What do you need to know?

I was at the library this week, browsing the quilt books (surprise, surprise), and I came across this one:
I've been talking with a non-quilting friend lately about what quilting is and the types of skills you need to know to make a quilt.  I picked up this book with her in mind (K, if you're reading right now, I'm sorry!), but when I started reading it I was shocked.  It's like looking into history.  Ancient history, it seems, yet it was published in 1998.
I was quilting in 1998, were you?
According to this book, there were so many rules!  Quilts weren't made of solid fabrics, templates were traced and rubber cemented to sand paper. The first fabric you should choose for a project is a large scale multicolored print...  (This sounds so bizarre and antiquated to me now, but I actually did start like that yesterday.  Then I added in a bunch of solids though.)  And she tells people to stay away from fabric with a one way design!  My, how tastes have changed..

In it's defense though, in the forward, Jan Burns compares quilting to "a quiet street you stroll along to savor solitude."  I totally get that. 

One of the things I love about the Modern quilt community is the freedom, the lack of rules and other quilters looking down their nose at you.  But you can't throw everything out the window.  This seems to be a topic I've addressed before, which rules still apply?  Today I want to take it further..

Are you up for a little survey?  If you've got the time, please comment and tell me:

1)  What are 10 skills beginning quilters need to know?
2)  What are the 5 quilting techniques you use most often?
3)  What are 5 quilt techniques you want to learn how to do?

Thanks for your help.  To show my appreciation, I made a little bottle cap pincushion which I'll sent to one lucky commenter next week.  I'll also tally the results and tell you my answers for #2 and #3. 
Can't wait to hear what you all have to say!
It came out cute, didn't it?  Such a quick and gratifying project, I may have to make more.

I am determined to turn K into a quilter.  She has a great eye for fabric.. now if only I can get her to cut it up and sew it back together...


  1. I love the sashiko behind the pin cushion. I don't know about the survey answers, but I'll think about it and maybe comment later.

  2. 1) What are 10 skills beginning quilters need to know? 1. Measure twice, cut once. Measure carefully. 2. Close your rotary blade cutter after each use (unless it closes automatically. 3. Try someone's tools before you buy your own. 4. Know where your fingers are on the ruler before you cut. 5. The size of the unit in a block matters. Make sure your seam allowance is correct, so your units come out the right size, and you can easily sew them together for a block. Unless you are crazy piecing. 6. Know how to clean your sewing machine, change needles and feet. 7. Buy your machine from a dealer, so you can learn how to do #6, and they will service and repair your machine, and you can go back and ask questions. 8. Have fun! 9. Practice. Quilting is a skill that will give you much pleasure. You won't be perfect right away. 10. Sew with friends when you can. It's much more fun.
    2) What are the 5 quilting techniques you use most often?
    1. rotary cutting. 2. piecing units and blocks 3. free motion quilting. 4. binding. 5. designing
    3) What are 5 quilt techniques you want to learn how to do
    1. foundation piecing. 2 traditional hand quilting. 3. EPP (have knowledge, haven't done it yet). 4. sashiko. 5. cathedral windows.

  3. 1. Fabric is your choice-100% cotton the best you can afford.
    2-4. A rotary cutter, mat and at least one 6 1/2 by 12 1/2" template design for the rotary cutter
    5. Cotton thread
    6 small hand sewing needles like size 10
    7. pins
    8. Start with a charm pack, especially if you are not ready for #2-4
    9 Sorry it is 1/4" seam. I open mine when pressing. The bulk will be less and it will help when you quilt. If you ever had staled needle on the longarm, you would so know why I take the time to do this step.
    10.good quilt book

    1. good book of ideas of patterns to quilt your quilt helps.
    2. chalk,
    3. Open your seams. It will lay flatter .
    4. can of spray glue for quilting. Vent the room and spray on batting only.
    5. Warm and natural 100% cotton is easier on you hands in hand quilting and quilt much better on the longarm and home machine.
    I would like to learn to have a more detail professional look on the quilting using the longarm.
    How to sell my quilts for profit.

  4. 1. Top Skills a Beginner Needs in no particular order): 1. 1/4" seam allowances & 1/4" foot for sewing machine 2. pressing fabric 3. what bias is 4. how to sew blocks together & match up seams 5. cutting fabric using a rotary cutter-there is more skill involved than meets the eye 6. basic vocab that quilters use beyond seams, such as UFO (there are many more I see on blogs but that's the first one that I learned which took me forever to figure out!) 7. get a good heavy iron-not so much a skill as a need 8. start with easy block or strip quilts that can be completed quickly to not get discouraged 9. classes are great but most of us learn the most at 11pm in our sewing room when we are at our wits end :) 10. correctly turning a corner when putting binding on 11. buy more fabric than you think you'll need or what the pattern calls for-you're bound to measure twice & still goof it up at least once (or is that just me?)

