Quilt­ing Ba­sics

Annie's Quilting for the Home - - Contents -

The fol­low­ing is a ref­er­ence guide. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­sult a com­pre­hen­sive quilt­ing book.


• Read through the en­tire pat­tern be­fore you be­gin your pro­ject.

• Pur­chase qual­ity, 100 per­cent cot­ton fab­rics.

• When con­sid­er­ing pre­wash­ing, do so with ALL of the fab­rics be­ing used. Gen­er­ally, pre­wash­ing is not re­quired in quilt­ing.

• Use 1/4" seam al­lowance for all stitch­ing un­less oth­er­wise in­structed.

• Use a short-to-medium stitch length.

• Make sure your seams are ac­cu­rate.

Quilt­ing Tools & Sup­plies

• Ro­tary cut­ter and mat

• Scis­sors for pa­per and fab­ric

• Non­slip quilt­ing rulers

• Mark­ing tools

• Sewing ma­chine

• Sewing ma­chine feet: 1/4” seam­ing foot (for piec­ing) Walk­ing or even-feed foot (for piec­ing or quilt­ing) Darn­ing or free-mo­tion foot (for free-mo­tion quilt­ing)

• Quilt­ing hand-sewing nee­dles

• Straight pins

• Curved safety pins for bast­ing

• Seam rip­per

• Iron and iron­ing sur­face

Ba­sic Tech­niques Ap­pliqué Fusible Ap­pliqué

All tem­plates are re­versed for use with this tech­nique.

1. Trace the in­structed num­ber of tem­plates 1/4" apart onto the pa­per side of pa­per-backed fusible web. Cut apart the tem­plates, leav­ing a mar­gin around each, and fuse to the wrong side of the fab­ric fol­low­ing fusible web man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions.

2. Cut the ap­pliqué pieces out on the traced lines, re­move pa­per back­ing and fuse to the back­ground re­fer­ring to the ap­pliqué mo­tif given.

3. Fin­ish ap­pliqué raw edges with a straight, satin, blan­ket, zigzag or blind-hem ma­chine stitch with match­ing or in­vis­i­ble thread.

Turned-Edge Ap­pliqué

1. Trace the printed re­versed tem­plates onto tem­plate plas­tic. Flip the tem­plate over and mark as the right side.

2. Po­si­tion the tem­plate, right side up, on the right side of fab­ric and lightly trace, spac­ing im­ages 1/2" apart. Cut apart, leav­ing a 1/4" mar­gin around the traced lines.

3. Clip curves and press edges 1/4" to the wrong side around the ap­pliqué shape.

4. Re­fer­ring to the ap­pliqué mo­tif, pin or baste ap­pliqué shapes to the back­ground.

5. Hand-stitch shapes in place us­ing a blind stitch and thread to match or ma­chine-stitch us­ing a short blind hem­stitch and ei­ther match­ing or in­vis­i­ble thread.


Most pat­terns give an ex­act size to cut bor­ders. You may check those sizes by com­par­ing them to the hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal cen­ter mea­sure­ments of your quilt top.

Straight Bor­ders

1. Mark the cen­ters of the side bor­ders and quilt top sides.

2. Stitch bor­ders to quilt top sides with right sides to­gether and match­ing raw edges and cen­ter marks us­ing a 1/4" seam. Press seams to­ward bor­ders.

3. Re­peat with top and bot­tom bor­der lengths.

Mitered Bor­ders

1. Add at least twice the bor­der width to the bor­der lengths in­structed to cut.

2. Cen­ter and sew the side bor­ders to the quilt, be­gin­ning and end­ing stitch­ing 1/4" from the quilt cor­ner and back­stitch­ing (Fig­ure 1). Re­peat with the top and bot­tom bor­ders.

3. Fold and pin quilt right sides to­gether at a 45-de­gree an­gle on one cor­ner (Fig­ure 2). Place a straight­edge along the fold and lightly mark a line across the bor­der ends.

4. Stitch along the line, back­stitch­ing to se­cure. Trim seam to 1/4" and press open (Fig­ure 3).

Quilt Back­ing & Bat­ting

We sug­gest that you cut your back­ing and bat­ting 8" larger than the fin­ished quilt-top size. If pre­par­ing the back­ing from stan­dard-width fab­rics, re­move the sel­vages and sew two or three lengths to­gether; press seams open. If us­ing 108"-wide fab­ric, trim to size on the straight grain of the fab­ric. Pre­pare bat­ting the same size as your back­ing. You can pur­chase prepack­aged sizes or bat­tings by the yard and trim to size.


