Thursday Tip #8

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
Hand quilting is relaxing and therapeutic but it may seem daunting to beginners at first. It gives our projects that lovely soft finish, which can not be achieved any other way and it looks so pretty. To help you get started, here are a few of my hand quilting tips:
  • Your needle is your most valuable tool. A size 10 "between" needle is ideal for hand quilting as the eye isn't too big or too small and it's strong enough to move through the three layers of the quilt sandwich without breaking. Personally, I find it easier to "rock" the needle when it's been used for awhile and develops that little bend (just be careful it doesn't snap).
  • Quilting threads are a personal preference, so you may need to try a few to decide which one works best for you. I prefer to use Gutermann Hand Quilting Threads; they are strong and relatively tangle free.
  • There is a large range of thimbles, adhesive pads etc. to protect your fingers as you hand quilt, so choose what works best for you. Personally, I can't/don't like to use them, so I rely on my fingernails and if I need to, I grab a few Bandaids from the First Aid box :)
  • Quilting hoops are beneficial when working on large projects. There are a few different styles available and all of them work well. Do not place the quilt in the hoop too tightly; there needs to be enough give or movement so you can rock the needle as you work.
  • When I'm working on smaller projects, I find it easier to hand quilt without a hoop.
  • I use plastic stencils for my hand quilting designs and I mark them with a water soluble pen. Be creative with that lovely negative space :)
  • To prevent your thread from tangling, cut shorter lengths of around 18" and make a small knot at the end, which will be buried in the wadding.
  • To bury your thread, insert your needle from behind the quilt, in the spot you want to start and draw the thread through, giving a slight "tug" until you feel the knot go through the backing fabric and become buried in the wadding.
  • Keep your quilting stitches small. If you are new to hand quilting, aim for around six stitches per inch and as your technique improves aim for around eight to twelve stitches per inch.
  • When you begin to hand quilt, keep one hand beneath the quilt and one above. The top hand moves the needle down into the sandwich and then up again ("rocking" motion) ensuring you go through all three layers. The bottom hand, guides the needle, keeping your stitches even. Load the needle with two or three stitches before pulling the thread through completely.
  • When you have finished stitching or have run out of thread, bring the thread up to the front of the quilt and tie a knot so it sits right on top of the quilt. Insert your needle in the exact hole and slide it under the top layer of the quilt sandwich about an inch away from the knot, pulling it through. Give it a slight "tug" until the knot disappears into the wadding and then pull the thread lightly and cut the thread, level with the quilt top and massage gently so it disappears beneath the top layer.
  • Watch a few You Tubes videos to see that "rocking" motion in action; I find the best way to learn any new technique is to see it in practice and there are some wonderful video tutorials available.
Hand quilting connects us to the talented quilters of the past. Be patient, keep practicing and don't stress if your stitches are uneven or a bit wonky, just enjoy the process and give that special handmade touch to all of your projects. 

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