seams of the quilt top open rather than to one side.
Once that is done cut away the excess batting and backing fabric and bind the edges using wide bias binding. I think you can buy extra wide binding for quilt making or make your own if you have enough backing fabric left to do this. If you want a hand finished look you can sew this on by hand but this takes a long time and it’s quicker to do on a machine if your machine will handle the thick fabric. Be careful I’ve broken my machine doing this.
Of course this is just one way of doing this but it is just one way of many. The top looks lovely hope you get it finished.
Pretty similar to what others have said but I hope it helps nonee the less.

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Gail February 17, 2012 at 07:36

I tied the first couple quilts I made. I think this one would be cute tied with a variety of vintage buttons. The thing I don’t like about machine quilting is that it is so hard to maneuver a whole quilt on the sewing machine!

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Stephanie Handy February 17, 2012 at 07:38

Check out redpepperquilts.com
The woman who runs the blog is a quilting machine and provides quite a lot of useful tips and tricks and instructions. And while her fabric taste is a bit different from yours, the quilts she pieces often have very simple patterns (she’s a big fan of those just made of squares like you’re doing).

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Jane February 17, 2012 at 07:39

1) buy a presser foot for your machine if you don’t have one.
2) get ALL the wrinkles out of your layers when you pin/baste them together.

there are lot more tips out there, but those are the biggest ones, for me, in preventing the quilting from ending up crappy.

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Ann February 17, 2012 at 07:39

I have done some machine piecing and hand quilting. My daughter made a throw when she was in fifth grade at the local quilt shop. It’s probably 4′ x 5′. She’s still asleep, or I would go check. It’s at the foot of her bed. ANYWAY, the throw has large squares and is machine quilted. Her instructor had them stitch x’s in the blocks. They went across the quilt in diagonal lines, no marking, just eyeballing it to go from corner to corner. It helps to roll the quilt up on the side you will have to shove through the sewing machine. Being in fifth grade, her lines were a little curvy, but it came out SO cute and she’s had it on her bed for 5 years now. It can be done without a walking foot, although that does make it easier because the top of the quilt and the backing will move through the sewing machine at the same rate. They can be expensive though. I don’t think I put it on for my daughter.

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angie.a February 17, 2012 at 07:57

What a pretty quilt top! I’ve been wanting to do this too. You’ve already received any suggestions I would have had, so I won’t add anything except you might like the look of “stipple” quilting. My first attempt is here: http://jemimabean.blogspot.com/2008/12/post-christmas-post.html My mom loves that dang runner, so I must have done OK. haha!! It was super easy. I’m intimidate by doing a full-size quilt in that method, but I’m a big chicken as a rule about MOST things, so don’t be scared off my my chicken-ness. I think alot of quilt bloggers out there currently use stippling because it’s easy and looks very pretty and “natural”, and it’s pretty fast (with no expensive equipment required).

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Tricia February 17, 2012 at 07:59

Everyone’s suggestions were great. It may have already been said but when you are making that quilt sandwich (top, batting, backing) and you are basting it, make sure everything is as smooth as possible. The idea is to not have any wrinkling or bunching anywhere, on the back or the front. Check as you quilt that everything is remaining flat and unbunched, especially on the back. The walking foot is a MUST. If you don’t already have one, get one. You can use it when garment sewing with certain tricky fabrics so it’s a great foot to have anyway.

As for binding, you can do straight grain or bias. I started doing straight grain binding recently and I like that…easier to cut out and uses less fabric than bias binding.

Good luck! I started getting more into quilting this year and I LOVE it. :) . So addicting…

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megannielsen February 17, 2012 at 08:07

holy cow great minds think alike. I’ve been working on a vintage sheet quilt that looks almost EXACTLY the same!! twinsies!! hehe

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Corinne February 17, 2012 at 08:24

I have been quilting a long time, sewing garments even longer. When I “fell down the rabbit hole” I was enchanted. Simple as that. Now quilting is not difficult, but you have a significant range of quality. You’re not making a show quilt here so i say do it as simply as possible.
1. After the top is pieced, press those seams, all of them, to one side or open. The current trend is to press them open, if the stitch length is small (say 2.0 or 2.5) you should not have a problem.
2. Layering. As mentioned above the bottom layers need to be larger than the top. Try laying the layers on a carpet and using T pins stretch the backing to shape. Pull the fabric taut, but not tight. Proceed with the batting and top the same way. Pull out the T pin on one corner, then the opposite corner, then another corner and its opposite. Secure the sides the same way.
3. Pin your layers.
4. Tying the quilt would be the quickest method to stabilize the layers. If you decide to machine quilt remember to keep your quilting no larger than 4 inches apart or follow the guide on your batting. It will tell you the maximum space between quilting lines. Wrestling with a large quilt is difficult. Your results will not likely be satisfactory since you are rather perfectionistic in your garment sewing. That is a good thing, but may be very frustrating in a large quilt. That said, do not be put off by quilting. Start machine quilting with something small, such as a baby quilt, or throw pillow fronts, a tote bag etc. Starting small and working on your quilting designs as you go will provide a major creative boost and a nice break from sewing clothes. Very Rewarding….ask any quilter:) (((smile))) Best of luck, keep us posted!