1. Press quilt top on both sides and trim all loose threads.

2. Make a quilt sand­wich by lay­er­ing the back­ing right side down, bat­ting and quilt top cen­tered right side up on flat sur­face and smooth out. Pin or baste lay­ers to­gether to hold.

3. Mark quilt­ing de­sign on quilt top and quilt as de­sired by hand or ma­chine. Note: If you are send­ing your quilt to a pro­fes­sional quil­ter, con­tact them for specifics about pre­par­ing your quilt for quilt­ing.

4. When quilt­ing is com­plete, re­move pins or bast­ing. Trim bat­ting and back­ing edges even with raw edges of quilt top.

Bind­ing the Quilt

1. Join bind­ing strips on short ends with di­ag­o­nal seams to make one long strip; trim seams to 1/4" and press seams open (Fig­ure 4).

2. Fold 1" of one short end to wrong side and press. Fold the bind­ing strip in half with wrong sides to­gether along length, again re­fer­ring to Fig­ure 4; press.

3. Start­ing about 3" from the folded short end, sew bind­ing to quilt top edges, match­ing raw edges and us­ing a 1/4" seam. Stop stitch­ing 1/4" from cor­ner and back­stitch (Fig­ure 5).

4. Fold bind­ing up at a 45-de­gree an­gle to seam and then down even with quilt edges, form­ing a pleat at cor­ner, re­fer­ring to Fig­ure 6.

5. Re­sume stitch­ing from cor­ner edge as shown in Fig­ure 6, down quilt side, back­stitch­ing 1/4" from next cor­ner. Re­peat, mi­ter­ing all cor­ners, stitch­ing to within 3" of start­ing point.

6. Trim bind­ing end long enough to tuck in­side start­ing end and com­plete stitch­ing (Fig­ure 7).

7. Fold bind­ing to quilt back and stitch in place by hand or ma­chine to com­plete your quilt.

Quilt­ing Terms

• Ap­pliqué: Adding fab­ric mo­tifs to a foun­da­tion fab­ric by hand or ma­chine (see Ap­pliqué sec­tion of Ba­sic Tech­niques).

• Bast­ing: This tem­po­rar­ily se­cures lay­ers of quilt­ing ma­te­ri­als to­gether with safety pins, thread or a spray ad­he­sive in prepa­ra­tion for quilt­ing the lay­ers. Use a long, straight stitch to hand- or ma­chine-stitch one el­e­ment to an­other hold­ing the el­e­ments in place dur­ing con­struc­tion and usu­ally re­moved af­ter con­struc­tion.

• Bat­ting: An in­su­lat­ing ma­te­rial made in a va­ri­ety of fiber con­tents that is used be­tween the quilt top and back to pro­vide ex­tra warmth and loft.

• Bind­ing: A fin­ish­ing strip of fab­ric sewn to the outer raw edges of a quilt to cover them. Straight-grain bind­ing strips, cut on the cross­wise straight grain of the fab­ric (see Straight & Bias Grain Lines il­lus­tra­tion), are com­monly used. Bias bind­ing strips are cut at a 45-de­gree an­gle to the straight grain of the fab­ric. They are used when bind­ing is be­ing added to curved edges.

• Block: The ba­sic quilt­ing unit that is re­peated to com­plete the quilt’s de­sign com­po­si­tion. Blocks can be pieced, ap­pliquéd or solid and are usu­ally square or rec­tan­gu­lar in shape.

• Bor­der: The frame of a quilt’s cen­tral de­sign used to visu­ally com­plete the de­sign and give the eye a place to rest.

• Fab­ric Grain: The fibers that run ei­ther par­al­lel (length­wise grain) or per­pen­dic­u­lar (cross­wise grain) to the fab­ric sel­vage are straight grain. Bias is any di­ag­o­nal line be­tween the length­wise or cross­wise grain. At th­ese an­gles the fab­ric is less sta­ble and stretches eas­ily. The true bias of a wo­ven fab­ric is a 45-de­gree an­gle be­tween the length­wise and cross­wise grain lines. • Mitered Cor­ners: Match­ing bor­ders or turn­ing bind­ings at a 45-de­gree an­gle at cor­ners.

