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Quilt Lessons

Definitions & Instructions Pg 1

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Assembling Your Quilt Layers
Once a quilt top is pieced, it is layered with batting and backing. The backing is placed on the bottom, wrong side up. The batting is placed over the backing. The quilt top is placed right side up over the other two layers.

For instructions on assembling and binding your quilt, go to: Quilt Assembly

Batting / Backing

There are several different types and weights of batting. Thickness is called loft. Use a thicker batting (more loft) for fluffy comforter type quilts that you plan to tie off. Use a thinner batting for hand quilting. I like to use 100% cotton batting, but synthetic battings are supposed to be easier to sew through. I use crafter's felt for small projects (such as placemats). Your local quilt store personnel should be able to assist you in choosing the correct batting for your project.

I like to have my batting and backing a bit larger than my quilt top. After pinning the layers together, then quilting them together, the excess can be trimmed as shown at right.
quilt assembly

Most quilters prefer to find backing fabric that is similar in weight to the top layer. Many people use bed sheets. Others like to use a nice flannel for comfort. Be sure that the fabric you choose is easy to quilt through and goes well with your quilt. Backing can be purchased in widths for quilts. A word of caution here - I prefer to prewash (and preshrink) my fabrics. If I do this with the fabrics used on the quilt top, I also preshrink my backing. Other quilters I know never prewash the fabric. They prefer the stiffness that comes with new fabric. You will choose your own preferences over time.


Once a quilt top is pieced, it is layered with batting and backing. The edges of the quilt are still unfinished, however. To add a nice finished edge to the quilt, binding is added. Binding is a strip of fabric cut to various widths depending on the size of the project and the desired effect. It is machine stitched to the quilt top edge, and then turned to the back and hand stitched to the back of the quilt. Binding can be a single layer, or the strip can be folded in half lengthwise to make a more durable binding (this is recommended for larger quilts). Binding can be cut on the bias or straight, depending on your preference (bias cut is usually preferred for larger quilts). Mitered corners create a nicely finished corner.

For instructions on creating continuous bias binding, go to: Continuous Bias Binding

For instructions on mitered corners, go to: Assembling & Binding

Block (Quilt Block)

Quilts are made up of blocks. Blocks can be any size, and pieced in any way. Common sizes of finished blocks are 8" or 8.5". star block

Color and Design

Totally different looks can be created using the same block throughout the quilt by rotating the block and / or changing colors used. We took a simple Log Cabin design and rotated the blocks for various looks. We also changed fabrics to create different looks. Experiment with texture and color. Create a few "practice blocks" before deciding on final outcome.

Today's scanners are wonderful. You can scan in your fabric and use a drawing program such as Paint Shop Pro, or a quilting program, to create various blocks. This way, you can see the outcome before ever beginning to actually sew.
quilt design

Cutting Techniques

Crazy Quilt

Crazy quilting is a wonderful method for creating fun blocks very quickly. These blocks use small and irregular pieces of fabric, so this is also a great way to use up your scraps. The first piece is placed on a backing piece of fabric. Subsequent fabric pieces are pinned into place at random, covering previous seams and raw edges. Stitching is done on the right side of the block. When finished, crazy quilt blocks are often embellished with yarn, embroidery stitches, buttons and other items.

For instructions, go to: Crazy Quilt Pot Holder Pattern.
crazy quilt

Double Cutting

Double cutting, double-triple cutting and triple cutting are methods of creating interesting, contemporary style quilt blocks. They look complex, but are actually very easy to make. Fabric is stacked and then cuts are made through all layers. The pieces are mix-matched to assemble the blocks.
For instructions, go to: Double Cut Contemporary Quilt Pattern.
double triple cut quilt block

Flip And Sew

The pattern is traced onto a piece of backing fabric. Fabric strips are pinned into place and sewing is done on BACK of project piece. When finished, the top is already "quilted" to the backing - no batting is used. Use the flip and sew technique to quickly and easily create an intricately pieced quilt block. Create several for a quilt, or add a frame for an "instant" wall piece! For instructions, go to: Framed Fabric Art Pattern. flip and sew

Speed Cutting

Speed cutting means that many squares, rectangles or triangles are cut quickly using a rotary cutter, mat and large sewing ruler. If several 4.5" x 4.5" squares must be cut, this can be done very quickly and precisely by cutting one strip of fabric 4.5" x w.o.f. (width of fabric). Then, the strip is cut into 4.5" squares.

There are several methods of quickly cutting and stitching pieces to create patterns that would be time consuming to create if each square was individually cut and stitched. Two such methods are strip quilting and a variation of strip quilting called mile a minute checkerboard. We cover these methods in another section under Speed Pieceing.
speed cutting quilting

Hanging Sleeve

If the quilt is to be hung on a wall, a hanging sleeve is needed. The sleeve runs across the entire width of the quilt. A curtain rod, wood dowel or other such item can then be slipped through the hanging sleeve. The ends of the dowel or rod should extend past the ends of the sleeve, so they can slip through hooks attached to the wall. Below is an example of a hanging sleeve.

hanging sleeve

For instructions on making a hanging sleeve, go to: Hanging sleeve

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