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Thread: Hand quilting without thimbles (el naturel!) & HQ questions

  1. #1
    Senior Member Happy Treadler's Avatar
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    Last night I finally finished marking a lap quilt I pieced like 3-4 years ago but never finished (it's actually quite a pathetic job of piecing!), and was able to use my new lap hoop that I got last week. I was used to sitting at the window alone with my quilts in a huge frame, so I just thought it was so cool to sit on the couch and quilt. This is a quilt I pieced and started hand quilting, switched to machine quilting, and now I'm back to hand quilting. Haven't hand-quilted for probably 2 years, so I was anxious to see how it went. Figure since it was such a hodge-podge, it'd be my 'test'. It's a quilt for me, anyway, so it's no biggie to me.

    I also just bought an "Aunt Becky's" gadget, which I tried and tried to use but there was NO way I could make the thing work (ended up bending a needle big time trying to use the thing). I also attempted to use about 4 different thimbles, but when I finally just quit trying and used my nails, things seem to have gone much easier. One thing I did discover was that I never realized how much I depend on my feeling the needle rather than just pushing. I was watching the game last night, and found that I didn't have a problem glancing away from my work & continuing to quilt if I was working on a straight line. Is using my nails a very bad habit, one I should really try to 'un-train' myself from?? I am a self-taught quilter, and have no idea how I picked up this habit in the first place.

    Another question is the position of the quilt while making curves. I am in awe at the projects of several of the handquilters work on this board, and the feathers are amazing. My very simple flower was time-consuming, and I wonder about the technique people use when they're doing a lot of curves. Do you totally re-position your work, or use a different technique with the needle? I found I'm very efficient quilting with my thumb nail.

    Yet another question. For those who quilt on their lap, how do you prevent all the markings from wiping off? I thought maybe just folding the quilt with the marks on the inside?

    So, I attached a picture of my project for your viewing pleasure. Can you tell if my stitches are small enough, and is there supposed to be that much space between stitches? I used a 100% cotton batting, just an FYI.

    Well, I guess that's all I have right now. Sorry to ramble, but I really am excited to be hand quilting again, and I am SO loving this new frame.

    Hope you are all having a wonderful Monday!

    Trina :)
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    If you're happy using your nail, go ahead. I use a Roxanne thimble, and more recently one from TJ Lane, but I like pricey thimbles. Besides I usually don't have enough finger nail to quilt with anyway.

  3. #3
    Super Member azdesertrat's Avatar
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    it looks great! hand quilting takes practice,the more you do it your stitiching just gets better and better.I dont like using a thimble ,its very awkward for me,but I do notice that sometimes if I dont have something on my finger when I push that very small needle thru the fabric it will actually go in my finger! ouch! There are things you can buy to place on your finger for that protection,instead of a thimble,cant think of what they are called right now.But you did good!

  4. #4

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    I, too, prefer hand quilting over machine & prefer no thimbles. Lots of holes in my finger, but the quilting comes out better for me. Learned in a class about 4 yrs ago, and the teacher used a pillow on her lap. This way she could rotate the work, keeping the back smooth & straight. Enjoy working on your quilt, it looks great!

  5. #5
    Super Member
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    Trina,
    I agree with Janet - just go ahead with you method. I also quilt without a thimble because I have to feel the needle. When you need a protection somehow you can also try these little adhesive pads called "Thimble It". I know many hand quilters who use them with success.
    For me eveness is the most important thing, the length of the stitches are secondary.
    I always do single stitches and for that reason small curves are not a problem for me. I just turn the hoop a little in a comfortable postition. When you load your needle full with stitches it is much more difficult to do smooth curves.
    I only mark a few patterns or area on the quilt, then I quilt and mark again. In that way the markings stay long enough on the quilt until the quilting is finished.
    Hope that helps!

  6. #6
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Trina, it sounds like you quilt exactly like me!! I quilt pushing the needle with my fingernail. I too have to feel the needle at least when I take my first few stitches. I can use a thimble but I have to get my quilting stitches started and take at least 2 stitches, prefably 3, before I can put on a thimble and push the needle with it. Like Hinterland, I use a TJ Lane thimble. But I do not use it on my middle finger. I have one for my index finger and one for my thumb. The TJ Lane thimble has a cut out for your fingernail and also has a little raised spot where the inside of your nail is so quilting with one is almost like quilting with your nail, but I really do prefer going without but if I break a nail or eventually drill a hole in my nail I have to wait for my nail to grow out before I can resume quilting so I try to use the thimble as much as possible to avoid having to take long breaks from my quilt while waiting for my nail to get long enough again.

