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Thread: Question Re: Hand Quilting

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mrs. Mel's Avatar
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    Hey all: I am going to attempt to hand quilt. (Was inspired by Harmony). Two questions:

    1) Am I supposed to use a heavier thread, or will any do?

    2) Am I supposed to use a darker, contrasting thread, or lighter so my stitches (or mistakes :oops: ) don't show?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Power Poster sandpat's Avatar
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    Use a Hand quilting thread...it is slightly thicker and has a coating on it. Never use it in your machine as it will gunk it up.

    The thread color is a personal choice type of thing.

  3. #3
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    Welcome to what I call the "true" quilting.
    Handquilting thread works the best as it is stiffer and holds up well to be dragged through the fabric repeatedly. Use cuts of no more than 18" and it is always single thread. If you want to hide your stitches as much as possible use colors to match each section of the quilt you are working on. The only problem with that is unless you have a overall printed back it will show there a lot. I have been handquilting for at least 40 years. The first five at least I did stab and stitch. I then advanced to two stitches at a time. Now I probably average at least three stitches on one needle. A lot depends on the density of the fabric, the size of your needle and the thickness and density of the batting you are using. For my best work I use cotton batting at the "request" thickness which is very thin. The nice thing about today's battings is that they make it possible to quilt without having to do it extremely heavily unless you so desire. Make sure you read the label. If it says you can quilt as much as 4" apart you can be sure that your batting will stay put after being laundered.
    If you are planning on using a traditional quilting frame that is stationary it would be to your advantage to learn to quilt with both hands. Since I touch type and play the piano it didn't take me long to perfect using both hands. It saves a lot of contortions when using a stationary frame. It also makes it easier for me to spend lots of time quilting without destroying my neck. After 40 years I have carpal tunnel problems with both hands.
    I find handquilting very relaxing. I have discovered the "continious" line quilting stencils that were designed for machine quilting. They make handquilting much easier as they prevent having to stop and start so much.

    Good luck and have fun.

  4. #4
    Member hexagonquilter's Avatar
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    What is your pattern that you are going to use hand quilting? Or are you hand quilting and hand piecing as well?
    Hand quilting: I tend to get a thread color that will stand out on the backing of the quilt. If this is your first time hand quilting and your stitches are a various size then I would get a blending thread color.
    Hand Piecing: I use thread that kinda goes with the fabrics. It blends in when the seams are finger pressed especially if your stitches are slightly farther apart than on a machine. I get 15 + to an inch and sometimes that is too far apart to hide the thread.
    I do both piecing and quilting by hand.

  5. #5
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    I hand quilt with the ladies at my church and we usually use white or ecru quilting thread. We will use other colors at the request of the quilt owner, but find these two colors meet our needs.
    Try to do a regular stich loading your needle with at least 2 stitches. Sab and stitch will show up on the back of the quilt and leave you disappointed! :(
    The most important thing I have learned is there are different thimbles and be sure to use one with a lip so your needle doesn't slip.
    It is great therapy and you will only get better with lots of practice. :lol: :lol:

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mrs. Mel's Avatar
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    I am hand quilting a star on the light coloured blocks of my lap quilt. I can't seem to get past 3 stitches to an inch and still pick up the material on the back. I know, that sounds pretty bad. Hexagon did you mean you are getting 15 stitches in an inch? How can you see it; they must be SO tiny! I am so impressed.

    I have machine pieced the top; here. I will include the pic.

    I have only been quilting since last July, so I am doing a lot of 'stab and stitching' like you described mpspeedy. The star is continuous (until I go to the next block) so that is relatively simple.

    Thanks so much all. I am thinking I will stick to a similar colour thread to background. I don't want to be too disappointed with the result. If it is not TOO bad I will put on a 'completed' pic! :)
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  7. #7
    Super Member mary quite contrary's Avatar
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    If you are having trouble with your thread twisting, thread your needle from the other end of the thread.

