A Simple Pattern to Start

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What is a good way to start learning to quilt on a sewing machine? I’m looking for simple quilt pattern to start with. I’ve tried quilt in the ditch on a smaller quilt but now I want to try something a little larger. Any ideas on where to start?

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You’ve come to the right place! When starting out, I like to make a quilt sandwich. You cut a 12×12-inch square from any fabric (I prefer a simple fabric so I can see my design). Next cut another piece of fabric and a piece of batting 14×14-inches. You will put the right side down of the 14-inch square fabric, place the batting on top of this in the center, and top it off with 12-inch square right side up. This is your quilt sandwich.

Now set your stitch length at about 2.4, width will be set at 0 for now. Lower your feed dogs. (You can refer to your owner’s manual if you need help here.) Attach a darning foot or quilting foot if you have one – this foot is usually oval-shaped with a spring on the shaft. Use a thread you can see easily and that contrasts with your fabric; you want to see what you are doing.

Start out simple and progress as you become more confident. The fabric needs to be moved by your power because the feed dogs are down and won’t feed it through. I use Machingers gloves that help grip the fabric while quilting. Also helpful to make sure your machine is oiled and correctly threaded.

I prefer to pin (with safety or quilting pins) on my sandwich to keep it from shifting. This isn’t a necessary step, however if you plan to do larger pieces it is good to practice pinning. I do not use 505 stabilizing spray because it tends to gunk up my needle.

Make a few of these sandwiches in different colors. When you are done quilting then you can join them with a decorative stitch that makes a fun baby quilt or wall hanging. You can look online or in quilting magazines for beginner patterns you can try out – typically easy patterns are meandering loops, swirls, feathers, spikes, leaves, and the like. Now sit at your machine and do each sandwich with only one design covering it. You can do them in rows or an allover design. Keep your speed constant and your hands continually moving the fabric. If your stitches are too long, you need to move fabric faster. If the stitches are really short, you may need to slow down.

Now just relax and have fun! When you start to feel confident you can introduce new designs like zig zags for a cool effect. Make sure to send us pictures of your progress!

Happy Quilting!


Related Video: Machine Quilting for Beginners

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18 Responses to “A Simple Pattern to Start”

  1. Linda Garrett

    I am trying this technique! I will post the results on here?? These videos are so inspiring! I wish everyone would try a copy of the DVDs and download’s because the skills can be applied to everyday life as well. For now, I’m sewing a little “sandwich”. 😂. That still sounds funny to me. Lastly, having fun is key so have a blast! Mistakes make them “originals” from you! Remember that. Practice with the disks will help make the mistakes to a minimum, however. You “got” this!!!


    Good suggestions, maybe add link to sewing machine quilting attachment pics

    • Customer Service

      Hello Mary,

      You can simply join the units cut using the tube quilting method as you would when piecing any other unit together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.


      National Quilters Circle Video Membership

  3. Gina Piroli

    Olá! Gostaria de saber se posso substituir a manta por tecido de flanela , no caso de fazer uma toalha de mesa? Na minha cidade não encontro a manta de algodao!

  4. Sandy

    Foolish question but can you do your quilting on the top of your quilt before you sandwich the entire quilt. I do not have a quilting machine , it is difficult to quilt a bigger quilt on a regular machine, and too expensive to have someone do it for you

    • Debra

      The term “Quilt” literally means to stitch multiple layers together so stitching just the top defeats the purpose. Look up “how to Quilt on a home sewing machine” and you will find a ton of tutorials.

  5. Lee Woodall

    What is the best sewing machine to purchase. I am just starting to quilt.. thank you Lee

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Lee. When it comes to selecting a machine it really comes down to personal preference. There are many different machines out there that are great for beginners. What I would recommend it looking at several different machine brands to see if there is one you like the looks of better. From there, decide what features you may way to have- automatic needle threader, thread cutter, etc. Once you have a machine narrowed down by that you can see which machines then fit into your price range. Once you have a few in mind I would recommend finding a local dealer and trying a few of them out.

    • Eileen Buffa

      I just got a Janome for Christmas. I can’t speak about other machines but I can tell you I absolutely LOVE my Janome ❤️ When purchasing it the salesman pointed out that all the internal gears etc. are made of metal not plastic. I liked that and it gave me more peace of mind that I was purchasing a good quality built to last machine. Good luck and have fun choosing.

    • National Quilters Circle

      Hi Sheila. Butt them up side by side and do decorative stitches, a wide zig zag works great. You will want to go over the seam about 3-4 times to be sure it is secure. I generally do this by stitching to the end and then turning it around and stitching it to the starting point again. this allows the thread to be continuous. You also don’t need to just keep your pieces square, cut a curve in it and match it to another piece with the same curve, it will make your piece interesting. don’t be afraid to embellish either. I hope this helped.

    • National Quilters Circle

      Hi Mona. Bring your drawing to office max and have them put it on the size paper you want, you may have to print a quarter of your drawing at a time to complete it to size. another option would be to use a projector and paper.. a thin paper would be best and project onto the wall. I hope this answers your question.

  6. Barb

    I believe that if your stitches are too long you need to move slower and really short you need to move faster.