Beginning Hand Quilting
- Fabric preparation
- Marking quilt top
- light box
- transfer paper
- Quilt preparation
- Layering and basting layers
- Using a quilt hoop
- How to hand quilt
- Finger tip quilting
- single stitch
- rocker stitch
- Finger pad quilting
- single stitch
- rocker stitch
- Thumb quilting
- single stitch
- rocker stitch
- How to square up your quilt
- How to add a binding
- How to add a sleeve
In this class, we will be working with hand quilting as we make a feathered heart whole cloth wall quilt. A whole cloth quilt is purely quilting on a single fabric top; no appliquéing, no piecing, just quilting. You may have heard it referred to as a white on white quilt, but you can do whole cloth quilting on any color fabric with any color thread. For this class, I strongly recommend that you use thread and fabric that are not the same color. Whether you choose to use a pastel fabric and white thread or a white fabric and colored thread, you will find it is easier to take pictures that show your stitches so that I can help you during class.
More details about requirements can be viewed as the first part of this ebook. It explains why you would make certain choices when picking your supplies. Please read carefully.
My finished "Feathered Heart and Grid" quilt top measures 21" x 21". I started off with larger pieces of fabric because the act of adding quilting stitches causes the quilt to shrink a bit. If you use a different batting or a tighter tension than I do, your quilt top might finish larger or smaller. Because of this, I have suggested below that you begin with fabrics that are larger than the finished size.
Quilt top: 24" x 24". This can be as inexpensive as muslin, as rich and luxurious as 100% cotton sateen, or silk, and everything in between. If you want to make a larger wall hanging, please feel free to do so. Just start off with fabric about 3" larger than your finished size. If you want your quilting to show, choose a fabric that is or appears to be a solid. I will be using a beige and white subtle print for my samples because I love the fabric and wanted to use it for my wall quilt. Hand quilting deserves the best quality fabric you can afford.
PREWASH THE FABRIC TO MAKE SURE IT IS PRESHRUNK and all of the sizing has been removed. Sizing in the fabric can make hand quilting more difficult.
Backing: 28" x 28". Your backing should be at least 4" larger than your quilt top. Prewash the backing fabric to assure that it is preshrunk and all dye is colorfast. Y.
Prewashing fabric: There is controversy in the quilting world about whether or not to prewash your fabrics. I am a firm believer in prewashing for these reasons:
- different fabrics shrink at different rates, and I do not want my quilt to shrink after I have spent many hours making it. I do not want the person who receives my quilt to be horrified when they wash it. All cotton shrinks, as does all cotton batting.
- I prewash because I want to make sure all of the dyes are set before it goes into my quilts. In essence, I want to treat the fabric worse than anyone might treat it once it is made into a quilt, so there are no unhappy surprises later on.
- it is a really good idea to get rid of the sizing before you hand quilt.
- washing removes other harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing process, such as formaldehyde
Binding: 1/4 yard fabric to match your quilt top (for class project)
In Part Three I will teach you 1/2" wide binding, by using a 2 1/8" strip of fabric.
Note: If you have changed the size of the project this amount will vary.
Batting/Wadding/Padding: 28" x 28". Your batting should be at least 4" larger than your quilt top. Batting is the layer of fibers between the quilt top and the backing. No one will see it, but it will definitely affect how your quilt will look and how easy it will be to quilt. You get to choose whatever batting you want. Every brand is a little different, so don’t be afraid to just start somewhere and learn from that experience. I list various battings in full details in Part One.
Pre-Washing Batting: The packaged battings, as opposed to the batting you find on rolls, usually have instructions about what will happen if you pre-wash the batting, or if you wait to wash it after the quilting. Read those instructions carefully and decide which look you want in your quilt, then do what it says. In general, cotton battings will shrink when washed, so they will cause the quilt to pucker up a bit if you do not pre-wash the batting. If you prefer a flatter quilt (with fewer puckers), then pre-wash your cotton batting so it will shrink before you add it to your quilt. Polyester battings rarely shrink at all, so pre-washing is generally not necessary. Each brand of wool and/or silk batting will have very specific instructions, so be sure to follow them. I suggest that if you have a specialty batting that has special washing instructions, you note those instructions on the label of your quilt. The most important thing to remember when washing batting is never agitate.
Marking tools: You will need to find a marking tool that will wash off or rub out once the quilting is complete.
