How to Sew a Quilt – Everything You Need to Know about Quilting Packed into a Simple Coaster Tutorial

We’re going to sew a five inch mini quilt together as a means to understand all the facets of putting a quilt together. Better yet, this mini quilt is the perfect size for a coaster.

(Fabrics used: Blue Happy Trees  |  Yellow Katie Jump Rope)
Both these fabrics are getting a bit hard to find.

This tutorial is a great way to start understanding terminology and the major parts of a quilt. This tutorial also assumes you have all the basic sewing supplies for a beginner.

1. There are three major parts of a quilt. There’s the quilt top. The quilt top is the patchwork part after you’ve pieced all your blocks together.

The middle of the quilt is the batting. This is a fluffy layer usually made with wool or cotton.

The quilt backing is the fabric used on the bottom or back of the quilt.

2. Below is our pieced ‘quilt top.’ I took two strips of fabric, each measuring 3 1/4 by 5 1/2. I sewed them together with a *quarter of an inch seam allowance.

(Click here to see a tutorial on squaring and cutting your fabric.)

*A quarter in seam allowance is when your use the edge of your presser foot as a guide.

3. For this project, iron the seams open on the back of your ‘quilt top.’

4. In the below picture, I squared my quilt top. (You can see two pictures back that my quilt top was not a perfect square or rectangle.) Using my rotary ruler, I trimmed around the edges until my ‘quilt top’ was exactly 5 1/4 inches by 5 1/4 inches. I now have a perfect square.

5. Gather your three quilt layers. Next up is basting the quilt.

6. Basting your quilt means you are going to sandwich your three layers together. This has traditionally been done with basting pins. Basting pins are basically a curved safety pin designed to pin all three layers together.

Many quilters now use basting spray instead of pins, or they use even both. Basting spray is like glue in a spray paint can. You use it to temporarily to glue all the layers together, and then the glue washes out in the washing machine.

Whichever route you choose, your goal is to carefully and thoroughly baste your quilt. You want to avoid fabric slipping and sliding around as you quilt. As you baste, be really careful for wrinkles on the backing or the front. Make sure all three layers are as smooth as possible. Always baste on a hard surface. (Carpet is not ideal.)

Iron your backing and lay it flat on the floor (right side down). I recommend using masking tape or painters tape to hold it from shifting. Next lay your batting and smooth it and smooth it some more. Then lay your ironed quilt top on top. Use pins and pin every two to three inches. Or use basting spray before you lay down the batting and again before you lay down the quilt top.

7. When you begin quilting your quilt, as a rule of thumb, always start in the middle and quilt toward the edges. The fabric will always shift and slip a bit no matter how well your baste your quilt. By starting in the middle, you have opportunities to smooth your fabric toward the outside if you notice large wrinkles while quilting.

‘Quilting’ is the process you use to stitch the three layers of your quilt together.

For this little quilt, we are going to learn a basic straight line quilting method.

Beginning in the middle, and using your seam as a guide, sew a quarter of an inch down either side of the seam. You can also stitch right over the seam. (See below.)

8. Continue quilting using a quarter of an inch seam allowance. A quarter of an inch seam allowance is using the edge of your presser foot as a guide. See below how I line up the presser foot with each additional stitched line.

Continue quilting basic lines until you are completely done with your little quilt.

9. This is what my quilt look likes right now. The quilt has been basted and quilted.

Here’s the back.

10. Since the quilting is done, you can trim around the edges of your quilt top. Use your quilt top as a guide, and trim the batting and backing down to size.

11. Good job making it this far! Your last step is sewing on the binding. This is the edge of the quilt. Begin by cutting a two inch strip of fabric that will go the entire perimeter of your quilt. Then click over through to this tutorial to see how to sew a binding onto a quilt.

Here’s what the binding looks like after being sewn to one side and before handstitching it onto the other side.

12. Here’s the finished product!

And the back…

Now you can pour a cup of coffee or brew a cup of tea while your browse pinterest and decide what kind of quilt you will sew first. 🙂

(Please note that affiliate links were used in this post.)

8 thoughts on “How to Sew a Quilt – Everything You Need to Know about Quilting Packed into a Simple Coaster Tutorial

    1. Hi Monica,
      I’m so thankful this post was helpful for you!

      The backing fabric is an older Sweetwater fabric called Biology. It was in the clearance section of my local quilt shop a couple weeks ago. I’m almost positive it’s out of print since it’s a few years old, but I did find two shops who each have a yard or so left.

      I found it here on Etsy: http://tidd.ly/d350b9ec
      And here: http://tidd.ly/48803f83

      (I haven’t ever bought from either of these shops before.)

      Hopefully that’s a bit helpful. Thanks for stopping by my site!

    1. Thanks so much, Jen! I hadn’t been to your blog…I had no idea you had one! I always just browsed your lovely Etsy Shop. You look like you are doing a fabulous job growing your little business. 🙂 Everything looks beautiful.

  1. Wow that’s a real treasure! Love the fabric prints you picked, love the colors and I am thrilled with the images! Pinning and sharing, and I’ll poke around the site. I have a feeling I will love it! Thanks for the tutorial, it was a lot of work, I know 🙂

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