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Thread: What's the most important tool??

  1. #1
    Senior Member SavedByGrace's Avatar
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    Unhappy What's the most important tool??

    I just tried hand-quilting for the first time tonight and am already frustrated . What would you say is the most important tool in hand-quilting? My thimble doesn't feel comfortable and the frame I'm using seems way to cumbersome. Any tips on tools to use? What size frame/hoop do you use? I've got a plastic, white square thing.... maybe it was a bad choice.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dotha's Avatar
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    I love my Roxanne's thimble although they are expensive. The best thing that I ever did was take a class from Dedrie McElroy! She is an amazing teacher.

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    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I learned to use a thimble. We just had a discussion on types and some people don't use them. I use a wooden round hoop. I think it is about 18" across. You will get a lot of really helpful info here. For me it was practice to feel comfortable with it and to get small uniform stitches. I'm sure my stitches could be smaller but uniformity is your first goal. Good luck with it. I'll be watching too for more help.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SavedByGrace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitchnripper View Post
    I learned to use a thimble. We just had a discussion on types and some people don't use them. I use a wooden round hoop. I think it is about 18" across. You will get a lot of really helpful info here. For me it was practice to feel comfortable with it and to get small uniform stitches. I'm sure my stitches could be smaller but uniformity is your first goal. Good luck with it. I'll be watching too for more help.
    Did you start out with an 18" hoop? I think mine is a q-snap 17". Would I be better off to start with a smaller hoop? And I don't want the fabric drum-tight, right?

  5. #5
    Senior Member SavedByGrace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dotha View Post
    I love my Roxanne's thimble although they are expensive. The best thing that I ever did was take a class from Dedrie McElroy! She is an amazing teacher.
    Will have to do some searching......thank you!

  6. #6
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SavedByGrace View Post
    Did you start out with an 18" hoop? I think mine is a q-snap 17". Would I be better off to start with a smaller hoop? And I don't want the fabric drum-tight, right?
    I am not an expert but I think you have to be comfortable with your set up. And yes you need some "give" in your quilt. Some people use frames, floor hoops, big hoops, small hoops, or no hoops. Play around with it all and see what works best for you. It is something to get used to but will happen with practice. You might look at you tube for videos and use the search function on this board to see what's out there.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I took a hand quilting class from Roxanne McElroy, Dierdra McElroy's mother!

    The type of thimble you use is important. Personal choice varies, but for starting out I highly recommend a thimble that has a high ridge around the edge and dimples deep enough for your needle to stay in the dimple. Most thimbles that are sold routinely in stores are made for hand sewing; quilting requirements for a thimble are different. For a long time my favorite thimble was made of both metal and leather; leather surrounding the finger, and the deep ridge of metal for the tip (and I think the metal part was two colors). I got mine in a quilt shop. If I can find a picture, I will post it.

    The other thing that really helps is having a lap hoop with a swiveling top. Mine is no longer made, but the closest thing to it is the one from Grace company:
    http://www.graceframe.com/site/hoops/laphoops
    The hoop sits in your lap so both hands are free for quilting, and the swivel & tilt features mean you can easily adjust the angle to suit your style. If I couldn't get one of these, I would opt for a floor hoop.

  8. #8
    Senior Member SavedByGrace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
    I took a hand quilting class from Roxanne McElroy, Dierdra McElroy's mother!

    The type of thimble you use is important. Personal choice varies, but for starting out I highly recommend a thimble that has a high ridge around the edge and dimples deep enough for your needle to stay in the dimple. Most thimbles that are sold routinely in stores are made for hand sewing; quilting requirements for a thimble are different. For a long time my favorite thimble was made of both metal and leather; leather surrounding the finger, and the deep ridge of metal for the tip (and I think the metal part was two colors). I got mine in a quilt shop. If I can find a picture, I will post it.

    The other thing that really helps is having a lap hoop with a swiveling top. Mine is no longer made, but the closest thing to it is the one from Grace company:
    http://www.graceframe.com/site/hoops/laphoops
    The hoop sits in your lap so both hands are free for quilting, and the swivel & tilt features mean you can easily adjust the angle to suit your style. If I couldn't get one of these, I would opt for a floor hoop.
    Is this the type you are talking about? http://www.joann.com/protect-grip-th...prd_02408714a/

  9. #9
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SavedByGrace View Post
    Is this the type you are talking about? http://www.joann.com/protect-grip-th...prd_02408714a/
    Yes, this is the type thimble she means. Clover brand is a good one.

