5 Things Nobody Will Tell You About Quilting

5 Things Nobody Will Tell You About Quilting

During my first year of learning to make quilts I stumbled onto a few things that nobody prepared me for. I spent a lot of time grumbling that if I ever wrote a blog about quilting, I was going to make sure new quilters knew what I didn’t.  Years later, I finally wrote the blog AND a series of quilt patterns specifically for new quilters with the following truths in mind!

Read on to learn what you really need to know in order to succeed at this crazy little hobby!

Beware of Pattern Skill Levels

Not all "beginner" level patterns are actually beginner level. One of the first quilts I made was supposedly for beginners, despite using  quarter square triangles (QST, below right). I hadn’t even made half square triangles (HST, below left) yet! If you’re brand new to quilting and aren’t sure what either of those are, learn HSTs first!


The truth is that patterns sell better when they are marked as Beginner level. The unassuming newbie has no idea what constitutes a beginner-level quilt it’s likely you’ll take their word for it, right? I know I sure did.

One of the reasons that Weekend Vibes is such a great pattern for new quilters is that it doesn’t require you to match a lot of seams.

The forgiving layout will hide any seams that don’t match up perfectly. (p.s. there is no such thing as perfect, more on this below.

Start Small

File this under “Dumbest Things I’ve Said”: “I’m going to make three full size quilts for Christmas presents, even though I I’ve never made one before and its October.”

The Weekend Vibes quilt pattern comes in just two sizes, crib and throw, to save others from making the same well-intentioned, ill-advised mistakes I did. For your first or second quilt, I recommend making a crib size. I know, I know, you probably want to make a throw size so you can actually use it, but hear me out!

With a crib size you’ll be more likely to finish it because it takes less time, and if you plan to quilt it yourself, it is MUCH easier to wrestle thru the machine.

You can use the crib quilt to practice quilting and binding on, and then give it to your pet or to a vision-impaired family member (I did this, seriously 😎). When you start working on the next, bigger quilt for yourself, you’ll be glad you did!


There is No One Right Way

In quilting, there are multiple ways to do everything. If you were to type “How to make a quilt” in an internet browser search bar, you’d get almost 500 million results. Why? Because everybody does it differently and learns differently!


For instance, the way I create and attach binding to quilts is a hodgepodge of techniques learned from dozens of different blogs, YouTube videos and tricks I saw on Instagram. I think this is the best way to learn because it allows you to try them all and choose with method works best for you.

My best advice to new quilters is to “GOOGLE IT”! If you’ve got a question about how to do anything quilting related, you’ll find an answer here! Use browser bookmarks or make a new folder on Pinterest to collect all the posts and videos you’ve found, so that you can find them again later.

On the other hand, I know from experience that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so much information out there. To make life easier, I’ve added how-to’s and tutorials for the topics new quilters need, like preparing fabric, pressing seams and more on my blog. I’m adding more each week, so be sure to subscribe to the monthly newsletter for updates!



Look for Fat Quarter Friendly Patterns

It takes some practice to figure out the best way to iron and cut a large chunk of fabric off the bolt, especially if you’re working on a small surface like the kitchen table. Make it easier on yourself and use fat quarters to start!

Fat quarters are 18” x 21”  cuts of fabric, which is MUCH easier to press and cut. If you practice with fat quarters, slicing into yardage (fabric cut off the bolt at the fabric store) will be easier later.

Not only is Weekend Vibes “fat quarter friendly," it also includes fabric requirements for yardage.


Another benefit of fat quarters is that they are often sold in bundles with coordinating prints or solids. This takes all the guesswork out of figuring out which colors look good together! 

Check out this Weekend Vibes quilt that was created using the fat quarter bundle in the picture below from Sewfinity, an online fabric shop specializing in solid color fabrics.

Rainbow Value One from Sewfinity. Quilt by Amanda Winchester @gingerknitts


Quilting is the Fine Art of Fudging It 


The first time I saw a certain well-known quilter show her less-than-perfect seams on the back of a quilt block, my life changed.

All this time I thought that you had to get everything just right in order to “do it right”. I couldn’t take any pride in any quilt that I created because I knew where every wavy seam was, every mismatched point, every wobble in the quilting line.

If you focus on trying to do everything “right” you will sabotage yourself by taking the fun right out of quilting. Remember these three things when you start getting frustrated:

1. The washer and dryer will hide almost everything. Seriously. It’s almost impossible to find any “mistakes” after the quilt has come out the dryer. I call it the Magic Eraser.


2. If somebody rode by on a horse, er, scratch that, a unicorn, would they be able to see the “unintentional customization”? If the answer is no and it doesn’t affect the usability of the quilt, forget about and move on!


3. Say it with me now “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT QUILT.” In a social media driven world where you only see Instagram-worthy photos of everything looking just right, how would you know that it’s not actually that way? Trust me, it’s not. Social media is a mirage.


Now You Know!

Now that you’ve been armed with this knowledge, you’re already ahead of the curve! Embrace the fun that comes from learning something new and making something pretty. But be careful, it’s addicting!

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1 comment

I, am making my very first crib quilt, using 9×9 quilt blocks, that first, each needed to embroidered.
Then each cut out of a pre- stenciled
Sheet, including, cutting lines, & broken sewing lines. So far so good, as the only other baby quilts I have ever made, was the way my grandmother used to make quilts, tying all squares together with yarn.
So actually, doing it the modern quilting way (except for the embriodery, is all very new to me! Even though, being new to me, its really tricky to match squares/ strips
Perfectly, ( and I sew alot) making Raggety Ann/ Andy dolls, wedding garters, etc., but at 73, this is new and tricky. Your statement about not being a perfect quilt made me feel a whole lot better, but the perfectionist in me is struggling! But I am not gonna sweat the small stuff, the crib quilt for my new, & last grandaughter, id going to be beautiful, in spite of a seam, ( or two) being maybe a hair from perfectly matching! Thank you for that statement, when in dought, I figure it out,& do it Karen’ way! Thank you, for the valuable information, & tips!

Karen Harrison

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