Quilting: General Instructions

Assembly Line Method

Whenever possible, use the assembly line method. Position pieces right sides together and line up next to sewing machine. Stitch first unit together, then continue sewing others without breaking threads. When all units are sewn, clip threads to separate. Press as indicated in project instructions.

Cutting the Strips & Pieces

Pre-wash and press fabrics. Using rotary cutter, see-through ruler, and cutting mat, cut the following strips and pieces for the project. If indicated, some strips will be cut again into smaller strips or pieces. The approximate width of the fabric is 42". Measurements for all pieces include 1/4"-wide seam allowance, unless otherwise indicated. Press in direction of arrows.

Fussy Cut

To make a "fussy cut", carefully position ruler or template over a selected design in fabric. Include seam allowances before cutting designated pieces.

Accurate Seam Allowances

Accurate seam allowances are always important, but especially when the quilt top contains multiple pieced borders with lots of blocks and seams! If each seam is off as little as 1/16", you'll soon find yourself struggling with components that just won't fit.

To ensure you are stitching a perfect 1/4"-wide seam, try this simple test: Cut three strips of fabric, each exactly 1-1/2" x 12". With right sides together, and long raw edges aligned, sew two strips together, carefully maintaining a 1/4" seam. Press. Add the third strip to complete the strip set. Press seams to one side and measure. The finished strip set should measure 3-1/2" x 12". The center strip should measure 1"-wide, the two outside strips 1-1/4"-wide, and the seam allowances exactly 1/4".

If your measurements differ, check to make sure that you have pressed the seams flat. If your strip set still doesn't "measure up," try stitching a new strip set, adjusting the seam allowance until you are able to achieve a perfect 1/4"-wide seam.

Twisting Seams

For ease in construction when using quarter-square triangles, we add a twist…. When pressing the last seam, twist the center of the seam so that it fans into a square. Loosen stitches in the “square”. Remove any stitches that prevent the square from laying flat. All seam allowances fan out in the same direction to eliminate excess bulk.

Quick Corner Triangles

Quick corner triangles are formed by simply sewing fabric squares to other squares or rectangles. The directions and diagrams with each project illustrate what size pieces to use and where to place square on corresponding piece. Follow steps 1-3 below to make quick-corner triangle units.

  1. With pencil and ruler, draw diagonal line on wrong side of fabric square that will form the triangle. See Diagram A. This will be your sewing line.
  2. With right sides together, place square on corresponding piece. Matching raw edges, pin in place and sew ON drawn line.
  3. Press seam in direction of arrow as shown in step-by-step project diagram. Trim off excess fabric leaving 1/4" seam allowance as shown in Diagram B. Measure completed corner triangle unit to ensure greatest accuracy.

Embroidery Stitch Guide

Layering the Quilt

  1. Cut backing and batting 4" to 8" larger than quilt top.
  2. Lay pressed backing on bottom (right side down), batting in middle, and pressed quilt top on top. Make sure everything is centered and that backing and batting are flat. Backing and batting will extend beyond quilt top.
  3. Begin basting in center and work toward outside edges. Baste vertically and horizontally, forming a 3"-4" grid. Baste or pin completely around edge of quilt top. Quilt as desired. Remove basting.

Binding the Quilt

  1. Trim batting and backing to 1/4" beyond raw edge of quilt-top. This will add fullness to binding.
  2. Join binding strips to make one continuous strip if needed. To join, place strips perpendicular to each other, right sides together, matching diagonal cut edges and allowing tips of angles to extend approximately 1/4" beyond edges. Sew 1/4"-wide seams. Continue stitching ends together to make the desired length. Press seams open.
  3. Fold and press binding strips in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.
  4. Measure quilt through center from side to side. Cut two binding strips to this measurement. Lay binding strips on top and bottom edges of quilt top with raw edges of binding and quilt top aligned. Sew through all layers, 1/4" from quilt edge. Press binding away from quilt top.
  5. Measure quilt through center from top to bottom, including binding just added. Cut two binding strips to this measurement and sew to sides through all layers, including binding just added. Press.
  6. Folding top and bottom first, fold binding around to back then repeat with sides. Press and pin in position. Hand-stitch binding in place using a blind stitch.

