A few readers have left me comments or emailed me about how I got into quilting and how I learned how to make quilts, so I wanted to share a little bit of my background with you today.
The single most helpful book that taught me the basics of quilting is The Modern Quilt Workshop. I have yet to make a quilt from one of the patterns in this book, but I've got quite a few patterns on my to-do list. This book has an excellent how-to section that details what tools you will need to begin and walks through the steps of making the quilt from preparing the fabric to cutting to piecing to quilting to binding. I'd recommend this book to anyone learning to quilt or looking for some fresh modern patterns. I'm not much of a class taker, as I can usually figure out how to make something faster on my own by reading a book or watching online video tutorials.
I bought my sewing machine just over a year ago in August 2006 and I made my first quilt a few weeks later. I bought everything on the list of suggested items from the book (rotary cutter, cutting mat, bias tape maker , clear ruler, etc.) for quilting at a big Joann's quilting sale that happened to coincide with my new hobby.
I'm not much of a perfectionist when I work. Sure, I like things to look nice. But I'd rather get something done than get it done perfectly. It's definitely a fault of mine, but it also means that I don't obsess over things if they don't look right. I just try to make do with whatever is messed up or try to patch it over as quickly as possible. On the positive side of things, this means that my quilts have gotten progressively better with time as I've picked up new techniques and practiced more. My free motion quilting isn't so jerky anymore and the binding doesn't come off the quilt because I've sewn it crookedly and the stuffing is coming out, etc. The one thing I'm still working on is getting the darn quilt to be square - it's quite embarrassing when they're all folded up. And I'm still working on matching up corners perfectly and creating nicely mitred corners. My favorite part about the whole quilting process, other than picking out the fabric, is the quilting itself. I have found free motion quilting to be so incredibly relaxing and meditative. I rush through the beginning steps of the quilt just so that I can get to the quilting aspect of things.
Other than the book, I did find a lot of helpful information at Pattern Review and some of the quilting pages on about.com. I would also recommend the book Denyse Schmidt Quilts. I really like the style of her quilts and I also appreciate that she uses lots of solid fabric in her quilts (cheaper fabric = more fabric that I can buy while staying in my budget = more quilts to make). She also goes over the quilting process in her book, but I just prefer the method laid out in the Modern Quilt Workshop.
And, next up on my quilting to-do list is teaching myself how to do some hand quilting. This Bunch of Squares quilt from Denyse Schmidt Quilts would not, could not, fit through my sewing machine neatly, so I'm going to have to do the quilting by hand if it's ever going to get done...another project for fall and winter.