Here's advice to help you begin quilting.

Get Some Help

Perhaps you've sewn all your life and are taking on quilting as a new challenge. Maybe you've completed a beginning class and want to take off on your own. Whichever group you fall into, there's so much to learn and remember!

If you're nervous about going it alone, find a mentor. Perhaps you know a person who quilts. Ask if you can set up your machine next to them while they work on their own project. Visit your local quilt shop. See if they have a sewing time where you can come and work with some expert help nearby. Or join a quilt guild. Other quilters love to share what they know.

If you're ever stuck on a technique or need advice, be sure to check out the Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide To Quilting book, and Back to Basics in every issue of American Patchwork and Quilting and Quilts and More magazines, as well as tips and suggestions scattered throughout our Web site. We want you to feel successful with each project you complete!

It's All About Geometry

Geometric shapes in many combinations are the basis for every quilt block. Squares and rectangles are the easiest for a beginner to master as they teach accurate sewing and pressing skills and help to develop the skills needed to combine fabrics.

You can combine squares and rectangles into many interesting configurations.

Gain Confidence with Easy Projects

Quilt Designer: Pat Sloan
Quilt Name: Jammies Bag, Quilting Ideas, Spring 2004
Whether you use it to store your PJ's or your lingerie, this bag will teach you how to choose complementary fabrics, sew straight seams, and follow a simple pattern. It would be the perfect gift for a little girl or a new mom!

Quilt Designers: Joanna Figueroa and Lisa Quan
Quilt Name: Patchwork Decorator, Quilting Ideas, Spring 2004
Everyone needs a table topper to change their decorating look. At 62-1/2" square, "Patchwork Decorator" is a perfect size to throw across a table. What you'll learn is how to select a focus fabric for the center and then add coordinating fabrics to reinforce the theme. If you're adventurous, you might even attempt to machine- or hand-quilt it. Once you've mastered this pattern, you'll be able to whip it out for any season, or even as an impromptu gift for a friend … or maybe your mother-in-law!

Quilt Designer: Johanna Wilson
Quilt Name: Amish Bars, American Patchwork and Quilting, June 1995
Johanna Wilson took a traditional Amish quilt pattern and created this charming wall hanging in lighter colors. Start with a color scheme to go with your décor and then choose your fabrics to complement it. What you'll learn in this project is how to sew strips together accurately, and how to add corner blocks to both your lattice and borders. At 26-3/4" square, this also would be suitable for a new baby or as a doll quilt for a favorite niece.

Quilt Designer: Susan Price Miller
Quilt Name: Corydon Crossover, Quilts and More, 2005
Let your favorite child help you choose fabrics for this quilt. Or maybe make it WITH your favorite child … it's a great quilt for the young sewer. "Corydon Crossover" showcases a novelty print in large squares. The quilt is strip-pieced to make it quick to complete. The interesting feature in this quilt is that it looks as if the strips have been interwoven. The pillow is a bonus and a great gift!

Take On More Challenges

Quiltmaker: Kate Hardy
Quilt Name: color option for Pink Spring Fling, Quilt Lover's Favorites, Vol. 6
A smattering of Square-in-a-Square blocks adds visual interest to a simple scrappy quilt that would make a great first big bed quilt. It measures 88x96". The plain fabric squares are 8", making the quilt fast to put together. The pieced blocks teach you the concept of piecing a block together to put it on point. This would be a good project to begin collecting fat quarters.

Quilt Designers: Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of FunQuilts
Quilt Name: Spice Market, American Patchwork and Quilting, April 2007
This stunningly simple throw was created using colors based on a blend of spices in Indian cooking. Simple rectangles are bordered with lattice, making it easier to cut and sew for the beginner quilter. The challenge comes in selecting the right blend of coordinating and contrasting fabric to give it zing! The color selection isn't intimidating, though, as the designers have told you exactly how many fabrics to get in each color. If you spend time laying out each piece, you'll be rewarded with a stunning quilt.

Quilt Designer: Pat Sloan
Quilt Name: Fly the Flag, Quilting Ideas, Spring 2004
A quickly pieced background with borders becomes the foundation for this fused-and-machine-appliqué flag. You can learn how to use your sewing machine to blanket-stitch or how to do this stitch by hand for a take-along project. Hang it on your door or from a small flag holder at your Fourth of July picnic!

Quilt Designer: Annie Lippincott
Quilt Name: Basket of Charm, Quilting Ideas, Spring 2004
A little bit of piecing and a little bit of appliqué add up to a wall hanging with plenty of old-fashioned appeal. Simple borders and no binding makes this the kind of project to practice your quilting skills. You'll learn a new way of finishing a small quilt, how to tie a quilt, and how to use wool as your appliqué fabric. Of course, this project would be adorable appliquéd with cotton fabric. The choice is up to you. It's perfect for late summer or fall!

Quilt Designer: Main Street Cotton Shop
Quilt Name: Christmas by Candlelight, Quilt Sampler, 1995
The best of both worlds, the Log Cabin block and Christmas are rolled into one charming seasonal wall hanging. Traditional piecing of the Log Cabin blocks and simple appliqué of the candle flame, holly, and berries combine to make this project a treasured gift and a splendid decoration. Begin construction early so you'll have time to enjoy making it and not feel rushed.

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