Quilting preliminary notes

If you stumble upon this, please keep in mind that at the time of this writing, I haven’t sewn a single quilt. I’ve sewn this bag, and that’s the extent of my “patchwork”. It has batting, does that count?
So I am just assembling information in preparation for my first quilt. This is a work in progress.


Polyester as usual is touted as being easy to launder. However, no reasons given why cotton is not also easy to launder. And even some wool batting seems easy to launder and even tumble dry. In any case, before using a particular kind of batting, a sample can be made and laundered? And obviously wool is more insulating than cotton while remaining breathable (unlike poly). To me it is a no-brainer: either cotton or wool.

Then there’s thickness/loftiness and hand, which is a choice. If using natural fibres, for loft wool is needed. There is at least one 80% cotton / 20% wool batting out there, which also seems like a good idea.

Outer fabric

I suppose many types of fabric can be used, but quilting cotton is primarily used. Quilting cotton (plain weave) is supposed to be crisp, have a relatively high density, be colourfast and durable, and not distort easily, so it is a good option for piecing and years of laundering.


Quilters appear to use bindings on the grain most often. The backing fabric folded over can also be used, but this seems to produce less neat corners, although I am sure they can be neatly mitred in some way.


Press: (As usual with nearly any sewing, in fact) press all steps of the way.

Glue: I’ve seen PVA and stick glue used. Set with iron. Helps size for crispness before sewing, and also obviously holds in place. It is supposed to wash off when laundering. To test. Some PVA glues are waterproof. Children’s PVA might be a safer bet.

Marking: There’s those washable or fading markers, but some people report them not washing away or reappearing, which is also my experience. They’re also expensive and dry out. Another option is low graphite pencils which erase and wash off. To test. Chalk and soap I don’t find very precise.

Sequences: Clever sewing and cutting sequences can add precision and reduce measuring, cutting and sewing operations. These are dependent on pattern so I don’t think there are any general guidelines.

Design: There are many named traditional patterns. Regardless of this, and of fashions, choice of pattern, colour scheme and prints clearly overlaps with any other design work (I mean once you learn this, you don’t need to re-learn for every craft).

Precision is utterly paramount, necessary if the patch work is to fit at all. Especial rulers and rotary cutters / mats are advised.

Basting all layers together before quilting. I’ve gone over several techniques and basting with thread and herringbone st seems the most obviously superior to me. Video here. First video of my quilting playlist on youTube.


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