Whether you are 16 or 106, it’s never too late to start quilting. Quilting is a beautiful, unique, and skillful art. But even the beginning seamstress can create something to cherish for generations. We are here to help you confidently learn how to start quilting. So if you are new to this art form, welcome! This is a community of supportive sewers who want you to have everything you need to start your first quilt––even if that’s just a little faith in yourself.

Quilting goes all the way back to medieval times. It’s not going anywhere! It has evolved and changed over time but consistently has been known for its ability to use small pieces of fabric to create something different. From clothing to tapestries to blankets, quilting is the gift of the resourceful. We bring pieces together to make something new.

Modern quilters create a vast variety of fabric art. Technology has even propelled what quilters can achieve through computerized programs, digital art tools, and custom fabric printing. The true beauty of quilting is that it is as unique as each individual quilter. So if you don’t like one style of quilt, go out and create something different. Quilting is not synonymous with boring. It can be bold, sweet, colorful, multi-dimensional, dainty, antique, majestic, and modern. You just have to find and embrace your own quilting style.

If you’re ready to start quilting, this is a great place to learn everything you need to start your first quilt. We’ll cover everything from supplies to perfect patterns for beginners.

Supplies Needed to Start Quilting

If you’re ready to start quilting, this is a great place to learn everything you need to start your first quilt. We’ll cover everything from supplies to perfect patterns for beginners.


How will you start quilting without fabric?! This is the fun part. You need to gather the fabric necessary to make your quilt. Quilt patterns will help you determine how much of each type of fabric you need. You’ll need fabric for your quilt top (including borders) and backing fabric.

You need to choose fabrics that are easy to work with for your first quilt. 100% Cotton is the most common material used for quilts and many fabric stores will label fabrics as appropriate for quilting. Not all cotton is the same though! You’ll want a high-quality cotton that’s not too thin or else your quilt will fray. The better your fabric, the easier it will be to make your corners and edges match.

If you are nervous about choosing patterned fabrics that go together, stick with solid fabrics and have fun choosing coordinating colors. Quilts can still dazzle with solid colors.

Check out this YouTube video I made while shopping at Joann’s. I walk through exactly how to choose quilting fabric.

An easy beginner quilt made of various shades of blue and quilted with wavy lines. A perfect beginner quilt for someone learning how to quilt.

A strip quilt is a really simple design for your first quilt! Play with color and let the quilting add to your design. This quilt was also couched with sea turtles to add more character.

Quilting Backing

You can continue to use cotton for your quilt back, but there are some fun options to add a little extra coziness to your quilt. Minky is a velvety soft, thick fabric that works well for quilt backs. Again, not all minkys are the same and you should choose a high-quality minky to avoid too much shedding.

Flannel is a very easy fabric to use for quilt backs and still adds some weight and warmth to your quilt. Flannel is easy to work with and holds up very well.

Some quilters even use 100% cotton or flannel sheets as a quilt backing. However, you don’t want to use a cheap sheet either. It will fall apart when quilted.

Sewing Machine

Even a basic sewing machine can handle the work of most basic quilts. As you move into more advanced techniques, you may want to look at investing in a sewing machine with more quilting-specific features that will make your process simpler. The more you learn how to start quilting, the more you’ll understand what features are important to you.

For example, a walking foot makes sewing fabrics together easier so they don’t slide around. A backstitch button helps you quickly finish off a row of stitches. A “needle down” button is helpful for turning projects. Along the way, you’ll find what works best for you.

I personally love my Pfaff machine with a built-in walking foot. It also has a few fancy functions that just make life a little bit easier for me, but are not necessary for all quilters. (Don’t panic when you see those prices. Find a machine that fits your budget!)

Fabric Scissors

If you had a mother or grandmother that sewed, you know that you NEVER touch their fabric scissors, and soon you’ll know why. Quality fabric scissors will be one of your most precious tools to get clean, straight cuts. They are usually heavy-duty and sharp. To keep them in good condition, only use them on fabric and store them away from where they might get used for general cutting purposes.

Rotary Cutter & Mat

Let’s keep snipping away at everything you need for your first quilt! While your scissors are precious, you’ll be endlessly grateful for a rotary cutter and mat for making cutting so much easier. Rotary cutters allow you to cut through multiple layers quickly and accurately. They make cutting strips, triangles, and squares quick work for your quilt.

Always use your rotary cutter on a self-healing mat. These mats come in various sizes and allow for numerous cuts and minimal wear. This will protect your work surface.


Measuring tools for quilting comes in many forms. Your rotary cutting mat will usually have a grid and measurements for easier cutting, as will your quilting rulers. Your quilting rulers are clear plastic tools used both for measuring and cutting straight edges with your rotary cutter. Between your mat and your grid ruler, you should be able to measure everything you need for your first quilt.


Pins are a necessity as you start to piece together your freshly cut fabric into your first quilt. You can use traditional pins or these popular fabric clips that are less likely to leave you with a prick in your finger. In my experience, they even help your projects stay a little straighter.


Start with a good 100% cotton, long staple thread (although doesn’t have to be). You may find that your machine gets fussy with certain types of thread, so there may be some trial and error. If you are looking at the thread you might also see the weight of the thread listed. For quilting, you’ll be best off with a weight of anywhere from 40 to 60. The higher the number, the finer the thread.

If you have a friend or family that hears you are learning how to start quilting and they enthusiastically hand over their thread collection that dates back to the Cold War…respectfully decline. Thread can age and will become more brittle over time. You’ll be better off purchasing  new thread or at the very least using thread that you know has been purchased in the last ten years.

When it comes to color, start with some neutrals. Black, white, cream, and gray are all great colors to have in your supply.

A polyester thread is nice too, but hard to manipulate as it is more slick. I’d start with cotton. My favorite brand is Superior Threads.

Good thread for learning how to quilt

Quilting Needles

What type of needle you need to use in your machine will depend on two things: what your sewing machine manufacturers suggest and what thread you are using. The most common size you’ll probably see is a 90/14, which works well for sewing through multiple layers. You could also use a 70/10 or an 80/12.

Iron & Ironing Board

Pressing your fabric is extremely important to have everything lay nice and flat. You don’t need a special ironing machine or board to do so, but there are some considerations when you are learning how to start quilting.

Most irons have a compartment for water, but I’ve been taught that you should never put water in there. More often than not it rusts your iron and it disperses the water unevenly on your fabric which can lead to discoloration when the iron hits a puddle of water. Instead, use a spray bottle or mister bottle to lightly dampen your fabric while ironing.

Having to iron large pieces of fabric and quilts can be difficult on a traditional ironing board. Many quilters opt to create their own ironing boards from wood and fabric that are more rectangular to accommodate their quilts. Again, do what works for you and your budget.

Now you’re ready to start quilting!

Quilting is such a beautiful art form. While its popularity ebbs and flows with different generations, there is a rising generation of gifted modern quilters creating some truly stunning work in their own unique style. Once you’ve pieced your first quilt together and you are ready to get it quilted you have a couple of options:

  1. You can quilt it yourself if your machine has the space to do so
  2. You can rent and learn how to use a longarm quilting machine at a local quilt shop
  3. You can send your quilt to a professional longarm quilter who can quilt and even bind your quilt for you.

We are happy to help you with your quilt at any stage of the process. Just let us know in the comments below how we can help. You can also reach me at amy@experiencethequilt.com with your questions.

Happy Quilting!