This is a self-paced Sampler quilt-a-long with clear instruction and photos. A sampler quilt is a collection of blocks, each different from the others, made into a quilt. Some are quite complex, include hand embroidery and/or applique, and blocks for the experienced quilter.
For this quilt-a-long, I will stick with twelve blocks using simple units. Do blocks in numerical order as skills and techniques build on previous blocks.
First a Review
First, let’s review a few things you can learn in advance about the Sampler quilt-a-long. I hope to save you time and money before you start sewing. There is much to know about the fabric you should buy and the thread best to use. Batting can be baffling. A list of tools you will need for this project will keep you focused. I want to give you an opportunity to have the information before you head to the store to shop. Shopping can get expensive quickly, especially if you don’t know things experienced quilters have learned, sometimes at a high price! The wonderful thing about quilters is they love to share all that knowledge.
Most quilters I know prefer to make their quilts out of 100% cotton fabrics. Price is not necessarily an indicator of quality. I suggest shopping at stores like Walmart, Hobby Lobby, or JoAnn with any coupons available in hand. Employees in the fabric department will be able to show you where you will find suitable fabric for a quilt.
Find fabric you like for the color or design, close your eyes, and use your fingers to see by touch. Does it feel soft as it passes through your fingers? Choose quilt fabric for the feel. You aren’t looking for something that can stand by itself in the checkout line. You are “looking” for fabric you could cuddle up in. Wander the aisles and aimlessly stop to feel the fabric (quilters refer to this as petting the fabric). Sense of touch may not pick your favorite color but cuddle worthy you can count on.
Fabric on bolts have a label on one end of the cardboard. There is a wealth of information there if you look. You will see the width of the fabric (44″ or 45″ are common), content, washable or dry clean only, number of yards on a full bolt, and a name or other identification information.
Don’t forget to check the clearance fabric. I have found some genuinely nice fabric at clearance prices.
Two sources I trust wrote about batting. Links to their writings are https://www.handiquilter.com/thoughts-on-batting and https://thecuriousquilter.wordpress.com/tutorials/cq-quilt-batting-selection-chart/. I have also written a short post on the subject Pick the Right Batting from a Chart.
Keeping with the idea to keep expenses reasonable on the first few quilts, you cannot go wrong purchasing all-purpose thread in a neutral color. Neutral colors white, off white, cream, light yellow, light gray, and ecru are my go-to thread colors for piecing.
Minimal Basic Tools
Many minimal basic tools for quilt making you may have in your home. Some items on this list were not even invented when our mom, grandmothers, and great grandmothers made lovely quilts.
- Sewing machine OR needle and thread for hand sewing
- Iron and ironing surface
- Spray starch or sizing (optional)
- Small scissors for thread cutting
- Fabric scissors OR rotary cutter, cutting mat, and a ruler specially made to use with a rotary cutter. The ruler I use most frequently is 6″ or 6.5″ x 24″. These tend to be expensive, but the investment will be well worth getting for quick and accurate cutting. If they don’t fit within your budget or are an investment you will make after you decide quilt making is “your thing”, sharp fabric scissors and a school ruler will also get the job done!
- Straight pins or clips to secure pieces together
- Zip lock bags for organizing cut pieces – sandwich bags from the Dollar Store work fine
- Scrap paper or Sharpie for marking bags
- Mechanical pencil for marking fabric lines (thin lines needed for accuracy)
What do you think so far about making this skill building Sampler quilt? It is a modern approach with a result I believe will give you confidence to make any other pattern with confidence.
Learning happens with experience. Reading what other quilters share is like finding a gold mine! I touched upon many aspects in this post Need Help Sewing and Quilting? — Sewing with Stitcher.
Visit You Tube and find quilters you like to watch and listen to what they share. I have picked up helpful tips and learned new techniques. The saying “you are never too old to learn” fits; it just takes me a little longer!