One step up from the tied quilt I wrote about in April is a whole cloth quilt.
Fabric websites carry lots of handsome print fabric, one of the finest being damask.
You can get a limited number of damask patterns in fabric that is 72 inches wide (six feet) for a king-size bed.
There are more choices in narrower cloth.
Buy enough yardage, such as two yards, for the length of your bed.
Baste with your batting and backing.
Put on the binding.
"Quilting" means buy a special set of hand-sewing needles called "quilting sharps" and a special sturdy thread called "quilting thread." Quilting thread comes in tons of colors but I recommend white for your first quilt
You can make a knot in the thread and use that to secure the thread on the back of the backing.
But that takes a big knot to keep it from coming through the muslin backing, and it makes a tiny lump.
Experienced quilters will run the thread through the backing in a tiny X and then make another tiny X over it at an angle to secure the thread, to avoid this lump.
Now push the needle through the center of the X so it comes out on the other side of the quilt.
You can put the quilt in a frame to hold it steady while you work but you can also quilt "in your lap" so you don't have to spend money for the frame.
Now decide how you will use your quilting thread to make a pattern with the damask.
I suggest a line equally distant from two major pattern motifs.
That should provide enough anchoring for your fabric layers without needing too much work.
An experienced quilter becomes able to make several quilting stitches before pulling the thread through, leaving a nice even line. This helps when several people are quilting the same cover and it goes pretty fast.
It's hard to do with thick batting so you might do what I do, which is set each stitch separately.
It takes longer and you have to be more careful so that the stitches aren't crooked, and if you want to have a quilting party you'll annoy your friends. But it's easier on the fingers.
You can also use batiks as your top layer although they may give you less of a lead as to where to quilt.
You could always quilt interlocking quadrangles or circles.
Mark the top layer using a marker that will wash out -- NOT a Sharpie -- in the shape you want and quilt along the lines.
You can also use a sewing machine to quilt but a machine is a big expense if you're just testing to see whether you like quilting and you don't use it for any other sewing.
Quilting as opposed to tying takes longer but it's a good skill because you can learn to make say a padded vest or coat with fancy quilted patterns, something that would look kind of weird with all those buttons in strange places.
Unless of course you place the buttons artistically.
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