Ugh what do I need to make a quilt?

mountain_ladyJune 6, 2012

I am so lost of what I will need to make this work. I have NEVER in my life picked up a needle and tried to sew anything. I have never played with this kind of craft.

I have been a stay at home mom for the last 19 yrs. make long story short, my kids are gone on their owns and I am bored. My husband don't believe woman should work outside the home. So I havent had a job in almost 20 yrs. My place is home with my family caring for our home. Other then with just the 2 of us there isnt much for me to do. So I got a wild hair and thought I would really like to make a blanket for our bed. I know that I dont have the skill yet to do a big blanket yet so thought, Hmmm I will quit some sofa pillows.

I bought less then a yard and came home. cut out some blocks and started hand sewing them together. 1st 2 rows looked great. put it away came back to it. cut more and started sewing. Went to put them together and the 2nd ones I cut are smaller then the 1st ones. What are things that I will Need to make this work. I am asking you all because the town we live by dont have a craft store and where I got my stuff to start this the kid who cut my stuff had No idea what I was talking about.

thanks again

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First, may I ask questions? You said no craft store but it had a store with fabric so what kind of store is available? Do you have a sewing machine or can you get/borrow one? Are there any classes available to you? A clue to your location might bring more ideas.

To start, a person needs a few tools such as a quilting ruler and rotary cutter. This speeds up the process and makes things come out the same size. Next you need a pattern that is very simple. You need to be able to sew pieces together so that the seam allowance is always 1/4". That makes them come out the same size, too. You can do it by hand so don't be intimidated by the fact we all use sewing machines.

You have a computer and the internet so you might start with UTube. There are demonstrations and lessons for every aspect of quilting. Below is one example but when you open it, you will see down the right side all sorts of other videos that show you have to do lots of quilting things. You can do a search at the top for specific things you don't understand and watch those videos.

We'll all give you lots of advice as you go. Start with something small and you'll make it. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: quilt piecing

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome to the forum!

If we knew what block you are using for the pillow it would be easier to help you. Sounds like maybe you cut the second ones a different size??

Linda gave excellent advice - there is a lot out on the Net to help new quilters.

Many well known pro's piece by hand!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 2:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Mountain Lady! Welcome welcome.....if you've never used a rotary cutter, please learn the correct way to use it so you aren't hurting yourself. Cut 'away' from your body. I think a self-healing mat 18"X24" is a good size for a beginner to learn on along with a 45mm rotary cutter. But, it's all in a quilter's preferance on the size they use. Maybe a beginning quilters book would help if there isn't a class nearby.

Be brave and plunge right in!


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 3:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You have certainly come to the right place to ask questions. This forum has a wealth of information and we are always happy to help if we can.Welcome!

I would suggest a visit to the library might be helpful. There are hundreds of quilting books, but Alex Anderson's Everything First-Time Quilters Need to Succeed; 8 Quick Projects--Most in 4 Sizes or Fons & Porter's Quilter's Complete Guide might help identify the tools/supplies you need, as well as some easy patterns. If you can't find them at the library, they are available online.

One of the things I would also recommend is to be really careful about your cutting. If you can be very accurate, it will certainly help you get more consistent finished pieces.

Good luck and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 3:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you like visuals, pick up a quilt magazine the next time you are at the grocery store. The beautiful pictures will inspire you and give you lots of ideas. Flip to the back of the magazine and see if there are some basic quilting instructions. Some of the magazines do this and it would give you a good start. I think McCalls is one that gives those kinds of tips.

Watch this video on cutting with a mat, rotary cutter and ruler: Beginning Quilting: CUTTING. You can order sets on line from and lots of other places.

Don't feel badly when the first couple things you make don't look the way you wanted them to. It's a learning process and it's worth the time. We are all still learning and that's part of the fun too. You'll be producing beautiful blocks very quickly.

Once you get the hang of cutting and piecing (either by hand or by machine) don't be afraid of a large project like a bed quilt. A lot of what we make is done in 12" blocks - pillow sized! You piece a bunch of 12" square blocks, then just sew them all together. A big quilt is really no more difficult than a 12 inch block.

Come back often and ask lots of questions!


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 4:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome! And don't let one mistake discourage you. Most of us all have years of quilting behind us and we still make mistakes every day. Don't try to be perfect, the quilt police don't know where you live yet. Go online or to the library and look at how-to instructions. If you don't want to invest a lot of money in it yet, use the old-fashioned scissors method, but if you can, a cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter will make life easier for you. If you don't have a sewing machine, practice piecing by hand. Keep it simple at first. And have fun with it.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 4:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome mountain_lady!

My first quilt was all handmade. It was a baby quilt for my daughter and I embroidered pictures onto the blocks, hand pieced it and hand quilted it. It was not perfect, all of the seams didn't exactly match but I learned from it. My next quilt was a queen sized bed quilt and it was much better....we still use it and I pieced it 24 years ago...but don't ask me how long it took to handquilt it
We are a friendly bunch and enjoy helping out our fellow quilters so please come back often!

