We all have our favorite part of putting together a quilt. For some it’s the piecing, or maybe you love the binding (I do!) or perhaps it’s the quilting? Free motion quilting is definitely fun but if you don’t have all the right equipment, getting a large quilt through a domestic machine can be daunting!
When I was deciding on how to quilt my sampler I changed my mind more than once (shocker!) I debated, and thought, and finally decided to hand quilt. After all, I had the time… (right?)
I have hand quilted smaller projects but this was my first large hand quilting project. I loved the freedom of being able to quilt one block at a time. It was fun to finish one block and then move to the next one and decide on how to quilt just that block. I could multi task, watch Netflix (who got me hooked on fringe and mad men?) and quilt at the same time! And I don’t think I used my seam ripper once! BONUS!
Spooky thought it was a good idea too… she’s such a big help…
I used DMC Pearl Cotton #8 for my quilting~ SO YUMMY! It comes in tons of colors, is easy to work with and shows off your hard work with it’s pretty shine.
Here are the colors I used:
purple 554, blue 519, yellow 725, green 3348, ecru, orange 947
I have this great DMC Color chart for choosing colors!
Gather your Supplies:
Here are some general supplies you’ll want before you get started.
Quilters Hoop ~ I’m using a 14″ Dritz 14-Inch Quilting No-Slip Hoop
Thimble ~ I use this one Clover Metal Open-Sided Thimble
Pearl Cotton #8
Scissors ~ small pair
Needle ~ I like the clover gold eye chenille 24 needle
Needle Threader ~ optional
Painters Tape ~ for help keeping stitches straight
Basted Quilt Sandwich
This is the type of needle threader I used. It has a hook on each end that slides through needle eye to grab the floss and pull through. Made threading SO much easier! This needle threader from DMC would also work. You’ll just need to be sure your needle eye can accommodate the hook.
It’s best to work from the quilt center out toward the edges, so position your hoop closest to the center of your quilt and secure. I started my quilting on the center block of my quilt and worked my way around and out to the sides. It worked out beautifully. It’s a little more cumbersome when you’re working in the middle of the quilt, since there’s more quilt to wrap your arms around, but just adjust everything until you’ve got a comfortable set up.
Cut yourself a piece of pearl cotton no longer than 30″ (manageable length). Any longer and it will be awkward to work with and it will get fuzzy when you pull it through the quilt sandwich too many times.
Thread your needle and tie a simple overhand knot in the end of the cotton.
Start by inserting the needle approx. 1/2 inch from where you wish to begin quilting. Push your needle through the top and batting only and travel through quilt. Bring your needle up at your starting point.
Pull the thread until the knot reaches the quilt top and give it a sharp tug ~ it will pop through the quilt top and embed itself in the batting. You will get the hang of this after a few tries.
Let’s get quilting. I quilt toward myself at a slight diagonal, (rather than right to left) and I find it the easiest way for me. Do what feels comfortable for you. Start a stitch with the needle sticking straight down through the quilt. I’m right handed and I have my right hand on top of the quilt making the stitch, and my left hand guiding the needle on the back of my quilt. In the next picture my left hand is under the quilt sandwich and the needle is just poking through the other side resting on my finger tip. (yes, this finger tip will get a little sore… occupational hazard)
When I feel the point of the needle come through the back of the quilt with my finger tip, I tilt the needle backward away from me. Now, push that back finger up, creating a small bump on the quilt top where your needle is. With your right hand thumb, push down on the quilt top in front of the needle, making the bump more defined, and now you can push the needle through that bump.
- needle straight up and down just through quilt sandwich touching left hand finger tip
- tilt needle back
- push up with left finger from under quilt
- push down with right thumb in front of needle to make the defined bump
- push needle through bump
Your thimble may feel unnatural on your finger, and you may struggle through the first several stitches but it will quickly get easier. Stick with it! Your left finger tips will get sore and there are some products you can use like another thimble or little ‘dots’ to stick on your finger to protect it but I couldn’t get the same results using anything on those left hand fingers. I needed to be able to feel the needle.
When you are ready for another length of pearl cotton or done your quilting, you will need to tie off and embed the end in the batting. Start by tying another overhand knot in the end of your pearl cotton.
Pull the end of the pearl cotton, sliding the knot down near the quilt top.
Knot should be right at the top of the quilt.
Insert needle back into hole that the pearl cotton is coming out of and travel through the batting only, then back out of top about a 1/2″ away.
Pull needle through and give pearl cotton a tug to embed knot in batting and carefully snip off the tail.
If you are quilting a long straight line and need a ‘guide’ try using painters tape and just stitch along side of it! It helps and the tape pulls right off and you can use it a couple more times before the ‘stick’ is worn out.
That’s it! If your new to hand quilting start on small projects like I did, then when your comfortable, move your way up to a large project…
Sampler Quilt – details and quilted blocks
Scrap Happy Sampler Quilt pattern
I have a
if you want to give it a go!
I found these video tutorials very helpful:
This is another EXCELLENT free video tutorial if you want to get into hand quilting feathers: how to hand quilt feathers video tutorial
If you are hard core into quilting ~ this looks FUN! hand quilting motifs video tutorial
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If you want to see more of this quilt, here are all the