How to quilt (wait, you’ve been quilting HOW long?)

Raise your hand if you learned to quilt by cutting out all the pieces with scissors and templates. Wow. You’ve been quilting a long time. In fact, chances are good you started quilting before 1979, when Mr. Yoshio Okada, founder of the Olfa Company, introduced the fabric rotary cutter to the marketplace. The Japanese company had been making snap-off blades for other uses (the name Olfa comes from two Japanese words that mean “break the blade”) when Mr. Okada had the idea to develop a rolling cutter. It’s not an exaggeration to say his invention revolutionized quiltmaking, and by the early ’80s, rotary cutters were being adopted by quilters everywhere.

Rotary Cutting: How to Cut Fabric with Rotary Cutters

Cutting triangles

Rotary cutters, acrylic rulers, and self-healing mats have become essential equipment for quilters, and few would dream of quilting without them these days. But knowing about the tools and knowing how to use them properly are not the same thing. That’s why we’ve added a free, downloadable article on Rotary Cutting to our How to Quilt page. You’ll find safety advice (always always always close the blade after a cut!), help with cutting basic shapes, and tips for keeping your long strips straight and even. And if you don’t know the difference between a half-square triangle and a quarter-square triangle, and which one should not be used on the outside edge of a block or a quilt, then this is required reading.

Quilting Vocabulary

straight grain vs bias grain

If you’re a newbie, you’re bound to learn something, but even those of us who’ve been quilting for a while (you can put your hand down now) might find it worthwhile to check out our How to Quilt articles. For example, our article on Quilting Vocabulary defines all the basic terms you need to know to understand a quilting pattern. Organized as a quilting dictionary, the article is full of useful terms and information. Need to define quilting for someone who’s never heard of it? (Hard to believe, I know!) Want a better understanding of the difference between straight grain and bias grain? Struggling to explain to a beginning quilter how a walking foot helps with machine quilting? It’s all here, in easy-to-understand language.

Piecing Quilts: How to Sew Seams, Chain Piece, Match Points, and Press for Success

Chain Piecing

One bit of advice I always share with new quilters—and even some experienced quilters—is to press, well and often. It doesn’t matter to me whether you use steam or don’t use steam (I don’t), as long as you do it. I consider pressing to be every bit as important as sewing an accurate 1/4″ seam, and that’s why I was delighted to find it included in our new article on Piecing, the third new article on our How to Quilt page. Careful pressing makes careful piecing look even better, and pressing can even rescue some not-so-careful machine sewing. And believe it or not, pressing every seam really does make piecing easier. No, really.

So, what else will you find in an article about piecing? How about some basic sewing how-to like stitching accurate seams, matching seam allowances, and chain piecing? You’ll also learn how to stitch perfect points when sewing designs with triangles. And the feeling of accomplishment you’ll get from getting those points just so? Priceless!

Whether you’re a recent convert who’s just discovering the sheer pleasure of quiltmaking or an experienced stitcher who can whip out a baby quilt faster than you can RSVP to the shower invitation, we hope you’ll make our How to Quilt page your go-to quiltmaking reference. We’re just getting started and we have a long list of topics we’re working on, but if you think we’ve overlooked something or would like us to consider a particular subject, just let us know by adding a comment below. We’ll be happy to add it to the list!

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