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Thread: Need advice from a hand quilter

  1. #1
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    Question Need advice from a hand quilter

    Hello, this is my first quilt and I am hand sewing the whole thing, so I have a few questions:
    1) What size needle should I be using to finish up my quilt?
    I got a quilt guide and it came with a ruler and needle, beside the book for machine quilting, but some of the needle eyes are very small and my quilting thread seems too big to go through the holes. I found one needle that I like, not sure of the size, but it is getting dull so my next question
    2) How do I make my needle sharp again?
    3) When I put my backing, the batting, and the top together to put on an old quilting table, should I pin it on the floor or ground first then put it on the table or put the backing on the table and then put everything on it?
    4) How many stitches per inch do you put your stitches away from each other?

    I have basic squares and I am thinking about just going around the squares and then corner to corner to sew it together.
    Any other ideas?

    Thanks SO much for the advice,
    Kim from Ohio
    Learning is a never ending process. Kimberly Moffitt Adams

  2. #2
    Super Member QuiltingKrazy's Avatar
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    I am a novice at hand quilting although I love to do it while watching tv. You can search Hand Quilting here on the QB and can find lots of advice there. But my advise is to use a needle that feels comfortable to you and as for stitches per inch, to start with just make sure they are even stitches and forget trying to get X number per inch. As you stitch more, your stitches and technique will get better. If the eye is to small to thread easily, use a self thread tool. As my vision gets worse as the years at on... I too have a hard time threading needles! We all do! Just enjoy what you do! With each quilt your technique will improve. Good Luck!
    Lisa B in NC
    Quilting is my Happy Thought!
    http://www.quiltingkrazy.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member Patti25314's Avatar
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    I used to do hand quilting. I agree with Quilting Krazy about needle that feels right to you. You do need an eye big enough for hand quilting thread as it is fatter. Also, be careful to only have about 12". It will thin as you take it thru the layers. You might want to have some wax on hand to help it glide, but don't use too much. Again, stitches per inch isn't as important as being consistent. Try to get use to making the stitch length the same each time. I would put everything on the table. If you can use 505 spray batting, it will help with keeping everything in place. I think I use to use BIG safety pins and then made really large basting stitches to keep it all together. Will you be putting your quilt on a frame or using hoops?

  4. #4
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    I am doing this during a Civil War Event, so I can't use the spray, but I will keep candle wax on hand for the thread. I am putting it on a long quilting table, and thanks for the advice on the length of the thread. I tend to make it long right now with just doing the top part.
    I know during the Civil War they used 9-10 stitch per inch and I was just wondering if that had changed after all of this time.
    I can't buy the safety pins that they had back then because you can't find them without the rounded part on the end of them.
    How do I sharpen my favorite needle then?
    Learning is a never ending process. Kimberly Moffitt Adams

  5. #5
    Super Member Pat625's Avatar
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    I personally like the John James Golden Eye, easy glide needle the main thing should be to try to keep the stitches even, and not worry about the size. I also have thread heaven to keep the thread from tangling. As I get older, I have trouble threading the needle, so i use a little book light with o the.white paper underneath to help me see and line up the thread and and the hole..Just relax and enjoy the process!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Kaysue, I don't think you can sharpen the needle without running the risk of making it duller. Most tomato pincushions have a strawberry emery attached, and you can try poking the needle through there to see if it sharpens. Your best bet is to go to your LQS or Joann's and find a similar needle. I would recommend an 8 or 9 quilting between.

    It's easier to thread the needle if you cut the thread on an angle. If it is still hard to thread, wet the eye of the needle - it helps wick the thread through. Sometimes threading through the other side of the needle helps, too.

    For batting, I would recommend a cotton batting, but try to avoid Warm and Natural - many hand quilters find it hard to quilt through. I like Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon, but Quilters Dream is also very nice. The advantage to Quilters Dream for you is that you don't have to quilt quite so closely.

    Baste the quilt before putting it on the frame. Thread basting might be easier than pinning. I spread the backing out on the floor, smooth the batting over it, and then the top. I start in the center and sew big stitches to the edge, radiating out from the center. You want to baste closely enough so the layers don't shift.

    9-10 stitches per inch is fabulous for a beginner. I'm not sure what you mean by quilt table, but if it's a frame, make sure you keep the quilt loose in the frame - if it is too tight it will be harder to stitch and you might bend your needle.

