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Thread: about hand quilting..

  1. #1
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    I was reading another post by all the people who love hand quilting. I was very surprised at the number of people who say it is relaxing. I did some hand quilting and it was exhausting. My right hand became so cramped I don't know how anyone could enjoy it. Could some of you hand quilters give some tips, or maybe even post a few pics on how you actually hold the needle and push it. Do you make your stitches sideways (needle quilting parallel to your body), or toward you (the direction a sewing machine would be sewing)? Would really like some teaching. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Google Goddess craftybear's Avatar
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    I will follow this thread

  3. #3

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    i do what is called lap quilting - no hoop. i hand quilt with the needle coming towards me, with a metal thimble. i have tried to do it sideways, but that doesn't work for me. i love the look of hand quilting way more than machine because after it is washed the fabric crinkles slightly more than machine quilting and that is the look i like. that is why i do not pre wash my fabrics. some people prefer the more "store bought" look (no offense) but i like the home made look. oh, i pin baste my quilt together, but when you lap quilt, you can feel the back so you don't get any fold overs or kinks on the back. i also use a cotton batting, on the line of warm n natural. again, the old fashioned look after quilted.

  4. #4
    Super Member virtualbernie's Avatar
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    I quilt with the needle toward me, in a hoop or without. Maybe your hand cramps because you are trying to go too fast? Hand quilting will never ever rival machine quilting for speed. Your speed will increase with practice. I do better when I'm in a nice comfy chair watching TV. A nice sharp needle always helps glide through the fabric. I also use Warm and Natural.

  5. #5
    Super Member CloverPatch's Avatar
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    I will try and have my daughter take some pictures tomorrow. It shouldn't hurt your hand, it is much like writing, your using the same muscles. I don't use a hoop, I hold the fabric with my left hand and use the tip of my left index finger as a guide. When pushing the needle through with my right hand I "hit" my index and that guids my needle back up. While doing this your not holding the needle with your right index and thumb. You at first poise the needle with your rt index and thumb, but use your thumb to tell the needle where to go. It is a combined effort of both hands. once you get good at it, you will pretty much just wiggle the needle up and down pushing in with your thumb, and letting the left index determine the stitches. Getting used to it does cause muscle fatigue, You have to find a comfortable sitting position, find a way to rest and relax your arms, then get good enough at stiching that you only use your hands. it takes practice, you need to just run with it. not pay attention to stich size or straight lines, just find a comfort zone, I think you will enjoy it more.
    Edit: as far as which direction, since I am right handed I prefer working right to left, or upwards (away) from me, but on a big quilt, that could mean a LOT of turning the quilt, which I don't want to do. So you do kinda learn to go in many directions.

  6. #6
    Super Member Pamela Artman's Avatar
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    I hand quilt on my lap with no hoop and I quilt with my stitches running right to left. My left arm goes under the quilt and I "smooth and grab" with my left hand, meaning I feel the back with my hand and smooth any puckers and then kinda fold it over a few inches from where I'm quilting and "grab" the folded quilt with my left hand and rock the needle up and down as I take the stitches. I also use a metal thimble and I touch my first finger, (tip or nail) underneath before pushing my needle back up. When I used to quilt with a hoop, I'd get cramps in my hand, but no so much anymore since I quit using a hoop. I also quilt with friends on a big frame and then I quilt either up, down, or right to left, but I can't go from left to right. I pin baste and I pin closely, about every 3 inches which keeps the fabric, batting and back from shifting. I think the cramping comes from holding the quilt too tightly and after more practice maybe your hand will relax more! Hope you learn to enjoy it!

  7. #7
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    try a bigger needle i cannot get on with the 'betweens ' i hold them too tight i use milliners [straw' size 9

  8. #8
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    Good Morning! Here some videos, just some of many.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=how+t...ls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=ivns&source=univ&tbs=vid:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=a5iETeLfMLSQ0QHMzr3WCA&ved=0CCQQqwQ

    I agree with Jemma, I use a larger needle, works for me.

