How to Quilt by Machine

First time quilting? Beginners, learn how to quilt with pictures. See how to make a simple quilt with easy machine quilting techniques!

How to Quilt: Picture of fabric being sewn with a 1/4 inch seam.An example of how to quilt by machine is to stitch fabric with a 1/4 inch seam using a quarter inch presser foot.

In this section we will cover basic topics on quilting. It will show beginners how to machine quilt.

It's easy!

To quilt, you can use any sewing machine that can sew a straight stitch.

So, if it's your first time quilting, your current machine, or an inexpensive one if you have to buy, will do.

Note: I might point out at this particular juncture that quilting is not a cheap hobby. But you will have loads of fun! :-)

Quilting Supplies

To quilt you need supplies! In the beginning you won't need a lot of fancy supplies.

Here's a list of basic supplies and equipment that you need to get started...

  • Fabric
  • Pattern
  • Sewing Machine
  • 1/4 inch foot
  • Walking Foot
  • Batting
  • Design Wall or Board*
  • Quilting Thread
  • Needle
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Rotary Cutting Mat
  • Quilting Pins
  • Table (or other flat surface)
  • Iron
  • Pressing Board
  • Scissors
  • Seam Ripper
  • Painter's Tape
  • Pencil
  • Work Space

*The design wall is optional.

However, so that you can see how the quilt top comes together, it will help to have a large flat surface - floor, large table - where you can spread out the blocks or pieces that make up your quilt top.

Machine Quilting Basics

To learn how to quilt you need some basic information before you actually make your quilt. Review these quilting lessons for beginners...

Some Building Blocks of Quilt Blocks

These units are used over and over again in many different quilt blocks. Learn how to make these units to help you make quilt blocks more easily...

6 Steps to Make a Simple Quilt for Beginners

Now, we are getting deep into how to quilt. Yay!

A quilt is usually made up of three layers – quilt top, batting and backing fabric. Together these three layers is called a quilt sandwich.

These steps take you through the basics of how to machine quilt.

1. Make a Quilt Top

To make a quilt you make the quilt top first. You can use either pieces of fabric or one piece of fabric for the entire top.

Sometimes pieces of fabric are sewn together into a block, but other times one piece of fabric is the block. Blocks are then sewn together to make a row. Multiple rows are sewn together to make a quilt top.

I like to use easy, big blocks to make my quilt tops. I admit it, I'm a very impatient quilter. I like to get 'er done :-). My quilt blocks usually range in size from 12 to 18 inches. This makes it easier to learn how to quilt.

For my taste there is a lot to be said for simple quilt.

2. Make a Back

You can piece a quilt back together from multiple pieces of fabric or by yardage that is wide enough for your entire quilt top.

Quilt back ready fabric is sold in various widths: 60 inches, 108 and 110 inches.

3. Choose and Cut Batting

You can find batting made from lots of different stuff like cotton, a cotton and polyester blend, bamboo, shredded plastic, 100% wool or a wool blend.

Personally, I like to use 100% cotton.

You can buy it already cut and packaged in pretty standard sizes: baby, twin, queen and king. Batting is also sold off the bolt in which case you may have it cut to the size that you need.

4. Make a Quilt Sandwich

A quilt sandwich is simply your quilt top, batting and backing layered, or sandwiched, together.

Once together, the layers need to be secured before quilting them. You can use either quilting pins or basting spray to hold the layers together.

Personally, I use curved quilting safety pins to hold the three layers together.

5. Quilt the Quilt

This is where the sewing machine comes in handy! You can use it to quilt the quilt.

By machine, you can quilt a quilt using two special presser feet: a walking foot or a free-motion foot.

6. Bind the Quilt

We bind a quilt to protect the edges of it. Primarily, there are two ways to do this...

  • Attach the binding to the front of the quilt using a sewing machine and attach the binding to the back of the quilt by hand sewing it.
  • Attach the binding to the front and the back of the quilt using your sewing machine.

I'll show you how to bind your quilt using the second option.

Using your sewing machine to entirely attach the binding is faster and more secure (in my opinion) than hand sewing it.

Once you complete this step, you know the basics of how to quilt!

Time-Saving Quilting Techniques

Though we are (or become) passionate about quilting, we always look for ways to speed up the process.

Here are some techniques that will help us to complete the work of quilting and get to the enjoying the quilt part faster...

Improv Quilting Techniques

Sometimes we may feel constrained by traditional piecing techniques because at most times things need to line up just so in order to get a pleasing look.

I like to mix it up a little bit and add some improvisational quilting techniques. Here are a few...

Improv techniques are very informal and very forgiving as you put together your
quilt top.

How to Quilt

This page (or this website) does not cover all quilting techniques... There are just too many!

However, these quilting basics (and maybe slightly beyond) will put you well on your way to becoming a confident quilter.

You will say... It's easy to learn how to quilt!

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