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Thread: Hand Quilting Stitches

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    North-East England

    Hand Quilting Stitches

    Iím going to be trying hand quilting for the first time.

    Iíve watched some very helpful YouTube videos and read a few interesting tutorials and although theyíve shown me the basics no one says anything about how tight the stitches should be.

    What do the experts here suggest?

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Western Wisconsin
    Blog Entries
    I think you will figure that out as you quilt. You do not want the stitches so tight they are gathering fabric, as that means the thread (which will be a single strand!) will be subjected to excessive stress. On the other hand, the stitches should create dimpling in the fabric. If in doubt, you can pull a little, then smooth out (or stretch out) the sandwich along the stitching line you have just created. That will give you about the right amount of tightness.

  3. #3
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Blue Ridge Mountians
    Blog Entries
    as a beginner: stitch, pull thread, stretch fabric, smooth out newly quilted area, repeat. as prism99 says. It will soon become 2nd nature and you will get a feel for it. What you are trying to attain is consistency of tension. As the years go by, you will next try to attain consistently sized stitches and spacing. but don't even think about that until the tension is even and not too tight or too loose. Practicing quilting is very therapeutic. If you work too hard at perfection, you take all the fun and therapy out of the exercise.
    A reminder on overall tightness, if in doubt, go looser than tighter, because when you wash a quilt with 100% cotton batting, and cotton fabric, it will pucker up like an antique quilt. If your tension was too tight and your design is closer than stitch lines being closer than 1/2 " from each other, your design could become so puckery that you cant recognize the stitching design.
    Last edited by Jane Quilter; 08-26-2018 at 04:38 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    I learned from Cindy Walter of Snippets Sensations fame. She used to HAND quilt for a living, and my, was she fast.

    What I learned from her:

    Use a lap frame. The one she suggested was wood with muslin stapled onto it, about 17x17 inch? But I switched to a Q-snap frame of a similar size and was happier.

    Oh batting. I found low loft polyester to be easiest to quilt. Warm and natural was a bit sticky for me, but some people like it better. Try different battings on scrap pieces and see which you like the most..

    Baste the quilt, of course. Then mount the center of the quilt in the frame so that it's taut enough to create some tension, but loose enough that a needle will rock in and out of it fairly easily. It's kind of an in between state where the quilt sags a tiny bit in the frame. With practice, you'll know what I mean. The worst thing is if the quilt is too tight in the frame. Needles will slip or break, stitches will be too difficult to do. It's terrible. So if it's too hard to rock your needle, adjust the tension on your quilt in the frame.

    Use a quilting between, rather than a regular sewing needle. I liked the size 10 John James. Short is good because you won't bend the needles as often as you quilt. Also I found that shorter needles give smaller stitches. You're going to be pushing the needle through the quilt, and then rocking it back out again, so you need a sturdy needle. The thread I used was Gutterman hand quilting. People complain about the new Gutterman thread, but it was fine with me the last time I used it. Thread has a "direction", so it should be threaded into the needle as it comes out of the spool, for best results. Thread the needle before cutting it off of the spool. Use a single strand and make it as long as your fingertips to your elbow or SHORTER. It's tempting to make it longer, but it tends to tangle if it's too long Knot the thread

    Oh, thimble. My favorite is just a standard aluminum thimble, flat top with a ridge around the top to "trap" the needle if it slides. This is the one Cindy suggested.

    I'll bet you can find You Tube videos on how to bury the thread knot, rock the needle to take quilting stitches and then tie off the thread as you finish.. Doing the rocking motion is the best way to get tiny stitches. And the little stitches will come, with practice.

    Good luck! Hand quilting can be so relaxing, and what an accomplishment when you finish!
    Last edited by TeresaA; 08-26-2018 at 08:18 PM.
    Nobody ever went wrong with kindness.

  5. #5
    Super Member 117becca's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    dayton OH
    First - enjoy the journey and have fun. As far as supplies, everyone has their favs. I read what TeresaA above stated and I do nothing like her LOL!!! Well - i do use between needles, but that is about it.

