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Hand Quilting: Needles and Threads

Hand Quilting: Needles and Threads

Old 09-19-2010, 07:45 PM
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I have always hand quilted my work. I am only now beginning to explore the possibilities of machine quilting. I have always used the Coats&Clark quilting thread or, if that didn't come in the color I needed, just regular old C&C thread. Yes, I know, not a good idea, but I haven't had any particular problems with the results, over 40 years, though the regular stuff tended to fray and knot during use. But I was used to it, and I figured the quilt police wouldn't be finding me.

For at least 20 years, I've been using Piecemakers #12 betweens for my hand quilting. I don't know how I became convinced that these tiny needles made me somehow "better", but that's what happened. Because they are so short and thin, they bend and break rather easily, and they're really hard to thread. Still, I persevered.

Some years ago at a quilt show, I bought some Mettler and Gutermann hand quilting thread, but when I tried to use it, I couldn't get it through the eye of my tiny needles. So I stored my fancy new threads, until last week when I decided to try them again. I had the same problem - no way to thread the needle. It's not my old eyesight, it's the eye of the needle. But I was in luck! I had some Piecemaker #10 betweens, and that's what this post is all about.

The #10 needles are tons easier to thread and use, they are stronger and I don't have to stab stitch through the parts with seams, I can get more stitches at a time onto the needle, and for some reason, I feel as though I have more control. The better threads are wonderful to use as well - no fraying, tangling and knotting, and they glide through the fabric so easily. I cannot believe the difference!

This difference was reinforced when the better green thread I had bought for the quilt on the frame (I frequently use several colors in my quilting) turned out to be lighter than I wanted. I had just the right shade in the C&C quilting thread, but using this right after using the Gutermann and Mettler, I noticed the thickness of it, and the drag when pulling it through the fabric.

So the moral of this story is...though I hate to admit it...maybe the quilt police have a point or two? LOL And yes, I do tend to be right longwinded. You'll get used to it. *G*

So what needles and threads do the rest of you like for hand quilting? I'll be happy to try something else new.

In case you're interested, here's a link to Piecemakers Needles. They're an old company and excellent to deal with.

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Old 09-19-2010, 07:51 PM
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I have always used the #10's because that's what my mother-in- law uses and I consider her a master quilter. Went to the LQS and they don't carry them anymore just the Roxanne needles, very hard to thread, small eye. Thanks for the link I didn't think about looking online. Trish who is also longwinded.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:05 PM
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use whichever size needle is comfortable for you and you can achieve the stitch you want. I prefer the needles made in England over the Japanese needles (I believe Piecemakers are Japanese needles). I have always found those are thinner and bend more easily. I like John James or Hennings needles. Some even come with larger eyes.
As to thread. Again what works for you. I have quilted with regular sewing thread to get the color I want. I always use bees wax or Thread Heaven even tho the thread is made for hand quilting. Recently I couldn't find my Thread Heaven and used Tacky Finger or Sortwink (I believe that is the name and isthe stuff used on fingers to sort paper) It worked great and even on cheaper thread lessened the tangling.
I my hand quilting classes we use the Hand Quilting thread made by A&E. It comes in limited colors but is about .99 at JoAnn's. A survey taken a few years ago rated this one of the best. I also use the Tacky Finger when I machine quilt as I don't like using gloves and it gives some tacky to my fingers for free motion.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:18 PM
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Holice, I tried John James needles once and didn't have the control I wanted. But I still have them - I'll have another go at it. I didn't realize Piecemaker needles were Japanese. I thought they were American for some reason, though I know we don't manufacture much of anything here any more. *sigh* A conversation for another place, that.

But I think you're quite right - each of us is different and it's a matter of whatever needle works best in our own hand.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:24 PM
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When I hand quilted, I liked the Richard Hemmings & sons large eye #10 needles & either Gutterman or YLI hand quilting threads. I only machine quilt now.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:21 PM
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I like to use John James #11 or Roxanne #11. Both work fine for me because this size is a little stronger than the #12 and don't bend so quickly.
The thread I prefer is YLI, but I have also used King Tut of Superior Threads and GŁtermann. Valdani is also good when you love varigated threads.
It's always a matter of personal choice which tools and material you use. Everyone has different preferences, every quilter guides the needle in a different way when hand quilting or uses special techniques and notions. Some love to use a thread with exactly the same shade of color than the fabric has, others prefer varigated thread or some shades darker or lighter. We don't have some brands here in Germany like you all have in USA!
I am very eager to try out different threads and different needles also, so I can find out what works best for me.
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