Big Stitch Quilting Technique

If you plan to combine machine quilting and the Big Stitch Technique, complete machine quilting first. To make a Big Stitch, use embroidery needle with Perle cotton, crochet thread, or embroidery floss. Anchor knot in the batting as in quilting. Make 1/4"-long stitches on top of quilt and 1/8"-long stitches under quilt, so large stitches stand out.

Finishing Pillows

  1. Layer batting between pillow top and lining. Baste. Hand or machine quilt as desired, unless otherwise indicated. Trim batting and lining even with raw edge of pillow top.
  2. Narrow hem one long edge of each backing piece by folding under 1/4” to wrong side. Press. Fold under 1/4” again to wrong side. Press. Stitch along folded edge.
  3. With right sides up, lay one backing piece over second piece so hemmed edges overlap, making single backing panel the same measurement as the pillow top. Baste backing pieces together at top and bottom where they overlap.
  4. With right sides together, position and pin pillow top to backing. Using 1/4”-wide seam, sew around edges, trim corners, turn right side out, and press.

Pillow Forms

Cut two Pillow Form fabrics to finished size of pillow plus 1/2". Place right sides together, aligning raw edges. Using 1/4"-wide seam, sew around all edges, leaving 4" opening for turning. Trim corners and turn right side out. Stuff to desired fullness with polyester fiberfill and hand-stitch opening closed.

Hand Appliqué

Hand appliqué is easy when you start with the right supplies. Cotton machine embroidery thread is easy to work with. Pick a color that matches the appliqué fabric as closely as possible. Use a long, thin needle like a sharp for stitching and slender appliqué or silk pins for holding shapes in place.

  1. Make a plastic template for every shape in the appliqué design. Use a dotted line to show where pieces overlap.
  2. Place template on right side of appliqué fabric. Trace around template.
  3. Cut out shapes 1/4" beyond traced line.
  4. Position shapes on background fabric, referring to quilt layout. Pin shapes in place.
  5. When layering and stitching appliqué shapes, always work from background to foreground. Where shapes overlap, do not turn under and stitch edges of bottom pieces. Turn and stitch the edges of the piece on top.
  6. Use the traced line as your turn-under guide. Entering from the wrong side of the appliqué shape, bring the needle up on the traced line. Using the tip of the needle, turn under the fabric along the traced line. Using a blind stitch, stitch along the folded edge to join the appliqué shape to the background fabric. Turn under and stitch about 1/4" at a time.
  7. Clip curves and V-shapes to help the fabric turn under smoothly. Clip to within a couple threads of the traced line.
  8. After stitching the entire block, place it face down on top of a thick towel and press

Quick-Fuse Appliqué

Quick-fuse appliqué is a method of adhering appliqué pieces to a background with fusible web. For quick and easy results, simply quick-fuse appliqué pieces in place. Use sewable, lightweight fusible web, for the projects on this site, unless otherwise indicated. Finishing raw edges with stitching is desirable. Laundering is not recommended unless edges are finished.

  1. With paper side up, lay fusible web over appliqué design. Leaving 1/2" space between pieces, trace all elements of design. Cut around traced pieces, approximately 1/4" outside traced line. See Diagram A.
  2. With paper side up, position and iron fusible web to wrong side of selected fabric. Follow manufacturer's directions for iron temperature and fusing time. Cut out each piece on traced line. See Diagram B.
  3. Remove paper backing from pieces. A thin film will remain on wrong side of fabric. Position and fuse all pieces of one appliqué design at a time onto background, referring to color photos for placement.

Making YO-YOS

  1. Trace Yo-Yo Template on wrong side of fabric and cut out on drawn line.
  2. Hold the circle with the wrong side facing you. Fold edge toward you, turning 1/4" and use quilting thread to sew short running stitches close to folded edge.
  3. Pull thread tightly to gather into a smaller circle. Make several invisible "tacking" stitches to secure the thread.
  4. Refer to photo and quilt layout position and tack yo-yos in place.