    Also, my mother (89) who has been sewing for most of her life says there is a difference which side of the needle you thread. If you are having trouble threading your needle turn it around and thread from the other side.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rismstress's Avatar
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    Although this is fairly obvious, learn to use a thimble. Find one that fits and is comfortable. I have several sizes for when my fingers swell.
    It will save you making a hole in your finger.
    Have fun, I enjoy doing the handquilting.
    Cheryl

  9. #9
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    I find it is best to thread the needle the direction the thread comes off the spool. Sometimes wetting the needle (yes, the needle where the hole is) will help the thread find the hole and go through easier! Thread the needle before you cut the thread from the spool. Pull out a comfortable length, then cut the thread keeping the short end by your needle to let the thread work WITH its twist. Use the quilters knot, and go for it! Start with a couple stitches on your needle and go from there. The length of your needle and the tautness of the quilt determine how many stitches you can load your needle with. I use a needle gripper ( a circle of soft rubber- a piece of a balloon or rubber glove works as well) to help with pulling my needle through "tough" spots. Practice and you will get better.
    People who want beautiful consistent stitches in hand quilting have a "warm-up" piece that they use to get their "groove" and then go the the piece that they want for competition or ?
    Hope this helps. :lol:

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mrs. Mel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rismstress
    Although this is fairly obvious, learn to use a thimble. Find one that fits and is comfortable. I have several sizes for when my fingers swell.
    It will save you making a hole in your finger.
    Have fun, I enjoy doing the handquilting.
    Cheryl
    At this point, nothing is obvious for me. I have actually tried using a thimble, but I can't 'feel' through it. I think my finger is claustrophobic.

    And Shemjo, I don't even know what a quilter's knot is! I am so embarassed! :oops: :oops: I was using a medium length needle, cz too short and I lose it!

    Thanks again for all the advice. As you can see, I kinda need it.

  11. #11
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    The quilters knot makes a small consistent knot that you can "pop" through the fabric and bury inside the quilt.
    Let's see if I can explain it! Hold your needle point up, catch the tail of your thread with the fingers of the hand holding the needle, wrap the end of your thread three times around the needle, catch the wrapped thread between the thumb and forefinger of the hand holding the needle, with your other hand pull the needle almost all the way to the end and release your pressure just before the end of the tail. There should be a knot at the end of the tail!
    I hope that makes some sense. :?

  12. #12
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. Mel
    I think my finger is claustrophobic..
    Thimbles are more individualized than any other sewing notion I can think of. I use two hands, and my right hand likes a nice, breathable leather thimble. My left, often poked, uses an old sterling one that some would consider too big for my hand. It's all what suits your needs and your fingers. When I was doing a lot of hand quilting years ago, my hands built up so many callouses that thimbles weren't required, but that takes a while to build up.

  13. #13
    HMK
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    This will sound like a silly question but how do you count your stitches? Do you only count the part that shows on top or do you count both those showing on top and on the bottom? It's confusing.

  14. #14
    Super Member retrogirl02's Avatar
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    I am by no means an expert but do have a couple of tips for you that I learned from my mom.

    A quilter's knot is the most important lesson in hand quilting. It allows you to pull the knot through the back side of your quilt sandwich and hide completely in the batting. You can watch an enlarged version of the quilter's knot on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT5m5...eature=related I love this site because I can watch and re-watch while I'm trying it out until I have it down. It's a great refresher for those of us who don't get to handquilt as often as they'd like.

    Second, I always use thread specifically for hand quilting and it is, as other's have mentioned, thicker than machine thread. I was taught to use bee's wax to coat my thread (perhaps not necessary any more since it comes coated). I still use it and find that I deal with far less tangles than without.

    I'm not sure of the method you're using....there are several threads on the subject and you'll find one method works far better for your personal technique than others. I use a loose rocker method and a hoop. Keep at it and you'll find what works best for you. There is no one right way to do this except to enjoy the process and expirementation and to find joy in your way.

  15. #15
    Super Member retrogirl02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moonpi
    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. Mel
    I think my finger is claustrophobic..
    Thimbles are more individualized than any other sewing notion I can think of. I use two hands, and my right hand likes a nice, breathable leather thimble. My left, often poked, uses an old sterling one that some would consider too big for my hand. It's all what suits your needs and your fingers. When I was doing a lot of hand quilting years ago, my hands built up so many callouses that thimbles weren't required, but that takes a while to build up.
    OOOh Moonpi, I'm so glad you mentioned this. They make an open thimble for long fingernails and is popular with the claustrophobic fingers LOL. Check around and you'll find what works for you. As Moonpi said, it is very personalized and essential to your quilting experience.

