4 Skills to Practice to Become a Better Quilter

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Even the best quilters in the world need to hone their skills from time to time. In fact, what makes really great quilters really great is a willingness to try and learn new things!

Whether you’re just getting started as a quilter, have been quilting for some time but feel you’re losing your mojo, or feel an itch to try something new, there are some tried-and-true ways to improve your skills and keep quilting challenging and fun.

1. Accurate piecing 

Do you ever finish piecing a project and wonder why your points don’t match up? So do I. While it could be because of an inaccurate seam allowance, chances are you just need some help with your cutting and piecing skills.

Accurate piecing is a great skill. If you’re just starting out, you can practice piecing shapes with right angles, like squares and rectangles. Once you’ve mastered that, transition to piecing triangles, hexagons and diamonds, which have edges cut on the bias and can be a bit trickier to handle. After that, you can get even more adventurous with piecing curves and circles!

2. Construction techniques

Butterfly 12″ Paper Pieced Pattern via Tartankiwi

I’m often blown away by the sheer number of ways you can sew fabric together into a quilt. There’s hand piecing, foundation paper piecing, English paper piecing, paperless paper piecing (!), freezer paper templates, and about 80 different kinds of appliqué.

It’s really quite overwhelming for new quilters, and it’s easy to see why even the most advanced quilters have techniques they haven’t quite mastered. Even if you do know how to paper piece or appliqué, there’s probably a way to do it even better or differently. Take a class or follow a tutorial to learn a new construction technique! 

3. Quilt design

Improvisational QUilt

Photo via Jacquie Gering

If you’re still following patterns for all of your quilts, you’re missing out on amazing opportunities for creativity. While designing your own quilt might be daunting, believe me: Once you start, you’ll never go back!

Never designed a quilt before? Start with improv techniques! Improv quilting, a popular approach for modern quilters, involves sewing without following a pattern and letting the quilt evolve as it grows.

From there, you can try building on classic blocks, arranging them in a new way, or playing around with the distribution of negative and positive space. Sometimes even slight variations in the way a quilt is designed can have a big impact.

4. Quilting

Quilt by Valori Wells. Photo via Right Sides Together

Do you see quilting as a new opportunity with every quilt top you piece? If not, think about it. Quilting has one of the most significant influences over the finished look of your project.

Just as in construction, there are so many ways to quilt. There are countless styles, from hand quilting in tiny stitches and simple shapes to machine quilting ornate feathers and scrolls. And there are so many other ways to challenge yourself in this process.

If you’ve never quilted your own quilt, give it a try! Even if you’re not advanced enough to try free-motion quilting, you can experiment with straight and curved lines with your walking foot or hand stitch with embroidery floss for a modern “big stitch” quilting look.

No matter what your current quilting level, there is always more to be learned! Stay on top of current trends and new techniques to keep quilting fresh and interesting. When you subscribe to The Craftsy Quilting Blog, we’ll send you tips, tutorials and more to help you up your quilting game.

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