Applique Pressing Sheet

An appliqué pressing sheet is very helpful when there are many small elements to apply using a quick-fuse appliqué technique. The pressing sheet allows small items to be bonded together before applying them to the background. The sheet is coated with a special material that prevents the fusible web from adhering permanently to the sheet. Follow manufacturer's directions. Remember to let the fabric cool completely before lifting it from the appliqué sheet. If not cooled, the fusible web could remain on the sheet instead of on the fabric.

Machine Appliqué

This technique should be used when you are planning to launder quick-fuse projects. Several different stitches can be used: small narrow zigzag stitch, satin stitch, blanket stitch, or another decorative machine stitch. Use an appliqué foot if your machine has one. Use a stabilizer to obtain even stitches and help prevent puckering. Always practice first to check your machine settings.

  1. Fuse all pieces following Quick-Fuse Appliqué directions.
  2. Cut a piece of stabilizer large enough to extend beyond the area you are stitching. Pin to the wrong side of fabric.
  3. Select thread to match appliqué.
  4. Following the order that appliqués were positioned, stitch along the edges of each section. Anchor beginning and ending stitches by tying off or stitching in place two or three times.
  5. Complete all stitching, then remove stabilizers.

Adding the Borders

  1. Measure quilt through the center from side to side. Trim two border strips to this measurement. Sew to top and bottom of quilt. Press toward border.
  2. Measure quilt through the center from top to bottom, including borders added in step 1. Trim border strips to this measurement. Sew to sides and press. Repeat to add additional borders.

Making Bias Strips

  1. Refer to Fabric Requirements and Cutting Instructions for the amount of fabric required for the specific bias needed.
  2. Remove selvages from the fabric piece and cut into a square. Mark edges with straight pin where selvages were removed as shown. Cut square once diagonally into two equal 45° triangles. (For larger squares, fold square in half diagonally and gently press fold. Open fabric square and cut on fold.)
  3. Place pinned edges right sides together and stitch along edge with a 1/4" seam. Press seam open.
  4. Using a ruler and rotary cutter, cut bias strips to width specified in quilt directions.
  5. Each strip has a diagonal end. To join, place strips perpendicular to each other, right sides together, matching diagonal cut edges and allowing tips of angles to extend approximately 1/4" beyond edges. Sew 1/4"-wide seams. Continue stitching ends together to make the desired length. Press seams open.
  6. Cut strips into recommended lengths according to quilt directions.

Mitered Borders

  1. Cut the border strips or strip sets as indicated for quilt.
  2. Measure each side of the quilt and mark center with a pin. Fold each border unit crosswise to find its midpoint and mark with a pin. Using the side measurements, measure out from the midpoint and place a pin to show where the edges of the quilt will be.
  3. Align a border unit to quilt. Pin at midpoints and pin-marked ends first, then along entire side, easing to fit if necessary.
  4. Sew border to quilt, stopping and starting 1/4" from pin-marked end points. Repeat to sew all four border units to quilt.
  5. Fold corner of quilt diagonally, right sides together, matching seams and borders. Place a long ruler along fold line extending across border. Draw a diagonal line across border from fold to edge of border. This is the stitching line. Starting at 1/4" mark, stitch on drawn line. Check for squareness, then trim excess. Press seam open.

Mounting Fabric Art

  1. Fabric Art should be 4-6" longer and wider than stretcher bars.
  2. Slide interlocking stretcher bars together. Check for square by measuring from corner to corner, repeat for other side, and adjust if necessary. Using a staple gun, staple at corners.

  3. Place fabric art face down on a flat surface. Center stretcher bar unit over back of fabric art.

    Pull sides of fabric art snugly over edges of wood, checking that equal amounts of outside border are visible on all sides. Use staple gun to secure center of each side of fabric art to wood. Staple from center of each side, working toward corners, stretching and checking border placement. Come close to, but do not staple corners. If fabric art is quilted, trim excess batting from corners, making sure to leave batting along side edges as shown.

  4. Pull fabric tightly at corner and staple. Trim excess fabric if desired.

  5. Pull remaining side of corner tightly as shown.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 to finish remaining corners.