The best way to make a quilt
Follow this step-by-step guide to make your very own patchwork quilt
A stitch in time so the saying goes and certainly quilts have a rich history. Discover their fascinating history in our May issue before trying your hand at your own pretty coverlet.
You will need:
- Tape measure
- Set square
- Sewing machine and thread
- Needles and thread
- Fabric for swatches
- Backing fabric at full quilt size
- Wadding - available from good haberdashers or online from specialist quilting suppliers such as The Cotton Patch
Traditionally, quilt making was a time-consuming affair, with women often working together to stitch tiny scraps of fabric into a useful, practical bedcover, which became a family heirloom.
Our version brings a simpler, more modern twist to the art, using a mix of vintage floral fabrics and modern checked and striped designs.
And because the squares of fabric are large and the sewing techniques straightforward, it’s far easier to make.
Where can I find fabric?
It’s still easy to find vintage fabrics. Auction sites such as eBay tend to have good ranges at reasonable prices. Donna Flower stocks a good selection from different eras, again at reasonable prices.
Other names to try include The Vintage Fabric Market, Vintage Home and Martha’s Closet.
Also, many of the major fabric houses, such as Sanderson, Zoffany, G. P. & J. Baker and Liberty are producing fabrics based on archive designs so, if you prefer, you can still get that vintage look with brand-new fabric.
Choose a colour palette to prevent your quilt from dominating the room – we’ve chosen red and white, which works well when teamed with pale grey walls, as it is here.
Finally, use fabrics of a similar texture, weave and weight, so the quilt is both easy to wash and wears evenly.
- Decide upon the size of quilt – single (135cm x 200cm), double (200cm x 200cm) or kingsize (225cm x 220cm). Now calculate what size patch will fit into that area. A double, for example, would need patches 40cm x 40cm arranged in 5 x 5.
- Mark a patch template onto a piece of paper, adding 1cm all round for seam allowance. Cut out.
- Choose your fabrics – make sure they are all the same weight or type to avoid tension and cleaning problems. Pin on the template and cut out patches. Wash and iron the material to check for shrinkage.
- Lay out the patches and arrange to your liking. Pin together in rows using the 1cm seam allowance. Sew the patches together and press the seams flat.
- Pin and sew rows together, using the 1cm seam allowance, and press the seams flat.
- Cut out your backing fabric to the full size of the quilt plus the 1cm seam allowance. Lay the patchwork onto the backing, right side to right side, sew all around leaving a gap of about 80cm at one end.
- Turn right side out and press. Stuff with wadding – if you need to use two pieces, sew them together in advance. Stitch up the gap by hand.
- To keep the wadding in place, use a strong thread and large needle to make a stitch at every point where four patches meet. Tie off on the front side where it will be hidden by the pattern, and trim closely.
Always wash, dry and iron your fabrics before you work with them so that if any are going to shrink, they will do so before the quilt is made up.
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