    By the way, you might try a 14" wooden hoop and sit where you can lean the top edge of it on a table in front of you. Sometimes I use a a portable table that can be height adjusted. When I was younger and more limber I used to sit with one leg/foot up in the chair with my knee leaning against the arm and the hoop propped on my knee. http://www.amazon.com/Edmunds-14-Inc.../dp/B001685S8Y

    Jan in VA
    Last edited by Jan in VA; 05-08-2013 at 06:59 PM.
    Jan in VA
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  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Well, my thimble is leather rather than rubber and the metal part looks somewhat different from the photo. I haven't found mine online; not sure it is made anymore. In the link below, "B" is the thimble that looks the most like mine, except mine has leather around the finger instead of metal:
    http://www.quiltuniversity.com/w/HandQuilting.htm

    I bought the McElroy thimble but never learned to use it easily. A lot depends on whether you are more comfortable using the side of your finger, the pad of your finger, or the tip of your finger. I prefer pushing the needle with the tip of my finger, which is why I like the type of thimble I described. I used the same thimble underneath because the ridge does a good job of pushing the quilt sandwich up for the needle.

    A common beginner's mistake is to hoop your quilt too tight, like a drum. There should actually be a lot of "give" in the hoop. Roxanne told us to hoop loosely, so we could fit a fist into the center of the hoop. This looseness allows you to manipulate the quilt sandwich up and down so you can "load" the needle with stitches.
    Last edited by Prism99; 05-08-2013 at 07:03 PM.

  11. #11
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    I'm with Prism. I have a Roxanne's thimble in brass, and love it! I also treasure my Hinterberg lap hoop, which tilts and swivels in any direction. I find it difficult to hand quilt and hold a hoop at the same time. I need both hands free for just quilting.

  12. #12
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    Hand quilting takes some getting used to...but you can do it! And you are correct, not tight in the frame/hoop. When I use a hoop, mine is generally quite loose. As to thimbles...it can be a challenge to find a style/fit that you like. I use a Thimblelady thimble. They are open topped, thus designed so that you are pushing with the pad of your finger, not the top. I find this far more comfortable. And I agree that a quilting thimble is far different than a sewing thimble. Generally with normal sewing you are not pushing through as many layers. Thus, for quilting a thimble with deep dimples really helps hold the needle in place while pushing through all the layers. Your needles and threads will make a difference as well. I use Roxanne betweens. Most people recommend starting with a larger needle (smaller size number) and then work up to using a smaller needle. I use size #11 or #12 (pretty tiny). Make sure you are using hand quilting thread. I also like to use Thread Heaven (vs. beeswax) as a conditioner. Seems to make the thread 'glide' a little better.

    I use a round wooden hoop - about 14" I think - and just have it my lap. No stand, frame, etc. I don't think I could get comfortable having to sit quite upright working on a floor frame of any style. With the lap hoop, I can just lean back in my comfy chair, put my feet up and quilt away.

    Try to only load 2-3 stitches on your needle till you really get the hang of the 'rocking'. I feel I tend to rock my fabric vs rocking the needle. Once you get used to the rhythm, you might feel comfortable loading more stitches onto your needle.

  13. #13
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i seldom use a thimble- thimbles are one of those things- some people love them--others not so much...it's a personal thing finding the right one for you & then learning to use it in the best way.
    as for the frame---if you baste your sandwich well you do not have to use a frame or a hoop- many of us simply hold the quilt on our laps with no hoop/frame.
    it sounds as if you are using a pvc embroidery hoop - or one of the floor stand pvc frames? if it is too cumbersome- try a smaller one---the lap ones come in sizes from 6" square up to about 24"x18"...and wooden quilting hoops are about 14" round...but it is fine to try it without any. just try different things (maybe friends, local guild will have members who have different ones you could borrow & try) it all takes practice & getting used to what you are using.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  14. #14
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    You don't have to use a frame. There are some very good youtube videos how to quilt without a frame. Several guild members use the Aunt Becky to hand quilt and their stitches are tiny.
    Got fabric?

  15. #15
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    When I first started to hand quilt, I thought the fabric should be stretched tight as a drum in the frame.

    It works a lot better to let the fabric be somewhat relaxed in the frame so that one can manipulate the needle in the fabric.

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