[ Advice and Life Lessons ]

Skill Building Tips for Quilters

Are there patterns or techniques on your quilting bucket list? Pick one and try it today! Here are my favorite skill building tips for quilters. From novice to expert, there are ways to improve and new methods to try.

Master the basics

Many quilters live by the mantra, “Make it a little bigger then trim to the correct size.” While this works for basic units like half-square triangles, it can cause trouble with other pieces. Trimming a finished block to a smaller size might cut off points. I am a laid-back quilter, so the occasional “pointless” star block doesn’t bother me, but if it starts happening on every block I get worried.

If I start to see a recurring problem, I check my process. Did I cut the pieces accurately? Is my seam allowance exactly one quarter inch?  Change the needle position if you are having problems with the seam allowance. You might need to switch the presser foot. The quarter-inch guide on my presser foot was bent, which threw off the whole block. By using a different foot, I was able to regain my accurate seam and the block was the right size.

Read more in this article about getting to know your sewing machine.

Learn a new skill

How long has it been since you took a quilt class? Quilting teachers are full of useful tips and tricks. I encourage everyone to take a class at your local quilt store. This is quite helpful if you want to try an intricate pattern such as Judy Neimeyer’s spectacular paper-pieced designs. The instructors may not be nationally known but I’m sure you will gain value from their experience.

skill building

Embrace technology

There is a vast community of quilters who may have never met, but they connect online every day. Instagram challenges such as the #100blocks100days can build your quilting skills by showcasing new blocks. I have been exploring YouTube more and I enjoy the ruler work that Natalia Bonner is sharing with her series Let’s Quilt a Block a Day. I started the True Blue Quilts Channel this year and recently shared a series of videos all about paper piecing.

paper piece youtube

Ultimately, you will master new skills with repetition. So the best skill building tip for quilters is to go sew! 

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Longarm Quilter, Pattern Designer, Teacher


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