    Part of the journey will be figuring out what works for you.

    i use a floor frame and the quilt sandwich is loose enough so that i can rock the needle back and forth. Think of dropping a 10 lb cat on the sandwich. Some people like to use a large hoop, a small hoop, or no hoop at all. I like a floor frame because my hand is free to be underneath the sandwich to help move the needle back to the top.

    Needles - i like Jenna Kimball betweens. the shank is a bit thicker/heavier and i don't bend it as easily as others. I do have order online, but I get them from the same place that i get the YLI thread - Rose Rushbrooke.

    Thimbles - I started w/ a leather thimble, went to a coin thimble (has a metal dimpled piece that sits on the pad of the finger). I needed to feel the needle and a metal one doesn't let me do that. Pay attention to how you push your needle. Do you push the needle w/ the top of the finger, or w/ the pad of the finger? That will be a clue as to what kind of a thimble you will want. Currently, I use a Dritz comfort thimble that i buy at Joann's. It has deep dimples to hold the needle and allows me to push w/ the pad of my finger.

    Batting - try lots of them. I like the cotton battings because of the bit of resistance that it gives so that i can reposition the needle if needed.

    Thread - I use YLI - it's the cheapest out there - $8 for 1000 yds. It's a glazed cotton. Do the math when buying

    Enjoy your adventure and just go. As you get the hang of things, just shoot for even stitches - and they may not be there in the beginning, but you'll get there.
    my name is becca and i'm a quilt-a-holic :-)

  6. #6
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    May 2008
    i know a person who does even, small, stitches one stitch at a time and without a hoop or frame. the sandwich was well- basted, though.

  7. #7
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    I will jump in with lap hoop (so I can sit back in a comfy chair!!), short needles, and metal thimble with the ridge. I have worn holes in plastic and METAL thimbles, so leather is not gonna cut it for me!!

    I wish they had had Youtube when I was trying to learn. I could not get the hang of it from reading books and had to take a one hour lesson with Nancy Halpern to actually SEE how to do it.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Boston1954's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    East Oklahoma - pining for Massachusetts
    Actually, I have never thought about this. I do not think I'd pull too tightly as it might distort the fabric.
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  9. #9
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    I don't consider myself an expert quilter but we'll just say experienced and still working at "perfection". I like the round hoop that I position between my lap and a card table at my couch. This allows me to rotate the work and avoid the awkward positioning of my wrist. I can put the extra quilt project and my supplies on the table. I never liked using a metal thimble for any sewing but I really, really like the leather thimble with the "coin" in it. I can feel where the needle is but have the protection of the coin surface. I tried the total leather thimbles and liked them but they wore out too quickly with the repeated contact with a needle. I see that over the years, I am more pleased with the evenness of my stitches but they are far from the tiny stitches of my ancestry. But you asked how tight the thread--You will get a feel for that but it shouldn't be so tight that it puts stress on the thread or so loose that it isn't holding the layers together. Clear as mud, huh?
    Last edited by illinois; 08-28-2018 at 03:24 AM.

  10. #10
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    N.E. England
    Moira I've PMd you the name of a local teacher of hand quilters.

  11. #11
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Everyone has their own way of quilting from buying the fabric to hand quilting it. You wil find your own rhythm that is comfortable for you. Don't try to take teeny tiny stitches you see at quilt shows at first. If that is your goal, you can work toward it, but just starting out don't fuss over less than perfect stitches.

    You may have to try a few different types of hoops. I usually just hoop my quilt on a 14" frame and put it on my lap and stitch away. I also have a quilt frame on a stand in case it is too hot to have it on my lap.

    I don't mark most of my quilt. I use that blue tape and tape 12in or so to use as my guide for a straight line. If I'm using a curved design. I mark the quilt with a soap edge. They are a ton of ways to mark your qullt and you could probably read them here.

    Experiment! Find what you like to do best and you'll enjoy the process more.

    I did however, learn one lesson. I had two puppies and was quilting on my hoop on a stand with the quilt hanging on the floor. I was merrily quilting away and thougt that gee, the puppies sure have been quiet under there. There they were, happily undoing my quilt. A pile of batting was their treasure. Pets have seem to love quilts, so I made them their own so I wouldn't fuss over them rolling around and making a bed out of one of my "good" quilts.

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