Quilting For Beginners: My First DIY Constellation Quilt, Part One
This post is the first installment in our series on quilting for beginners–Catch up on the full series below:
- My First DIY Constellation Quilt, PART ONE (This post!)
- DIY Constellation Quilt Embroidery Stitches Tutorial, PART TWO
- DIY Constellation Quilt Tips & Tricks, PART THREE
- How To Sew A Quilt Binding, PART FOUR
GUYS. So I am pretty psyched for this week's post. Not only is this week's sewing project a first here on The Flora Modiste, but it's also a first for me. LIKE EVER. So what in the world could I be talking about? Why, quilting of course!
But really. I have never quilted before in my life. Like ever.
I feel like there is this misconception that quilting & sewing are pretty much the same thing. But they most definitely 100% are not. And I have to admit I was kind of one of those people.. I thought that since I have been sewing for 10+ years, I could just pick up a DIY quilting pattern and I would be SET.
GODDAMN WRONG. Seriously. I was (/still am) a lost little puppy trying to get started with this first quilting project. So I decided to turn it into a post on quilting for beginners.
Because I know I can't be the only one 100% lost when it comes to learning how to quilt, right? Right.
And to keep this from being too overwhelming (not only for you, but for me too) this post will only cover the prep needed to start quilting. Think: The materials & tools needed. As well as any tips/tricks I have figured out the hard way.
This DIY constellation quilt is going to be a little side project of mine which I will definitely be keeping you guys updated on.
I'm planning on doing a post about halfway through the project on what I have learned during the actual quilting process. (ie. The different stitches, which thread works for what, etc.)
And then I'm thinking I will also do a wrap up post that covers how to finish the quilt off, as well as any overall lessons/suggestions that might help if you want to try your own DIY constellation quilt. (Or any quilting project, really!) So! Let's get started with how to get started, shall we?
Quilting for beginners: List of materials
First off, you'll need to get yourself a quilting pattern.
I stumbled upon the DIY constellation quilt pattern from Haptic Lab around Christmastime last year.. And my Dad ended up getting it for me for Christmas! I am absolutely in love with this pattern, which I think you have to be if you're going to spend 60+ hours on a project. (Yes. That is how long Haptic Lab estimates that this DIY constellation quilt will take.)
As I believe is the case with most quilting patterns, both the pattern itself & instructions are included.
And while I absolutely love the quilting pattern itself, I struggled a bit with the instructions.
Being an absolute newbie to quilting, I had no idea what the terms "crib" or "throw" meant. Or what to use quilting thread for, and what to use embroidery thread for. (TBH, still not entirely sure.)
But alas, after some research on quilting for beginners, here is what I ended up purchasing for this particular project:
- 4 Yards, Cotton Fabric (2 Yards for the front & 2 yards for the back of the quilt. NOTE: For this particular quilting pattern, I had to purchase extra wide fabric.)
- Quilters Dream Cotton Batting (I purchased the "twin" size, which followed the width measurements of my quilting pattern. Important to know, which I did not know on my first trip to the quilting shop.)
- 3 Skeins DMC White Embroidery Thread (I believe that this is what will be used for the stars on the map.)
- 3 Skeins YLI Metallic Embroidery Floss (I believe that this is what will be used for the connecting lines on the map.)
- 4 Skeins DMC Gold & Silver Embroidery Floss (For contrasting stars/constellation names.)
Now, I'm not sure I will use ALL of that thread. I really don't think I will, but I didn't want to have to go back to the store halfway through the project. However, I will make sure to keep you guys posted on what I do/don't end up using!
Quilting for beginners: List of tools
There really aren't too many tools that are needed for this quilting project. (At least so far!)
Below is a list of what I expect I will be needing for this project:
- Embroidery Hand Sewing Needles (I did have to purchase these, since I have never embroidered before. They feel a little thicker than a universal hand sewing needle, and the eye is slightly larger.)
