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Thread: Hand quilting Kona cotton

  1. #1
    Senior Member Dandish's Avatar
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    Hand quilting Kona cotton

    Hello all you hand quilters!

    I've been making quilts for 10+ years, doing 99% of it by machine. I have hand pieced a few blocks, and briefly "played" with hand quilting a little bit a long time ago. I have a few hand quilting frames and hoops (large and small). A friend and I have decided to piece together an Amish inspired quilt (probably square in a square), set it up in one of the larger frames, and try our hand at hand quilting. I purchased an array of Kona cotton solids, the color selection was fabulous. Upon reading more on the subject, I've read that Kona may not be the easiest to hand quilt, especially certain colors of Kona. I've read others love it.

    So, do you love to hand quilt Kona or have you found it difficult? Is it a bad choice to begin/learn with? We are not expecting a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination - we figured the solids were a great way to be able to readily see our stitches, and if we keep track of where we started then hopefully by the time it's done we'll be able to see our progress/improvement. I don't want to set us up for frustration, though!

    Also, what is your favorite batting for hand quilting, especially combined with the Kona? We won't use the Kona as a backing. What is your favorite method of basting for hand quilting? Any other special tips or hints for needles, timbles, thread, etc? I've done quite a bit of reading and much seems to come down to personal preference, yes?

    Thank you for your help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    I've worked with Kona solids, and yes, some have been easy to quilt and others hard.

    You can make it easier for yourself by keeping the quilt sandwich tension fairly loose, and quilting on the bias instead of on the grain - there's more flex that way, which makes it easier to rock the needle. Also, try different sizes and brands of needles...some seem to penetrate better than others.

    I have no problem using cotton batting like Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon, but you might find it hard to quilt. So, you might choose a poly batting like Hobbs Polydown, or if you like thinner battings, Mountain Mist lite or Hobbs Thermore. Quilters Dream in the lightest weight is also a possibility. It may be worth experimenting a bit with sample sandwiches with different battings. Harriet Hargrave sells batting swatches in 15 inch squares, which are great for testing.

    I also use muslin backings, mostly because I'm afraid to use regular quilting weight cottons, in case they make it harder to quilt.

    Good luck - I hope you post pictures.

    Janet

  3. #3
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    Might also make it easier to hand quilt if you prewash the fabric. Good idea anyway because of the solid colors that might run.

  4. #4
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    I've handquilted Kona cottons. I use Warm & Natural (or white) batting. I use Roxanne needles - usually #11 or #12's. But you need to find what works for you. And I also prewash. I agree with keeping the tension on the sandwich fairly loose. It makes handquilting much, much easier regardless of your components. As to sandwiching...like with all quilting...it depends. I usually pin baste. If it's a king size, I usually thread baste because the pins add so much weight. I quilt in a hoop in my lap and it can be more difficult to move around with all those pins. However, regardless of method, I usually baste about a hand-width apart in each direction beginning in the middle. Didn't know about the batting samples. Will have to try some out when my roll of W&N runs out!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Quilter View Post
    Didn't know about the batting samples. Will have to try some out when my roll of W&N runs out!
    It's nice to be able to try out a batting without buying the whole roll first, and 15 inches is enough batting to be able to really test.

    Janet

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dandish's Avatar
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    Thank you for the help. I have prewashed all the Kona, had no bleeding. I have a couple different types of needles, will sample a few battings.

    Why do you think some say Kona is difficult to quilt? Must have something to do with the density?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandish View Post
    Why do you think some say Kona is difficult to quilt? Must have something to do with the density?
    It's a little heavier than many other cotton fabrics. I haven't had that much trouble, but I don't have trouble with batiks, either. Maybe my fingers are stronger?

    Janet

  8. #8
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    There are different "versions" of Kona cotton. The one sold to quilt shops and the thinner ones sold to Hancock fabrics. Not sure why that is, but some of the newer bolts I have gotten are now thin! Which might make them better for hand quilting!
    I use a John James 11 and W&N batting as well!

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