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What is Quilting?

What better way to spend those chilly months than snuggled up under a warm, handmade quilt? But if you've never created a quilt before, where on earth do you begin? Firstly, let's begin with the basics.

The Basics of Quilting

The Basics of Quilting

In essence, quilting is the process of sewing multiple layers of material together to form a thicker, warmer structure. A quilt is divided into three layers: the Quilt Top, the Wadding and the Backing. Quilters often like to use a 'quilt sandwich' analogy when describing this combination – as a sandwich is divided into three main layers, so is a quilt in a similar sense. The Quilt Top features the main design of the quilt, while the Wadding is used as padding and the Backing is usually cotton fabric to help hold the Wadding in.

To stitch the quilt layers together, there are several common stitches used for both functionality and decoration – the most common being a basic running stitch. Generally speaking, creating a quilt involves a variety of other techniques alongside sewing the layers together. The Quilt Top can be created from bespoke patchwork patterns or different forms of applique, and embroidery can be added as embellishment. On many quilts, a combination of these techniques is used.

Hand Quilting

Hand Quilting

Quilting can either be completed by hand or with a machine. Hand quilting is the method of stitching with a needle and thread by hand, sewing a running stitch throughout the quilt layers to attach them together. A stab stitch is commonly used in this process, in which the quilter pushes the needle in through the fabric on the right side, then pulls it back up through the wrong side of the fabric to secure the stitch. Alternatively, you could use a rocking stitch – putting one hand on top of the quilt to feed the needle down, with the other hand underneath the fabric to push the needle back up.

Machine Quilting

Hand Quilting

Machine quilting, on the other hand, is a somewhat quicker process in which a quilter uses a sewing machine to stitch the quilt layers together. Once the Quilt Top, Wadding and Backing are pinned together on a flat surface, the quilter sews across the sandwich, thus securely attaching the layers together. This stitching can be done in straight rows aligned to the seams, or in complementary patterns to suit the Quilt Top design.

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