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Quilting Basics
Quilt Approximate Size
Baby 36" x 54"  
Lap/Throw 54" x 72"  
Twin 68" x 86"  
Double 86" x 86"  
Queen 96" x 98"  
King 95" x 105"  
Metric Conversion Chart  
⅛" = 3 mm    
¼" = 6 mm    
½ " = 1.3 cm    
¾" = 1.9 cm    
⅞" = 2.2 cm    
1" = 2.5 cm    
2" = 5.1 cm    
3" = 7.6 cm    
4" = 10.2 cm    
5" = 12.7 cm    
6" = 15.2 cm    
7" = 17.8 cm    
8" = 20.3 cm    
9" = 22.9 cm    
10" = 25.4 cm    
11" = 27.9 cm    
12" = 30.5 cm    
⅛ yd. = 0.11 m    
¼ yd. = 0.23 m    
⅓ yd. = 0.3 m    
½ yd. = 0.46 m    
¾ yd. = 0.69 m    
1 yd. = 0.91 m    
Approximate Conversion to Metric Formula
When you know: Multiply by: To find:
inches (") x 25 = millimeters (mm)
inches (") x 2.5 = centimeters (cm)
inches (") x 0.025 = meters (m)
feet (' or ft.) x 30 = centimeters (cm)
feet (' or ft.) x 0.3 = meters (m)
yards (yd.) x 90 = centimeters (cm)
yards (yd.) x 0.9 = meters (m)

Read through the directions for the project you have selected before purchasing fabric for the quilt. Wash fabrics in the manner in which you intend to wash the finished project—this preshrinks the fabric and allows you to be certain the fabrics are colorfast. Dry fabrics, then press to remove wrinkles.

Many patterns call for 42" long strips in the Cutting Directions. This simply means to cut the strip the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage. Most fabrics are sold as 42-44" wide, but many vary slightly in width. Fabric width may also change after the fabric is washed. The Materials lists and Cutting Directions are generally based on fabric remaining at least 42" wide after washing.

Backing fabric and batting dimensions listed are for hand quilting or for quilting on a domestic sewing machine. Professional quilters using longarm machines may require a larger backing and batting size. If you intend to have someone else quilt your project, consult them regarding backing and batting size. Cut backing fabric, then sew pieces together as needed to achieve the desired size.

The template patterns provided for pieced quilts are full size with a ¼" seam allowance included. The solid line is the cutting line and the dashed line is the stitching line. A seam allowance is not included on appliqué template patterns, unless otherwise stated. Trace template patterns, including any grain line arrows, onto your template material.

Marking Fabric Pieces
Test marking pens and pencils for removability before marking fabric pieces. If the pattern piece includes a grain line arrow, align the arrow with the fabric grain. Use your marker to trace around the template on the right side of the fabric, then cut out. If you wish to mark the sewing line, use a quilter's ¼" ruler to measure and mark the seam allowance on the wrong side of the fabric. Mark the pieces needed to complete one block, cut out, and stitch them together before cutting pieces for the entire quilt.

Set up your machine to sew 12 stitches per inch. If you have not marked the stitching line on fabric pieces, be careful to align fabric edges with the marks on the throat plate of your machine as needed to achieve an accurate ¼" seam allowance. You can also make a stitching guide as follows: Place a ruler under the presser foot of the sewing machine, aligning the ¼" marked line on the ruler with the needle. Align a piece of masking tape or a rectangle cut from a moleskin foot pad along the right edge of the ruler. Remove the ruler and place fabric edges against the stitching guide as you sew. Stitch fabric pieces from edge to edge, unless directed otherwise in the pattern.

Sew fabric pieces together in the order specified in the pattern. Wherever possible, press seam allowances toward the darkest fabric. When abutting seams, press seam allowances in opposing directions.

You can stitch appliqué pieces to background fabric either by hand or machine. For needle-turn appliqué, lightly trace the pattern pieces on the right side of the fabric and add a narrow turn-under seam allowance when cutting the pieces out. Pin pieces to the background fabric and stitch them in place, beginning with the underlying pieces. If stitching by hand, use your appliqué needle to turn the seam allowance under as you stitch. Do not turn raw edges under if they will be covered by other appliqué pieces. If stitching by machine, use a blind hem stitch or blanket stitch along the folded edge. An alternative is to cut the appliqué pieces out on the marked line without adding a seam allowance, and finish the edges by machine using a satin stitch.

Fusible Appliqué
This method allows you to complete appliqué very quickly. Follow the directions on the fusible product to prepare and attach appliqué pieces. If appliqué patterns are not reversed, it is necessary to flip asymmetrical templates right side down before tracing them on the paper side of the fusible web. Finish the edges of fused appliqué pieces by hand using a blanket stitch or by machine using either a blanket or satin stitch.

Mitering Border Cornersmitering
Fold a border strip in half crosswise to determine the center. Match the center of the border strip to the center of the quilt, then pin to the quilt. Sew the border to the quilt, beginning and ending exactly ¼" from the quilt edges. Backstitch to secure the stitching at each end. Attach all four border strips in the same manner.

