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Quilting is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it can also be overwhelming if you're just starting out. Here are some of our favourite tips that will help make your first quilting project easier:
1. Take a class.
The best way to learn how to quilt is by taking a class, even if you're already a seasoned sewer. A quick google search can help you find local quilting classes offered in your area. Classes may be offered by community colleges, or even local fabric stores. Taking a class will help you avoid bad habits that can cost you time and money in the long run, and it's also just plain fun! If you're looking for a cost effective alternative, there are many educational videos on YouTube that explain how to piece an entire quilt top. Video tutorials are also great because they let you work at your own pace!
2. Use a rotary cutter to cut your fabric.
Using a rotary cutter will ensure you get the most accurate cuts possible. As someone who struggles cutting straight lines with scissors, rotary cutters are the best option for cutting straight lines. Make sure that you use a sharp blade as a dull blade won't work as well and can damage your fabric. Always remember to use the safety guard when not cutting so that no one accidentally gets hurt from its sharp edge.
3. Measure carefully, then measure again.
It's easy to think you've measured something when you haven't, or that the tape measure is off by 1/8 inch (it happens!). If you measure incorrectly and cut your fabric too short then you'll end up spending more money replacing the fabric that you miss cut. This is a simple step and will help save time and frustration later on in the project.
4. Always iron your fabric pieces before you sew them together.
Ironing is a key step in any quilting project. It’s fundamental to making your project look professional, and it makes sewing easier because the fabric will lay flat and move smoothly under your presser foot as you sew. Always iron your fabric before you cut it or pin it together, especially if you are using new fabric—the heat from the iron will help set those stubborn creases!
5. Use the right iron temperature.
Along with ironing, its important to use the right temperature! The right iron temperature depends on the type of fabric you're working with, and even then, some fabrics can be more finicky than others. Don't use too much pressure when ironing. You should see steam coming out of the cushion on top of your iron; if there isn't any steam coming from that cushion, turn up your heat setting or refill your water chamber until you do see steam—but don't leave your iron on the fabric for too long either: 10-20 seconds should be plenty for most lightweight fabrics; anything heavier needs more time.
6. Try snipping threads as you go, instead of trimming them all at the end.
Trimming your threads as you go is faster and easier than taking out the scissors once everything is sewn together, especially if you're using lots of fabric scraps that are small in size. Just remember that when you're clipping threads, make sure not to cut them too short—those bits will be hard to sew through! Also make sure not to clip any threads that are holding pieces together; those can come loose with no warning!
7. Buy quality fabric.
Your fabric doesn't need to be super expensive, designer fabric to be good quality. A good rule of thumb is the best you can afford is always the best for your projects. If it's a scrap quilt or something for charity, then use whatever scraps available, but if it's something special, like a wedding present or gifts for family and friends, then you may want it to be made with high quality materials so they will appreciate them in years ahead.
8. Replace your needle.
Needles are inexpensive and easy to find, so don't be afraid to change them when they become dull. A dull needle will cause your machine to drag, which can lead to skipped stitches or tangled threads in your quilt top.
You'll also want to replace needles that have been used for a long time—every six to eight hours of sewing time is recommended. Over time, the eye at the end of the needle wears out and allows fabric fibers through instead of catching them on its sharp point as it should. To avoid this problem (and save yourself some frustration), always start each project with a new needle!
9. Look after your sewing machine so you don't cause problems later on.
Here are some basic maintenance tips:
- Use a lint brush to remove hair, dust and thread from the machine.
- Change the needle often and use the right needle for your fabric type.
- Vacuum your machine with a small hand-held vacuum cleaner or using canned air to blow out lint after each use.
- Oil the machine regularly and keep it away from direct sunlight
- Cover your machine while not in use to protect it from dust, dirt and moisture.
10. It's ok to leave your seams slightly less than perfect.
Even if you're a seasoned sewer, it's OK to leave your seams slightly less than perfect.
I know that you want to get everything right on your first attempt, but sewing is a skill that takes time and practice to learn. If you remember this one thing, it will help keep your mind at ease: any mistakes can always be fixed later! So relax and enjoy the process of making something beautiful for yourself. You'll get better with time and practice!
We hope these tips help you, and that you enjoy your new hobby as much as we do!