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Thread: Hand Quilting - Stitches

  1. #1
    Junior Member vanessa's Avatar
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    I am learning to hand quilt and am wondering, how many stitches do you quilt to an inch? According to the Amish, 9 or 10 stitches to an inch is considered expert stitching.

  2. #2
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    I push to get 8...counting the top side only. I knew a lady once upon a time that quilted 12 to the inch! How she did it is beyond me! ;)

  3. #3
    Super Member Pamela Artman's Avatar
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    I think I get about 8 or 9, but more important than size is consistency. I tell my students to first work on making all their stitches the same size, both on top and bottom, and then with practice, work on making smaller stitches. Nothing looks worse than a few short stitches, then a long one, then short, etc.

  4. #4
    Marjpf's Avatar
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    I usually get 7. At least I keep them all the same size!

  5. #5
    Junior Member vanessa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pamela Artman
    I think I get about 8 or 9, but more important than size is consistency. I tell my students to first work on making all their stitches the same size, both on top and bottom, and then with practice, work on making smaller stitches. Nothing looks worse than a few short stitches, then a long one, then short, etc.
    My fear is I will not do the bottom correctly. How do you know you are picking up all of the quilt in a stitch on the bottom? Without making the stitch to long?

  6. #6
    Junior Member vanessa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marjpf
    I usually get 7. At least I keep them all the same size!
    Sounds good to me.
    :thumbup:

  7. #7
    Super Member mrspete's Avatar
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    I was watching a lady hand quilt at a local quilt shop, and her needle was the tiniest thing. I'm an oaf. Logger fingers, here. Gimme a darn darnin needle! But, I sure admire the talent and the craft. Blessings Ruth

  8. #8
    Super Member janRN's Avatar
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    When your underneath finger bleeds and then gets calloused you know you're through the 3 quilt layers. I can't use a thimble on that finger because I have to "feel" it go through (does that make sense?). I get about 8-10 stitches per inch but where I have a problem is at seam lines. I can't get the stitches on the bottom to come out even. Anybody have any hints on how to quilt evenly through seams? (A secret: the last time I entered my quilt in a a show, I cheated and sewed the stitches on the back at the seams.)
    Thanks Vanessa for starting this topic-always can use advice for better hand quilting.

  9. #9
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I hand quilt and I usually have 8-9 stitches per inch. The main thing is consistancy.

  10. #10
    Super Member Debbie B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrspete
    I was watching a lady hand quilt at a local quilt shop, and her needle was the tiniest thing. I'm an oaf. Logger fingers, here. Gimme a darn darnin needle! But, I sure admire the talent and the craft. Blessings Ruth
    Mrs pete...you have the cutest dog! I have a black & white shih-tzu, too.

  11. #11
    Cathie_R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janRN
    When your underneath finger bleeds and then gets calloused you know you're through the 3 quilt layers. I can't use a thimble on that finger because I have to "feel" it go through (does that make sense?). I get about 8-10 stitches per inch but where I have a problem is at seam lines. I can't get the stitches on the bottom to come out even. Anybody have any hints on how to quilt evenly through seams? (A secret: the last time I entered my quilt in a a show, I cheated and sewed the stitches on the back at the seams.)
    Thanks Vanessa for starting this topic-always can use advice for better hand quilting.

    I usually get 8 to 10 stitches per inch. As to when you come to a seam, if it is kind of thick you can use a "stab" stitch for a few stitches until you get past the thick part. It works and if you are careful you can't hardly tell it from the other stitches.

  12. #12
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
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    Well, my grandmother alway's got the most perfect stitches at 10 to the inch. I am not the quilter my Grams was. I get about 6-7.

  13. #13
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    When I learned to hand-quilt I started by using the tiger tape. Its a tape with little black lines on it. It comes in different spacing. You just follow the spacing to get the rythym. Like down a black and up to black. It really helped out. Draw a bunch of straight lines and put the tiger tape next to it and practice.

    You'll see, it'll happen! :thumbup:

  14. #14
    Gal
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    I have just checked my quilt, yes I have only hand quilted the one, it was queen size, I have 6 to the inch, I went for regular size rather than trying to get lots of stitches per inch. It was a poly/cotton top,calico back, I used No8 Betweens needles and 100% quilting cotton thread to quilt, I am more than happy with my efforts. I am sure practice is going to make me better at it, I so loved the hand quilting, I am hooked on it now! Can't wait to get my next project finished just so as I can 'Hand Quilt'.

    Gal

  15. #15
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    I do somewhere between 9 to 11. It depends on the fabric and size of the needle. I usually use a tiny 12. But recently bought platinum 9 because I was having a hard time with the needle going through the batik fabric, I will not use batik again as backing. So now it is 9 or 10. The main thing is for your stitches to be uniform. I also have been hand quilting for over 25 years.

