Making your first quilt can be a fun and challenging experience and the final product can make an excellent gift. Handmade quilts are extremely thoughtful gifts for newlyweds or new babies, and if they are well made they can become heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. Before you start handing out one of a kind treasures to your friends and loved ones, however, you need to pick up the basics of quilting. Once you learn the fundamental steps to making a quilt, you will be limited only by your budget and your imagination. You can start making up your own patterns, adding embroidery for that extra personalized touch or even incorporating nontraditional materials like beads into your work. For your first attempt, make a 45 by 60 inch lap quilt. You can buy your batting ready cut and it's an easy size to work with.
Begin by collecting scraps of fabric with which to make your quilt. Traditionally, women made quilts out of scraps of fabric leftover from other projects or from old clothes. This was an extremely practical way to stretch a dollar. These days, many expert quilters will make their quilts out of fabrics that have sentimental value to them, like pieces of a wedding dress. Before you go cutting up your departed grandmother's housedress, you should make a few practice quilts with some inexpensive scraps you pick up from a fabric store. You need nine fat quarters of fabric that look nice together for your front, 3/8 of a yard cut of fabric for the binding and 1 and 2/3 yards of fabric for the back. Ask an employee to help you cut these fabrics. You should also pick up a 45 by 60 piece of batting while you are at the store.
Cut your fat quarters into 81 six inch by six inch squares. Each of your nine fat quarters should give you nine of these squares, plus an extra four inch by eighteen inch strip from the bottom. Sew your squares into rows of eight. To do this, place two squares of fabric that you want adjacent to each other face to face. Sew one edge together, approximately one quarter of an inch from the ends of the fabric. Open the fabric squares back up and you should have a row of two. Continue in this manner until you have ten rows of eight. Next, sew the rows together by placing two rows face to face, then sewing the edges together just like you did for the squares. Now you should have the front of your quilt finished. It should be eight squares by ten squares.
Lay the back piece to your quilt face down on the floor. Carefully cover it with your batting, then with the front of your quilt face side up. Both the back and the batting should protrude a little bit from the edges of the front. Pin the whole thing together around the borders and at the corner of every square on the face. Sew your quilt together at your sewing machine, following the path you made with your pins and removing pins as you go. Cut your binding into three inch wide strips. Finish your quilt by sewing the binding face down to the border of the quilt, then folding it around the rough edge and hand sewing it with the rough edge folded in to the backing.