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Ashley February 17, 2012 at 08:24

Lurker here. Casey, I was in your same boat this summer! I acquired a beautiful antique feedsack quilt top from the 1930s, and all I wanted to do was bat it, back it, and be done. One of my fave bloggers, Anna at Pleasantview Schoolhouse, is a whiz at no-fuss easy scrap quilts, and she’s written some posts on how to do it. It took ALL the mystique out of quilting for me.
For instance, she just machine-quilts diagonally across the squares. The ONLY, I repeat ONLY, special supply I bought was a walking foot for my machine, simple contraption which moves all the layers of the quilt together. Totally worth it and the end result still makes me giddy.

Here are her instructions, plain and simple as can be:
http://pleasantviewschoolhouse.blogspot.com/2009/02/putting-together-scrap-quilt.html
http://pleasantviewschoolhouse.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-bind-quilt.html

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Stephanie February 17, 2012 at 08:30

I’ve made a few beginner quilts with the help of my grandma and they weren’t too bad. I used a fleece blanket for the back of my quilt so no batting needed. I hand quilted it with a little knot at each corner of the squares and it didn’t take too long.

I’d also recommend checking out your local library. I just got a library card and while my library was rather short on sewing or fashion books, it had an entire shelving unit full of quilting books!

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Rachel February 17, 2012 at 08:55

That quilt top is so pretty. You already got lots of good tips, so I’ll just add a couple of things:
1- I think that instead of stitching in the ditch, it’s nicer and easier to stitch just to the side of the seams (like just use the pressor foot as a width guide). There are two advantages to this- if you get a little off line it is much less visible than if you were stitching inside the seams, and you aren’t trying to see over bulky seam intersections. Plus it can really look pretty.
2- if you are going to do straight line quilting, just use painters tape to mark your lines. It’s a really easy way to get them very straight.
3- don’t stress about how your quilting looks. Once you wash it and dry it it will crinkle up as look fabulous and any mistakes will be almost invisible.

Also, I’ll make an offer. I suspect, becaus you moved to VA and have a sailor husband, that you live near me. If you want some in person help and to use some of my quilting stuff, feel free to email me. rachel.cachero@gmail.com

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ro February 17, 2012 at 09:05

LauraD started off with the right set of the most important advice – spend time doing your prep work before starting the machine quilting! The more adhesive or pins + basting that you do (I prefer hand basting), the less likely it is that you’ll turn the quilt over when you’re done and have all sorts of tucks and folds that you didn’t want. Also, start from the center and work outwards.

If you do decide to tie the quilt, you need to either use synthetic batting or tie fairly densely (every 3″ or closer”), or the batting will migrate and clump in an unpleasant way. Cotton batting, while much nicer, is more susceptible to this and needs to be quilted or tied a bit more densely than synthetic.

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Hana - Marmota February 17, 2012 at 09:12

I’ve only made one quilted pillowcase myself, but in a computer cleanup recently a re-discovered a quilting article I had saved years and years ago, which talked about making the borders bias-cut, to prolong their life – it said that as there is no single line of thread on the edge, it is much less likely to wear through. So that’s one tip from me… Good luck!

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Amanda February 17, 2012 at 09:25

I won’t beat a dead horse and explain again how to make the sandwich. I would, however, echo the suggestions that you consider tying this quit, rather than quilting. There are a few reasons I suggest this:

1.) In the interest of speed, it’s certainly faster.
2.) It’s warmer.
3.) My biggest concern is the pillowcases themselves. Vintage pillowcases and sheets are often well-loved…ie, thin. I’m concerned that all-over quilting would weaken an already thin fabric. I’ve seen many a vintage quilt coming apart at the quilting; the fabric disintegrates at the perferations of the quilting.

Good luck in whatever you choose!