  9. #9
    Senior Member lynnie k's Avatar
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    I use a hoop and a roxann thimble and a #11 or 12 needle I quilt towards me I use thimble on my middle finger and rock my thumb ontop to work my stitches

    my first feathers hand quiting
    Name:  Attachment-171806.jpe
Views: 176
Size:  42.0 KB

  10. #10
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    I am so happy to see how many of you hand quilt without a hoop! It is so much more relaxing for me. I use a finger cot on my thumb and a leather thimble on my middle finger (I'm left handed) when I hand quilt. The finger cot helps pull the needle through with practically no effort at all!

  11. #11
    Super Member CloverPatch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jemma
    try a bigger needle i cannot get on with the 'betweens ' i hold them too tight i use milliners straw' size 9
    I can't use the betweens, they are too dull. And quilting needles are way tooo tiny. I go for Sharps, even use embroidery needles at times.

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    thanks everyone. I think the trouble I'm having is with the thimble. I used a metal thimble with the raised ridge around the top, on my middle finger, and was using the tip of the finger to rock the needle. It causes me to make a "crab claw" type of shape with my hand, and that was what was cramping. Maybe if I try using the side of the thimble it would be better?

  13. #13
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I quilt mostly with a hoop, on my lap, towards me. I can't master the thumb like Alex Anderson, or quilting to the sides. I do find it relaxing although I don't blink enough and my eyes dry out, especially under the Ott light!

  14. #14
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I do use a hoop even if it is one of those snap together hand held PCP plastic frames. Most of my quilting of bed size quilts is done on either of two floor hoops, one round and the other square. Both are on a single leg and the frame can be rotated as needed. I use both hands, and quilt in what ever direction gets the job done. I wear a leather thimble on my right middle finger and on my left thumb. After 40 years the only difference between my hands is the right hand is a little faster. I used to use a #12 quilter's in between. With age and an autoimmune disease I have had to be demoted to a #9 inbetween needle. I even use it to do mending and to sew on buttons. It is not unusal for me to quilt for several hours at a time. My hands don't bother me nearly as badly as my back which has a good deal of arthritis.

  15. #15
    Super Member Butterflyblue's Avatar
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    The first few days I found it frustrating and exhausting. After a learning curve, it did get to be relaxing to me - but I really have to pay attention to my shoulders and wrists and stop when they start hurting. I can't quilt for hours at a time like some people I read about here.

  16. #16
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    I used to hand quilt...and yes, it was relaxing...but for a couple of reasons, I rarely hand quilt anymore. First, I sew way too many tops and would never be able to keep up hand quilting them...it is so much slower than machine quilting. Second, I had to have hand surgery about 10 years ago, and since then I can only do limited handwork. Mostly now if and when I do hand quilt, I do the "utility" quilting with pearl cotton and a chenille needle. I found I love that look, and it isn't as hard on my hand as traditional hand quilting is.

  17. #17
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    I used to hand quilt...and yes, it was relaxing...but for a couple of reasons, I rarely hand quilt anymore. First, I sew way too many tops and would never be able to keep up hand quilting them...it is so much slower than machine quilting. Second, I had to have hand surgery about 10 years ago, and since then I can only do limited handwork. Mostly now if and when I do hand quilt, I do the "utility" quilting with pearl cotton and a chenille needle. I found I love that look, and it isn't as hard on my hand as traditional hand quilting is.

  18. #18
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    I have a hoop and I always quilt towards myself (downward). When I'm away from handquilting for awhile and then go back to it, my hand gets tired but it doesn't take long to build my muscles back up again. Just quilt till you start feeling tired then stop and go back to it later.

  19. #19
    Super Member OmaForFour's Avatar
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    I don't know if you can find them anymore, but Clover made a leather thimble with a mesh on the side that goes side to side. It is wonderful. If you find somewhere to buy one, also please pm me and let me know. I could use a new one and can't find them here in Maine.

    I quilt from right to left or on an angle if it is a big piece. I put my left hand under the quilt and let the needle come to my finger and then up. On my right hand, I put the thimble on my middle finger and push from there but I put the needle in with my thumb and index finger before pushing.

    Quote Originally Posted by dgreen
    thanks everyone. I think the trouble I'm having is with the thimble. I used a metal thimble with the raised ridge around the top, on my middle finger, and was using the tip of the finger to rock the needle. It causes me to make a "crab claw" type of shape with my hand, and that was what was cramping. Maybe if I try using the side of the thimble it would be better?

