My mom taught me that the first step in cooking is to read the WHOLE recipe before you start. The same is true of quilt patterns. Sometimes we are so eager to get started that we want to skip this step, but it is a bad one to skip.

As my mom explained, the list of ingredients isn’t the only important thing. That list doesn’t tell you if you need special tools. It doesn’t tell you how long it will take. It doesn’t tell you if you need half the butter in the first step and half the butter in the second step. The only way you know if you can successfully complete a recipe for the first time, is to read the whole thing before you start. What is more disappointing than getting a holiday meal all prepped only to find out you don’t have a roasting pan the right size? Or you don’t have enough room in the refrigerator to chill the dessert at a critical time in the recipe? We all know we can work around things with a little ingenuity, but isn’t it better to do that before you start rather than in the middle when you are more likely to panic?

The same is true of quilt patterns. Designers provide fabric requirements, but do they include binding, batting and backing? The only way to know is to read the pattern. Do you need any special tools, like a special ruler, glue, interfacing or other material? That may not be up front, but buried in the instructions.

Are all the cutting instructions in the front of the pattern? Do you need to cut the fabric in a special way to ensure you have enough for the quilt? For simple quilts, the instruction may be in the front and the cutting is straight forward. For quilts written as a block of the month or mystery quilts, the cutting instructions are generally divided up amongst the packages or installations. Designers may not put all the cutting instructions in the front if there are lots of pieces to avoid confusion during piecing. (I am one of those – I like to compartmentalize instructions).

Similarly, patterns may not advertise on the cover that they use special techniques. Are you familiar with those techniques. If not, can you find some assistance on YouTube or a quilt show that can help you figure it out before you get too far or too frustrated.

Just like cooks, quilters need to be properly prepared. The best way to do that is read the whole recipe or pattern first. Then, you set yourself up for success.

Happy Quilting 🙂