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Hand Quilters! Help please.

Hand Quilters! Help please.

Old 03-01-2012, 05:55 AM
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Default Hand Quilters! Help please.

Good morning all!

I have started hand stitching the top of my quilt and @ times the backside doesn't pickup all the layers. When I'm stitching and I go down I hold my needle straight up and push down till I feel it lightly picking my finger, then I Lay the needle Back towards the quilt (I hope this is making sense) and push it up using the thimble and my thumb on top and the finger underneath to help guide it. I've pulled a lot of it out, because when I look at the back side it has not picked up the fabric. On the backside shouldn't the stitches look the same as the front? I'm not using a hoop because I cant seem to be able to bring the needle far enough back to bring it up in a short stitch.

Can someone post a pic of the backside of their quilt Please. Anyone have suggestions or is it just practice makes perfect? I have watched several video on Utube. I'll probably look at some more today. Any suggestions are appreciated.

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Old 03-01-2012, 06:06 AM
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Diane, it may be a combination of issues. Practice does make perfect and usually the first 2 or 3 stitches will get less of a bite so don't expect all your stitches to be exact. Are you using a quilting needle? Needles make a huge difference in hand quilting. I use a 10. Also as to the hoop, you can give it a try again and this time don't put your fabric tight. I will hoop a piece and then press down on the quilt so the fabric is more like a hammock. If you don't understand, I'll hoop a piece and post a picture. Don't give up, it's very rewarding to hand quilt. Also a tip for working on large pieces, if you don't have a quilt rack, use your hoop and lay the quilt over a card table. Let the table support the weight of the quilt. Makes it easier to get up for a break, or answer the door etc.
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:12 AM
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I've handquilted for years and my stitches are not quite as "large" or "long" on the back of a quilt as on the front. Practice, patience, and consistency of stitch (more important that size) will win the day for you. Most quilters feel like trying to back a trailer when they first begin handquilting, it's awkward at first! More quilters use a frame or hoop than those who do not, but beautiful work is accomplished either way, so keep at it and soon you will have the rhythm and stitch you seek.

Jan in VA
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:34 AM
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Hi Diane,

This is always a tough one. Even after 20 years of quilting, my stitches don't always catch on the back, so you won't see me posting pictures of the back of my quilts!

When I go straight down, I feel the needle coming through with my bottom finger. Then I rotate the needle back, without pushing with the thimble. I do press down with my thumb and up with my bottom finger - it's almost like folding the sandwich onto the needle. Sometimes, I can tell when I'm not catching the back...that happens most when my sandwich is a bit tight.

Another tip is that it is much harder to quilt on the straight of grain. If you go on the bias, there is more flex in the sandwich and you can make nicer looking stitches. You can also hide a multitude of sins by using a busy print as the backing - I do that with my machine quilting.

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Old 03-01-2012, 07:18 AM
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Thanks for all the words of encouragement. I guess I'm trying to keep my stitches to small also. I've been trying to keep them about 1/8" which is probably to small for a beginner. I've had yrs of sewing experience but not by hand. =) . But I wanted to do this to be able to pass something down to my family. Plus something about a quilt just gives that home feel. So I will keep trying and master this. I am using hand quilting needles I want to say I've been using a 7 and a 9. Tried both to see what felt better. Here is the link to the ones I got http://www.joann.com/fons-porter-han...9-10/prd53534/ I'm not sure if they are good needles or not. The pack just said Hand quilting. I'm also using the Clover leather coin thimble I tried the Dritz adjustable plastic one that has the back open so you can put your finger nail through it. But I found that I was using the pad of my finger not the top So i went went the Clover. We will see how it works. I am also taking my hoop back because its so big that I'm having a hard time with my hand on the under side of being able to hold the quilt and reach where I'm stitching. I may just buy a cheep small one for now until I get use to this and see what happens. I think I might also try laying it over a TV tray to help with the weight of the quilt. My quilt is an over sized King 105" x 108".

Thanks again everyone. I do not know what I'd do with out this board.
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:24 AM
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One of the things I learned was to let your quilt have a little loosemess while in the hoop. It's hard to do it if the quilt is very tight, at least for me. Take your time. You'll get it perfect in no time.
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:52 AM
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Here's a picture of the back of one of mine. You can see it good! If you scroll down, you can see the same stitches on the front (can't see it as well.)


I think they way you're describing it is the way I do it. I never "stab" myself underneath, I just use my thumb to feel if the needle is there or not. I usually load 3-4 stitches on the needle and you can tell by how thick each little stitch on the needle is if it's got what it needs! You can also "scratch" the needle under the quilt while it's loaded and feel the needle between fabric. I hope this makes sense. Just kind of run your fingernail across the needle, and you can feel if it went through or not. It's a lot easier to pull the needle out and do it again than pick out stitches!
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:58 AM
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I like to hand quilt at my floor Q-snap frame that I got with a 50% off coupon. I put my layers in taut and when I am sure everything is smooth and wrinkle free, I lightly press down in the center of the frame to create a bit of slack. A too tight frame will have the needle popping right back at me as I try to load my needle. It sounds like you have the basics down and you will get better with practice. I quilt with a metal thimble on my index/pushing finger. I have one with good needle dimples on top. I also like to quilt sometimes with a thimble on my thumb. I use this method to quilt away from myself and because my thumb is stronger, I find it fast and easier. Good luck and keep hand quilting!
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:01 AM
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Wow AshleyR. The back side of that quilt looks like it was machine quilted. This is the way I hope my stitches look one day. How long have you been quilting? Thank you for sharing everyone.

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Old 03-01-2012, 08:48 AM
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My stitches on the back are not as long as the ones on the front. I agree with what the other quilters have said. I have taken some pics but can not upload them until I get to work. I will try to send them! Kyia
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