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Thread: Hand Quilters

  1. #1

    Question Hand Quilters

    I am struggling to find any useful info about how to hand quilt. But I have found a couple of little things to get me started... BUT, I have a few questions for those that hand quilt...

    1. Do you use a frame to hold your tension?
    2. What stitch do you use?
    3. Do you pre-iron folds into you squares?



  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ontario, Canada


    Are you hand-piecing, or hand-quilting, or both? I have not hand-pieced a quilt, but I would suggest that you iron a fold for your seam-allowance, or mark a line with a fabric pencil, and then do a sort of "running back stitch" if you know what I mean. Sewing in a straight line, make a stitch forward, and then the next stitch, bring your needle up through the cloth farther away, and then back down where the last stitch ended. Do the same with the next stitch. This way, the thread overlaps on the underside of your work, and makes a good strong stitch. (this is sounding really complicated. I wish I could make a diagram for you. Just let me know if you can't visualize what I am saying, I'll try to explain it better!) Also, get thread for hand quilting, it will stand up much better to being pulled through the cloth repeatedly. Other thread will fray and break.

    I don't know whether you need a frame for hand piecing. You will want one for hand-quilting. A large hoop has worked fine for me - makes it easy to work with on your lap.

    All the best with your project!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    On the other side of this screen!!!


    I haven't done any hand quilting but i have done hand sewing in quilts and here's my advice - buy the very best quilting needles you can afford (they are called 'betweens' and they are tiny). It's really weird at first but you will get used to them quickly and forever afterwards sewing with a 'normal' needle feels like sewing with a log LOL. Also, use the best 100% cotton thread you can get. You will also need a thimble and I find a soft leather one the easiest to use. HTH - enjoy your project

  4. #4


    Thanks girls! I posted this a few hours before I went on my 4 day break and couldn't get back on before I left BUT, whilst away I dragged DH into a quuilting store and bought a "pack" - you know the ones with all the fabric? Also bought cotton and needles after talking with the woman for ages and explaining I was a beginner and don't own a sewing machine (and don't intend to get one at this point). She also gave me written instructions and a plastic thing to use as a cutting template... but I left the template behind somewhere!!!! Not sure where... But, I am wanting to do the whole lot by hand... After talking to the lady, I might need to take it to a shop to get it "finished" but that is about it... apparently I 'could' do the whole lot by hand... will see how I go!!!!

    Thanks for your help though!!!


  5. #5
    kalinka Guest


    Quote Originally Posted by Mother Goose View Post
    apparently I 'could' do the whole lot by hand... will see how I go!!!!
    Hiya there,

    I'm someone who does hand patching and quilting, as well as work by machine at times. You can absolutely do 100% of it by hand, but it -will- take a while. The minimum I allow for a hand pieced and quilted quilt is around a year - although I don't stitch that slowly, I am a perfectionist and freely admit to having multiple projects on the go at any one time (I've got 3 hand-piecing quilts in various stages right now). Machine ones I can do in a weekend, although it's more restrictive in some ways, regarding patterns and precision. If you like, I'd be delighted to answer any questions or describe how to do any of it.

    ~ Kalinka.

  6. #6


    Thanks Kalinka! You are very kind! I've just been to spotlight today to get some templates for cutting my pieces and a rotary cutter... but how am I suppose to mark the square when the template has a 1/2 inch extra for seam line? The lady in Gippsland told me to cut it 6.5 inches and then mark 1/2 inch down which will be my seamline....I need a line too guide my sewing because I cut even draw a straight line with a ruler! Haha. Any advice would be appreciated! Also, what is the best stitch for hand piecing? And do I need to do my boarder/runner first and then attach the squares? Or do the squares and then add the boarder?

    Sorry for all the questions!


