Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Part 1: Let's start from the very beginning...how to make a beginners Table Runner...Part 1

quilted table runner beginners

If you think it would be kinda fun to sew something...but don't know what and don't want to make too much of a commitment, then you need to be my best friend for a couple of weeks.  I am going to do a series here on how to make a table runner.

Not only am I going to teach you how to make a table runner but I'm also going to give you the 4-1-1 that you need to start sewing.  Basic tips, supplies needed and tricks of the trade.  Not clothes, mind you.  That's a whole different kettle of fish.  The sewing we're doing here is quilting and basic stitchery.  From this point on, I am going to refer to the sewing we are doing as quilting.  The Verb, to quilt basically means to sew layers of fabric and/or padding together. 

If you are interested in quilting, please know it is a pretty significant cost commitment.  If you know anybody who quilts and can borrow their equipment or can take a class to familiarize yourself with quilting, that would be a good idea.  You need a lot of stuff to quilt and while it's not outrageously expensive, to have to equip yourself all at once...is going to be fairly significant.  Probably $75...and that doesn't include the sewing machine or iron and ironing board or fabric.

Part 1: Gear You Need to Quilt

1.  A 6" X 24" Quilting ruler.  See how it's clear, this will help you to cut your fabric more accurately.

2.  Straight Pins...for pinning, see.

3.  A non-permanent marking pen or pencil.  Mine is a pen that disappears under the heat of an iron.   Totally cool.  This is so you can mark where you're going to sew your quilting lines...or for general measuring...you can really just use a #2 pencil...the marks wash out pretty well.

4.  A Rotary cutter...this is what you are going to cut your fabric with in tandem with your ruler...CAREFUL!  Very sharp.  I have done serious damage to my toe when I kicked a garbage bag I was removing from my sewing room...and there was an old blade in there....Just saying...this ain't no set of safety scissors...these blades mean business

5.  A Seam Ripper...or un-picker as I not so affectionately call it...see, here's the thing, the seam ripper will become your constant companion when quilting.  Whether you sewed wrong sides together or just sewed wonky...this will help you make it all better.

6.  Scissors....for cutting stuff.  Mainly thread. 

7.  Rotary Mat.  This is what you cut all your fabric on.  Mine is 36" X 24" which is really standard.  This will protect the table you are cutting on as well as your rotary cutter blade. 

A sewing machine.  Now, don't get me wrong, you do not only need a sewing machine as I wrote about here for Inspiration Cafe...hexies are fun!  But, if you are serious about wanting to sew, then you need a sewing machine.  It doesn't have to be fancy, mine cost about...$250 I think, and I really like it.  It doesn't have fancy features like needle down or needle up or any intricate stitches, but really all you need is a good straight stitch and zig zag.  Mine does have an auto needle threader which is very nice.

An Iron and Ironing board.  You will use this puppy a lot.  If you don't love ironing now...well, ironing your seams probably won't be your favorite part of quilting...I mean, who likes to iron?  But I actually don't mind it.  It's relaxing and just part of the process. 

Thread and bobbin.  Your sewing machine should come with at least 1 bobbin, but it's not a bad idea to have a few on hand.  The thread you are going to want to use is either 100% cotton, all purpose thread or polyester, all purpose thread.

The fabric.  The best part of quilting.  Love me some gorgeous fabric...watch out, fabric can turn anybody into a hoarder!

Needles for your sewing machine.  Your needle will get dull...a dull needle makes for a very unpleasant sewing experience.  I don't change my needle after every project like some people advocate, but I do change it every few projects.

Batting.  This is what makes your quilt...warm.  I like this particular brand, it's very thin, but warm.  This makes quilting it easier.  When you have to sew through a very thick bat...it's much harder.

Extra Gear That’s Nice to Have
But is not absolutely essential to successful quilting
1.  A place to store your gear.  I got this at the hardware store...it works great.

2.  Safety Pins.  You gotta pin your quilts together somehow...these work great.

3.  Starch...for when you want to really, really, really get your seams nice and flat.  Water works great as well as...just heat.  And if you only use heat, you won't have to worry about warping your fabric.  Water warps fabric.

4.  A myriad of rulers, a hem ruler and a Walking Foot.

5.  A tape measure

6.  Embroidery needles and extra blades for your rotary cutter (which are really essential, you don't want to be cutting fabric with a dull blade...imagine fingernails on the chalk board...shudder).

All right.  There you have all the gear you need to quilt.  Next up...what you need to make this table runner.  Come on, give quilting a chance.  It gives you the opportunity to make beautiful things, to express your creativity, to de-stress...or add stress depending if you're doing something particularly difficult and it just plain feels good to make something yourself...plus you get to play with all the pretty fabric!

Thanks for reading!

Other posts in the series:

Part 2: Measuring and what kind of fabric to buy 
Part 3: How to pick your fabric
Part 4: How to cut fabric without cutting yourself
Part 5: Time to start cutting and pinning
Part 6: How to Pin Properly
Part 7: Let's Press
Part 8: Leaders and Enders



  1. Can't wait, my mum is a quilter and you're right it's not cheap and very addictive. I inherited her old janome I can't figure out the auto thread. Love the walking foot and the quarter inch foot

  2. What a pretty table runner, love the colours!

  3. I love this !!! You give such awesome instruction .> I want to learn to quilt and this is a great starter for me. Thank you .. HUGS and have a blessed week

  4. I love how your runner came out!Visiting from DearCreatives.com

  5. Your table runner is so pretty and springy! (Is that a word?) The colors are fantastic and I'm loving the butterflies. I will have my eyes peeled to catch all of your instructions...I'm determined to do this someday!

  6. Pretty Pretty Pretty. Pinned :) Great tutorial!

  7. I have all the supplies above..but the fabric. Wooohoo!


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