A beginner with some questions

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Registered: 04-06-2004
A beginner with some questions
8
Wed, 02-15-2006 - 11:58pm

I would like to learn how to quilt. I do not know the first thing about quilting or sewing, so I really need to learn the basics. Would my best bet be to learn from the internet or buy a book or two? Also, do you sew by hand, sewing machine or both?

My first project I thought could be a quilt for my son or a quilt for our new baby. So I thought that it would be a perfect time to start. Can someone guide me in the right direction on where to start?

Thanks :)
Jennifer





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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Thu, 02-16-2006 - 10:51am

Welcome, Jennifer, to Stitcher's Niche.

I will try to answer your questions from the point of view of a non-quilter (I have pieced, or begun to piece, many tops but never gotten to the point of basting, quilting, binding and finishing one off. I learned to piece by taking classes offered by a quilter when I lived in Saudi Arabia. Since I really didn't' SEW before I started these classes, I don't consider my first few tops really worthy of finishing, but someday...). We have lots of quilters as regulars here who am am sure can chime in with their recommendations for books, web sites or even kinds of classes. But here is my two cents for what it is worth...

There are lots of good books out there, and lots of internet sites, although I personally think that, if you can find a quilting shop, a quilters' guild, or a quilting class at a community college near you, your best bet is to take lessons! There is something so reassuring about having a teacher there to answer questions and help you through the rough spots. Most beginner classes will be sampler quilts, showing different patterns and techniques and you will end up with a wall hanging or a small lap quilt. But there may be a cot-quilt or baby quilt class offered so check around...

You asked if it's done by hand or machine. Either/both is AOK. Hand piecing and quilting is portable (you can carry your blocks with you and piece while you are waiting in doctor's offices, etc.) but machine piecing and quilting is faster (instant gratification, one of my quilting friends calls it) and solitary. If you have a good machine, piecing is faster but you may not want to start right in with machine quilting UNLESS your machine is set up as a quilting machine. Tieing a quilt is often how people approach a first quilt, and so long as the ties aren't so long that they get hold of the baby (or vice versa) tying is perfectly acceptable. Nice thing about tying, besides the fact that it is faster, is you can always go back later and either hand or machine quilt... Hand quilting or tying could be a social thing --- if you end up in a class offered by a quilt shop or guild, the members of the guild might actually help in the quilting (sort of like an old-fashioned quilting bee!). Also, you could consider piecing your quilt and paying someone else to quilt it for you (that isn't uncommon and there are ads in all the quilting magazines for such services. Also, a local quilt shop might know of someone willing to quilt it for you. MANY of the people I know who "quilt" really only piece and pay someone else to quilt --- even the "professionals" do this!).

In addition to books, there are numerous quilting magazines out there. Check a few out the next time you go grocery shopping (most supermarkets have a craft section in their magazine racks). Look for the ones that label quilts beginning, intermediate and advanced. Often the beginner-level quilts are just what you may be looking for! And all these magazines have a how-to section in the back...

Now, before you start, you need a few basic tools: a cutting mat, a good acrylic ruler and a rotary cutter come to mind, as well as quality cotton fabric (or fleece), batting, and quilting threads. Needles will depend on whether you go hand or machine: Hand quilting needles are called "betweens" and differ from regular sewing needles (sharps) or embroidery needles; machine quilting needles need to be sharp and replaced often since they will be going through three layers of fabric... You will also want pins as when you piece, you pin the pieces together while sewing; any kind is fine but glass or metal heads are preferred as they don't melt when you press (and for heaven's sake, if you are machine piecing, keep track of those pins and don't sew over them or you will break a needle or worse!). And an ironing board/surface and a reasonably heavy iron (you don't iron --- move the iron back and forth as that can stretch the fabric; but you do PRESS, place the iron on top of the seams to flatten them to one side or the other or even open... so something small like a travel iron doesn't cut it.), steam is not necessary --- some quilters say use it; others say no...

Pick a pattern. As a beginner, I've seen the easiest pattern described as either a rail fence or a patchwork, as you don't have to deal with bias edges (which stretch) or points (you don't want to start with stars! LOL). http://www.portup.com/~hjbe/quilt/rail.html shows a rail fence; patchwork can range from simple (just sew together squares of farbic in a checkerboard pattern) to more complex --- 4-patch http://quilting.about.com/library/weekly/aa103197.htm and 9-patch http://quilting.about.com/library/0lib/bl0_blocks/bl0_freeblks_9patch.htm are typical!

