10 Quilting Techniques Every Quilter Should Master

Patchwork log cabin blocks, stack of blocks, sewing accessories on white wooden surface
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There are lots of quilting techniques that every quilter should master, ten of those methods are on nearly every experienced quilter's 'must know' list.

When you're just starting out it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of terms and techniques you'll encounter with your first quilt. It's a confusion that can be compounded by the many ways to accomplish every quilt-making task. Be confident that you'll discover which quilting methods work best for you as you become more experienced, but getting comfortable with the must-know skills will help you sew accurate quilts on your very first try.

  • 01 of 10

    Become Familiar With Quilting Terminology

    Woman sewing a quilt
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    When learning how to make a quilt it's smart to familiarize yourself with the skills you'll need and common abbreviations used with patterns before you start. For that reason, it can be helpful to keep a basic quilting book at your fingertips when you're making a quilt. Also, try reading quilting articles—like this one—before you start. When you encounter a term you don't understand, look it up. It won't be long before you're familiar with all of the terms you need to know in order to follow quilt-making instructions.

  • 02 of 10

    Learn About the Qualities of Fabric

    A homemade quilt Marcie Cheatham / E+ / Getty Images

    Fabrics are the backbone of our quilts, but you might be surprised how many people begin to assemble their first quilt without putting fabric characteristics to work for them. It's much easier to make a quilt once you understand how to care for your fabrics and why quilting patches are cut using specific guidelines.

    You needn't buy the most expensive fabrics but there's also no need to waste hours making a quilt with thin fabric that won't hold up during use and when it is washed.

  • 03 of 10

    Learn to Sew a Quarter Inch Seam Allowance

    Sewing Machines
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    Beginning quilters, especially people who are accustomed to sewing garments with 5/8" seam allowances, sometimes have a hard time visualizing and sewing the 1/4" seam allowance used to make quilts. There are tricks to help you get the seam just right, but do a few tests before you start sewing patches for a quilt, just to be sure your seams are accurate.

  • 04 of 10

    Develop Your Rotary Cutting Skills

    Quilt-Making Tools
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    Rotary cutting is a technique that every new quilter should master because it allows us to bypass the time-intense method of constructing templates to mark and cut individual pieces of fabric.

    You'll love the freedom that rotary tools provide, and speedy cutting is a fantastic motivation for continued success.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Learn Quick Piecing Techniques

    A woman at work quilting

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    Strip piecing and other quick piecing techniques let you sew large chunks of fabric together, then slice off sections to create pre-sewn units. It is so easy! Learn the basics and you'll be able to create an easy version of just about any quilt block you see.

  • 06 of 10

    Get Pressing Basics Down Pat

    Pressed quilt blocks shown on the reverse side
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    Your piecing accuracy will improve immediately when you take a bit of time to press your quilt blocks as you make them. And setting seams before pressing allowances to one side is an excellent way to instantly improve your patchwork.

    You might think extra pressing will slow you down, but you'll find that you actually save time when properly pressed quilt blocks fit together just like they should, without grabbing the dreaded seam ripper.

  • 07 of 10

    Don't Pitch Those Problem Quilt Blocks Just Yet

    A woman at work at her sewing machine

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    We've all sewn quilt blocks that aren't quite accurate. Most often, they're smaller than they should be, perhaps because we've either sewn a slightly large quarter inch seam allowance or haven't pressed adequately. Don't feel discouraged if that happens to you, because a high percentage of 'off' quilt blocks can be rescued.

  • 08 of 10

    Measure and Sew Borders the Correct Way

    A woman sewing a quilt border

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    Adding one or more borders to the edges of a quilt does more than providing an attractive frame for your work ... the process offers an excellent opportunity to square up slightly skewed edges.

    It isn't unusual to see beginning quilters determine border length by measuring along the outside edges of a quilt. If the quilt is skewed, that technique ensures it will remain skewed. Learn how to measure and sew borders that will improve the structure of a quilt.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Be Sure to Try Mitered Binding

    Mitered quilt binding
    Janet Wickell

    Sewing mitered binding to the edges of a quilt has developed a bit of a reputation of being difficult, but is actually a very easy technique. An important step is omitted from nearly all mitered binding instructions, and it creates problems for anyone who'd like to apply binding that's wider or more narrow than 1/4". My quilt binding instructions explain.

  • 10 of 10

    Don't Obsess Over Errors

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    Understanding color value is just as important as understanding the color wheel, maybe even more so, but it's essential to learn as much as you can about each of those elements.

    We all make errors, both technical and in our ​choice of fabrics, but our boo-boos nearly always lead to a better understanding of the quilting process. 'Mistakes' are really just learning experiences, so analyze them and tuck that knowledge away for the next project. Your skills will grow with every new quilt you sew.​