    Like you I seem to get better stitches with my thumb nail. I can only quilt in two directions. Away from me or towards me. So I am constantly turning the hoop. If I try to quilt side to side I just can't do it and I have tried. On tight curves I can only take a few stitches at a time.

    Regarding marking... Yes, most marking tools I have used with the exception of graphite rub off so I only mark as I go. I think your hand quilting looks great!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Happy Treadler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borntohandquilt
    Trina,
    I agree with Janet - just go ahead with you method. I also quilt without a thimble because I have to feel the needle. When you need a protection somehow you can also try these little adhesive pads called "Thimble It". I know many hand quilters who use them with success.
    For me eveness is the most important thing, the length of the stitches are secondary.
    I always do single stitches and for that reason small curves are not a problem for me. I just turn the hoop a little in a comfortable postition. When you load your needle full with stitches it is much more difficult to do smooth curves.
    I only mark a few patterns or area on the quilt, then I quilt and mark again. In that way the markings stay long enough on the quilt until the quilting is finished.
    Hope that helps!
    Thanks for the encouragement everyone. SO, when you say you pretty much mark the quilt as you go, isn't it difficult to mark it with the quilt already being sandwiched? Do you prefer then to thread baste as opposed to using safety pins?

    BTW, feline fanatic - you and I DO seem to be kindred quilters!!

  8. #8
    Junior Member harryb1834's Avatar
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    Looking great!!!

    Thimble it pads may help the hole in your finger nail.



    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Treadler
    Last night I finally finished marking a lap quilt I pieced like 3-4 years ago but never finished (it's actually quite a pathetic job of piecing!), and was able to use my new lap hoop that I got last week. I was used to sitting at the window alone with my quilts in a huge frame, so I just thought it was so cool to sit on the couch and quilt. This is a quilt I pieced and started hand quilting, switched to machine quilting, and now I'm back to hand quilting. Haven't hand-quilted for probably 2 years, so I was anxious to see how it went. Figure since it was such a hodge-podge, it'd be my 'test'. It's a quilt for me, anyway, so it's no biggie to me.

    I also just bought an "Aunt Becky's" gadget, which I tried and tried to use but there was NO way I could make the thing work (ended up bending a needle big time trying to use the thing). I also attempted to use about 4 different thimbles, but when I finally just quit trying and used my nails, things seem to have gone much easier. One thing I did discover was that I never realized how much I depend on my feeling the needle rather than just pushing. I was watching the game last night, and found that I didn't have a problem glancing away from my work & continuing to quilt if I was working on a straight line. Is using my nails a very bad habit, one I should really try to 'un-train' myself from?? I am a self-taught quilter, and have no idea how I picked up this habit in the first place.

    Another question is the position of the quilt while making curves. I am in awe at the projects of several of the handquilters work on this board, and the feathers are amazing. My very simple flower was time-consuming, and I wonder about the technique people use when they're doing a lot of curves. Do you totally re-position your work, or use a different technique with the needle? I found I'm very efficient quilting with my thumb nail.

    Yet another question. For those who quilt on their lap, how do you prevent all the markings from wiping off? I thought maybe just folding the quilt with the marks on the inside?

    So, I attached a picture of my project for your viewing pleasure. Can you tell if my stitches are small enough, and is there supposed to be that much space between stitches? I used a 100% cotton batting, just an FYI.

    Well, I guess that's all I have right now. Sorry to ramble, but I really am excited to be hand quilting again, and I am SO loving this new frame.

    Hope you are all having a wonderful Monday!

    Trina :)

  9. #9
    Super Member Mamagus's Avatar
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    Thimble pads have been my salvation! I have a lovely little callous on my middle finger but there are times when I poke a hole through it and I use the thimble pads then to quilt until it toughens up again.

    Hand quilting is SO relaxing! Enjoy it!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Treadler
    SO, when you say you pretty much mark the quilt as you go, isn't it difficult to mark it with the quilt already being sandwiched?
    I use a frame, so basting isn't an issue for me. I'm also incredibly impatient to get started so I mark as I go along. Having the quilt sandwiched just makes it easier for me mark lightly.

    I'm going to mark my next quilt before I start quilting and see what it's like. I'm using the Clover white pens, which I'm hoping won't rub off before I start stitching.

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