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Stacie February 17, 2012 at 09:48

Hi! I’m mostly a garment person, but I do like to make an occasional quilt. The most important thing I have learned is I’m never going to be a professional quilter and it is OK to do things my way. Go ahead and make a border. No one needs to tell you how to do it, just try it. You can tie the quilt off as suggested, but I don’t particularly like doing that. I like the way a quilted quilt gets all wrinkly and soft. I tend to stitch in the ditch, or along the lines of the blocks as well as in diagonals across them. Before that though get your backing fabric and batting (I use warm and natural brand). It sounds weird but take the backing and stretch it out on your floor and tape it down tight with masking tape, do the same with the batting and quilt top. Then safety pin them all together all over to keep them from shifting. Then get in there and start making lines. A basting stitch works fine for quilting them together. If you need any help feel free to contact me.

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Lauren February 17, 2012 at 10:01

I don’t know anything about quilting, I just wanted to ooh & ahh over your pretty fabrics :) Can’t wait to see the finished quilt! :D

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Michelle @ Little Peanut February 17, 2012 at 10:09

Casey, you’ve already received a lot of great advice. The only thing I’d like to add is that you can use the seam lines as a quilting guide. Simply use your walking foot to stitch along each side of your seams, starting in the middle of the quilt and working your way outward. Once you’ve completed one direction, turn your quilt and quilt the other direction to give you horizontal and vertical lines.

Oh, and here’s a list of tutorials for binding your quilt: http://www.luvinthemommyhood.com/2011/11/quilting-911-how-to-sew-quilt-binding.html

I absolutely love quilting and I can’t wait to see how yours turns out! :)

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Claire Jain February 17, 2012 at 10:32

- Definitely do straight line machine guided piecing with your walking foot. This is no time to try free motion quilting.
- Assemble your quilt “sandwich” like everyone else has described, but if you can’t tape it to your floors, it’s not a deal breaker.
- My favorite binding tutorial is on YouTube. It’s a three part series, but I’ve got the links to all three in this blog post: http://www.sewingoverpins.com/2012/02/time-to-bind-two-baby-quilts.html
- Your quilt will turn out great!

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Annie February 17, 2012 at 10:32

Casey -

As suggested by Annabelle, yarn ties are an easy, quick way to complete your quilt. I think it also gives it a charming old fashined look.

When I was young, I had a quilt that was my favorite and could not bare the thought of thowing it away when it became worn out. I made a large cover for it, used my old quilt as the batting (it was now a part of my new quilt instead of being discarded) and used a brightly color yarn to tie it off instead of “quilting” it all in place.

If it is going to be used more for decoration the, you could even use lovely decorative buttons with a heavy duty thread … your options are endless.

I look forward to seeing your quilt once completed !

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Grace February 17, 2012 at 10:42

I have a minor amateur quilting bug buzzing around me lately as well. I bought a walking foot for my kenmore and I used it to make mini quile (check out the purlbee blog for ideas and tips) and I also got some quilting books second hand at McKay Books in Manassas. I will say that the walking foot is an excellent tool to have for basic straight stitch quilting.

I also have a simple quilt top that has been languishing for YEARS until I get up the gumption to do a twin sized quilt. Right now I’m just stalled at the backing material. I have an old sheet that I could use but I read somewhere that mercerized cotton sheets are not the best for quilt backing as the finish can sometimes repel sewing needles.

Good luck with yours!

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Katie February 17, 2012 at 10:43

I made a t-shirt quilt for my husband a couple years ago out of his old fraternity shirts. It was huge but I did the stitch in the ditch method. My mom is in a line of quilters and she though the ditch method was the best for squares like that. I used a cotton jersey for the backing, used a thin batting, and regular seam binding (I was so lazy) but made do with all purpose thread and a regular foot.

I like the idea others have said of using yarn knotting at the corners of the square. We inherited an old-old-old quilt (enough that I am considering donating it the museum I interned with as it is in their collections policy) from a neighbor that was like this and it is so charming. A seemingly random pattern of colors would really fit your fabric choice.

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Jen February 17, 2012 at 10:45

This will be so pretty! I like Oh Fransson for quilting reference–lots of photos and step-by-steps:

http://www.ohfransson.com/oh_fransson/quilt-tutorials-.html

My childhood quilt was tied–it’s a totally charming look and these (many) years later it still looks great.

