My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tips for Beginner Quilters

When I began running beginner quilt making classes I asked my Twitter friends what advice they would give beginners.  I got great responses and I thought I'd publish them on my blog.  I'm pretty sure I never got around to it.  And even if I did, I think they bear repeating from time to time.

And seeing as I'm running another set of classes at the moment, now is as good a time as any!  Thanks guys, and even if you're not a beginner, take the time to read the list.  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the basics.  And that it's okay to use pretty fabric!

The importance of the 1/4" seam. Being as accurate as possible in every step makes a better end product. But have fun!

Always square up your blocks when you're done piecing them.

Wash and dry fabrics first!

Measure twice and cut once - saves on fabric AND frustration!!

Regarding mistakes -If you can't see it from a galloping horse, don't worry about it. Advice that set me free.

And practice makes perfect. We all start out crawling before we can walk.

“Don’t worry, it’s just fabric!” Spent too long hanging onto pretty fabric I was afraid to cut into.

And the corollary, “There will always be another pretty fabric!”

Make friends with your seam ripper.

Learn as many techniques as you can and try them out on small projects build arsenal of skills

Play and have fun. enjoy the process.

Measure with lines on ruler, not cutting mat.

When a seam doesn't come out right, set it aside, try again on the next one. Rip out later.

Sew slowly, even FMQ. Better to be comfortable & in control

Done is better than perfect.

you will learn and enjoy more if you join and engage with the quilting community.

Life is short. Use pretty fabric. JMO.

Start with a small project, wall hanging, pillow cover, bag.

And just for kicks and giggles, here's one of my earliest quilts. The appliquéd buzzy bee on the first border hides a little scissor accident.  None of the circles are perfect. The colours are OMG bright. But it was loved and cuddled by the child I gave it too, and that's what counts.

I'd love to hear your best piece of advice for the beginner quilt maker, leave me a comment and I'll be sure to pass them on to my class.


  1. All good advice! Using the pretty fabric seems to be a theme. Let the fabric do all the work, I say. A simple easy design can be a WOW! Quilt if you use fabrics you love.

  2. Try different techniques. Read books/websites. Go to quilt shows and above all relax and enjoy the process.

  3. Please can we come up with a nicer saying, but :"there is more than one way to skin a cat"..........give different techniques and tools a try, what works for you might not work so well for others. Clean and Oil and maintain your machine, it's amazing how much better your machine preforms with a new needle too! But most of all enjoy!

  4. Take a class! Not only will you learn the techniques, you'll meet some fun people too.

  5. YOu don't need every ruler on the market. I've been quilting for 20 years and only use a 6.5", 12.5" and a 24 x 5" ruler. Don't skimp on rotary cutter blades. Change them often xx

  6. When you get tired, stop, take a break and come back later fresh and ready to go again.... this works for me.


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