    2. Quilting techniques I use most often: 1. strip quilting 2. turning the corner when putting binding on 3. applique stitching on my sewing machine 4. squaring up a finished block 5. chain piecing

    These would be my opinion only! My techniques to learn right now all revolve around my new longarm machine.

  5. Top Skills
    1. How to sew a straight seam on the sewing machine, 1/4 inch is best
    2. How to cut using a rotary blade
    3. basic quilting lingo- 1/4 in seam,chain piecing, blocks , sashing, basting etc
    4. how to press using an iron and not iron as clothing and stretch the fabric
    5. how to find suitable fabric for quilting, 100% cotton is best for beginners
    6 how to layer a quilt- top, batting and backing
    7 how to bind the edges
    8 how to build a stash of fabric - how much to buy in the beginning
    9 how to have patience- sewing together lots of small pieces eventually turns into a large quilt
    10 its okay to make mistakes, that is how we learn and the quilt police wont come to your door

    Skills I use the most: chain piecing, leaders and enders, cutting scraps to usable sizes, crumb piecing, glue basting

    I would like to learn how to foundation or paper piece this year, how to improve my free motion quilting and how to finish the edges of my hexagon quilt when I get to that point.

  6. Beginning quilters should:
    1. Aim for accuracy, whether by hand or machine.
    2. Buy good quality fabric and thread.
    3. Have a few dependable working tools...sharp scissors and rotary cutter, 9' by 12' ruler, 18' cutting mat.
    4. Work in good lighting
    5. Have a user-friendly sewing machine...nothing too complicated.
    6. Pressing surface to suit space and size needed. I like my little June Tailor and my Black & Decker travel iron best.
    7. Find a good quilt teacher, who will teach basics in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
    8. Join a small minigroup of quilters who have a variety of skills and are glad to share.
    9. Set aside time and space for your creative endeavor.
    10. Be warned that quilting is very addictive and incurable, besides.

    My most used skills are hand piecing and applique, machine chain piecing, rotary cutting, binding, and finding quilt friends!

    I still would like to learn to do awesome FMQ, but I doubt that will ever happen...

  7. Beginning quilters need the following skills:
    1. sewing quarter inch seams
    2. using a rotary cutter
    3. measuring and squaring fabric for cutting with rotary
    4. using an iron to press seams in either direction
    5. basting a quilt
    6. know how to follow a quilt pattern/diagram
    7. stitch in the ditch
    8. machine quilting (either free motion or straight lines)
    9. how to prepare binding (cutting and folding)
    10. how to sew on a binding

    The five quilting techniques I use most often are:
    1. piecing with pre-cuts
    2. free motion machine quilting
    3. hand applique (needle turn)
    4. hand quilting (perle cotton or embroidery thread)
    5. english paper piecing

    Five techniques I would like to learn how to do:
    1. landscape quilting
    2. painted applique
    3. foundation paper piecing
    4. cathedral window blocks
    5. precision piecing (getting those points to line up perfectly!)

  8. Top beginning quilting skills:
    1. How to shop for fabric. It's o.k. to break the rules and just buy fabric you fall in love with. But if you are beginning, you will have much greater success if you do stick with 100% cotton.
    2. How much fabric to buy. My girlfriend taught me that when in doubt, buy three yards. Can't tell you how many times I have chosen a fabric I loved and had absolutely no idea how or where I was going to use it. It's o.k.! Just walk up to the nice lady at the cutting counter and pretend that you know what you are doing while you say to her "I'll take three yards please!"
    3. Buy yourself some nice sewing scissors and guard them from the rest of your family. Use them to cut fabric only--no paper. If hiding does not work, put a padlock through the handles! (Just make sure you can find the key!)
    4. Learn how to use a rotary cutter and ruler.

    1. 5. Learn how to socialize! Best thing ever is if you can find a quilt guild filled with fun, friendly people and start attending. Watch their show and tells. Ask them questions about things they did that you like. You will gain friends and a whole bunch of tutors who will LOVE to help you!.
      6. Useful if you know how to thread a needle, but if you do not your tutors from the quilt guild will teach you.
      7. Good idea if you know how to run a washing machine so you can preshrink fabric, but if you don't you can learn.
      8. Know how to iron the wrinkles out--but once again, you can learn!
      9. Being able to sew a straight seam by hand or machine is helpful--but you can always learn!
      10. MOST IMPORTANT SKILL--know how to laugh and to have fun. Life is never perfect and never will be. Take the blessings you have been given and make something beautiful--imperfections and all!