  7. #7
    kalinka Guest


    For hand-piecing, you would normally cut the template to the size of the piece with no seam allowance. Premade templates for hand piecing should either have no seam allowance or a slit along them to mark the actual stitching line. Premade templates for machine piecing are different - they work by marking the cutting line, when using the machine, you line that cut line up against a mark on the machine that gives you the exact distance from the needle and therefore the stitching line.

    Once you have the template, then you get a piece of sandpaper, lay the fabric flat over the sandpaper, right side down, lay the template on top and draw round it with a pencil, leaving enough fabric in all directions for the seam. The sandpaper stops the fabric from slipping away while you use the pencil which helps enormously! You can buy sandpaper boards which are really nice but any random piece of sandpaper will work. Finer is better, though, makes it easier to mark the pencil line. If you are are doing more than one per fabric, draw them all one after the other in a line so when you are done, you can cut the pieces easily.

    You can cut out the fabric pieces with scissors or with the rotary cutter - the beauty of this is that the seam allowance doesn't need to be exact, only approximate (do larger rather than smaller by preference).

    The pencil line you have drawn then becomes your stitching line - when you have two pieces to stitch together, you get some pins and poke them through, one each at the exact point at the ends of the stitching line, which allows you to match the two lines up (the pieces are right side together) and pin them some more. 5cm and under would normally only get 3 pins for me - one each end and one in the middle, with more pins added for longer stitching lines as seemed right.

    You then start at one end with several small backstitches (several stitches in the same spot), use running stitch (that's the simple up-down type of stitch, like you were weaving the thread in and out of the fabric - always try to do 2+ stitches in one go because they hold better if you do) to stitch along the fabric line. Along the way, I would do another 'anchoring' few backstitches approximately where each pin was. Finish with another anchor. An anchor shouldn't unravel by itself; try doing a few on some scraps. If it's, say, just two 'repeats', they will often pull out when you tug the thread hard. 3 usually stays, 4 should always stay. I do 4-5.

    You generally start with the smallest pieces. The idea is to build up the block so you only do straight lines - so say with a simple block made up of four squares each of which is made up of two triangles, you would sew the triangle pairs together first to give you the four squares. Then sew two squares together to form a rectangle, sew the other two squares together to form a second rectangle, then sew the two rectangles together to give you your block. After you finish the block, you add the border.

    After you do a block, usually before adding the border, you need to iron it. Iron with the right side down and press seams to just one side of each stitching line - generally if you have a pale coloured fabric beside a darker one, you would press the seam towards the dark one. At joins of multiple pieces, you do a 'twirl' of the seams, so they sort of rotate about the join and all lie flat. Once ironed, flip the block over, put against a white or pale surface and check it in good light for any seam allowances or thread ends being visible and therefore needing trimming or pressing in a different direction. There are no set rules for pressing the block, just go with what helps it sit flat and doesn't cause dark pieces to show through. Ironing is not essential - but if you iron at this point, it's much easier then to iron the whole quilt top before it gets quilted/backing put on. all the little seams are fiddly enough without having huge numbers of them in one go!

    Also, if you're doing quite a few blocks, you'll find your stitching improves very fast. When I did my first sampler quilt, I started out hideously sloppy and uneven compared to the lovely little, even, neat stitches I was putting in by about the 3rd or 4th block! And even those weren't as good as the stitching on the last block (there were 12 blocks). So don't get too fussy with it, just keep stitching and you will get better. Even now after half a dozen quilts and plenty of other sewing, my stitching is still improving - albeit very slowly.

    If you want, you can also grab a couple of pieces with the pencilled stitching line pinned together, a needle and thread and trot into a patchwork shop, they should be able to show you quickly the backstitch to start and the running stitch for in between.

    Good luck with it. I love patchwork - the only problem is in how addictive it became!

  8. #8


    Thank you so much Kalinka!!!! I am going to try and mark and cut all my pieces today (after I drop DD off at child care and finish preping her new toy cupboard for painting!). I'll get back to you if I need more guidance! Thank you so very much!


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