Basics: Quilts and Hand Quilting

This page is a work in progress. I will be adding to it as time goes by:

Quilt Sizes

Sizes vary depending on mattress size, the length of drop (if any), whether it is to be used as comforter, coverlet or bedspread and so on. The following is only a rough guide:

Baby:  30 x 40 inches

Pram: 25 x 33 inches

Swaddle:  48 x 48 inches

Crib:  Varies from 36 – 45 cms wide and 45- 54 in length 30×35 (2.6” x 2’ 11”)

Cot: 38 x 52 inches

Car Seat: 25 x 80 inches

Stroller/Push chair:  36 x 36 inches

Toddler quilt/playmat: 38 x 48 inches

Lap Quilt: – Varies in size from 54 – 64 inches in width and 68-76 inches in length. 58×76 (4.10 x 6’ 4”)

Throw: 50 X 65 inches

Twin/Single:  Varies from 56-64 inches in width and 84-100 inches in length

Double/Full:  Varies from 70 – 80 inches in width and 84-100 inches in length

Queen: Varies from 76 -84 inches in width and 90 – 104 inches in length

King: Varies from 90 – 100 inches in width and 90 – 104 inches in length

Wall quilt (small) – About 24 inches square but could be any size really.

 

Some Useful Measurements:

 Fat Quarter = 18″ x 21″ or 46 x 54 centimeters

Half Yard = 18″ x 44″ or 46 x 112 centimeters

Yard = 36″ x 44″ or 92 x 112 centimeters

1/4 yd = 0.25m

1 5/8 yd = 1.50m

3 yd = 2.75m

3/8 yd = 0.35m

1 3/4 yd = 1.60m

3 1/8 yd = 2.9m

1/2 yd = 0.50m

1 7/8 yd = 1.75m

3 1/4 yd = 3m

5/8 yd = 0.60m

2 yd = 1.85m

3 1/4 yd = 3m

3/4 yd = 0.70m

2 1/8 yd = 1.95m

3 3/8 yd = 3.1m

7/8 yd = 0.80m

2 1/4 yd = 2.10m

3 1/2 yd = 3.2m

1 yd = 0.95m

2 3/8 yd = 2.2m

 3 5/8 yd = 3.35m

1 1/8 yd = 1.05m

2 1/2 yd = 2.3m

3 3/4 yd = 3.45m

1 1/4 yd = 1.15m

2 5/8 yd = 2.4m

3 7/8 yd = 3.55 m 

1 3/8 yd = 1.30m

2 3/4 yd = 2.55m

4 yd = 3.7m

 

Quilting Tools

45 mm rotary cutter for trimming blocks and cutting fabric

60 mm rotary cutter for cutting batting

Fiskars cutting mats are good. Biggest and best is 18×24”. Store away from heat and light and keep flat.

A tape measure with imperial and metric measures (one that will not stretch).

Seam allowance marker

Design board – grey flannel is good for making your own. Basting spray makes it stickier.

A seam ripper is useful to hold down pieces as you sew and to keep heat from your fingers.

Marking Tools

Chalk pencils

Hera marker to crease lines on fabric

Hard pencil for fine clean line around templates

Soft pencil for marking quilting patterns.

Fine permanent fabric pen for writing labels

Masking tape – low tack for marking straight lines

Tailors chalk works but it can blur – it washes out easily, though

Scissors

Large fabric scissors for cutting fabric. Fiskars is a good brand

Smaller scissors for cutting paper pieces

Pinking shears – these help prevent fraying

Snips – short scissors for stray threads and dog ears

Pins

Quilter’s pins are extra long  so they are easy to handle.

The short appliqué pins are useful to hold pieces together when hand piecing.

 Safety pins, if used, should be sharp, rust proof and about an inch long.

Thread for Piecing/Sewing

Cream, white, beige and grey in good quality cotton to start with.  Use beige or grey for mulicoloured fabric; it will blend into the background.

Thread for hand sewing 50 w in soft green gray or beige is useful to have.

White 100% cotton Essential Thread by Connecting Threads is good for QAYG

Glue

Fabric Glues come in liquid, solid (as in glue stick) and spray form and can be used for attaching embellishments, as a temporary adhesive for basting fabric together, or for holding the layers of a quilt together temporarily while quilting.

Rulers

An accurate 4 inch, 6 inch, 12 inch and 18inch ruler. 

Wedge rules are available in a variety of degrees.

3×34 or 6×24 for cutting batting and fabric

9 1/2 or 12 1/2 to square up blocks

Suction pads or grips for rulers

Templates

Templates can be made from Freezer paper, plastic, card or plain paper

Templates can be bought made of thick paper, coard or Mylar

Graph paper is useful for planning and designing your own blocks and shapes

Basting Needles/Pins

Long darner needles are useful for basting or when layering fabrics together

Curved safety pins can make basting easier if you choose not to baste with thread.

A size 8 or 9 Sharps needle or Straw needle can be used for basting.

Basting spray as a temporary adhesive

Needles For Fine Hand quilting

For fine quilting use Between needles, very short, fine needles with a round eye. Their diameter is the same as a Sharp but they are shorter in length to allow quick and even stitching and make the fine hand stitches favoured by quilters. Sizes range from 5-12 but size 7 or 8 are best for a beginner.

For fine hand quilting try between needles size 8 to 11, Size 10 Sharps or a Between for beginner hand quilting. It is possible to get a Big Eye quilting needle in a size 10.

Thread for Fine Hand quilting

Gutermann cotton hand quilting thread.