Mary in Ontario, Canada

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 5:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I want to thank you all for the warm welcomes .

Someone asked me where I am at. When I live in eastern Montana. ( as my kids tell me Out in the middle of NOwhere) We are 54 miles from a small town with a small craft store, We are 38 miles from other place and 23 miles from other one . Where I bought my stuff to get started was in the town closest to us. that store is more like a general store. ( has just about everything).

When I cut my 1st 2 rows , they where cut at 3in. My next set was all started out at 3in but some how I think I ended up cuting some smaller by a 1/4 of inch. I am hand sewing them together. trying to keep all my sewing the same. as i said in my 1st post I have never picked up a needle or done anything like this.
What made me think I could do this was that I really wanted a New look for our bedroom but I wanted it to be something that I made. I Dont have a sewing mechine. But If I like this I will get one.

I want to thank you all for the input and when I go to town next time I will pick up some of the things that I need to do this . thinking that fabic tape and scissor method isnt working very well.
thanks again ladies

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome to the forum, Mountain Lady. Several years ago we drove Highway 2 from the Idaho border all the way to North Dakota. What a huge state, and now I know why they call it Big Sky Country.

I hope you are able to find the rotary cutter and mat in your towns. They will really help make quilting an enjoyable experience for you. Keep us posted on your progress.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 12:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am also in a small town about 1 hour from Savannah, Georgia so I shop online a lot!
I am not a big fan of buying fabrics from JoAnn's online because some of their fabrics I have ordered were poor quality.
BUT, I like their 40% &50% off coupons or sales with free shipping.
When I first started quilting I had a cheapy straight stitch only machine to learn on.
Actually for about 20 years lol!!! I also use our online library system to have books delivered to our tiny library. You know you live in a small town when the libarian says, 'you have ordered that book before' lol!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: JoAnnCrafts

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes you have to love the Big Sky. just long way from anything. Heck for me to go to the City it takes 5 1/2 hours one way. So make a two day trip. drive down, get a motel, do some shopping, stay over night, get up with the chickens go to costco , come home.

Understand, that is what they tell me when I go in for books. got to the point that I started to just buy books. If my husband ever tills me we have to move out of our house I will hate to pack them all up.

I will look at JoAnn's online and see what I can find . I thank you all and will let you know what I come up with.

Now it just looks like 3 in blocks in a checkboard thinking of added more to this. Heck it would be Nice to make this into something that can lay on the back of the sofa. And knowing myself , I Never make anything small. Everything always comes out over Sized...

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mountain Lady, Many many years ago, one of my daughters started to make a quilt. After one block she decided this wasn't for her so it ended up a potholder. lol


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mountain Lady, if you want to change the look of your 3" checkerboard blocks, try putting a different block between them. An unpieced block, in between your pieced blocks, will give one look. Or you can do a block called a 'quarter square triangle' in between your pieced blocks. That's just a square done in 4 sections like an hourglass. Try drawing some things out and see what appeals to you.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 9:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I will try that thank you...

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't think anyone mentioned the least expensive way to do all of this. You can made a pattern template and trace around it each time you cut out a square of your fabric so they can all be the same size. All you need is something to draw it on (even cardboard from a cereal box), a good ruler (on this, I would definitely encourage you to get a small quilting ruler, maybe 4 x 4" or 6 x 6", a pencil, and a pair of scissors. In fact, if you want to make your blocks the size of your small quilt ruler, you can simply draw your lines around that. Keep in mind that you will have a 1/4" seam on each side, so a 6 x 6" ruler will leave you will completed blocks that are 5 1/2 x 5 1/2." That takes care of cutting the fabric squares the same size. You can also measure in 1/4" inch on each side and draw a light line to guide your sewing. Doing both of those should correct the difference in size that you experienced. You will be quilting like our ancestors did and there is nothing wrong with that!
The first quilt class I ever took had us do everything by hand. You may enjoy it, you may not. Obviously those of us who visit the board regularly, really enjoy quilting and bought the more permanent supplies especially made for quilters.
Best of luck and come back if we can help or you need clarification on what was said.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 9:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good for you for starting a new hobby. I hope you love it. Just remember that your seam allowances must be the same each time because if one is a little "off," your pieces won't match too well. You can gently press them to the side with the iron.

You might want to see if you can find a piece of plastic or something harder for your pattern. Cardboard can sometimes get smaller over use. But your best bet would be the mat, ruler and rotary cutter. I agree with the 18x24 mat and be sure to get a long ruler, 24" as well.