Let me give you a few links to both books and internet sites, in case you can't find a local quilting shop or school that offers lessons...

Books (This is NOT a recommendation as I have not read any of these books. Check your local library first and see what they may have and certainly to see if the book suits YOU before you go out and buy...):

"Your First Quilt Book (or it should be!)" (Paperback) by Carol Doak

"Quilting for Dummies" by Cheryl Fall (I am a fan of the "XXX for Dummies" series --- I swear by the ones for knitting and crocheting...)

"Machine Quilting Made Easy" by Maurine Noble

"Start Quilting with Alex Anderson: Six Projects for First-Time Quilters, 2nd Edition," Paperback, by Alex Anderson (Alex Anderson is the quilting guru on DIY's craft series --- check out her television programs to see if you like her approach as well).

"Quiltmaking For Beginners: A Stitch-by-Stitch Guide to Hand and Machine Techniques," Paperback, by Lynn G. Kough

"Quilting 101: A beginners guide to quilting," Spiral-bound, by The Editors of Creative Publishing international

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Quilting Illustrated, Second Edition," Paperback, by Laura Ehrlich

"The Joy of Quilting" by Hanson & Hickey

"The Art of Classic Quiltmaking" by Hargrave & Craig.

"The Quilting Bible" from the Singer Sewing Reference Library series (good photos)

Internet sites (check out about.com as well --- they have a quilting section with lots of tips, but some are broken so you need to check each out):

A downloadable book http://www.how-to-quilt.com/

Online classes http://www.quiltuniversity.com/

Some web sites have tutorials. Here are some, I KNOW our regualrs will have others:

piecing: http://www.ribbonsmyth.com/howtoquilt.htm
http://www.quilt.com/HowTo/BlockPiecingHowToPage.html
http://www.kathkwilts.com/lessons/gendirs.html

basting a quilt/batting/backing: http://www.easymade.com/video_clip8.html
http://www.easymade.com/video_clip7.html

hand quilting: http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00024.asp
http://www.handquilter.com/html/newtip.html
http://www.cottonwoodquilts.com/hand.htm
http://www.ehow.com/how_922_hand-quilt-bedcover.html

machine quilting: http://www.quilt.com/HowTo/MachineQuiltingHowTo.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_14846_machine-quilt-bedcover.html

tying: http://quilting.about.com/c/ht/00/07/How_Tie_Quilt0962932876.htm
http://www.cottonwoodquilts.com/tying.htm
http://www.quiltindex.com/ATQF/q_and_a_single.asp?QAID=95
http://www.quilt.com/QuestionOfTheWeek/1997/0630.html
http://www.quiltsmart.com/Pages/completing_your_quilt.htm
http://www.thecraftstudio.com/qwc/finish.htm
http://www.warmingfamilies.org/care-quilt.html

By the way, I didn't guide you to paper piecing, foundation piecing or applique because that seemed a bit much for a first quilt. But if you want to try, plug those terms in a search engine and you will turn up LOADS of pages.

Also, plug in "Quilt Pattern Freebies" or something similar and you will find hundreds of site with free downloadable block patterns! OR you cold buy a book... (or check one out of the library (cheaper! LOL).

Be careful, quilting, like all needlearts, can run into money as fabric becomes an addiction as do patterns and books and tools...

And believe me, this board is NOT a 12-step program to help you get over an addiction. We are enablers, par excellence! LOL

Do come back often, and let us know how you decided to start, what you are making (we LOVE to see photos) and ask any questions that come up as you go...




Co-CL for "The Stitcher's Niche" and "Antiques and Collectibles". and CL for "Photoboard: Winter Celebrations" and "New Home 911"

Visit me at That Yank In...
and Traveling with That Yank







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Stitchery WIPs:"Neighborhood" RR, "Lady Liberty", "The Magic of Summer","Blue Porcelain Collection", "Walking to Town",and 2 sets of curtain tie-backs using a DMC freebie chart and the new DMC linen threads



CL for

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Registered: 04-06-2004
Thu, 02-16-2006 - 5:10pm

Carol,

Wow, that alot of info. I am going to copy and paste it into a word doc. Thanks :) I am off to go check out the websites you listed.

