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Tips for Hand Quilting


As well as our general Archives of Tips, we have included some especially important tips for Hand Quilters. These tips are very important for beginners, and who knows, maybe even advanced quilters may find some inspiration here.
  • Prewash fabrics to remove any sizing that could restrict the needle.

  • Choose batting with no lumps or recesses and no seeds to obstruct the needle.

  • Use light- to medium-density batting. Most high-loft battings won't scrunch down enough for tiny stitches.

  • Wool batting is simple to quilt through. The lanolin helps the needle slip through easily.

  • Wear a thimble around the house to get used to it.

  • Deep dimples on the thimble give more needle control. So does a ridge around the top outside.

  • Outfit your thumb with its very own thimble for quilting away from you.

  • If you purchase a leather thimble, select one with a tight fit – the leather stretches with use.

  • Run a needle through your hair to oil the metal a bit.

  • Change to a new needle after then hours of quilting; needles dull quickly.

  • Hold the free end of the thread and unwind until the spool reaches your elbow. Cut at this length. The thread will be used up before it begins to wear out.
  • Trim the thread on the diagonal for easier threading.

  • If your thread just can't find the needle's eye, try threading from the other side. One side of the eye is usually larger and easier to thread.

  • Thread all needles for the quilting session before you begin stitching, while your eyes are still fresh.

  • Thread many needles onto the thread before trimming it from the spool.

  • Knot the thread at the freshly cut end.

  • For longer continuous quilting and fewer knots, start with a thread 30” long. Begin quilting halfway down that length in one direction. When complete, thread the other end and quilt in the other direction.

  • Unlike machine quilters, hand quilters can mark a little bit at a time by "needle tracking”, lightly scratching the design on the fabric with the needle point. The lines disappear as the quilt is handled.

  • If you can't hand quilt well in every direction, choose a hoop with a rotating head or a lap hoop so you can rotate the quilt itself.

  • You can check the evenness of the stitches by the portions of the needle showing between loaded stitches. Withdraw the needle to reform any stitches that are too long, too short or uneven.

  • Use the sewing-hand thumb to depress the quilt just ahead of the needle point, thereby helping to push the layers onto the needle.

  • Pull the quilting thread enough to remove the slack but not enough to cause puckers.

  • A little extra tautness will make the quilting stitches more visible on light-coloured fabrics.

  • If your needle bends while loading stitches, it is time to pull the needle through.

  • Try gently rolling the underneath finger as the needle comes through to the lining so that the needle merely grazes the finger rather than pricking it.

  • Hold your thumb over the exit point to prevent knots as you pull the thread taut.

  • If your thread tends to kink, you may be rolling the needle. Try rotating the needle once between each set of stitches, first in one direction, then the other, to see which works for you.

  • When pulling the thread through, make a circle away from you with your arm to lay the thread flat and out of your way. The thread is less likely to tangle if you make this motion part of your quilting style.
  • When moving to another site for quilting, run the thread under a line that will later be quilted. The thread will be secured by those stitches.