  20. #20

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    LOVE to hand quilt, do not use a hoop either. my left wrist gets tired after a while from holding up especially a larger project. But agree there is just a look I love about it. Quilt right to left. I was afraid but took one quick little class and said oh this is not that hard.

  21. #21
    Super Member sinceresissy's Avatar
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    It took me a good month to learn to relax. I was so tense wanting my stitches to be straight and small. Now I just do it and don't worry about it. I have found a my style which is sewing towards me using a thimble on my middle finger to rock the needle back and forth. I have just been trying a size 12 between and I like it. My stitches don't turn on me. It is a mental idea of not "how much I can get done" but rather "I am so glad to have this to do". I do not have a big "stash. I buy what I need then the with the left overs I make a scrap quilt but I am "getting my money's worth out of my purchase. That sounds rather miserly but it works. I have a small stash of material that I bought on sale but it fits into one plastic container. I have about two containers of scraps. I am amazed at the material that some of you quilter have but then you are making a lot more quilts than I am and I can see you need to have it on hand to be creative.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgreen
    Could some of you hand quilters give some tips,
    Most people quilt towards themselves. I use a floor frame, so I go towards myself and away. I use quilting betweens.

    I 'stack the deck' for hand quilting. I prefer to use a batting that isn't needlepunched - my one experience with Warm and Natural was not fun. I use polyester, cotton (Blue Ribbon by Mountain Mist is nice), and I'm looking forward to using wool on my next quilt.

    I keep the tension on the quilt in the hoop or frame loose, so it's easier to make stitches. Think of a cat sitting on the hoop - that's how loose it should be. It's harder to do the rocking stitch on the straight of grain, and easier on the bias - there's more flex on the bias. If you're stitching on the straight of grain, loosen the quilt a bit more.

    While I can easily quilt batiks on the quilt top, I will not put batik on the back of the quilt - batik backed by batik is like quilting through concrete. I prefer plain muslin for the backing, so the quilt back looks like a wholecloth quilt.

    I use a Roxanne and a TJ Lane thimble, using the pad of my finger, not the top. When I'm making the stitch, I start by going straight down through the layers until I can just feel the needle tip. When I feel it, I rotate the needle back until enough of the tip pokes through to make the size stitch I want, then I rotate the needle straight up again....then repeat until I have 3 or 4 stitches on the needle. For quilting away from myself I use a tailor's thimble on my thumb.

    It does take practice, but it shouldn't be torture. I hope some of this helps you.

    Janet

  23. #23
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    I will be following this thread. I have enjoy all kinds of handwork. Hand quilting is my next task to undertake. I have always used a large needle for my handwork so does this mean that I'll prefer a longer needle when quilting? I read where some started with larger needles then migrate to the smaller needles.

    It would be very helpful if posters would include pictures of their items they use. There are many different kinds of thimbles etc. so having pictures would be greatly helpful. They could be pictures from store website even as that would very help knowing what to look for when purchasing for ourselves. Also when you hand quilt how did you prepare your quilt, what method? What frame or not do you use? If not, how to you hold the quilt in your lap? How long do you quilt at one time? If you hand quilt do you also machine quilt and explain why?

    Pam M

  24. #24
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    Pam,
    I agree with you, there are so many different tools available for hand quilting and and so many different ways to practice it. I for myself found out that I only need needles (betweens #11 or #12) and hand quilting thread! I quilt without a thimble, but this is just MY way.
    I always baste the layers of my quilts together with basting thread. I don't like basting spray because I have the feeling that the "quilt sandwich" becomes quite stiff and the layers can't move against each other while quilting. I hand quilt in a 18" hoop on a floor stand. Normally I spend 6-8 hours hand quilting per day. I often make a break, go for a walk, do some housework or gardening to move my body. I am an avid hand quilter doing wholecloth quilts and I am sure I will never start machine quilting...but I am really full of respect for every quilter who is able to manage it.

  25. #25
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    I take my time hand quilting and find it relaxing. Maybe you are trying to do to much at one time. I believe if you take your time and do a little at a time, you will be fine.

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