Thanks again :)

Jennifer





My mood is: The current mood of WildAboutAnimals at www.imood.com

baby






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Avatar for miika4
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 02-16-2006 - 9:43pm

Hi Jennifer, welcome to the board! I haven't got much to add after Carol's mile-long post ;-) but I wanted to second her suggestion of taking a class first, and then investing in some books or looking online. There's just something about having a

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Registered: 04-06-2004
Thu, 02-16-2006 - 10:49pm

Wow, thanks Miika, you guys are real nice here :) I do have a question though.....What is the difference between a quilting sewing machine and a "normal" sewing machine? I am going to invest in one and was wondering which ones I should be looking at.

Thanks again :)
Jennifer





My mood is: The current mood of WildAboutAnimals at www.imood.com

baby






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Avatar for miika4
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 02-17-2006 - 12:49am

Technically, not much :-)


Well, there are so-called Longarm Quilting Machines, which are basically sewing machines that have an extra-long arm so that you can squish a big quilt underneath it to quilt it. But they're not really necessary unless you do an awful lot of machine quilting (think business).


Anyhow, according to "Heirloom Machine Quilting" by Harriet Hargrave, here are the points to keep in

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-05-2003
Fri, 02-17-2006 - 10:29am

Can I second Miika's advice?

I started with a Bernette, a really cheap Bernina knock-off I bought in Saudi Arabia. It worked but it made piecing *and* quilting I suspect although I never tried it) VERY hard because it DIDN'T have the fine touch control needed, the needle didn't stop down but did drift a few stitches, and visibility sucked ( couldn't see the needle so machine applique and any complex stitching like around curves or into inset seams was nearly impossible!

Just before I left Saudi, I bought a Bernina Quilter's Edition with the feet, the needle-down option, etc. I didn't know I was leaving when I bought it, so it sat in storage for more than 2 years and I'm still getting used to it but it is head-and-shoulders above that old Bernette! Berninas are pricey and I only bought mine because I could get it MUCH cheaper there than in the US --- but in the US, I think they offer classes with the purchase and all sorts of notions extras as well that I didn't get in Saudi.

Anyway, Bernina isn't the ONLY quilter's machine --- check all the other major brands and if you are buying a machine, please read our "how to choose a machine" tips on the web site FAQ (Primary among which are "test drive it" in the shop BEFORE you buy! Strange as it may seem, different brands of sewing machines do have different feels...) http://members.tripod.com/stitchers_niche-ivil/id2.html




Co-CL for "The Stitcher's Niche" and "Antiques and Collectibles". and CL for "Photoboard: Winter Celebrations" and "New Home 911"

Visit me at That Yank In...
and Traveling with That Yank







Avatar made with Portrait Illustrator Maker


Stitchery WIPs:"Neighborhood" RR, "Lady Liberty", "The Magic of Summer","Blue Porcelain Collection", "Walking to Town",and 2 sets of curtain tie-backs using a DMC freebie chart and the new DMC linen threads



CL for

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-06-2004
Fri, 02-17-2006 - 12:45pm

Thanks you two for all the help :) I think I have decided on my first project. It is going to be for the snuggles project. Then I will work on my baby quilt.

Thanks,
Jennifer





My mood is: The current mood of WildAboutAnimals at www.imood.com

baby






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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Sat, 03-04-2006 - 8:45am

Hi jen-
wow we have a couple things in common ( like a september baby due( i am now at my 11 week 4 days) and I love kitties- we adopted ours from a neighbour due to animal personality conflict ( they had a jack rusel and the two were just too hyper together.)

now to the topic of quilting-

first for a baby quilt -safety first-I personally would use a maschine- just because it can get finer stitches than what I can do by hand ( right now I am using a Pfaff older than me) and logic is still prevailing me to look at a pfaff ( ease of getting to a repairer here in the middle of switzerland) and I like the adaptablity of pfaff. you can get the bells and whistles as you need them. so if quilting is more your thing then you get the special adaptations package for a couple hundred ( inldes the longer arm and specila feet as well as a diskette to programme the machine for the stitches.) Bernina comes with the bells and whistles built in. singer is just too hard to find someone to repair around here- and brother I would have to take back to the major department store that would have to ship it back to japan if it broke down. also because I am a bit less mobile I am learning most of my work by internet, and magazines. in addition it is also an issue of two languages for me. I speak english as my natural language but resources and shops are in german- measurements and costcomparisons are also something to consider if you are in europe. europe is metric quilting by standards are mostly american or old english imperial( inches versus centimeters, fat quaters and yards versus meters.)

lots of fun. Congrats-
Gemma Luscher in switzerland ( you will also find me on the september expecting club. if you're not there I extend an invite wish I could post my siggie but I am on a basic membership here. )