Are you searching for a creative hobby to express yourself, but traditional artsy things like painting and drawing don’t really scratch the itch? Have you considered looking into textile work such as sewing or embroidery? Hand quilting is a fantastic skill for creating meaningful and functional gifts for yourself, loved ones, or even potential clients. It’s also a fun, rewarding, and relaxing experience once you get the hang of it. Here are some terrific tools, tips, and techniques to help get you started.
Tools You Need for Hand Quilting
One of the best things about creative quilting by hand is that you don’t need a machine to create beautiful, long-lasting designs. All you need are your hands, some fabric, and the following tools.
Keeping your fabric stretched as you stitch helps ensure smaller, more even stitches. A quilting hoop is an excellent tool for spreading the fabric layers with an even tension to keep both hands free to focus on stitching. It is similar to an embroidery hoop but a bit thicker to firmly hold all the layers of fabric.
Quilting thread is specially coated and a bit heavier than typical sewing thread because it’s made to glide through the fabric layers of a quilt more easily. Since cotton fabric is the most popular choice for hand quilting beginners, a 100% cotton quilting thread is ideal.
The special needles for hand quilting techniques are appropriately nicknamed “between” needles. They’re short, sharp, and narrow with a small eye, making them perfect for getting through the quilt’s fabric layers. They range in size from 3 to 12, and a size 8. Between needles are recommended for those first getting acquainted with hand quilting.
The thimble is a protective covering for your finger to help you easily push the needle through the fabric layers. It’s essential for helping prevent damage to your skin from the repetitive pressure on the small areas your needle pushes against.
Basting Spray or Pins
Basting is the name given to the process of holding your fabric sandwich together while you stitch. There are various tools for basting, but a washable basting spray is a quick and easy adhesive that youdon’t have to remove later during the quilting process. Curved basting pins are also quite popular if youwish to avoid using aerosol sprays.
Best Batting Choices for Hand Quilting Techniques
“Batting” is the term for the fabric that goes between the decorative fabric of the quilt top and the backing fabric. While it’s not required, it does provide structure and varying degrees of warmth depending on the material it is made from. The most common types of batting fabric are made from cotton, polyester, or a blend of both. Other batting fabric types include bamboo, wool, or silk.
A popular choice in the hand quilting community is high-quality 100% cotton batting, as it’s less likely to slip around while you stitch. It’s also very lightweight and breathable, making it a fabulous batting option for a summer quilt. Cotton batting is a great option for those who want to make a quilt that grows more pliable and soft with age. However, it can shrink and crinkle after washing. You can prevent this by pre-washing the batting before using it in your quilting project.
Polyester batting fabric is an artificial material with a low-price point. It can be found at most big-name retailers, making it an excellent choice for those seeking low-budget options. Since polyester is a bit heavier than cotton, it’s perfect for those seeking an affordable batting fabric for a warmer quilt. It also dries quickly and is highly resistant to shrinkage, even after repeated washing.
A cotton-poly blend batting fabric offers the best of both worlds. You can receive the benefits of cotton batting with polyester’s resistance to shrinkage and bearding (when the batting fibers peek out through the holes made from stitching). It’s also affordable for those trying to stick to a tight budget.
Tips for Beginning and Ending Stitches
When beginning and ending your stitch runs, tie a quilter’s knot on the longer end of the thread. Insert the needle through the quilt top and batting without letting your needle jab through the quilt backing. Do this a few inches from where you want to begin your stitching. Pull the needle out and gently pull the thread through until the knot goes through the quilt top. You’re ready to begin stitching!
- When you reach your desired stopping point for a line of stitching, grab hold of the thread.
- Take hold just above where it is coming out of the fabric.
- Make a loop with the needle and the thread you’re holding and pull the needle through the loop.
- Gently make a small knot as close to the fabric as possible.
- Push the needle through to complete a final stitch and pull it away from your line of stitching.
- Guide the remaining thread through until the knot goes underneath the quilt top.
- Cut the rest of the thread as closely to the fabric as you can
You’ve now learned an easy way to complete a line of hand-quilting stitches!
Types of Stitches for Every Level of Expertise
One of the reasons why hand quilting techniques are still prevalent amongst textile artisans is the fact that you can enjoy creative freedom in your designs. The creative quilting pattern possibilities are virtually endless.
This is the quintessential hand-quilting stitch. The running stitch is characterized by the dashes of thread holding the layers of the quilt together. It’s commonly used for outlining shapes or designs on the quilt top, which is the basis for many patterns and designs.
Free motion quilting embodies the ideal of being free and inventive. This stitching style can feature patterns with curves, waves, swirls, or anything the heart desires. Modern quilters looking for innovative quilting techniques will often incorporate free-motion stitching into their projects.
Embroidery quilting patterns are the pinnacle of creative expression in hand quilting. This can be incorporated into the creation of the quilt or you can add it after its completion. Embroidery quilting often features many vibrant thread colors to add incredible texture and dimension to your quilt. This stitching style can transform a pleasing quilt pattern into a meaningful display of artistic exploration.
Hand quilting is a fantastic textile artistry that dates back to early human history with near-limitless possibilities for innovative quilting techniques. Be sure to check out my online courses to learn more about color and stitching patterns to unlock your hand quilting potential.