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Help with Quilting by Hand

Help with Quilting by Hand

Old 07-12-2012, 03:56 AM
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Default Help with Quilting by Hand

I have discovered that I really like quilting by hand (not good at it at all, but am really enjoying trying!)

I have read several books but still can't quite grasp the whole hand cordination, rocking thing, that everyone talks about. And using the thimble? I keep on just dropping it. Can't quite get used to having one on at all.

Are there any good tutorials out there that might help me? I tried searching for one but had no luck.

Also, I will take any and all advice! You all have been so helpful and I learn more by reading this board than I did by going to classes.

Kudos to you all.
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Old 07-12-2012, 03:58 AM
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Alex Anderson did a really good show on HGTV about hand quilting and I think all the old shows are still available to watch on HGTV.
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by karenpatrick View Post
Alex Anderson did a really good show on HGTV about hand quilting and I think all the old shows are still available to watch on HGTV.
i remember that show. i love the way she showed the rocking motion
Nancy in western NY
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:28 AM
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Do you know anyone who hand quilts? I found it easier to learn when someone is right in front of me saying, no, try this instead. As soon as you feel the needle, top or bottom, it's time to go the other direction. I was pushing too much needle out before rocking the needle.
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:33 AM
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There are tons of videos on Youtube that show hand quilting. This is a link to Elsie Campbell's blog - she does terrific hand quilting, and made a video:


There are some things that make it easier, like keeping the sandwich loose in the hoop, using battings without scrim, and quilting on the bias instead of the straight of grain, but the key is really practice, practice, practice.

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Old 07-12-2012, 04:54 AM
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I have been doing it for so long that I don't even think about it. I made my first quilt when I was 16 or so. I will be 62 next month. Keeping the fabric loose in the hoop does make it easier. When I was younger I used a very short needle and the thinner the better. With age I have had to use a little bit bigger needle just because my hands are aging. Practice is the real answer. It bothers me when everyone automatically assumes that you will machine quilt or long arm all quilts. I can handquilt a bed size quilt in less than six weeks and watch TV, visit with friends or family and not have to hide myself away with my machine. For many years I quilted one stitch at a time. Rocking the needle is a little faster but either way gets the job done.
A lot depends on the tightness of the weave of the fabric and the thickness of the batting. Make yourself up some samples using different fabrics and battings. That is the only way to find out what works best for you.
I love the look of batiks but hate handquilting them. The weave is usually tighter and the extra dyes make it difficult to puncture with a hand needle.
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Old 07-12-2012, 05:53 AM
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I love to hand quilt as well. It does take a little time to get the hang of it. I couldn't keep a metal thimble on my finger so switched to a leather one. It has a metal coin on it that helps push the needle through without putting a hole in my finger. And, I bought some finger cots..... look like the ends of rubber glove fingers. I have such a hard time pulling the needle through and was using jewelery pliers until I tried the finger cots. I am self taught so last winter I went to a quilting shop that had some ladies hand quilting a few times a week. They had a quilt stretched on a quilting frame and I just sat and watched..... ask questions and chatted about the problems I'd had with my hand quilting. They were so helpful and watching them made the whole process so much easier. I went back home and got a quilt stretched on my quilt frame and started working. It's probably going to be the best quilting I've done. One thing I've found is that you do need to have some 'give' in your surface. The tighter it is, the harder it is to turn the needle.... and use a thinner batting for hand quilting. Good luck.
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Old 07-12-2012, 11:12 AM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I wish I knew someone close to watch, but all these suggestions are great! Can't wait to keep on practicing. I am feeling a lot better about just taking one or two stitches at a time.....but I think it is going to take me much longer than six weeks tofinish! LOL
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Old 07-12-2012, 11:21 AM
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Do you have a LQS (Local Quilt Shop). I know mine offers a hand quilting class from time to time. Also the shop might know someone that is a hand quilter that could 'help' you get the hang of it.

It is okay to take one to two stitches. I know some have talked about getting 8 to 10 stitches on the short quilting needles. I know I can't!!! But I am still a novice. The other thing that is hard is to get the quilting stitches the same size.

Good luck
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:01 PM
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I've done some hand quilting and I think the first stitch is the hardest to get little. seems like to me the rest are easier to make smaller. Keeping the fabric a little loose works.
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