How to Make a Patchwork Quilt by Hand

    by Anne Baley

    About the Author

    Working in sunny Florida, Anne Baley has been writing professionally since 2009. Her home and lifestyle articles have been seen on Coldwell Banker and Gardening Know How. Baley has published a series of books teaching how to live a frugal life with style and panache.


    There is something soothing and relaxing about making a patchwork quilt by hand. It's more about enjoying the process and less about rushing to see the results. In this quilting world of strip piecing, rotary cutting and machine quilting, hand quilters sometimes seem to be left out of the mainstream. There is room for both methods. Making a patchwork quilt by hand requires time and dedication, but the results are something you can view with pride for decades.

    Things You'll Need

    • Cotton fabric
    • Fabric marking pen
    • Scissors
    • Cardboard or plastic
    • Pins
    • Needles
    • Thread
    • Batting
    • Quilt hoop
    • Bias binding

    show more

    Sketch your quilt design on paper and determine the dimensions of the pattern pieces. The simplest patterns to use would be squares, rectangle or triangles. You can also follow pattern instructions from a quilting book or download a pattern.

    Create pattern pieces for your quilt top design by tracing the pattern onto stiff plastic or cardboard.

    Trace around the pattern pieces onto your quilt top fabric using a fabric marking pen. Cut out the pieces, making your cut lines 1/4 inch away from the lines that you drew. The drawn lines are your seam lines.

    Pin your quilt patches together with the right sides joined. Hand sew your quilt blocks together with a needle and thread, making sure to stitch only on the seam lines. Use a backstitch, or a running stitch with backstitches placed every 1 1/2 inches for strength. After you finish a seam, open up the two patches and finger press the seam toward the darker of the two fabrics.

    Sew all the patches into quilt blocks, following your diagram or pattern, and then sew the blocks into a full quilt top. Some patterns call for setting strips in between the blocks to separate the individual patterns, and others have the blocks set against each other, making secondary designs where the pieces meet. Follow your pattern setting carefully to create the desired effect.

    Lay the quilt backing fabric on a flat surface with the wrong side up. Cover it with the batting, keeping the edges even. Add the finished quilt top on the batting, lining up all the edges. Use a large needle and heavy thread to baste the three layers together, using large stitches. Do not knot the ends of the basting threads; simply cut long tails so that the stitches will temporarily stay in place.

    Place the basted quilt into the quilt hoop. Use a small quilting needle, called a "between," and quilting thread to make a series of small running stitches through all three layers of the quilt. Use a stabbing motion, inserting the needle at a 90-degree angle to the quilt top. Sew this running stitch into a decorative pattern or simply make a series of parallel lines. The quilting lines should be no more than 6 inches apart with modern artificial fiber batting. If you are using a natural batting, check the label instruction for the recommended quilt line density.

    Sew a strip of bias tape onto the front of the quilt edge. Fold the bias tape around to the back of the quilt and whipstitch it down, encasing the entire edge of the quilt inside the bias binding.

    • Start and finish your seam lines with a couple of tiny stitches pulled tight instead of knots. Knots add unwanted bulk to the finished quilt.
    • Keep your fabric pieces in order as you work on the quilt top. It might be useful to label the pieces that make up individual rows or blocks with a scrap of paper and a pin, or store them in labeled plastic bags or envelopes.
    • Set aside a certain time each day, such as the first half hour after breakfast, to work on your quilt. Do this every day without fail but don't worry about it any other time. You will finish your project sooner than you might imagine.
    • One of the advantages of hand sewing a quilt is that it's portable -- you can work on the quilt while sitting on the sofa and watching television, and while you are traveling.