There is nothing more relaxing than quilting by hand...well to me anyways. Sometimes I feel it is a lost art. Now it seems we are slaves to the machine. Don't get me wrong machine quilting definitely has its place, but I must admit sadly we are not friends. I am sure if machine quilting came easy to me I would be singing a different tune, but it doesn't, so I much prefer to sit in my comfy chair with my quilt and a good movie, than sitting at my machine cursing the thread that keeps breaking.
To get started you will need a few things,
- a good hoop - preferably a large one so you won't have to re-hoop as often
- needles - there are ones made special for hand quilting; use a fresh needle for every quilt
- 100% cotton thread - I like to use thread that is made for hand quilting, it doesn't tangle as easy as regular cotton thread
- thimble - you will need to find one that fits you comfortably
- a small pair of scissors - really any pair will do but a small pair will be more convenient
- something to mark your quilt - on my current quilt I am using a making pen and small ruler, but painters tape, stencils, and or drawing something free hand will also work. Once I even used star shaped cookie cutters.
To start, thread a needle with a length of thread that is about the length of your forearm, double, and knot at the end. Insert your needle through the top layer of your quilt, just outside your quilt line and bring your needle out on the quilt line. Pull the needle out and gently pop the knot through so it is hidden beneath the fabric.
Technically I do this step "wrong" but bear with me because here is where you will find your own rhythm and style. Most quilters will "rock" the needle by pushing the needle, with their middle finger, in and out of all 3 layers of the quilt towards themselves, but this was uncomfortable, so I "rock" the needle with my thumb and push it away from me.
Regardless of the finger, or direction you use, you will rock the needle up and down, or in and out, all the layers of your quilt, loading about 3 or 4 stitches on your needle before you push it through. This is where your thimble comes in handy because your finger (or thumb) will need a little protection when pushing that needle through all that fabric. Also, because of the thickness of a quilt I will place my other hand under the quilt and help guide the needle along.
When you reach the end of your thread, or the end of the line, you will need to secure the ends. To do this simply knot your thread at the last stitch. Then slip your needle back into the same hole your thread is coming out of and push your needle through the top layer of the quilt just outside your quilt line, and gently pop the knot through, so the knot disappears in between the layers of the quilt. Then snip the thread where it exits the fabric, being careful not to cut the fabric. Trust me, you only make that mistake once.
I am aware this is a very time consuming process but if you have a quilt that you are making for yourself and you don't have any time constants, hand quilting can be very therapeutic and relaxing after a long day.
Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you.