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Thread: Getting Comfortable with Hand Quilting

  1. #1
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    Getting Comfortable with Hand Quilting

    After spending countless hours wrestling with machine quilting two quilts in December, I vowed that I would once again try hand quilting at least one of the children's quilts I plan to make in coming months. I ordered two new kinds of thimbles, 4 packages of needles, and several threads. While I am between projects I decided to try different methods with the materials I have on hand. I watched many video tutorials online demonstrating as many methods as I could find. I decided to try hoopless quilting first, because my previous attempts with hand quilting using hoops or frames never felt comfortable for me.

    I am still waiting for the Thimble Lady's old style thimble to arrive from Australia, but I sat down with my practice sandwich and tried various combos of needles and the ten thimbles I have. I found that I can make the best stitches with a size 10, either a John James Straw or Betweens. Thinner needles bend or break quickly. Maybe I can work up to them.

    I needed to watch several teachers demo hoopless quilting before something clicked with me. I need to fold the fabric at the beginning and end of each stitch so that the needle enters the fabric at the top and bottom at a 90 degree angle. Only one teacher specifically said that, but after watching the videos again, the others did it, too. They just didn't say it.

    Of course, I found that it felt more natural for me to thimble with my index finger instead of the third finger, and I really don't have a thimble that is sized for that finger. Hope my Thimble Lady thimble fits! For now, I load my stitches without a thimble, and put the thimble on to push the needle through. With the straw needle I need a grabber to pull the needle through.

    All of this to say, sometimes you have to try many different tools and methods to find what works for you.
    Elizabeth

  2. #2
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    What ever works for you is the right way to hand quilt. I love to hand quilt when I watch TV in the evenings. Remember that hand quilting is not a race to the finish but the finished produce is so worth the effort.

  3. #3
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    Handquilting is meditative and relaxing.most of my quilting is about the process instead of the product.
    Life may not be the party we planned for,but while we are here we should dance!

  4. #4
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    I enjoy hand quilting but I am just too slow at it to work through my backlog of quilts to do. I too use my index finger for my thimble. I have better control because my index finger is stronger. I also have a thimble for my thumb. I can quilt quite well going away from myself with my thumb thimble and my index finger.

  5. #5
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    I bought the Aunt Becky and am practicing with it. DH tried to come up with something similar but he said to go ahead and order it. I did and he made couple more. Just needed the right angle. I have thimbles for each finger. When I go to the fabric store I always buy another since I'm always misplacing and my fingers are xs. Have just about every kind but not sure I want to spend the money on the "Thimble Lady". I tried hoopless and got cramps in my hand. So practice x multiple with the hoop. It's what ever works for you not anyone else. I have not done and entire quilt. just practicing!

  6. #6
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    I love my ThimbleLady thimble. Best investment I have ever made for quilting. I first tried the plastic version to see how I would like it and then when that wore out got the stainless steel version. I did not think they were overly pricey compared to spending other $$ here, there and everywhere else for thimbles that didn't fit; didn't hold a needle well, etc. I also like Roxanne needles. I'll use #10; 11 or 12 depending on what I have on hand and what thread I am using for a given project.

  7. #7
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    Sometimes I use a cut off balloon on my pointer finger or my thumb so I can grip the needle and pull it thru as I hand quilt. I buy the cheap bag, 50-100, small balloons and just cut an inch or so and place it on my finger. I also use the ring thimble because my fingers are extra small too, freeing up the thumb and pointer finger to quilt. My Pa. Amish friend quilts in the large floor frame but she keeps the sandwich a little loose. In other words, she cannot quilt when it is tight. She is the first person I knew that does it this way. I like to quilt out of the hoop too but I may try her method but use the oblong hoop. MY friend from high school gifted me her MIL's antique Victorian quilting frame along with a beautiful sofa parlor table. I hope someday to see the antique frames in use at the quilt shows. I think it would add a whole new dimension to the shows. After all, it is a part of quilting. Did you try the ring thimble? Inexpensive to me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member just janet's Avatar
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    I also use the #10 needle but I use a hoop that I can comfortably hold on my lap. I find my stitches are much more even & it's easier to get the 90 degree angle. I use a thimble on my middle finger & a grabber or tweezer to pull the thread through but I'm going to try what "ragamuffin" suggested & use a cut off balloon on my index finger & thumb.

  9. #9
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    I, too, use the thimble on my middle finger and I use a rubber finger tip (like used to count money/paper from the office supply store) on my index finger. Sometimes I need needle nosed pliers to help pull the needle through the fabric but not too often. Generally I use a hoop but not always...depends on the size of the project.

    Many hand quilters speak of the 'rocking' of the needle to get a good rhythm going. I tend to 'rock' the fabric vs the needle. Works better for me.

  10. #10
    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    This has always been my "hangup" with hand quilting. I love the process because it is so relaxing but I am so slow and awkward that it becomes frustrating. I have one of those PVC on-the-floor frames and a couple of hoops but my favorite is to work without a hoop or frame. My biggest problem is with use of the thimble. I am such a klutz when trying to hold and insert the needle while the thimble is on my finger (middle finger). Elizajo, do you actually drop the thimble, make the stitches, put on the thimble, push the needle through? Then begin again?

    My stack and whack quilt has been sandwiched and basted (with the basting gun) for years. I have only hand stitched two of the blocks... The quilt it too big for the DSM so thats out. And I'm chicken about ripping the whole thing out and beginning again (sending it to a LAer).

    ...just sayin' ! Thanks for letting me vent.
    One step at a time, always forward.

  11. #11
    Senior Member GammaLou's Avatar
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    i use cut off fingers of exam gloves (from the Dr. office). These work best for me but I bet the balloons would work as well. I have hand quilted some whole cloth pillows and love the process. I have many thimbles in various styles (even a seal fur thimble from AK) but like the 'rubber' fingers from exam gloves best.

  12. #12
    Super Member sinceresissy's Avatar
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    I love to hand quilt and I have finally gotten so I don't worry about how little my stitches. I also have some that turn slightly but if I stop and redo every stitch I would never get done. I use a thimble on my middle finger and rock the needle. I have tried different thimbles, bandaides, painter's tape on my two fingers on the other hand but I like stabbing my finger without anything until it gets too sore then I tape both of them because I won't use the taped one if they are not both taped.

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