Beautiful handmade quilts inevitably become family heirlooms. They can be passed on from one generation to the other and will always be valued and treasured by the owners. A beautiful object is a joy forever. Some people may think it is easier to make quilts with a sewing machine for quilting, but the fact is a handmade quilt is very different from the one made with a machine.
It is always a good idea to use quality fabrics that will stand the test of time. It is a waste of time to use cheap inferior fabrics when it takes the same effort to work on good fabric as it is to work on inferior quality textiles.
When you have made the decision to work on a large quilt you have to be committed to the project as this could take quite a long time. This will of course depend on how much time you will be putting into the project on a daily or weekly basis.
Design your quilt to suit the décor of the room in which it will be used and choose the colours so that if you should change your colour scheme in the future it will still be able to tone in with the new colour scheme.
Decide on a design that you like and then start collecting the fabrics that you will require to complete it.
The total measurement of the size of the quilt can be obtained by measuring the surface of the bed plus the length of the drop you would like on the sides. It always looks attractive if the quilt hangs over the bed to almost touch the floor. Anyway this is a matter of personal choice.
Now you can calculate the measurements into yards or metres so that you will know how much fabric you will require. You will need a plain or patterned fabric for the backing and then the front you will either choose one fabric or you will decide to use a number of different colours to make it look more interesting.
You could divide the front of your quilt into identical blocks and then “frame” them with contrasting colours or you could play around with the blocks and make them different sizes so that when they are eventually sewn together they will form the size you require for the quilt.
Here the mathematicians can have fun working out the structure of the blocks! This principle is applied to any size quilt you might want to make. Remember always to add a seam allowance to each block.
It is always easier to work with blocks when you make a large quilt. You can complete one at a time. This way makes it easier to work as the piece you are working on is much lighter in weight and easier to manage. This is especially true if you appliqué motifs on the quilt. You get a better finish when you are working on a small piece of fabric rather than a larger one.
The blocks can either be cut from various colours or from one colour. By “framing” each block with different coloured strips you accent the motif in the middle. It is like framing a painting.
If you have decided to make an old world patchwork quilt without any theme you could sew your blocks to form a pattern or you could use the crazy patchwork method.
This means that the small blocks of fabric do not all have to be the same shape and size. The available material gets cut into different shapes and sizes. These are joined together at random to form a very beautiful colourful strip of material. Just remember to keep the edges of these strips even so that when they are joined together they will always form a straight line.
This method is an excellent way of making use of all those bits and pieces in the “rag bag” as you will be making use of many colours. You will have a beautiful finished product – something to be proud of for many years to come.
If however, you decide on a theme and wish to appliqué motifs on the blocks you have cut out this can also be great fun. If you cannot draw you own pictures make use of illustrations you will find in magazines and books.
It is great fun creating a “picture” for each block. These “pictures” can be appliquéd one at a time and then when they are all completed they can be tacked together to form a strip or they can be framed in a contrasting colour fabric.
When this has been done they can be pinned together to form the strips which will be joined together. Once this is done the strips will be joined together to form the front of the quilt.
Be careful to keep the seams together. The seams of the “frames” must correspond together otherwise it will not give you a pleasing effect.
Once you have completed the front of the quilt you can proceed to quilt it by hand or machine which ever way is easier for you.
Lay the backing wrong side up and then lay the batting on top of this and then lastly the front of the quilt with the right side up. These three layers can be pinned together starting from the middle and working outwards. Never start quilting from the edge as the fabrics will stretch and you will find that by the time you get to the other side of the quilt your three layers will no longer be neatly on top of each other.
Here is an example of a quilt made in an African design. It has been made with blocks and decorated with appliqué work. The little characters have been decorated with bead work to give the quilt an extra dimension.
A pattern of different colours was made to form the border instead of using plain fabric. This adds to the beauty of the quilt and enhances the theme of the quilt.
By just making use of different coloured fabrics and arranging your blocks in different ways every quilt you create will be totally unique.