    Personally, I cut my thread about 18 -20 inches long. I use YLI hand quilting thread - it's glazed, so it doesn't knot and fray so easily.

    Good luck with your quilt!

    Janet

  7. #7
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    Sounds like you're having to keep with the civil war re-enactment requirements. As others have said, consistency in your stitches is the most important thing but the 'old' 9-10/inch is still pretty 'standard'. I'm not familiar with a quilting 'table' so not sure how that will work for you. If you have the option of sandwhiching everything first, I use big 'binder clips' available at office supply stores. I place the backing wrong side up, centered on my cutting table and then clip all that down once it's smoothed. Place batting - smoothing and clamping as I go. Then the top, again smoothing and clamping. Since you can't use pins due to authenticity I would thread-baste the sandwhich. Starting in the center of the quilt, use long lengths of thread and loooong basting stitches to hold it all together. When you get the center all done, shift the whole shebang, smooth and reclamp, continue thread basting. Shift it all till you get the whole thing basted.

    As to sharpening your needle, again for authenticity if that's the issue, I would use any of the knife honing tools available there. I don't think sandpaper or emery cloth was an option then - not sure. If so, I'd use emery cloth as I don't think it would create burrs on your needle as I think sandpaper might. Otherwise, I just use another needle when the first one got dull. Personally I like Roxanne needles but they have realllly tiny eyes and you really need to use one of their threaders to get most hand quilting threads through them. Their threaders have a finer metal loop than most others. Although the size 10 Roxanne's eyes seem to be okay for not needing a threader at all.

    Your quilting plan sounds perfect. Sounds like it's just the right compliment to your squares. Good luck and have fun.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland View Post
    Kaysue, I don't think you can sharpen the needle without running the risk of making it duller. Most tomato pincushions have a strawberry emery attached, and you can try poking the needle through there to see if it sharpens. Your best bet is to go to your LQS or Joann's and find a similar needle. I would recommend an 8 or 9 quilting between.

    It's easier to thread the needle if you cut the thread on an angle. If it is still hard to thread, wet the eye of the needle - it helps wick the thread through. Sometimes threading through the other side of the needle helps, too.

    For batting, I would recommend a cotton batting, but try to avoid Warm and Natural - many hand quilters find it hard to quilt through. I like Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon, but Quilters Dream is also very nice. The advantage to Quilters Dream for you is that you don't have to quilt quite so closely.

    Baste the quilt before putting it on the frame. Thread basting might be easier than pinning. I spread the backing out on the floor, smooth the batting over it, and then the top. I start in the center and sew big stitches to the edge, radiating out from the center. You want to baste closely enough so the layers don't shift.

    9-10 stitches per inch is fabulous for a beginner. I'm not sure what you mean by quilt table, but if it's a frame, make sure you keep the quilt loose in the frame - if it is too tight it will be harder to stitch and you might bend your needle.

    Personally, I cut my thread about 18 -20 inches long. I use YLI hand quilting thread - it's glazed, so it doesn't knot and fray so easily.

    Good luck with your quilt!

    Janet
    Thank you Janet. I do have one of those tomato things and I have run it through a few times, I guess I just need to change the needle. I will try what you recommended on cutting it at an angle and the white paper. I can use the light when I am at the re-enactments though, too modern. lol
    I am going to use the Warm and Natural because it is like the cotton that they would use then, if they were able to get it.
    the quilting table is about 8 feet long and I can adjust how far out I want it from there. Thanks for the advice on not putting it too tight, I would have made it tight. So I think that what I will do is put the bottom on the frame, put the batting on and then the top and have someone help me roll it up so I have the quilt in the middle. I hope that is right.
    I am learning a lot on my first adventure here.
    I will look for that quilting thread. I think they used silk if they could get it.
    Learning is a never ending process. Kimberly Moffitt Adams

  9. #9
    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    Ive hand quilted over 350quilts.
    if possible tape the backing dow to the table or floor.
    use your own,a library,church or school.
    good luck

  10. #10
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    I don't know about sharpening your needle, but my great-grandmother taught me to run my needle through my hair near the scalp (carefully, of course) and the oils from my hair would lubricate my needle enough to make it glide through the fabric with ease. It has always worked for me.

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