Diaries of a Beginner Quilter - Part 1 - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Diaries of a Beginner Quilter – Part 1

Hi, there! I’m Katie and I am a brand-new quilter learning all the basics here at Fat Quarter Shop. I’m sewing my first quilt with the help of my fellow Fat Quarter Shop staffers and I’d like to share my journey with you.

If you are new to quilting too, I hope we can share our struggles and triumphs together while you get through your first quilt. If you’re a more seasoned quilter, please feel free to share advice in the comments.

Getting started

I’ve never sewn or quilted a day in my life before now! When I arrived at Fat Quarter Shop and joined the team I came open-minded to quilting! We have a lot of tutorials on our YouTube channel so I began by watching a few of those. I first needed to learn all about quilting and sewing tools, then I learned about piecing. I gave it a shot with some scraps and ended up making Block 3 of The Ultimate Beginner Series. I ran into so many errors! I miscut some of my strips, I sewed the wrong strips first and I ironed in duck pleats.

Needless to say, I had a rough first go but it was still inspiring! Once my block was complete I felt accomplished. I had learned to read a pattern, ask for help and how to press my seams.

Choosing my first pattern

To get started, I chose a pattern! As a beginner, I decided it was best to choose a pattern I could feel confident trying. I searched the digital shelves of Fat Quarter Shop and decided I would start with a pattern from Melissa Corry’s new book, Charming Baby Quilts.

I tried three patterns in this book before deciding. I tested them out by making one block from each. The first two proved to be more challenging than I had hoped, so I went with the last one I tried. It uses straight seams (no triangles) and doesn’t have anything complex about it. It’s the Color in The Lines Quilt.

Tip: When choosing a beginner pattern, look for pre-cut friendly patterns. My quilt used one charm pack which made cutting quick and easy.

Choosing my fabrics and precut

Choosing fabric is the fun part! I shopped at Fat Quarter Shop for a collection that would work well for my baby quilt and the size of my cuts. Since I’m using charm packs, my fabrics will be no larger than 5″ x 5″ so I picked a collection with small-scale prints that will show nicely. Fat Quarter Shop has an excellent Pre-Cut Fabric Guide that explains how each type of precut is sized and what projects coordinate well with them.

Tip: Always choose a fabric that will show up will in a pattern. If your pattern uses large pieces, then it is safe to get a large-scale print collection so none of its beauty is lost.

I wanted something bright and fun for the baby who will be receiving this so I chose Abby Rose by Robin Pickens for Moda Fabrics.

Finding my quilting supplies

I needed a rotary cutter, cutting mat, a ruler and some Alphabitties. I chose the Creative Grids Perfect 5 Ruler for the charm pack squares, and I borrowed a larger Creative Grids 6.5″ X 24.5″ Ruler from our sewing space at the office to cut my sashing and borders.

Tip: Buy one large and versatile ruler when getting started. As you make more quilts, you’ll acquire more rulers (or so I’ve been told!)

My Alphabitties made organizing my fabric cuts easy. I was excited so I  have already started my cuts and I have them organized as the pattern states.

I’ve got my first steps down! I’m sew excited to report back in part two with how piecing and sewing is going for me! I’ve never sewn before, by hand or machine, so I have plenty to learn.

If you are also a beginner quilter and are wondering where to get started, follow along with me here as I document my first quilt step-by-step.

Happy Quilting!

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  1. Hi Katie! Congratulations on your quilting journey! I hope you have a wonderful time learning. I’ve been quilting for several years, but have only completed a very small quilt. I am currently working on FQS’s Threadology Quilt from last year, so it will be my first big quilt. I think your quilting tips are great for any quilter! Happy creating!

    1. My Name is tina Crawford and im from Pennsylvania im learning the quilt called Ultimate beginner quilt with Kimberley? Im a very very beginner how can i post some of my blocks seriously this is challenging fir me LOL THANK YOU I CANT WAIT TO START ANOTHER ONE 😊

  2. Hi, Katie. I’m an old retired guy who has found fulfillment and therapy in quilting. I’m 4 years new to the hobby and I am always learning something new. SO. . .have fun. I will be learning right along with you. 😊

    1. Thank you! I look forward to working on my cutting and piecing this week. It’s very exciting.

  3. This is excellent as I too am a very recent devotee to learning to quilt and all its intricities and just yesterday was wishing could follow a guide from very beginning of quilting, and lo and behold I saw your blog this morning. I will be following it with interest.

