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Before we begin, it's important to note that there's not one correct way to create a quilt – it'd be near impossible to cover every single method. Every quilter has their own preferred process and creative style, but if you've never quilted before, where should you start? This page explores the quilting process with a sewing machine, covering everything from fabric prep and cutting, to basting and quilting the layers together.
Completing her teaching diploma in 1994 so that she could show others just how fascinating patchwork, quilting and applique can be, Jennie has since created her own techniques and designs, most notably using texture and fabric manipulation, some of which can be seen in galleries and exhibitions across the globe.
But she hasn't stopped there – as well as releasing a range of patterns, calico and extensive patchwork books and DVDs, Jennie regularly teaches classes and workshops all over the world for sewers of all levels and abilities, teaching anything from quilting, patchwork and embroidery to creating soft furnishings.
On top of all this, you'll regularly see our resident quilting expert live on Create and Craft TV doing what she does best, as well giving step-by-step demonstrations and providing an abundance of patchwork and quilting inspiration in The Quilting Classroom. So, with all that in mind, here are Jennie's top quilting tips.
A rotary cutter, cutting mat, acrylic ruler and square template are essential. It's possible to make card shapes by drawing around and cutting shapes out with scissors, but why? Today's quilter has a wealth of tools to make life easier and to create accurately cut shapes. If the pieces aren't correctly sized, then major problems can occur when trying to fit pieces together.
This can be done by hand with a combination of small running stitches and a back stitch approximately every third running stitch; however the use of a sewing machine will speed up the process. If using a sewing machine, then purchase a quarter inch presser foot. Alternatively, move the needle position to ¼" from the inner edge of the presser foot (although not all machines have this facility).
Pure cotton is the best choice as manmade fibres can stretch and do not press well. Wash the fabrics if needed in a cold wash, and then add some spray starch to restore 'body.'
For many blocks, there are designated shapes which can be purchased. A wide range of different shapes are readily available, each template making piecing much easier. The Easy Angle template is a good buy – this template makes triangles; two of the same sized triangles form a square. With this template, many different basic designs can be created, such as the Amish Friendship Star.
Use cotton or polyester thread of good quality and suitable for regular sewing. Polyester should not be used if the work is to be dyed later as the thread will not take the dye.
Choose lightweight (2oz.) polyester or use a cotton/polyester mix – Hobbs make a good product. Do not use thick wadding as this is hard to sew through, both by hand or using a sewing machine.
Quilting is the action of sewing the layers together, and can be done by hand or machine. The quilt top, wadding and a backing fabric form a sandwich – hold these layers together with some form of stitching, sew buttons through all three layers, or maybe try a quilting tie. Quilting ties are simple to create and very effective – just pass thread through the layers twice and tie the ends together. For those quilting on a sewing machine, a walking foot is advisable.
Whether you're passionate about patchwork, have a query about quilting or simply want to further your stitching skills, join Jennie in the ever-popular Quilting Classroom! Throughout each 57 minute-long lesson, Jennie guides you through the magical world of patchwork, quilting and applique, providing expert tips, handy tricks and delightful designs.