Monday, November 19, 2012

Quilting 101

I figured not everyone on Facebook would want a daily update on my adventures in learning how to quilt, so I decided to create a blog. 

After receiving a gorgeous and beautifully crafted quilt for our wedding last year, from the very talented Michelle L. I thought about how great it would be to learn to quilt and be able to make super useful items for my friends and family members. When that thought crossed my mind I knew I couldn't commit to learning how to quilt just yet because I was still finishing up my MBA. Well, this past September I completed my last class, and as it so happens by the time I decided to take a quilting 101 class it occurred on the same day I finally received my diploma in the mail!

For my introduction into quilting I knew a book wouldn't be enough so I signed up for a class at Joann Fabrics, they offer different levels of quilting classes through-out each month. For the class I had to bring three fabric Fat Quarter, and a whole mess of tools- which thanks to coupons ended up costing just about $65.00. When I arrived at the class I was the only student, my instructor was Sherry a wonderful woman who has been quilting for about 15 years and loves to teach. 
Fat Quarters from Joann's-- Dark, Medium and Light
During the class she took me to the fabric section to show me ho to choose fabrics, and which ones are best for quilting or why a fabric would not be ideal for quilting. She also shared with me a lot of personal insight as to what types of tools she feels a beginner needs vs just might want to have. We talked sewing machines because I didn't own one and hadn't used one probably since sixth grade home-ec class. After getting me familiarized with the sewing machine we went into cutting strips of fabric with our rotary blades to specific widths so that we could sew them together and create a panel of fabric with three rows. After these panels were created, we cut 3 1/2" strips them and then combined the strips using the sewing machine to create a 9-square block. 
Fabric Panels
Nine Square or Checkerboard Block
Once I had the sewing machine figured out (the hardest part for me was keeping the 1/4 inch seam allowance, which ensures everything is matched correctly) Sherry showed me how to take a two squares of opposite fabric and combine them and cut them in half to create two new squares composed of 1/2 of each fabric. These are technically called half square triangles (HST). The challenge for me with the HST is getting the fabric cuts to be perfect, I found that it can be done but it takes practice! 

My two sets of HST's combined in a Ribbon Block

The cool thing about HST's is that you draw lines on the back of the fabric (actually know as the Wrong Side (WS) of the fabric in quilting) and you stitch right on those lines. I was way better at this than keeping the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Sherry recognized that right away and showed me a quilt that was hanging in the classroom, she had created it using paper piecing-- something I'd saw mentioned on quilting boards but not read about yet. She shared that with paper piecing you are actually drawing out your lines and sewing your fabric to a thin piece of material or paper and building your block that way, with this you get to stitch right on the lines. Since we had about a half hour left she showed me how to do some, it was really fun and I think I would enjoy it so I will likely be going back to take another class with her to learn more about how to do it. 

In the end after I had finished the class I decided that I was going to go all in, and take up quilting (at least for a year and see where that takes me). In order to make the commitment to learning to quilt I knew I would need to get a sewing machine. Luckily, I already had my research done and knew that I would purchase a Brotherfrom Costco if in fact I decided to start quilting. 


  1. Hi Katie:
    Just got a chance to view all your work so far.
    I'm so amazed at what you are doing here.
    Not only the quilting but also the blog which you are doing.
    This is really good. I love that I can see you doing something and follow you in your adventures.
    I'll keep checking back and watch your work.
    Love you and Take Care,

  2. Thanks Dad! Do me a favor and teach mom how to comment :) She mentioned that she'd like to know how.