Monday, March 11, 2013

About hand-quilting

 {about hand-quilting}

There were many comments and emails asked about {hand-quilting}, so I though I'd write a post to share how I work with {hand-quilting}. There will be few things that I might do differently from other hand-quilting quilters, but I think hand-quilting comes in a personal manner of how to handle the needles and which type of hand-quilting thread to use, how the hand control the running stitches, which batting to be use, etc. 

First of all, there are hand-quilting supplies that I recommend to purchase if you plan to work with hand-quilting and love the process. 

100% cotton hand-sewing thread
hand-quilting thread
basting needle : long needle
between needle: #9/#10
thimble: leather/ plastic/ metal
b-gone pen
embroidery needle#5
Hera Marker by Clover 

How to baste a quilt, mini quilt, handmade project with basting needle and thread? 

Working with small project: 
When working with small project such as mini quilt. There will be a quilt top, a batting piece, and a backing fabric to be sandwich together. Likely using safe pins are the quickest way to baste it, but with hand-quilting I have always gone with using {basting needle} thread with {cotton thread}to baste the mini quilt. After the hand-quilting is completed, you'll be able to remove the basting threads.

how to using basting needle for a large/mini quilts/ handmade projects: Use basting needle thread with cotton thread  tied a knot at the end. The cotton thread can be as long as you can handle, but it could get tangle up if the thread catches between the threading. Flatten all the fabric pieces by hand{ quilt top, batting, backing fabric}. Start basting from the center out; Likely start with a cross look then 45 degrees angles. Slowly you'll add more thread to secure the fabric pieces together. 

How to choose quilting threads?
Quilting threads have a coat of wax, so it is thicker than the cotton/ sewing thread. There are many brands of hand-quilting thread you can find in the store. My personal favorite is coats cotton. It is thick and gives a little shine of the wax on the quilts. I also love Fujix Quilter hand-quilting thread which is made in Japan.  I recommend spend some time in the store and look into the hand-quilting thread section. You will discover the thickness is slightly different from brand to brand. I have stick with coats cotton for 6 years now and still loving it, but you might find something that works for you. 


How about quilting needles? 
The quilting needles is called between needles.  The higher the number the smaller the needles are. When first started hand-quilting, the needle number I used was #9 then later on I have stay with #10. It is a perfect size for my fingers. You can also find #11 and #12 in the store. #12 needles are very small and I actually never give it a try! 

How about thimbles? 
There are many different type of thimbles you can find. I am the leather thimble person! The new leather thimble is a little hard and not fitted right at the first place, but after a week. It will start shape like your finger and very comfortable.  Metal thimbles are too hard for my fingers, since I have really boney fingers, so it is hard to stay on fingers for me. Many of my friends also enjoy plastic thimbles since it is soft and fits in fingers right away. 

be-gone pen
Be-gone pen is great for tracing hand-quilting stencils. You can trace all the pattern on your hand-quilting piece. After finish hand-quilting spare water then the marking will be gone. Don't press heated iron on the be-gone pen marking or it will leave as it. 

Hera Marker by Clover
Hera Marker is the new toy that I added to the hand-quilting supply. It is great for marking lines on fabric without using be-gone pen. 

Embroidery needle
There are times I use embroidery thread for hand-quilting. I prefer two flosses and embroidery needle #5. 

How about quilting frame? 
The only time I use a quilting frame is quilting a large quilt. For small handmade pieces I don't put a frame around. I think this might conflict with other hand-quilter, but I found it is easier for me to handle the quilt piece and the needles.  If you are looking for a D.I.Y. quilting frame this is the {tutorial} I made for my own. It roughly cost less than 70 dollars and yes, I am loving my quilting frame! 

How about batting?
There are so many batting to go for! I really recommend go for what you like!! I have always hand-quilted the small projects on 100% cotton batting, but the cotton batting is very dense, so it is harder on the fingers. However, I love the texture and the sturdy weight when I make bags. 
For large quilts, I have been using { poly-down batting}. It gives really nice texture when finish hand-quilting. {Quilter's Dream batting} is another recommendation that I have been receiving from my hand-quilting friends.  I will give it a go and share with you later on! 

How to keep the quilting line straight? 
If you just start hand-quilting, it is likely you'll have 2-3 stitches per one needle work. Try to keep your fingers on the line that you drew/mark. It will help to keep the line straight!  I have my one needle work per 7-8 stitches. The more stitches  per one needle work would keep the line straight and clean. When encounter seams, I recommend work one stitch at the time. It is harder to let the needle to work through the thick fabric. 

 Loving hand-quilting now? 

I'd love to know how your process goes... 



  1. Thank you for posting about hand quilting! You do gorgeous work so I appreciate the peek into your process. I will be trying some of your tips for sure.

  2. Oh my, I'm so excited to see this post. I have been needing that really clear, really detailed post on handquilting as I have been wanting to try this for such a long time, but just never felt like I knew enough. Thanks so much. I'm glad I found your blog!

  3. Hi Chase, you should write a book about crafting! Everything you wrote always make sense and clear :) I spent my weekend making a patchwork bucket, I love the result and will posting on my blog when I have enough time and will give link to your blog if you don't mind *jeezz.. I need to make more, is cute when I put in the car and my daughter want more too..

    1. Thank you!! I love to see your bucket! How can I find your blog link? Your profile is not showing your blog link. I just thought.. making a mini Easter bucket for S. Even we don't really celebrate the event, but it is always fun to set a little something for her.:)

  4. Chase, it is great post (as always)! Thank you so much for this great tutorial!! Have a lovely time! Jolana

  5. Such a wonderful post, Chase! I'm definitely going to keep this in mind as I start hand quilting my latest project!

  6. wonderful tutorial, but there is no way my stitches will ever be as perfect as yours

  7. Thanks for the lovely, informative post, Chase! Some time I'd love to see a photo of your hands quilting with the thimble on. Maybe Miss S could take a photo?

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  9. Thank you Chase . I always admire your lovely stitching . You've had lots of practice to make your stitches so small and perfect . Thankyou for taking the time to show us how you do it .

  10. Thank you Chase! I found this really helpful.

  11. What a fantastic, clear guide to hand quilting. Thanks for sharing, Chase. Now I know I need to get some new needles that are the right size:)

  12. This a fantastic post Chase! I do too prefer to hand quilt small items without the frame/hoop. I find it easier to handle.

  13. Thanks for writing such a clear and detailed tutorial Chase!

  14. Thank you so much for this tutorial Chase, I have bookmarked it so that I can keep coming back to it :)