How to Make a Quilted Throw Pillow: Post 4: Quilting

You will need:

  • Your pillow front
  • The fabric you cut for the inside of the front of your pillow
  • Batting (also referred to as quilt wadding)
  • Pins – safety pins are best, but you can also use normal pins
  • Thread
  • Fabric scissors or rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat

Choose the type of batting you want to use. There are various types, which all feel different to touch and will give a different look to your finished product. Your local quilt shop should be able to help you choose between the different materials. We’ve chosen to use bamboo batting, which is soft and breathable, as well as being a sustainable material. Cut a square of batting measuring 50 x 50 cm (20 x 20 in). We will cut it down to the right size when quilting is completed, to ensure the batting goes right to the edge of your pillow front.

Place your layers together – first the backing fabric, right side down, then the batting, then the pillow front, right side up. Smooth each layer out before placing it centrally on top of the layers below. This is known as the quilt sandwich.

Pin the layers together at regular intervals. For a project this size, you should aim to use around 15-20 pins to ensure the layers don’t shift as you’re quilting. Make sure your pins go through all three layers. Start your pinning from the centre of the pillow front and work your way outwards, checking that all the layers are free from wrinkles as you go.

Now you need to choose your quilting design and thread colour. There are an almost infinite number of options here, but if you’re a beginner it’s probably best to start with some simple straight-line quilting. We’ve chosen to use two different colours of thread to blend with each of our main fabric colours, and will echo the pinwheel shape with the quilting lines. You could also quilt straight lines right across the whole of the front, or try a grid pattern. It’s best to avoid designs which have you quilting right through the centre of your pinwheel, as there are more layers here. This can make it more difficult to push the project smoothly through your machine and may affect your stitch length.

Time to quilt! If possible, try to start quilting in the middle of your project, to allow any wrinkles to be smoothed out towards the edge. You can use the width of your presser foot to keep your lines an even distance apart or keep a consistent width between your quilting line and the seam lines of your design. Using a walking foot helps to keep the layers moving through the sewing machine together without shifting. Don’t forget to remove pins as you go – careful not to sew over them, as this could break your sewing machine needle, or even damage your sewing machine itself.

You could also quilt by hand – this is a very different process, and gives your finished project a softer feel. It’s also a skill which takes some time to perfect, as it looks best when the stitches are all the same size. If you’re hand-quilting, use a simple running stitch and make sure that each stitch goes through all the layers of your quilt sandwich to ensure that the layers are held together firmly.

If you run out of thread while quilting or need to end a line of quilting in the middle of the pillow front, you will need to bury the thread tails to prevent your stitches from coming unravelled. Thread a needle onto your thread tail, then tie a knot a short distance away from the surface of the quilt. Now take your needle into the fabric one stitch-length away from where the thread exits the fabric – the tip of the needle should be between the quilt layers, not coming out of the other side of the project. Come back up through the top of the fabric a short distance away from your quilting line and tug gently on the thread to pop the knot through the quilt top, so that it’s between the layers of the quilt sandwich. Now trim the remaining thread close to the quilt top. Repeat for the thread tail on the back of the project.

Trim the edges of the batting and backing fabric so that everything is level with the raw edge of the pillow front. Your quilting is complete! Next month is the last in our quilting series and we’ll be finishing our pillow cover.

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