Perle cotton in size 12 or 16

Threads for Big Stitch quilting

You need a thicker quilting thread for these utility stitches:

Perle cotton 8 or 9 (not the traditional quilting thread) is used for Utility or Big Stitch Quilting so that the stitches stand out. It can take stitches up to quarter of and inch. Use a larger, thicker needle.  Use Perle cotton in  sizes 16, 12 for bigger visible stitches.

A slightly darker shade than the background gives the illusion of depth. Need cooler that acts as a shadow to sink into the background. Best colours are cream, dark cream, light or dark grey, tan, black and navy.

Try quilting with crochet cottons

Embroidery threads – would have to  use all six – not very durable

Use Quilting wax to coat thread. It prevents tangling and fraying

Needles for Big Stitch quilting

Chenille needle size 22 or 24 or embroidery needle size 5.

For Big Stitch quilting and tying use betweens size 3 and 5, Chenille size 22 and 24, Sharpes size 3 and 5 or a Sashiko needle

Needle for Kantha Quilting

Use Millinery  needle – longest round eyed needle grab for running stitches in particular

Hand Quilting

Design the quilting to fit the theme of the quilt.

Tip – photograph the finished quilts – print a large copy. Then use marker pens to try different quilt patterns on the images. Try different spacings and combinations of lines to create interesting patterns. Alternative put a piece of tracing paper over your screen and draw on your lines.

Some Easy Ways to Hand Quilt

In the Ditch – Stitch along dead centre of seam lines of pieced sections. Adds puffiness but hides stitches in piecing seams.

provides stability to sections of the quilt before adding additional quilting but doesn’t enhance the design.

Meandering and straight line quilting provides unity , creates texture and showcases the design.

Random lines create a fractured look.

Meandering lines create softness

A diamond cross hatch emphasises triangles.

You can vary the quilting in different areas of the quilt to highlight piecing and emphasise certain parts. e.g. different design for block and different for background helps define background areas and emphasise pieced ones. 

Quilt with all squares – quilt diagonally in one direction through points and centres of squares and then in the other direction

Outline or Contour quilting – straight stitch to outline design elements, appliqué or pieced shapes.

Echo quilting – echoing shape of motif by stitching further parallel lines around it.

Infill stitching – quilting in centre of blocks or backgrounds that have already been contour quilted.

Tying a Quilt

Add Reef knots to surface of quilt according to your plan.  It’s a good method for large squares surrounded by small quilted pieces.

Mark a grid and place where lines intersect or place randomly 2-6 inches apart.

For tying use Betweens needle, size 3 and 5, Chenille size 22 and 24, Sharpes size 3 and 5 or Sashiko

Cotton a border is good for tying and available in lots of colours

Linen thread is good and strong but colours are limited. This same thread can be used for Big Stitch quilting, too.

 Backing

When figuring how much quilt backing fabric to buy, start with the measurements of your quilt top. Then add 8 inches to the length and 8 inches to the width and at least 1/8 yard more for squaring the material.

If you need to join two pieces, avoid a centre seam. Use an offset seam. Quilts are often folded on the centre seam and this will add bulk and stress. Some fabric comes in extra wide sizes (120 inches) which is enough for a King Size quilt. Piecing a back may mean it doesn’t lie flat.

Borders

The border width should generally be less than any one block within the quilt. However, the fabric selection can dramatically change the appearance of any quilt. 

There are no rules about which border goes with which quilt but symmetrical balance is an important consideration. Borders should not compete with the center design area. The best design will provide a natural stopping point for the viewer’s eye. Partial blocks from the body of the quilt can be used effectively in borders. 

Plain borders are better with centres that are have an intricate design, appear busy, or have lots of movement

Braid borders are constructed with short strips sewn together along their long edges.For yet another look try positioning the strips at an angle to the quilt with the angle changing direction in the middle of each side.

You can use a four patch or nine patch units in checkerboard arrangements for a stunning border.

Using up to 4 of the same fabrics (prints or solids) that were used when piecing the quilt will give a nice framed appearance. Keep in mind that dark colours or those that have a dark-medium value provide a strong frame. Lighter frames are less obtrusive and give a more open look. Multiple strips of several of the fabrics from the quilt add interest and continuity as long as they are all the same width. To create an aesthetic look, arrange border designs on the corners, as well as sides, top and bottom for an appealing look. These often work better if planned from the start.

Pin the half and quarter mark of one quilt side and border with pins. Place right sides together and match pins. Stitch quilt and border together, easing quilt side to fit as necessary. Repeat on the opposite side and press seam.

Butted corners require the least amount of fabric and the simplest way to finish corners.Measure vertically from top to bottom through the centre of the quilt.. Make the two side borders to this measurement.The top and bottom borders should be a bit longer than the side strips. Add sides to background first and then the top and bottom. 

Mitred corners look very professional and are not hard to do.

For Beds: The quilt borders are the portion of the quilt that drapes over the sides of a bed and give a finished look to the quilt. The body of the quilt usually covers the centre.  

Binding

Starch strips before threading them through your bias binding maker.

A Binding Mitre tool makes mitred corners a breeze

The width of binding is typically 1/4-inch when finished but often a 1/2 inch binding is worth going for because, once the binding has been turned, you lose 1/8 inch in the turn.  The 1/2-inch choice puts you at a strong 1/4 or a weak 1/2-inch after you blind stitch the quilt binding in place.

Pressing

Use an up and down motion. When moving to a new place, lift and place, do not glide. Don’t move the iron at an angle i.e. against the grain, because it will cause distortion.Use a dry iron, no steam.