  16. #16
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link to You Tube! for the Quilters knot. I hadn't seen it, but it is so clear there! I will show it to some ladies who can't see when my hands are in the way!

    I LOVE, LOVE,LOVE this board! :lol:

  17. #17
    Super Member retrogirl02's Avatar
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    Any time!! I have the hardest time following directions and then guessing what's happening on that ity bitty tiny lil needle. I think I need a magnifiying glass to watch stuff online sometimes!!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Mrs. Mel's Avatar
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    Yes, thank you retrogirl. Watched the youtube link and is very clear. See, before today I didn't even know that such a knot existed. And I will definately check out a different thimble Moonpi. The one I have is metal and it feels like my finger is ready to go out to battle. Although selection is limited in my area, I am planning to go to States for my son's soccer tourney this weekend. I could check out some stores there. (I am sure he wouldn't mind. :?: :wink:


  19. #19
    HMK
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    My "silly" question was ignored on the last page so thought I'd bring it forward to this one to see if it gets a response.

    How do you count the stitches? Is it the ones showing on the top or do you count both those showing on top and on the bottom? I'm trying for consistence but am also striving for small stitches and would like to know just how they are counted.

    Also, what do you use on the finger that's feeling for the needle as it comes through the quilt - mine is getting kinda raw.

  20. #20
    Member hexagonquilter's Avatar
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    Thimbles: I can't find any that work as well for me as the pick your finger method. So I have holes in my fingers (two of them usually), then I quit quilting until they are healed up.
    The 15 stitches per inch are quit tiny. That is 15 either on top or bottom depending on which side you want to count them on. I usually go top (side I am quilting on). I use a med. size needle, and you are right that too short and it gets lost if you are not aware of how to handle it well.
    I do not knot either start or finish of the length of thread. I back tack. Run the thread to a half inch from the end then stitch 2 then go back and stitch right over those then start again. That is how I end the thread at the end when I have about 5 inches left on the needle.
    I also use med. to thin batting. If you have thick batting you will have less stitches per inch.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Mrs. Mel's Avatar
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    I always thought you counted the stitched on the top of the quilt HMK; but I'm probably not the best person to ask. But I'm glad you asked which pushing finger one should use. I was afraid to ask any more questions!! :oops:

  22. #22
    Member hexagonquilter's Avatar
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    I am left handed so it may be different for the righters. I push the needle with my pointer on left hand and receive the holes on right hand corresponding finger. Then when pointer gets holes and is sore I go to the middle finger left to push still receiving pointer on right. And so on until I have holes or sores on all fingers. Then I quit for about a week. Takes that long to heal up.
    During that week I cut out for next quilt or crochet. I am making a shell pattern afghan for my son's friend that is getting married this summer.

  23. #23
    Super Member retrogirl02's Avatar
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    I could be mistaken, but I believe you count the number of stitches on your needle at any given time other than when you first add a new needle/thread to your quilt. It's supposed to be the number in an inch, I think. I'll check to see if I can find a source online if you cannot find one.

  24. #24
    Super Member retrogirl02's Avatar
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    I think they are getting away with the number because the overall consistency seems to be key.

  25. #25
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    Counting the number of stitches varies by region, I think, as I have heard different methods used. The main thing to watch is that all your stitches are the same size! That takes practice.
    Your question about the under, or pricked finger is a good one, especailly in the winter when my fngers crack. I catch the under stitches with my thumb, and it gets pretty sore sometimes. The best thing I have found it to use tape on my thumb. I have used Band-aids, white adhesive tape, duct tape, whatever and they all work. There are little plastic patches you can buy to apply just where you need them, but the bandaid stuff works just about as well and is usually available right now! There is a little metal thimble thing I saw in a quilt store that was designed to place on your under finger/thumb, whatever you use. I bought one, but it is so small, I don't know where I put it, so I don't have any first hand experience using it yet! :?
    BTW there is a companion pocked metal thing to put on you pusher finger. The under one has a smooth surface. They adhere with sticky tape that is reusable.

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