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Learn How To Quilt: 4 Basic Fundamentals
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Quilts are divine, truly an art form. It is not surprising that, especially in this economy, more and more people are learning how to quilt.  Many find at the outset that there is so much information available that it can be overwhelming.  Where do you start?  Learning to quilt does not have to be intimidating.  The trick is to start with the basics and build your skills from there.

First, pick your niche.  The options are absolutely endless, based on time and creativity.  Decide whether you want to make quilts that will be handed down through the generations, taking the time to carefully select fabrics and designs to make them extra special or you simply want to make great quilted Christmas gifts.  You can choose between traditional styles or very modern quilting patterns for your ultra-hip niece.  You don’t even have to make an actual quilt - you can choose to make wall-hangings, table runners, placemats, diaper bags, name it. 

The beautiful thing about learning how to quilt is that you really can get your creative juices flowing and create beauty.  Once you have found your niche, collect photos or free patterns that interest you.  These can be a great starting point as you begin your first project, especially if you will be taking a quilting class since you can ask your instructor to teach you skills specific to the types of projects you want to do.

Second, determine which learning style will suit you best.  Some people can teach themselves to do anything from a book or an online download.  If you are more of a  “hands on” learner, you may want to look into a quilting class at your local quilt shop.  Many quilt shops offer beginner classes at very reasonable prices and the price of the class typically includes the pattern.  However, you will usually be expected to bring your own machine.  Quilt shops also will offer discounts for any fabric that you buy for the particular class that you are taking.  If you do not have a local quilt shop available, search online for quilt guilds in your area.  Many quilt guilds will have regular meetings where everyone shows up with their projects and quilt together.  Quilt guilds welcome new quilters who can learn from the more experienced quilters in the group and it is a great way to learn the ropes and to get a little advice on potential pitfalls or new techniques.

Next, you will need some equipment and supplies.  Unless you plan on hand-quilting and hand-piecing all of your projects (a perfectly appropriate objective), you will need a sewing machine.  Sewing machines run the gamut from the most basic, beginner machine you can buy at a big box store or online to very expensive, top-of-the-line sewing machines made especially for quilters.  No matter what your budget is, do your research.  Ask other quilters what they use, go to sewing machine dealers and try out machines for yourself and compare online.  If you already have experience sewing, you will already have a good idea about features that you cannot live without.  If you are new to sewing, don’t over complicate things with a machine that you can barely figure out because it has way too many bells and whistles.  You can always upgrade later once you have more of an idea of what you want. 

Quilting supplies are also a necessity to start out.  You can consult beginner quilting books that will help you identify supplies that you need.  Supplies that all of them will suggest are: good fabric scissors (use these only on fabric), pins, rotary cutter, cutting mat, safety pins, thread, bobbins, ruler, pin cushion, marking pencils, iron and ironing board.  There are a lot of products available out there but these are absolute necessities. 

The final consideration when you learn how to quilt is space.  Quilting is a project that requires some space to spread out.  If possible, try to create a space where you can set up your machine and supplies and leave them there when you are not working on your project.  When you have to move everything out and back in, it’s a huge time-waster and you cannot devote as much of your free time to quilting.  Also, quilts are typically a function of piecing lots of smaller pieces together to create a finished, larger project.  As such, organization is absolutely key, otherwise pieces get lost or misplaced and you will find it is much more difficult to make sure that you have all the pieces that you need. 

Learning how to quilt starts with the desire to create something beautiful that will last for generations.  It is an investment in time, equipment and experience but it is so worth it.  However, the amount of information available can be overwhelming if you don’t start out with some basic fundamentals and build from there.  Once you lay the foundation for your quilting education, you will be on your way!  Happy quilting!

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