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How to Quilt for Beginners by Hand

Quilting isn’t difficult as long as you like it (nothing is if you’re really into it) and we all start somewhere.

If you’re an entry-level quilter, you do need some tips to follow not because it’s difficult, but because you do want to learn the technique of hand quilting the right way, right from the beginning.

Hand quilting is great not only for the nice feeling of yesterday that brings us, but also for the artistically, soft finish it gives. No matter how sophisticated and professional quilting machine is, you can’t get the same effect like when you do some hand quilting.

The essentials

You can’t do hand quilting just like that and you do need some specific tools for it. The tools aren’t expensive though, you just need to keep in mind that there’s no way to start hand quilting with just anything you have at your hand.

How to quilt

Therefore, you should have tiny needles, also known as “quilting needles”. You may find many various options out there.

Some say it’s better to use a slightly thicker thread for quilting by hand. If you’re an entry-level quilter, it’s wiser to go with a thread that combines nicely with your fabric (and not one that shows). You may also use pearl cotton, which is kind of heavy and shows your stitches. Don’t forget to get a bigger needle if you go with this type of thread.

Note to self: make a quilter’s knot in your thread by wrapping the thread around your needle three or four time. Pull your needle through until your knot is made.

When hand quilting, it’s important to hide your knots. You may do this by pushing your needle through the top  layer of fabric (don’t do it for the backing or batting). Push the needle out the top and tug the thread until you feel the knot popping out under, but doesn’t come out the other side. Pay attention to the details and trim the ends of your thread.

The quilting

A new-entry level quilter may not be able (right in the beginning that is) to make several stitches at a time. Even though it helps you work faster, don’t do more than one stitch at a time in the beginning. You may need time to learn “rocking” the needle. You may follow the piecing of your quilt (stitching in the ditch), but you may quilt using whatever pattern you like. Some try stencil a quilting pattern with tailor’s chalk and that’s a great idea as this chalk washes out.

quiting tips

It’s a matter of time until you get to the end of your thread so keep in mind to always hide your knots.

You do have other options when hand quilting for the first time. You should skip piecing and make a whole cloth quilt, using just a single whole piece of fabric for your quilt top.

Don’t be afraid to use the quilting hoops and there are so many various options out there (handheld, lap hoops or standing quilt hoops). The quilting hoops are great especially for the larger projects, but some even use them for small hand quilting projects.

Keep in mind to leave your fabric a little loose when using a hoop for your hand quilting, for embroidering. This way the needle may move through your three layers several stitches at a time.

When hand quilting, it’s essential to have small and even stitches. As a matter of fact, having even stitches may be the most important thing when it comes to nice hand quilted projects. Try to get six stitches per inch (the magic number for a beginner). As you hand gets sturdier and you feel confident in your skills, you may aim for eight or even twelve stitches per inch.

You do need to keep one hand underneath the quilt and one hand above. You need the bottom hand for the stability and to make sure the needles goes all the way through the back of your quilt. You also check this way that the needle moves back to the top each time.

Your top hand moves the needles down into the fabric. Don’t forget not to pull the thread all the way through as it’s important to “load” several (three, let’s say) stitches on your needle. Once you have a few stitches loaded onto your needle, pull the thread all the way through. Make sure the tension is even.

Using the up-down motion, continue to load the next stitches on the needle before pulling the thread entirely.

You do this until…you’re done. Hand quilting is nice and not that complicated, but you do need the patience and the time for it. It’s totally worth it, though.