DIY A beginners guide to quilting

I had a wonderful night watching ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ tonight. Jared is always out on a Tuesday night, so it has worked brilliantly! I like to watch it uninterrupted and he has limited interest. I love to see how the sewers differ, and how their talents shine through in each of the tasks. I particularly love Chinelo at the moment – I have loved all of her designs and fabric combinations. I am massively into sewing but for some reason the idea of making a quilt has intimidated me. I’m not a patient sewer, my thinking is more: “What’s quick so I can get it finished as soon as”, which is why I favour making children’s clothing over everything else. I’ve always considered quilting complicated, precise and very time consuming (which is true) – but not a valid excuse for avoidance.

A friend messaged me to ask if I could help her with some quilting, to which I replied: “I have no idea, but I know someone who does”. So a few weeks ago I had my mother-in-law and two friends over to discuss quilting, overcome my fears and get started. I chose the pattern quite some time ago from my Anna Marie Horner book. I love everything about it – the uneven rows, the colours, how homey it feels, and I even have a delightful newborn to place strategically to hide any inperfections…although he probably won’t be quite so newborn by the time I get finished! Anna designed this for the arrival of her sixth child. It’s called: ‘Sixth Time A Charm’.



We had a lovely Saturday morning together chatting about fabrics, stroking fabrics, talking about fabric, stroking more fabric, commenting on fabric, talking about inches, discussing rotary cutters, the pros and cons of buying a cutting mat, woven or knitted? and probably talking more about fabric – get the idea? I decided to do three different row widths and began cutting – which I was rather nervous about. Who ever knew cutting a load of rectangles could be so scary?


I have come up with a few tips for a first time quilter:

  • Chose a pattern that uses just rectangles and squares – more complicated shapes are easier to make mistakes with.
  • Make sure you keep your seam allowances even. Decide on a measurement and stick with it.
  • Ensure your cutting is accurate, although your design will dictate exactly how absolutely precise you have to be. I am told that the design I have chosen will allow some degree of error, which is a relief for a lazy sewer like me. If your design is built up of replicated panels you will have to exact.
  • Have your iron out all the time! It is so much easier to see what is going on when everything is pressed beautifully flat.
  • Have a look at all the different ways you can edge it – you may just see something that will change it from ordinary to extraordinary.
  • If you think you will make a few quilts – invest in a rotary cutter and cutting mat. You will save hours and hours!
  • Have a rough idea of the size you want to make it. I’m aiming for a single bed size. Eek.
  • Enjoy the building process. The beauty of quilting is that when you start your project you’re not 100% sure what the outcome will be. As you build you may decide to change it here and there or get further inspiration. Basically – enjoy the unknown…a completely new concept to me.
  • When choosing fabric decide on a theme. I found this one tricky; as I knew what I wanted it to look like, but couldn’t think of a word to describe it. My friend suggested the theme of ‘Spring’ which was the word I was looking for. It will make it easier when selecting fabric as you can ask yourself: “Does this reflect Spring?” etc. My friend was making a quilt from her daughters old clothes – so precious and the fabrics were gorgeous.

I have a more questions to ask my pro friends (and a lot more sewing to do) before I can offer any more advice on the quilting process. I am in very early days, but am very happy with the look of the quilt so far. At the moment I’m at a bit of a standstill until I buy more fabric – I am trying to psyche myself up to visit a couple of fabric shops with two children in tow. Not the easiest or most enjoyable of tasks! I am going to sew my fabric in rows and then connect the rows.



I’ve decided that I will use a heavy weight wadding once I’m at that stage to make it cosy and comfortable. I am getting slightly ahead of myself, as I’m already envisaging myself snuggled up with it and enjoying a picnic on it. Let’s hope it happens sooner, rather than later! So excited.

E xx



  1. 13th March 2014 / 12:12 am

    Looks good Esther – I have some of the peach floral fabric half made into a top and was very tempted by the green print when i went to Fabworks last week! Love that shop though I was overwhelmed by the choice and actually came away with nothing!

    • 15th March 2014 / 9:24 pm

      I know what you mean! There is so much choice that it makes it difficult to choose anything! Oooo I top would look amazing in the peach one – can’t wait to see! xx

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