Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hand quilting

Last month I decided to try hand quilting again as a way to relax and relearn an old skill. This is something that I used to do when my kids were small, as it is easy to watch little ones while you are working on a handwork project. It takes a long while to finish a project when you quilt it by hand. Most quilters machine quilt their quilt tops now and a lot of quilters send their quilts out to be machine quilted by others. I machine quilt my own pieces as I feel that makes the work fully mine.

I am starting to feel better about my hand quilting. When I started over with this last month I got very frustrated. My stitches were uneven and crooked and I was not happy with the way they looked. But I left those fledgling stitches in and did not rip them out, because I wanted a record of my attempts - of making mistakes and improving. I don't like to do anything unless I can do it well, but I realize you have to start somewhere.

I use very small needles imported from England - John James betweens size 10. Right now I am using variegated blue cotton thread from Romania and I have an assortment of Sulky rayon thread picked out for this project. With hand quilting you develop a rhythm with the needle being pushed down and rocked back up with a thimble on your finger, while the finger on your other hand underneath the quilt helps to push the needle back up. It is a very meditational process and you can work through a lot of things that way. You can hand quilt and carry on a conversation. It can be a group activity if you find someone else who does handwork. Not everything is a race to see how many quilts you can complete in the shortest amount of time.

Here is my Under the Sea quilt that I am working on. It was an online round robin or progressive, where everyone made a center and then they were passed around with each person adding a border. It was fun because you had no idea what you were going to get back. This quilt had been sitting in a UFO (unfinished object) box in the attic for years. I felt that it was worth finishing and I am enjoying working on it. I ordered a portable Ott task light today as you need good lighting to hand quilt.


  1. I love this under the sea quilt! It looks fantastic!

  2. Thanks! It was an online progressive/ round robin quilt that got passed around among 5 people. I am having fun working on this :-)