April 12, 2001 -- If the idea of quilt making evokes visions of silver-haired women sitting around a quilting frame, laboring over tiny stitches, think again.
These days, everyone from grade-schoolers to grandmothers are involved in this increasingly hot craft. And it's easier than in days past, as it is no longer taboo to use a sewing machine.
Americans spend nearly $2 billion a year on quilting, according to Quilter's newsletter and magazine.
Why Start Quilting?
Good Morning America Lifestyle Contributor Rebecca Kolls spoke to quilting experts Marianne Fons and Liz Porter, hosts of the TV show Quilting with Fons and Porter, about how to get started in quilting.
The presumption that quilting is a time-consuming and tedious task done by hand is false, Fons said, as is the notion that it is just for older women. Porter's daughter, for instance, is the president of the Harvard Law School Quilting Club.
Quilters normally get started because of new changes in their lives.
Many women start quilting when they're pregnant because they want to make a baby quilt, Fons said. Or grandmothers start quilting to create keepsakes for their grandchildren.
Others grab their quilting needles when they move into a new, country-style house, and take it up as a sort of housewarming gift to themselves.
Most quilters are female, with an average age of 55. They spend an average of 11 years quilting, and some own more than $5,000 worth of equipment.
Fons and Porter usually draw from traditional patterns, and update them. It's not cheating to use a sewing machine to put the quilt together, they say. Often, they put together patchwork scrap quilts that use different types of fabric.
Building a Quilt
To make a quilt, you will need the following items: fabric, rotary cutter, cutting mat, thick plastic ruler, sewing machine and thread.
A quilt is made up of the top, the batting (the layer of padding in between), and the backing. These three elements are held together by stitches done by hand or by machine. But the main design work goes in the top layer.
The top can be put together one of two ways: patchwork or appliqué.
Patchwork quilts tend to have geometric shapes, and they're put together by cutting little pieces of fabric and sewing them together to make a pattern. The quilts displayed on Good Morning America Thursday were all patchwork, which tend to have geometric shapes.
Appliqué quilts, often more floral or curved, are made by cutting out patterns and stitching them onto a background.
For patchwork quilt, you cut strips from fabric, then "subcut" strips into other shapes. For a patchwork, they tend to be geometric shapes like squares, rectangles, diamonds, etc. Then you join the pieces with a straight seam on the sewing machine.
Next, you join the pieces together to make a "quilt block" — a pattern like a star, a basket, a log cabin, etc. When you make enough blocks, join them together into a quilt.
Then you prepare the top for quilting, by hand or machine. This is also called "layering." Many modern quilters just do the top, and send the three pieces out to a professional "finisher" to put together.