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seeks February 17, 2012 at 10:59

You have some great advise in these comments already, but I did my quilts using Quilt Class 101 at Chasing Cottons. It was a little confusing, but the best part is that other folks posted their own tutorials at the ends of her posts, so if one explanation doesn’t suit you, you’re bound to find someone else who explains it better. :) http://chasingcottons.blogspot.com/p/quilt-class-101.html

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krystina February 17, 2012 at 11:12

I thought surely this would already be posted, but it’s not. This is a great tutorial on making a “quilt sandwich” (this will be your next step as soon as you find a backing fabric): http://www.ohfransson.com/oh_fransson/2009/03/quilt-along-part-13-making-the-quilt-sandwich.html

Next, you need to decide how you want to quilt it. The sky is the limit here. You can “stitch in the ditch,” that basically means you stitch in the seam lines of your current blocks, you can choose any straight line stitch design (for which I’d highly recommend a walking foot), you can also “free motion” quilt (looks like squiggly lines all over the quilt). My local quilt shop claims that free motion quilting is the easiest, and many quilters would agree, but it frankly scares the bejeezus out of me. If you want to try out free motion quilting, here is a tutorial: http://www.ohfransson.com/oh_fransson/2009/03/quilt-along-14-freemotion-quilting.html

If you want to do straight lines or stitching in the ditch, you’ll want to increase your stitch length and simply use the blocks as guides. And a walking foot isn’t strictly necessary, but I find it to be a great tool. Some people use a Hera Marker (made by Clover) to pre-mark where they will be quilting and some just eyeball it (that’s what I do).

Once you’ve finished the quilting, you’ll need to bind the quilt. Here’s a tutorial for making and sewing binding: http://www.ohfransson.com/oh_fransson/2009/04/quilt-along-15-making-and-sewing-binding.html. One thing she leaves out that I would add is that you machine stitch the binding to the front of the quilt and the hand sewing part is for the back.

You can also email me any time if you have questions! I’m by no means an expert, but I have made my share of quilts!

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Achaia February 17, 2012 at 11:30

Casey! You’ve got to give quilting a try. It’s really quite simple, and another one of my favorite artistic-loves!
Here are some easy to understand thought/tutorial on quilting from my favorite designer, Anna Maria Horner!
…. http://annamariahorner.blogspot.com/2010/03/stitch.html
…. http://annamariahorner.blogspot.com/2010/04/quilting-questions-anna-answers.html
I hope you find these helpful! By the way, I LOVE the way you used vintage fabrics for your quilt top!
xo Achaia

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jessica February 17, 2012 at 11:43

See if there is a quilting guild/club in your area and attend one of the meetings, or check out a quilting shop. Hands on quilting always seemed to help me grasp it. Sometimes the books and written directions just confuse me more.

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Sereina February 17, 2012 at 12:11

Here is a great beginning quilting series: http://www.diaryofaquilter.com/p/beginning-quilting-series.html

I, too, am making my first quilt and started the quilting part with out a walking foot, which was a bad, bad choice. I was doing more seam ripping that quilting! So I ordered a walking foot online that day. I haven’t used it yet, since I haven’t felt like lugging the sewing machine to our dining room table so I have enough space, but I’m sure it will work much better.

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Andrea February 17, 2012 at 12:29

Back in August I made a very similar quilt out of vintage sheet scraps. Even some of the patterns are the same! I made mine with 8 1/2″ squares and did a very simple allover floral quilting on it – vaguely 70′s-ish flowers (big loopy daisy like flowers). I had mine professionally quilted just because I was afraid I would ruin it if I quilted it myself. It cost me about $70 to have it quilted. I just backed mine with white and have a thin white binding. I wanted to keep it very simple so the patterns stood out.

If anyone is interested in making their own vintage sheet quilt there are a ton of Etsy sellers that sell fat quarters (small yardages) of vintage sheets. That is how I collected all of my fabrics.

Here are some pictures of mine before it was quilted: http://bleulune.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/08/81511.html (hope it is okay to put this link in here)

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Victoria February 17, 2012 at 12:31

Be sure to post your findings! I’m in the same boat.

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Always Alice February 17, 2012 at 12:32

Hi! I just made a large quilted baby blanket. I have never quilted anything ever but it was a great gift despite my initial misgivings. I made it on the light side so I used an old flannel sheet as my “batting”. Worked great! You could do a couple sheets sandwiched between your topper and calico and to “quilt” the blanket I would just sew a line up the middle of each square going lengthwise and width wise, then you really wouldn’t have to measure. I didn’t have a walking foot and the flannel didn’t shift even though I sewed through 5 layers of fabric. Flannel seems to be fairly sticky. If you don’t plan to make a fluffy heavy quilt you don’t need to go crazy with the quilting part. Just a little something to keep things from shifting around too much.