Place the quilt right side down on a flat surface, then place one border strip over the adjacent border as shown. Using a ruler, draw a line at a 45° angle from the inner edge of the uppermost border to the outer edge. Reverse the positions of the borders and repeat to mark a second line. Mark all borders in the same manner.

Pin each set of adjacent border strips right sides together along the marked lines. Sew on the lines from the inner edge to the outer edge. Backstitch at each edge to secure the seam. Turn the quilt over and check each mitered seam. Trim seam allowances to ¼".

Marking the Quilt Top
Press the quilt top. Test all marker ink for removability before using on your quilt. If using a paper design, place it under the quilt top and trace the design, using a light source if necessary. If using a stencil, place it on top of the quilt top and trace the open areas. Use a ruler to mark straight lines, such as grids or diagonals, that cross fabric pieces.

Masking tape can be used as an alternative to marking straight lines. Place the tape on the quilt where desired and sew along the edge. Contact paper can be cut into strips and used in the same manner (it can also be cut into other quilting shapes or stencils). Remove tape and contact paper from the quilt top daily to avoid leaving a sticky residue on the quilt.

The day before basting, open up the batting and place it on a flat surface (a bed or carpeted area is ideal). The next day, place the pressed backing fabric wrong side up on a flat, solid surface. Secure the backing in place with masking tape. Smooth the batting on top of the backing. Center the quilt top right side up on the batting. Use a needle and thread in a color that contrasts with the quilt. Baste with large stitches, keeping all knots on top of the quilt. Begin in the quilt center and first baste horizontally to the edge of the quilt top, then vertically, and finally diagonally. Also baste at least two rectangles as shown.

To prepare your quilt for quilting on your home sewing machine, use soluble thread to baste the quilt, or baste using safety pins.

Binding Strips
Quilts with straight edges can be bound with binding strips cut with the grain of the fabric. Cut binding strips the width specified in the instructions, and sew them together with diagonal seams by placing two binding strips right sides together and perpendicular to each other, aligning the ends as shown. Mark a line on the top strip from the upper left edge of the bottom strip to the lower right edge of the top strip, and sew on the marked line. Trim the seam allowance ¼" beyond the stitching, open up the strips, and press the seam allowance open. When all binding strips have been sewn together, fold the strip in half lengthwise (wrong sides facing) and press.


Bias Binding
Quilts with curved edges must be bound with binding strips cut on the bias. Cut bias strips by aligning the 45° line on a rotary cutting ruler with the bottom edge of the fabric and cutting along the ruler's edge.

Attaching the Binding
Leaving at least 6" of the binding strip free and beginning several inches away from one corner of the quilt top, align the raw edges of the binding with the edge of the quilt top. Using a standard ¼" seam allowance, sew the binding to the quilt, stopping and backstitching exactly ¼" from the corner of the quilt top.

attaching binding


Remove the quilt from the sewing machine, turn it so the stitched portion of the binding is away from you, and fold the binding away from the quilt, forming a 45° angle on the binding. (Hint: When the angle is correct, the unstitched binding strip will be aligned with the next edge of the quilt top.)

Maintaining the angled corner fold, fold the loose binding strip back down, aligning this fold with the stitched edge of the quilt top and the raw edge of the binding with the adjacent quilt top edge. Sew the binding to the quilt, beginning at the fold and backstitching to secure the seam.

Continue attaching the binding in this same manner until you are 6" from the first stitching. Fold both loose ends of the binding strip back upon themselves so that the folds meet in the center of the unstitched section of the binding, and crease the folds.

Measure the width of the folded binding strip and then cut both ends of the binding strip that measurement beyond the creased folds. (For example: If the project instructs you to cut the binding strips 2½" wide, the folded binding strip would measure 1¼". In this case, you would cut both ends of the binding strip 1¼" beyond the creased folds.) Open up both ends of the binding strip and place them right sides together and perpendicular to each other as shown. Mark a line on the top strip from the upper left corner of the top strip to the lower right corner of the bottom strip. Pin the strips together and stitch on the marked line.

Refold the binding strip and place it against the quilt top to test the length. Open the binding strip back up, trim the seam allowance ¼" beyond the stitching, and finger press the seam allowance open. Refold the binding strip, align the raw edges with the edge of the quilt top, and finish sewing it to the quilt.

Trim the batting and backing ⅜" beyond the binding stitching. Fold the binding to the back of the quilt, and blind stitch it to the backing fabric, covering the machine stitching. Keep your stitches small and close together. When you reach a corner, sew the mitered binding closed on the back side of the quilt and pass the needle through the quilt to the right side. Stitch the mitered binding closed on the front side of the quilt and pass the needle back through the quilt to the back side. Continue sewing the folded edge of the binding to the back of the quilt.

attaching binding

Finishing Your Quilt
Remove all quilt markings. Make a label that includes your name, the city where you live, the date the quilt was completed, and anything else you would like future owners of the quilt to know. (Permanent fabric pens make this task easy and allow you to make the label as decorative as desired.) Sew the label to the back of the quilt.