    1. That is great! I hope my blog can help. Is there a pattern you are working on right now?

  4. While I have made quilts in the past, watching the beginner quilt series opened my eyes to so much. What I was doing wrong, how to prep, cut, sew and iron. When I got my new sewing machine, I purchased the quilt kit and decided to use the kit to practice better techniques and also figure out how my machine works and what works best for me. I am now working on the binding, and yes, I am hand sewing it (something I have NEVER done). This project along with the tutorials has been so beneficial to me in so many ways. I recommend it to any level of quilter.

  5. I made my 2nd quilt with FQS Beginner Quilt Series and learned so much more from my 1st quilt class at my LQS. I made mistakes, but learned that it worked out in the end. It was such a great series. I’ve since made my 3rd quilt while being quarantined and will try to make face masks today. I look forward to following you as make your 1st quilt and anxious to learn any tips you have. Have fun!

    1. Let me correct my comment. I learned more from FQS Beginner Quilt Series than I did from my 1st quilt class several years ago at my LQS.
      I think I’ve been inside too long! Ha!

    2. My name is tina i have only been sewing for about a year now im learning alotfrom the Ultimate beginner Quilt series with Kimberly she showing a good bit. Lol im a real beginner how can i post pictures ??im from Hanover Pa .lets get our sewon ladies !!!

  6. Good for you, Katie! I have been quilting for a few years and still consider myself a beginner. It is such a rewarding, relaxing hobby. Watching what evolves when you piece fabric together is just magical! The FQS Ultimate Beginner Quilt series was so informative and helpful (and so much better than other tutorials I had found online). I know I will refer back to Kimberly’s instructions while making future quilts. Looking forward to your posts! Love your fabric choice.

    1. My name is tina i have only been sewing for about a year now im learning alotfrom the Ultimate beginner Quilt series with Kimberly she showing a good bit. Lol im a real beginner how can i post pictures ??im from Hanover Pa .lets get our sewon ladies !!!

  7. Congratulations on your step into the wonderful world of quilting. Beautiful fabric choices. Your blog is fun to read. One caution as a beginner: Learn to ALWAYS close your rotary cutter when you are not using it.

  8. Go Katie Go!!! All of us were there at some point in our journey, and it can seem daunting, but remember “a finished quilt is better than a perfect one.” Enjoy the process! Love the fabric! And I can’t think of a better group of people to learn from!

  9. Also a new quilter, I began at the age of 70 which alone comes with its own set of challenges. Did I mention I had never sewed in my life, so it’s been interesting and rewarding.
    My seam ripper is my best friend. I call it “my tragic sewing life. I do learn something new each time I see and I am getting better. My friends say I make beautiful quilts but that’s only because I will rip out and undo as often as necessary to get it right. I’m never worried about finishing, I just enjoy the journey.
    So kudos to you for starting now because the 70 something brain does not grasp as quickly or as well as yours does.
    All that said, you’ll love it.
    The rewards come like when I gave my grandson the Lacrosse quilt I made him and said that I was worried the colors may be too bright. He looked at me and said “it’s perfect gram” enough said!

  10. Istarted quilrting in about 2003. The first quilt I chose was a pink and greendresden plate quilt that I saw in a magazine. I had cut and sewn a few clothes for myself in high school, but that was several years ago. When I found the dresden quilt pattern, I fell in love,but I did not learn about what supplies(notions) I needed. I was just excited to make a hand appliqued quilt by hand, mind you, for my dear mamma. Long story short, with MANY dear women guiding me, the “Mints for Mamma” dresden plate quilt with 20 inch squares, got finished. I also made a hand-appliqued queen size quilt for my daughter. Needless to say, I started my quilting journey with 2 huge quilts and very little experience under my belt. I am very afraid of cutting fabric and afraid of wasting good fabric. I am so glad I found your blog this morning. I have been given fabric squares and rectangles. You gave me a great idea with your quilt to, first of all, learn to square up these pieces,then sew them in strips and add sashing. I thank you for this invitation to learn the basics and go from there. I have been blessed by God to afford,maybe, purchasing a pre-cut kit, jelly roll quilt, or 5″charms for a project (small) to start completely from scratch just as if I had never sewn before. Take care Katie, relax, enjoy all the tips and helping hands surrounding you right now, take your time reading a pattern, getting your notions lined up. If you or anyone else has tips on getting rid of my fear of wasting beautiful fabric when cutting it, please let me know at email address bettyjoburgess0@gmail. Thank you so much for inspiring to begin learning how make a quilt from step 1 on. I know you will do great.