31 Days to a Handmade Quilt: Quilt a Big “X”

It’s taken a little while to get to the quilting phase of our quilt, but here we are! :)

We won’t do a lot of quilting today because it might take a little while for you to feel comfortable with the process and with handling the large amount of fabric. But we’ll pick up speed as we go along.

Yesterday you basted your quilt either with safety pins or needle and thread. I did needle and thread, and let me say, I much prefer safety pins. I’m going to keep my eye out for a good deal on them :)

Lay your quilt out on the floor (yes, again!).

We’re going to quilt (i.e., sew through all the layers) a big “x” that goes diagonally through the little squares. Can you picture it?

Roll your quilt up until only the header and the top row of squares shows. We’ll start in the upper right-hand corner (but NOT in the header).

Set your sewing machine for a pretty long stitch–mine has 5 settings and I put it on number 4.

Take your quilt–still rolled up–to your sewing machine, and get it into place under the needle. You’ll start sewing right at the edge of the fabric (hopefully there’s a little extra batting and backing sticking out). Do not back-stitch.

Sew a diagonal line down through the square, intersecting with the spot where the four corners meet. (It looks wobbly here because it’s puffy; in real life it’s a straight seam :) )

As you keep sewing, you’ll have to unroll the fabric on your right side and start rolling it up on the left side.

Keep sewing until you reach the other side of your quilt. Do not backstitch. Cut your thread tails pretty long; we’ll tie them up in a minute.

Now turn your fabric around and sew the other side of the “x” the same way.

Yay! You’ve gotten the quilting started!

To tie off the ends of the seams, go to the back of the quilt, grab the bobbin thread, and give it a gentle tug. You should see a little loop pop up. If you pull this loop through, you’ll end up with the top thread and the bobbin thread both on the back of the quilt. Tie a knot (or three), trim your ends, and your seam will be held in place. (I know that sounds weird, but just try it and see if it makes more sense.)


  • Quilting is definitely an art form; you’re welcome to eyeball it and consider any wobbly parts artistic variations. If you’d like it to be perfectly straight, either use a ruler to sew against or a fabric marking pen to draw a guide line.
  • This “x” is a good way to start out, because it anchors the top, batting, and backing in place. As we go along, you can choose different quilting stitches and types for the different squares, or you can do it exactly how I do it. This is where your artistic license comes in :)
  • This is how I quilt. It may or may not be technically correct, but it works. If you have quilting experience, I’d love to hear tips and ways to do things better! :)

Do you feel pretty comfortable with sewing through all three layers? Tomorrow we’ll finish up the top row of squares (probably :) ) with some different stitches and patterns.

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