My criteria as to what makes a quilt pattern suitable for a beginner is

  • The project shouldn’t be too big
  • The pattern should have lots of diagrams and simple steps to follow or be accompanied by a good video.
  • The project should teach you something new, but not too much.

What is too big?

If you are a beginner and would like to make a king-size bed quilt, I would suggest that starting with some smaller skill builder quilts would be best. Not least because when you make a king-size quilt, it takes a long time to make the quilt top, and then you will need a plan for quilting it. A smaller, lap or baby-sized quilt project will allow you to start and finish something from cutting out to putting the binding on the quilt, and it will hold your enthusiasm throughout the journey.

If you are still keen to make a larger quilt and the skills required are things you have practised, you should go on and do this after a couple of successful smaller projects. If you intend to quilt it yourself, you may want to investigate Quilt-As-You-Go methods so that you can manage the quilting within your machine.

How do I know if the pattern is a good one?

Good patterns have lots of diagrams or a video to help you. Open up the pattern, and if it is full of text, it will not be a good pattern for a beginner. We all need help when we start something new, and diagrams are brilliant.  An example of someone who writes excellent patterns is Aneela Hoey – her patterns for pouches are always well written.

Be a little wary of free patterns and those from fabric manufacturers websites. Free patterns can be fantastic, but lots of them are super essential. Check them out before you get excited. Fabric manufacturers have patterns written to promote each fabric range. In general, the quality of the patterns written is low. An exception to this is Moda, whose free patterns are generally fab!

How do I know if the pattern will be too complex for me?

If you can sew accurate ¼” seams and have a good pattern (see above) without curves, you should be fine. Curves aren’t complex when you get the hang of them, but I would suggest you start with a straight line and move on to piecing curves. Video are great resources to push on your skills without the need to move from your own home.

Is Machine Applique OK?

Yes. Machine applique is a great place to focus on as a beginner. You will learn a lot about the end to end process of constructing the quilt without too much piecing, and the results are always fantastic – remember to check the pattern. For good diagrams and simple steps, if you are new to applique.

So that is it! Stick to the rules above, and you will be fine. If you’d like to take my beginners class, you can now do so online. I walk you through all the basics of patchwork and quilting in this class, and you will end up with a fantastic quilt just like these.