- Thimble Pads (I HATE thimbles, but get really bad calluses on my fingers when I don't use anything. I found these tiny little thimble pads that are essentially thick fabric stickers that go on your hand sewing fingers.. Fingers crossed they work!)
- Safety Pins (So I thought I had enough safety pins for this project.. But I most definitely did not. I had to run BACK to the store to get more.. Which was pretty irritating. If you think you have enough, you probably don't.)
- Fabric Scissors (Obvi.)
- Iron & Ironing Board (Again, obvi.)
- Sewing Machine (Need I say it? Obvi.)
For those of you that have dabbled with either quilting or embroidery, you might even already have all of these materials at home! Which would definitely be a win, because the materials for this project were not cheap. (Will be going into that more below!)
Quilting for beginners: The prepping process
Ok! So you've got all of your materials, and all of the tools needed for your quilting project. Now what?
While the prepping process can sometimes be overlooked & skipped when it comes to sewing a garment, that is NOT the case when it comes to quilting. ESPECIALLY when it comes to quilting for beginners.
I haven't even finished (or really started) my quilt, and I can see that. So. Prep correctly, and we will be setting ourselves up for success. Right?
Below are the steps I took to prep my project for quilting:
- Cut the individual fabric layers out, one at a time. The lady at the quilting store told me I could rip the fabric to get the general shape.. But I do not agree with that. I laid out the quilting pattern on my sewing table (as best I could, it was about twice as big as my sewing table) and cut each piece (the backing, the middle batting layer, & the top of the quilt) out to fit the quilting pattern. It's always good to leave a little bit of extra room, just in case.
- Iron the individual layers out, one at a time. Again, go slowly and iron out all creases in all three layers. Do one layer at a time so that nothing gets missed.
- Lay the three layers of fabric out on your sewing table. Match the layers up evenly, and smooth out ALL wrinkles. I feel like smoothing out the wrinkles is key because I could definitely see bubbles popping up if the fabric isn't laid out smoothly.
- Safety pin all three layers together. The instructions for my DIY constellation quilt say to keep the safety pins within 6" of each other.. Hence the need for a shit ton of safety pins.
- Safety pin the quilting pattern on top, separately. At this point, I'm not entirely sure why my instructions said to safety pin the quilting pattern on separately.. But we shall see!
Once all of that prep work is finished, the quilting process can FINALLY begin.
Quilting for beginners: Lessons I've learned so far
Alright! So now that I'm prepped and ready to start the quilting process, I wanted to go over a few lessons on quilting for beginners that I have (already!) learned.
- Quilting projects are NOT cheap. Whereas I can sew up a dress for $20 in materials, that is not true for quilting. I feel like I got pretty basic & common materials for this project, and between the quilting pattern, the fabrics, and the thread, the total cost is up to about $200. So this thing better be worth it, am I right?
- Pay close attention to how wide the quilting pattern is. I almost bought a fabric that was half the size I needed.. Which would have resulted in a not so pretty seam right down the middle of the quilt. There definitely aren't as many fabric options available in wide fabrics (i.e. 108" wide) but it will look WAY better than a quilt with a seam right down the middle. Promise.
- Quilting thread isn't really necessary. At least, according to the ladies at my local quilting shops. The instructions for my DIY constellation quilt called for both quilting & embroidery thread.. But my ladies said embroidery thread would work just fine. So I'm sticking to it!
- Purchasing bias tape also isn't necessary. At both quilting shops I went to, they said to just make my own using leftover fabric. So that's what I'm going to do!
- This is going to take way longer than expected. Self explanatory.
And that's as far as I am with my DIY constellation quilt, as of right now. I'm incredibly excited to REALLY get started on it though.. I love hand sewing so very much, and this quilt baby is ALL hand sewing.
I don't know what it is.. But I can just sit for hours and hours hand sewing. There's something therapeutic in it for me, truly.
So I guess I'm going to be getting about 60 hours of self induced therapy in the upcoming months. Anyone else have tips & tricks on quilting for beginners? Tell me below!