After making your decision to make your first quilt, which is exciting, you may feel anxious about how to read a quilt pattern…. Relax..Relax and enjoy quiltingMost patterns are very straight forward and easy to understand.

Sometimes the problem quilters run into is that there are so many different patterns it can be hard to make a decision. Look at it this way, that just means there are more you can make down the road!

I find it best to start with patterns that are labeled “easy”.  This will help you to begin to gain comfort in your skills and then you can advance your way up as your comfort level develops.

It is important that you are able to read a pattern and understand it so that you can make the best decision for you.

Understanding Patterns

width of fabric 44"-45"

Most patterns give fabric measurements needed based on fabric that is 44″-45″ wide.  If you find a material that is wider or narrower, the pattern should include allowances for those as well.  Look for how much batting and backing is needed also.

Besides listing the amount of fabric, batting, and backing you will need, a quality pattern will also advise you on, but not limited to:

  • Fabrics and amounts needed
  • Sewing the seam allowance (99% 1/4″ is used)
  • Ease of pattern – Easy, intermediate, advancedquilter skill levels
  • Name of the quilt pattern or title
  • Finished size – other options available such as lap, crib, full…
  • Color/Fabric suggestions
  • Tools needed – ruler size, fusible web, threads…

If you purchase a single pattern that is enclosed in a plastic bag the above information will be visible on the front and back of the package.  Many times you may open the package to get a closer look.
If you are purchasing a pattern book or a quilting magazine the sewing and finishing steps are normally laid out over a few pages but the front page should always supply at least the title of the quilt, fabric width information along with the amounts needed, and the finished quilt size.

Remember to read through your pattern a couple times so you are able to visualize in your mind the finished project.understand the basics of patterns

Many times I find a pattern I want to make but I don’t care for the colors they have chosen.  There is no rule that you have to use the colors the patterns calls for, it is really just a suggestion.  Just make sure to go through the entire fabric measurements, cutting instructions, piecing and sewing steps and replace their color choice with yours.

If you buy fabric online just make a note for when you place your order.  If they call for 1/2 yard yellow but you want pink for those sections, simply change it to 1/2 pink.  If you buy your fabric at a local store just take a small notepad with you and do the same.  People at fabric stores and online are very helpful and friendly so don’t hesitate to ask someone for advice.  After all, that is how I got started!

If you would like more details on understanding and reading quilt patterns, please watch the below video, if you still have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to leave me a message.  I also like to get any and all suggestions you may have.


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