  16. #16
    thismomquilts's Avatar
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    I have tried to keep my stitches more consistent rather than smaller. In time they are getting smaller and more consistent - practice, practice, and more practice. I do use a smaller needle - actually easier to control.

  17. #17
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    Go for even - tiny stitches may or may not happen, but even, regular stitches look intentional -

    I think of tiny tiny stitches as trying to run a 3.5 minute mile. I'm not going to be able to do it, but if I can WALK that mile, I'm happy.

    The point is, do it as well as you can, and enjoy what you've done.

  18. #18
    Junior Member vanessa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewcrafty
    When I learned to hand-quilt I started by using the tiger tape. Its a tape with little black lines on it. It comes in different spacing. You just follow the spacing to get the rythym. Like down a black and up to black. It really helped out. Draw a bunch of straight lines and put the tiger tape next to it and practice.

    You'll see, it'll happen! :thumbup:
    Where do I get tiger tape? At a quilt shop?

  19. #19
    Junior Member vanessa's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the advice. I can't wait to get started. Will be a little while as I have to finish the tops. I probably should set something up on the frame so I can practice first.

    Sore fingers here I come!

  20. #20
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    Get a nice thimble!!!

  21. #21
    Super Member clem55's Avatar
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    When my mom tried to teach me to hand quilt( I was about 18) we were working on a quilt top made from those little pre-printed squares bought at dime stores( remember them?) The pattern was printed on, and I was going down one dot and up to the next. Mom informed me that I was doing it wrong and EACH dot was a full stitch, down and up on the same dot. I took one look at how close those dots were and gave up!! In my 30's I decided trying to make an embroidered quilt , also pre-printed. Mom's church group hand quilted it for me and that is exactly the way they did it. The hand quilting I see done now is not nearly as tiny, but if consistent, it is still beautiful. BTW, I'm 71 to date those times.

  22. #22
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    You might also consider practicing on something smaller first - like a pillow top or table runner.

  23. #23
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    Hi, I just measured a couple items I have recently quilted. I seem to average between 5 and 8 stitches per inch. Years ago I could use a #12 needle and my stitches were a little finer. With age and arthritis I now use an #8 or a #9 needle. 20 years ago our county participated in a country wide quilt documentation project. We hired textile experts from the DAR musuem in Washington, DC to examine the quilts we were documenting. The ladies from there counted the stitches on the front and back. The first time one of them said 18 stitches to the inch my eyes bugged. If you divide that by two that meant 9 inches on top. In my 40+ years of quilting I learned the hard way that the weave of the fabric, the batting, the number of seams, the needle size and the type of hoop, frame or otherwise that you are using makes a difference in the size of the stitch. What is really important is the eveness of the stitches and the fact that the item is finally quilted. Ihave a friend who was also a handquilter for hire and who is left handed. Her stitches are unbelievably tiny. I stopped worrying about it a long time ago.

  24. #24
    Super Member Pamela Artman's Avatar
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    I touch my finger underneath and then push the needle back up. I really do not concern myself with the stitches on the back, they seem to just work out fine when the top stitches are good. What I should have said is that the stitches need to be even, both the stitch of thread and the space in between them! The best thing to do is mark a small project, like a pillow or wall hanging, and practice on it. It won't take long before you're quilting like a pro!


    Quote Originally Posted by vanessa
    Quote Originally Posted by Pamela Artman
    I think I get about 8 or 9, but more important than size is consistency. I tell my students to first work on making all their stitches the same size, both on top and bottom, and then with practice, work on making smaller stitches. Nothing looks worse than a few short stitches, then a long one, then short, etc.
    My fear is I will not do the bottom correctly. How do you know you are picking up all of the quilt in a stitch on the bottom? Without making the stitch to long?

  25. #25
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    If you are just learning then I suggest you strive for even stitches regardless of the number. Evenness is more important. With practice you can always improve for smaller stitches. Don't get frustrated at not being able to do the "expected" or "standard" number at first.
    A good way to practice is on 1/16" or 1/8" gingham check fabric. Has lines and spaces to follow. 4 even stitches to the inch is ok at first. Then practice for 6 even stitches etc etc.
    Also, don't fall into the trap of assuming that you MUST use the smallest needle. Start with the size you are comfortable with and then go smaller and smaller as you gain confidence.
    If you are using a hoop I highly recommend the No-Slip hoop that you can get at JoAnn's. 14" is a good size. It is made so the fabric doesn't slip once you get the right tension for your qulting.

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