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Miss Crayola Creepy February 17, 2012 at 12:42

When I first started quilting my grandma gave me this Alex Anderson book and it was really helpful. It went over all the basics and I still refer to it from time to time.
http://www.amazon.com/Start-Quilting-Alex-Anderson-Projects–Most/dp/1571208127/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329500547&sr=8-1

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deborah February 17, 2012 at 13:07

I have only made one quilt myself, and was similarly concerned when i sat down to do the stiching part over the quilt. I didn’t tried the ties, like others have suggested, for fear that it wouldn’t hold up to washing thought it might be too bumpy for my taste. What i settled on was is called Stich-in-the-ditch method, which amounts to just sewing the quilting lines right into the existing piecing seams of the squares. It perfectly accentuates the quilts design, gives a traditional look, yet doesn’t look like the beginner effort it really was.

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Sarah February 17, 2012 at 13:34

Casey, if you google Avalon quilt pattern and look for flicker photos, I think it would be a great one for you. It’s just large squares with sashing between; very simple but striking. It’s from the book “Material Obsession”.

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Tina February 17, 2012 at 13:49

I know you said machine quilting, but if I may put my two cents in for hand quilting.

It’ so easy on the type of quilt you’ve created! And I think it looks prettier than machine quickly, honestly. It give a kind of homey-handmade feel. Like an ancestor made the quilt. You can totally do it at night while watching TV. All you’ll need is safety pins, a large embroidery hoop (larger the better) some pretty floss/embroidery thread, needle and scissors. As people have described above, you’ll create a “sandwich” of backing, batting, and quilt top. Pin the layers together. Thread your needle BUT DO NOT TIE A KNOT IN THE END. Place your embroidery hoop in roughly the center. Find a place where four squares meet –lets call it an “X”Push the needle from top layer to bottom layer on one “V” of the “X” and then back up the “V” that is directly across from it. MAKE SURE TO LEAVE A TAIL OF THREAD. If you want, you can go back down and up again, but I usually do not. Tie a secure knot (I sometimes double knot), clip the thread, and go on to the next.

You’ll want to work in a sort of circular motion with the “X”s. Make sure that every juncture where four squares meet is tied off–in other words, each square will be tied off at each of its four corners. It goes much quicker than you think it does.

This tutorial has pretty clear pictures of how to tie off. However, they do it at the center vs. the corners of squares. I personally prefer the corners. The second one is a baby quilt, but also has pretty clear pictures.

http://www.connectingthreads.com/tutorials/How_to_Tie_a_Quilt_Tutorial__D7.html
http://www.everythingsewing.net/babyquilt.htm

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jessie heninger February 17, 2012 at 13:52

Don’t be too technical seriously. A walking foot for your machine will help but the rest is pretty straightforward make a sandwich out of your quilt top backing and stuffing sew around three sides flip it right side out and finish. I tie my quilts b/c I am too lazy to hand sew them. This is a great blog and she does quilts and even has cheap downloadable patterns which might be worth it just for the instructions. http://www.rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy really I followed hers for my first one and it was easy and perfect.

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Sherry February 17, 2012 at 14:09

This looks really pretty Casey – what a great idea to use old pillowcases! I’m gradually building up a collection of fabrics for a scrappy quilt, but buying fat quarters is quite expensive because I need such a variety of fabrics. I have bought some secondhand childrens clothes to chop up – girls dresses often come in 100% cotton and pretty patterns. I’ll look out for pillowcases now!

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Nicole February 17, 2012 at 15:16

Marianne Fons and Liz Porter are a partnership of authors with great books making quilting understandable and accessible to beginners. The book called The Quilter’s Complete Guide will show you with easy to follow step-by-step instructions for calculating how much fabric you’ll need for a border, for creating the bias binding, layering and basting the quilt for quilting, and how to maneuver it through your machine for machine quilting.

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Lisa February 17, 2012 at 16:16

I agree with those that say to use ties – personally I use a strand of pearl cotton doubled and spaced no more than a hand apart. It is the easiest way to handle a first quilt. Wait to do the real quilting for a smaller project! A whole couch sized quilt is too much for a first quilt!!

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mala_14 February 17, 2012 at 16:16

I made my first quilt lat year and one thing I found really important was to have a big surface when doing the quilting to support the quilt. Otherwise it’s really difficult to maneuver the quilt while sewing because it’s such a large piece of sewing, even when parts are rolled up out of the way. And to prevent the weight of the quilt from shifting it around while sewing. I quilted mine with the sewing machine on top of the kitchen table, because the sewing machine table just was not big enough.

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