I also think it's a skill that is useful beyond words... quilts are beautiful and functional and I consider them to be the greatest gift in the world. (Really, who wouldn't want a quilt?) They're family heirlooms, passed down through the generations until they fall apart. They're an amazing way to use up scrap fabric, and a cheap first sewing project.
Not to mention I find sewing/cutting them very therapeutic... lots of straight lines with no pressure. :)
In this instructable I'm going to take you through creating a basic queen size 9-patch patchwork quilt. These are my favorites because they are not complicated and can be completed in far less time than other quilt types.
I'll teach you about the tools needed for quilting, how to cut squares, choosing fabrics, batting, making a quilt sandwich, how to choose and attach backing, and assembling the quilt top among other things. It's also important to note that you can easily complete one of these in a couple weeks - I started this one on March 7th, and finished it on April 3rd - but that included lots of documentation and only working in good sunlight. ;)
I do hope this instructable is helpful for you and inspires you to quilt. We need more quilts in the world! :D
Step 1: Basic Quilting Definitions
Backing: the bottom part of the quilt, typically made of one solid piece of fabric. Most times this fabric is white - I like to use sheets for this!
Batting: the cushy middle of a quilt - can be made from cotton, polyester or wool. Typically bought according to the size of the quilt you're making - found in rolls.
Bias-tape: strips of fabric used to bind the edges of a quilt.
Binding: the edging of a quilt - it encases the raw edges.
Blocks: a piece of fabric made from sewing 9 squares together.
Piecing: sewing together pieces of fabric to form the top layer of the quilt, typically done in blocks.
Quilt sandwich: what I call the three layers - top, batting, backing.
Quilt top: pieced fabric, typically put together in blocks.
Quilting: sewing through multiple layers of fabric to create one thick layer - typically involves three parts: cloth top, batting middle, cloth bottom.
Seam allowance: the standard seam allowance for quilting is 1/4 inch.
Square: smaller pieces of fabric that are sewn together to make a larger, square piece of fabric. In this case, we will be sewing together 9 small blocks to make one large square. A quilt top is made up of these blocks sewn together.