How to Quilt by Hand: Tips for Success – Quilting Daily

A note from Vivika: Last year, Quilting Arts editors Rose DeBoer and Kristine Lundblad helped restore a coworker’s heirloom handmade quilt that had been damaged seemingly beyond repair. With ingenuity and tiny stitches, Rose and Kristine revived the quilt’s beauty and function. Today, I’ve asked Rose to share her tips for how to quilt by hand.

“Frenemies” handmade quilt by Nneka A. Gamble, featured in Quilting Arts Magazine, Feb/March 2014.

Hand quilting is truly a labor of love. The choice to hand quilt instead of finishing by machine can be made for many reasons–desiring a more heirloom look, wanting the quilting stitches to play a more prominent role in the design, or enjoying the process of hand stitching are just a few. Before you begin the odyssey here are a few tips for how to hand quilt:

1. Sit back and relax.
If you were in a hurry, you’d be threading your machine! One of the delights of working by hand is enjoying the process, so settle in and treasure the moments.

2. Use really good hand sewing needles. In the case of needles, you do get what you pay for. Buy the expensive, name brand needles. Your shop owner may be able to guide you to some good choices. If the label on the package starts with the phrase “Pak-O-Needles,” it’s probably not what you’re looking for.

3. You’ll need the good thread, too. If you’re working on a cotton quilt, do purchase 100% cotton thread. The weight of the thread and the finishing are personal choices, so you may want to purchase small spools and test them to see what you like. I have a friend that swears by glazed cotton quilting thread–she loves the way it pulls through the fabric. I usually prefer a 40wt. unglazed thread.

4. Take just a few moments to warm up.
There’s a reason for batting practice and basketball warm-ups. And even non-sports loving quilters would be wise to take heed. Your stitches will get more even as you go along. So take those first 50 or so stitches on a smaller project. Have a little stack of potholders to work on as you get into your groove. Then when you switch to your quilt, you’ll be sailing along.

Personally, I love hand quilting. It’s soothing and restful–and the results are so lovely. Take your time and enjoy the journey.

There are many ways to explore handwork; check out the resources from our sister publications.

P.S. Do you ever quilt by hand? Why or why not? Leave your comments below.

Other topics you may enjoy:

Leave a Reply