There are many ways to mark your quilt top. You want to make sure your marks show up enough for you to follow them, but then completely disappear when you are finished quilting (or before then). Many older quilts were marked with lead or graphite pencils. It is convenient, but the marks are very hard, if not impossible, to get out of the fabric, and therefore, pencil marks may show forever on your quilt top. If you enter your quilt in a show, judges may comment unfavorably about those pencil marks, and the marks may not enhance your enjoyment of the quilt, which I think is a more important consideration than what a judge has to say. If you are considering using a pencil, be aware that pencils now are made with graphite, not lead. That means that any recipe or device you have for removing lead from your quilt may or may not work on graphite. I have never been able to remove any pencil lines I have ever added to fabric so I do not use them on fabrics at all unless I need a permanent line. More details about various markers are included in Part One.
Needles**: Hand Quilting Needles are also called "Betweens. " You may find a package using either or both names. I suggest you start with a size 10 hand quilting/between needle until you develop some experience and opinions about what you might like better. You can choose another size if you want. Size 12 is the shortest, thinnest hand quilting needles I have found; size 11 is between a 12 and a 10 in length and diameter. I believe size 9’s are too thick for fun hand quilting, but it may be perfect if you are frustrated with a bent size 10. In general, the wisdom in the quilting world is that you will get smaller and more even stitches with a shorter needle, rather than a longer one. All needles are not created equally, but the differences are so small, I am not going to offer suggested brands. Hand quilting is a tough task to ask of a needle, and I think a sturdy one is preferable to a shorter one that bends easily.
For Basting: I like to use regular sewing thread (100% cotton or poly/cotton) for basting.
For Quilting: Buy a spool of Hand Quilting thread. Hand quilting thread is thicker than most sewing threads. It is stronger because it has a tough job to do. I especially like the strength and unglazed softness of Aurifil’s hand quilting thread 28 weight**.
Whichever brand you buy, you can match the color of your quilt top, use a color that contrasts with the top fabric or use variegated thread. If you are a beginner and quilting a practice project, then I strongly suggest that you choose a contrasting color thread, so you can see what you are doing, what you have done, and can easily see the improvement.
Thimble: Finding the perfect thimble is a continuous process. I have collected over 20 different styles throughout the years, each one offering something a little different.
There are many more that I have not purchased, but they might be perfect for you. Here are just a few things to consider as you go thimble hunting. You probably do not yet know the answer to all these questions.
- Will you be using your index finger, second finger, or thumb to push the needle?
- Will you be using the pad or tip of that digit?
- Do you prefer a metal or leather thimble?
- Do you have long finger or thumbnails?
- Do you have a physical condition, such as arthritis, that might require something special for hand quilting?
Buying a usable thimble means you need to find one that fits. I suggest you first shop at your local store where you can potentially try on some thimbles. This will give you an idea of what size (large, medium, small) you might be looking for. Of course, online is a possibility, but finding the right size will be the challenge.
Hoop or frame: I was taught to use a hoop that either rests in my lap or is supported on a floor frame sitting beside my chair. You may have a large floor frame and you certainly can use that.
Basting: Basting can be done with thread, safety pins or plastic tacks. With hand quilting and a hoop, thread basting is the preferred method.
Thread basting: Spool of regular sewing thread in an ugly color. Any long needle can be used as a basting needle. This is the method I will share with you in Lesson One.
Safety pins: If you prefer this method, I strongly suggest Dritz Curved Safety Pins, but any medium to large safety pins will work.
Quilt tacking gun: There are several brands of quilt tacking guns on the market (Dritz and Dennison). If you think this will work for you, buy one with a thin needle, to avoid large holes being poked in your fabric.
Spoon: We will use this as a basting tool if you decide to use thread or safety pins, so use any odd or old spoon you might have around the house. This will get scratched and become a quilting tool, so do not use an heirloom spoon. A plastic one will work, at least until the handle breaks off, then you can grab a metal one so that will not keep happening.
Ruler: for marking straight lines 1" apart as drawn on the pattern. A see-through rotary ruler will work fine.
Masking tape, blue painter's tape, or other tape that will not leave a residue on your fabric. We only need a little of this tape. We will use it to layer the quilt backing and batting and quilt top, so be creative and use what you have for this first project. In the future, you will probably use this type of tape often, so get masking or painter’s tape.
Straight pins (approx. 6-8))
Bias tape: Wait until you see how this is used in Part One before buying or making any.
We also email you the 'Thank You' to your email inbox which includes the link to download your pattern. Please check your spam/junk box if you do not receive this.
Here is a full list of things to try:
- Ensure that no pop up blockers are enabled
- Ensure you are using a stable connection - wifi is better than phone data
- Clear your cache and cookies
- Try a different web browser, as well as private windows to rule out any browser issues
- Ensure the web browser is up to date and that the latest device software is up to date
- Try another device, like another computer, tablet, or mobile phone
- Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.