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How do I Read Quilting Instructions?

By U. Ahern
Updated May 17, 2024
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Quilting instructions cover supplies, choosing a pattern, assembling the top, and marking the quilting pattern. Collect fabric, batting and a pattern that appeals to you and you are ready to begin. A number two pencil, a stitching pattern and quilting thread are some of the basics for finishing your quilt. Read the quilting instructions thoroughly and then follow them each step of the way.

Quilting instructions begin with the needed supplies. Decide if sewing will be done by hand or with a sewing machine. Quilts can be pieced or appliqued. Pieced quilts use every piece of fabric to create the top. Appliqued quilts sew pieces of fabric on a foundation fabric to create a top. Make sure the pattern is at an appropriate skill level for you. Quilt blocks and patterns with fewer pieces are a good starting point for beginners. The quilting instructions guide you through making templates to cut quilt pieces.

Choose a fabric color palette that is appealing and works with your pattern. Carefully follow fabric preparation instructions and then use the templates to cut out fabric pieces according to the pattern. The quilting instructions explain how to pin the pieces together for sewing. The order is important so that quilt blocks and the top can be assembled easily.

Once the top is sewn it is time to mark the stitching pattern. Stitching can either follow the outline of the pieces or create an entirely different design. You can use a template or create your own design. A chalk pencil or number two pencil can be used to lightly mark stitching lines. If you are designing your own pattern, keep quilting lines no more than two inches (about 5 cm) apart. This will make the completed quilt more durable.

When the marking is complete, it is time to assemble the quilt. The top, batting and backing are pinned together. Choose the batting based on the desired finished look. If a flat traditional quilt is the goal, use a cotton or low loft batting. High loft batting will deliver a fuller finished look. Plain cotton, or patterned cotton to match the top, can be used for a backing. Using a quilt hoop or small quilting stand, start hand stitching in the center. The quilting stitch is a simple running stitch. Uniform stitching is more important that small stitching. Quilting stitches will become smaller with practice.

Finishing the raw edges of the quilt is the final step in the quilting instructions. Using a prepared bias binding, or one stitched together from extra quilt fabric, sew around the edges of the quilt top. Turn the binding to the backside of the quilt. Hand sew it in place, hiding the raw edges of the quilt sandwich. The quilt is now ready to enjoy and treasure as tomorrow’s heirloom.

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