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Thread: Hand Quilting Question

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Houston, Texas

    Hand Quilting Question

    Well, with all the quilting I have been doing lately, I have decided to teach myself to hand quilt. Have gone to You Tube and watched many, many hand quilting episodes. Got a 14" hoop and a friend gave me some Colonial #10 quilting/between needles.

    Now comes the thimble issue. I have long fingernails. I went to Joanns yesterday and purchased two thimbles. One is the Nimble soft thimble black leather with a slit for fingernails. The other is the Dritz plastic adjustable thimble. The black thimble does not have the dimples in the tip. The Dritz does. I know that quilters use it on the middle or index finger. I am left handed and have found that the Dritz works well on my left index finger. It is adjustable but because it is plastic is not as fitting as I would like it to be. My stitches are looking good. I would prefer to get closer stitches and more per inch. Would a different needle size (one that is longer) help with this issue? Has anyone seen the Thimblelady video? She uses LONG needles and gets very tiny stitches. I have no idea what type needles she uses, she does not say in the video.

    I need advise on a better thimble and quilting needles. We have one quilt shop in Cypress that sells the John James needles and thimbles. I will probably go there tomorrow to check them out after hearing back from anyone on the QB who can help me.

    Thanks again for your help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Hudson Valley, NY
    One of the best thimbles for quilters with long fingernails is the Roxanne thimble. It is expensive, but it comes in many different sizes so you can get one that fits, and it will last forever. There's also a Clover (?) thimble that is lightweight bronze that also has a fingernail hole.

    You may be able to get the plastic thimble to fit better by warming it. I've been known to slip a little batting in the thimble to get a better fit.

    For a needle, I prefer Richard Hemmings or John James, in size 11. I like a smaller needle, but I've been hand quilting for a long time. I suggest trying different needles to see which one works best for you.

    The Thimblelady has her own way of quilting, which defies conventional wisdom and uses long thin needles and her own thimble - if you go to her website, www.thimblelady.com, she has them for sale. The secret is that she keeps the sandwich very very loose in the hoop. She also sells an inexpensive plastic version of her thimble. Her work is phenomenal!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Sturbridge, Ma
    Suggest you pick up Alex Anderson's hand quilting book. She shows both left and right handed quiting.
    I am told the thimbles with opening in the top work well. The Roxanne thimbles have these but are pricy.
    Unfortunatly most LQS don't have a large variety of thimbles to try. it is just trying them out. Sugest you get the less expensive ones to praceice and start with and then if they work go to a better quality neede. Most quilters will start with a #8 between and work down until they find the size that is comfortable for them. I use a #9 which fits my fingers better. Also try and find a left handed quilter to help you rather than try to rearrange the visual from a right hand quilter. Don't obsess with getting very small stitches at first. Size comes with practice. Learn to make them even with good penetration to the back of the quilt. Practice on 1/8" gingham check for consistency in size. It helps.

  4. #4
    Super Member lisalovesquilting's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    You have received excellent advice!
    Peace is one of His greatest gifts.

  5. #5
    Super Member faykilgore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    San Antonio, TX
    It's good to watch videos, get advice from experienced quilters & read, but ultimately it's what works best for you & is the least abusive to your hands & wrists. The smaller stitches come with practice, but even is more important than small. Good luck! I hope you find some local hand quilters in your area.

    "You can't help that. We're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

  6. #6
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Central NJ
    I saw a demo of the Thimblelady needles, technique and thimbles on an Alex Anderson show years ago that prompted me to try them. I first bought the cheap plastic version of her thimble to see how I liked it. LOVED it and have since bought 2 of the stainless steel thimbles. Their sizing instructions I found to be very accurate. I have also used her needles. I like the fact that I can get a ton of stitches on the needle but do find that they are a bit bendy. Might be that I use W&N batting which is known to be difficult to hand quilt (although I have no problem). I use Roxanne needles - usually #11 or #12. Find them very sturdy and easy to handle. But I do agree that keeping the sandwich loose in the hoop - or not using a hoop at all - makes a big difference.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Lived in San Diego now retired in Eagar, AZ.
    Blog Entries
    take the little pink plastic thimble, put a cup of water in the microwave for 1-2 minutes...take cup out and drop thimble in cup to count to 30.... take out....is it a tiny bit pliable? if not drop back in for another 30 seconds.... now fish out with spoon and place on correct finger right away.... hold tight (a bit too tight is just right...it will relax after forming) with other fingers.... now hold till totally cool and then release to check... this can be done over and over till you get it perfect.... the packages about 30 years ago actually gave us these instructions but i have noticed that it's not there any longer... i wear a size 5 ring and these are the only thimbles that fit really well... this takes care of all the various shapes of anyone's fingers and is well worth the 10 minutes of experimenting and then finishing.... ps...re-read.... do not cook thimble, just the water....

  8. #8
    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    South West Ontario
    If you are left handed and the videos are all showing right handed techniques, you might want to try watching it by reflection in a mirror? I have heard this works with knitting (after I taught someone to knit lefty). Good luck and enjoy.

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