Have fun!!!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I learned something today. because of where we live we are out in the middle of No where. We have about 1000 ac of land and are around some older farmers . I made a phone call to one of the ladies that lives to the west of us. I asked her if she could look at my blocking and tell me what I was doing wrong. I ended up driving over there and having some good Idea's added to all the stuff you Ladies have told me . I also got to look at some quilts that are little over 100 years old. Plus some newer ones. But each quilt that I looked at I was In Aww over the workman ship of them. The 1st one she made was back in the late 30's or 40's .(She couldnt remember) everything was done by hand just like I am trying to do. But the blocking is just wonderful. I liked the storys that went with each one.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 2:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How lucky to be able to see those quilts and hear the stories. Good that she's there to help guide you along. Maybe you can have a couple sew-in classes....that would be fun.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Now you know you have a quilter living near you! That's the best help and inspiration any of us could have. You are very fortunate to have her nearby.

Many of us started quilting back in the 70's and 80's and began by making cardboard templates for our block patterns. I still have some of my early templates tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

All the best!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 9:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How I would have loved being in the room with that neighbor lady looking at all the old quilts and hearing about them!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 9:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

She Don't quilt any more she is in her Mid 80's. And her Sight its the best, For sewing ( her words)

But It was helpful to have her tell me things that I could do to make this all work out. She told me any time that I want to come out and bring my work over she would look at it . I plan on doing that . Even if it is to have a cup of coffee and listen to the storys.

She has lived out in the part of montana all her life and knows that its hard to just get to town. (also Her words)
heck she even told me when our house was builted. And the 1st people that lived out here. Things that you learn from folks that have worked the land all their lives.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 6:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You sound like me when I first started. I did all my sewing by hand - both piecing the blocks and quilting - because I didn't have a machine, and used scissors because I didn't have (and was sort of afraid) of a rotary cutter. (still am, mostly!!).

I found that measuring before sewing was the most important part or else squares and edges won't line up. The measuring is key.

Jeanne's suggestion to make templates is a great one, and something I used a lot. I used to draw both the outer measuring 1/4" line AND the inner sewing line that I would match up on 2 squares, then sew together.

I have eventually gotten myself a machine because I found that hand-sewing just didn't hold up that well under alot of washing, for those items that were meant to be used (and therefore washed) a lot. So I machine sew the blocks together now, although I still like to quilt by hand whenever possible. I like the old-school feeling it can give to a quilt, something handmade that helps to connect you to a past where this was a much more common skill.

This forum is a great resource ... I learned just about everything I know about quilting here, from reading all sorts of posts and also from asking my own questions. Everyone is really helpful and patient with beginner's questions :) Also, the block lottos are a great activity to join ... they encourage/force you to try new block patterns and designs, so you can get a lot of experience that way ... only 1-3 blocks at a time ... and you start feeling more comfortable with your skills and ability to make a block when you start making more this way. Plus, there is always the possibility of winning the lotto!

I still get by ok without using my rotary cutter all that often (it is very sharp and I've heard so many horror stories that it scares me, lol). I think a good plastic ruler is essential. I only have a 12" but I'd really like a longer one. If you're going to buy one, get a longer one. A cutting mat is nice too, they have measurements on them to help you out. Also they have some really nice square quilters rulers to help you make half-square triangles and other shapes for quilt blocks. I don't have any of those either yet, but one or two are next on my "to buy" list, so if you see any of those ... they might help get everything the right size too.

My first couple squares looked absolutely AWFUL :) But you learn from your mistakes, and get better!! And it is an amazing feeling when you finish your first (couple) projects ... especially if they are made to be used and you can actually curl up underneath or on top of them!!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 6:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you're interested in getting notions, my sister, niece and I just came from JoAnn Fabric...50% off rotarys, blades, mats and a lot of other coupon needed! I have no idea if it applies for online, but at 50% off, couldn't hurt to look! If I wasn't so tired, I would have bought more than I did.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 9:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thank you all. I havent worked on my quilt in a few days. I am think it has been almost a week. Have to love the farm life. But it looks like it will rain today so I am sure that I will have time to stop and look at my blocking. But that all comes after I find away to keep cows out of my chicken coop.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 9:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I sent you an email just now. Best of luck with your quilting.

Best to you,

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 5:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Mountain-Lady. I just sent you an email and asked you some questions. I just read some of your older post and now have the answers! Ha ha, you say that you rarely make anything that "doesn't turn out big." That is funny. However, if you could control yourself and just sew nine pretty squares together by hand (I would trace around homemade cardboard templates) then sandwich it with batting and a backing fabric and finally simply hand quilt it, you could make an entire small quilt and hopefully be happy with your success and process. I sometimes still piece and quilt by hand like the pioneer women did and enjoy it very much!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 7:50PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
2015 March Block Lotto
Welcome to the March Block Lotto! The lotto is open...
Are you quilting this weekend? Feb. 20-22
I have been cross-stitching a birdhouse bookmark for...
March 2015 Quilting/Sewing Goals
Our March came in like a lamb. How about where you...
Selecting fabric - need opinions
Hi! I'm working on a black and white quilt. Each...
Fun idea, but need help.
I am an occasional, novice, quilter and am making a...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™