      Skills I use the most:
      1. Threading a needle--machine or hand.
      2. Sewing a straight seam on my machine
      3. Rotary cutting
      4. Measuring with a quilting ruler
      5. Attending fun block of the months at local quilt shop with a friend!

      Skills I would like to learn:
      1. Would LOVE to be able to do patterns such as a fan pattern

    2. Sorry for so many separate comments! My keyboard keeps jamming up and refusing to type! I would also LOVE LOVE LOVE to learn 2. How to do a cathedral window quilt, 3. how to do anything with curved seams, 4. how to paper piece, 5. how to make star points match!

  9. What are 10 skills beginning quilters need to know?
    1) How to sew a straight 1/4" seam
    2) Pressing (I prefer to press open for the flatter top, but it's really personal preference)
    3) Measuring and rotary cutting
    4) How to thread your machine
    5) Straight line quilting - easiest for beginners
    6) Basting
    7) How to make and attach binding
    8) Squaring up a quilt
    9) Remembering to add 1/2" for seam allowances (or remove them if you're playing around with the proportions of a block before you start to add, multiply and divide)
    10) Basic color theory (even if that's just laying out the fabrics you think you want to use before you start cutting to see if there's something missing or if it's going to be too much)

    What are the 5 quilting techniques you use most often?
    1) HSTs (2-in-1 is my preferred, but 4-in-1 seems pretty easy as well)
    2) Rotary cutting
    3) Precision piecing
    4) Adjusting patterns up or down depending on what size quilt I want to make
    5) Chain piecing

    What are 5 quilt techniques you want to learn how to do?
    1) Free motion quilting
    2) Y Seams
    3) Bias binding
    4) Binding curved/irregular edges (see #3)
    5) Improv piecing (my OCD gets in the way)

    Two things I would say to a beginning quilter: block of month and sampler quilts are great ways to learn many different quilting techniques, just have fun with it - quilting is what you make it

  10. 1) What are 10 skills beginning quilters need to know?
    How to find a quiet corner to play in.
    How to find people to learn from.
    How to sew a straight line.
    How to use a sewing machine.
    How to sew an consistent seam.
    How to follow a pattern.
    How to cut -- scissors, rotary or whatever.
    When and how to not follow a pattern.
    How to choose a project.
    How to just go on and have a go trying it.
    How to pick yourself up, move on, and try again without fretting.

    2) What are the 5 quilting techniques you use most often?
    Chain piecing
    Quick piecing
    Free motion quilting

    3) What are 5 quilt techniques you want to learn how to do?
    Sewing curves
    Sewing Y seams
    Actually following a pattern from start to finish rather than getting sidetracked and "improving" it...
    Appliqué by hand

  11. 1. Learn your sewing machines basics at the very least and learn to have confidence in using it.
    2. Accept there will be mistakes made and dont be put off by them, use them as learning steps.
    3. Start on small projects to gain confidence and blossom from there ( still trying to do that myself, the blossoming that is!)
    3. Read various methods of doing things or find someone who can show you 'how to ' do things and then find your best way of achieving the result your hoping for.
    4. Don't set out to be a perfectionist! If it happens then BONUS but if not, potter on until you reach a result that your happy with even if it doesn't win Quilt Awards. Hand made by you can be just as meaningful.
    5. Use good quality fabrics and - threads certainly BUT dont waste used fabrics, recycling is the very essence of practical sewing surely? Its where the tradition of rugs and quilts came from, using up fabrics they had to hand? You may not need a Fine Art Quilt to snuggle into afterall : )
    6. Buy yourself good quality scissors
    7. Buy and USE new needles in your machine and for hand stitching. No point - scuse the pun! keeping them for best.
    8. Invest in a cutting mat and a rotary cutter too and learn how to use both
    9. Dont be intimidated by the successes of others, You CAN accomplish much if you peresevere.
    10. Don't throw away those mistakes you made along the way. later you may have a use for them.
    If only to compare how well your doing and to have abelly laugh over!

    Quilting techniques I use most often

    1. Log cabin and a scrappy, skew whiff version of the design
    2. Hexi's
    3. Made fabrics ie. crazyily patched together scraps to make up a fabric piece
    4. Dresdens
    5 and more Hexis!

    What would I like to learn what to do?

    1. Self discipoline to stick to a pattern - or recipe for that matter!
    2. Stitching curves proficiently
    3. How to cut fabrics carefully ensuring I reduce the wastage
    4. How to manage my time more effectively
    5. Id like to learn to - NOT start another project before I've finished the one ( or two) I'm already doing


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