In order to learn how to quilt you must first understand how a quilt is made.
Basically a quilt is a sandwich that consists of three layers. The top of quilt is a decorative layer created from small fabric pieces or 'patches' sewn together in a creative and artistic manner.
The second layer is batting. Batting is a cozy thermal layer of matted cotton, wool, polyester or silk fibers that give quilt warmth and volume.
The third layer is backing that is made from one continuous piece of fabric.
Quilting is stitching which holds three layers of quilt 'sandwich' together while forming a decorative design. Quilting can be done either by hand or machine.
The three layers are held together in one of three ways...
The oldest method is hand quilting. This is perhaps most labor intensive choice for those just learning how to make a quilt. Hand quilting is usually done in a quilting 'hoop' or on a quilting 'frame' using special needles, called 'betweens', and quilting thread.
The easiest method is machine quilting. Machine quilting involves use of a sewing machine to stitch layers of fabric sandwich together.
The third method is called tying which involves using evenly spaced knots or bows to hold layers together at wider intervals than quilting. Done by hand or machine, this method makes a generous, puffy quilt called a comforter.
Those learning how to make a quilt should be familiar with term piecing or patchwork as it is sometimes called. This is an exacting method of sewing small pieces of fabric ('patches') together to produce a decorative pattern or 'block'. This can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine.
Another important definition to know while learning how to quilt is of term appliqué. Applique is method of applying fabric shapes (called 'patches') by hand, onto a fabric background. Applique are grouped together to produce a decorative pattern or 'block'. If you are using a sewing machine, appliqué, fabric shapes are usually cut into desired shape without seam allowances. The shapes are then fused to background with heat-activated fusible web. They are usually sewn on quilt using a close zigzag stitch called a 'satin stitch'. This method is particularly suited to intricate 'pictorial' appliqué that attempts to reproduce a stylized or realistic story or picture.