Many quilts are not heirloom quilts – they are comfortable, warm and pretty quilts that are in use every day and can be thrown in the washing machine as often as necessary. Lap quilts make great beginner quilting projects because they are small projects that can be finished relatively quickly so you can see a rich reward for your efforts.
Baby quilts also make great beginner quilting projects and even if you don’t know anyone with a baby there are many charities that welcome gifts of quilts. Through making a small quilt like this you can learn the basic steps involved in making a quilt and from there it’s easy to move onto larger, bed sized quilts. Traditional quilts were pieced with hand sewing and then they were hand quilted. Today it is far more common for them to be machine pieced and then the layers are secured together with machine quilting. This can be achieved with a domestic sewing machine.
Interest in making quilts is growing enormously and now there are many subdivisions such as modern quilts, traditional quilts, art quilts and miniature quilts. There is not the same differentiation between quilting designs. The traditional designs of feathers and cables can be made with machine quilting and are popular as motifs on all classes of quilts.
The original quilters used cotton feedsacks and discarded clothing to make quilts which were strictly functional. Today they can still be made from clothing but there are also many fabrics produced just for the quilting population with beautiful, vibrant colours and designs ranging from vintage reproductions to very modern specialist designs. Try buying a cotton shirt from a charity shop: you’ll be amazed at how much fabric you can recover from it for a quilting project.
The insulation layer of a quilt, known as wadding, lies between the patchwork quilt top and the backing fabric. Here again there have been many changes. Early quilts were made with a blanket or even just a sheep’s fleece for the wadding. Today wadding can be all cotton or wool, all polyester, or differing proportions of natural and synthetic fibres. Some waddings are made with bamboo which gives a lovely soft wadding with the anti bacterial properties of bamboo and some waddings are even made from recycled plastic.
The way we make quilts and the fabrics used may have changed enormously over the years, but a quilt is still a beautiful and functional item that enriches any home.
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