• Patch­work: A gen­eral term for the com­pleted blocks or quilts that are made from smaller shapes sewn to­gether.

• Pat­tern: This may re­fer to the de­sign of a fab­ric or to the writ­ten in­struc­tions for a par­tic­u­lar quilt de­sign.

• Piec­ing: The act of sewing smaller pieces and/or units of a block or quilt to­gether. Pa­per or foun­da­tion piec­ing is sewing fab­ric to a pa­per or cloth foun­da­tion in a cer­tain or­der. String or chain piec­ing is sewing pieces to­gether in a con­tin­u­ous string with­out clip­ping threads be­tween sec­tions.

• Press­ing: Press­ing is the process of plac­ing the iron on the fab­ric, lift­ing it off the fab­ric and plac­ing it down in an­other lo­ca­tion to flat­ten seams or crease fab­ric with­out slid­ing the iron across the fab­ric. Quil­ters do not usu­ally use steam when press­ing, since it can eas­ily dis­tort fab­ric shapes. Gen­er­ally, seam al­lowances are pressed to­ward the darker fab­ric in quilt­ing so that they do not show through the lighter fab­ric. Seams are pressed in op­po­site di­rec­tions where seams are be­ing joined to al­low seams to butt against each other and to dis­trib­ute bulk.

Seams are pressed open when mul­ti­ple seams come to­gether in one place. If you have a ques­tion about press­ing di­rec­tion, con­sult a com­pre­hen­sive quilt­ing guide for guid­ance.

• Quilt (noun): A sand­wich of two lay­ers of fab­ric with a third in­su­lat­ing ma­te­rial be­tween them that is then stitched to­gether with the edges cov­ered or bound.

• Quilt (verb): Stitch­ing sev­eral lay­ers of fab­ric ma­te­ri­als to­gether with a dec­o­ra­tive de­sign. Stip­pling, crosshatch, chan­nel, in-the-ditch, free-mo­tion, allover and me­an­der­ing are all terms for quilt­ing de­signs.

• Quilt sand­wich: A layer of in­su­lat­ing ma­te­rial be­tween a quilt’s top and back fab­ric.

• Ro­tary cut­ting: Us­ing a ro­tary cut­ting blade and straight­edge to cut fab­ric.

• Sash­ing: Strips of fab­ric sewn be­tween blocks to sep­a­rate or set off the de­signs.

• Sub­cut: A se­cond cut­ting of ro­tary-cut strips that makes the ba­sic shapes used in block and quilt con­struc­tion.

• Tem­plate: A pat­tern made from a sturdy ma­te­rial which is then used to cut shapes for patch­work and ap­pliqué quilt­ing.

Quilt­ing Skill Lev­els Begin­ner

A quil­ter who has been in­tro­duced to the ba­sics of cut­ting, piec­ing and as­sem­bling a quilt top and is work­ing to mas­ter th­ese skills. Some­one who has the knowl­edge of how to sand­wich, quilt and bind a quilt, but may not have nec­es­sar­ily ac­com­plished the task yet.

Con­fi­dent Begin­ner

A quil­ter who has pieced and as­sem­bled sev­eral quilt tops and is com­fort­able with the process, and is now ready to move on to more chal­leng­ing tech­niques and projects us­ing at least two dif­fer­ent tech­niques.


A quil­ter who is com­fort­able with most quilt­ing tech­niques and has a good un­der­stand­ing for de­sign, color and the whole process. A quil­ter who is ex­pe­ri­enced in pa­per piec­ing, bias piec­ing and projects in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple tech­niques. Some­one who is con­fi­dent in mak­ing fab­ric selections other than those listed in the pat­tern.


A quil­ter who is look­ing for a chal­leng­ing de­sign. Some­one who knows she or he can make any type of quilt. Some­one who has the skills to read, com­pre­hend and com­plete a pat­tern, and is will­ing to take on any tech­nique. A quil­ter who is com­fort­able in her or his skills and has the abil­ity to se­lect fab­ric suited to the pro­ject.

Fig­ure 4

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