Jo, who blogs at myBearpaw, is a long time hand quilter who does the most beautiful work. Today she is here to tell us how. I know you will love this tutorial, I sure do, and I plan to give hand quilting another try using all these tips - read on.
Hello, my name is Jo Avery and you will usually find me over at myBearpaw blog.
But today I am going to share my 20 odd years worth of hand quilting experience with all you FALers. Now don't worry, that doesn't mean I am some sort of ninja quilter with all sorts of moves that you can't possibly emulate - hand quilting is one of the easiest things in the world, after all it's just a running stitch!
But I have learnt quite a few shortcuts and tricks over the years and have also learnt from my mistakes, so I hope you will find something useful in this tutorial.
So now I use perle cotton all the time, and usually I include as many colours as I can in each project.
I am about to quilt this small EPP lap quilt which is one of the things I had hoped to finish as part of this quarter's FAL (and as I type this I still have a week to go!).
There are 2 things I would like you to notice about the photo above. One is the tacking stitches and the other is the thimble.
When I hand quilt I always baste my quilt with tacking stitches rather than safety pins. This is very much a personal preference, but I am probably going to be spending weeks or months working on a hand quilted quilt and I feel that tacking gives more stability to the quilt and is also easier to work with by hand than pins. I like to tack my quilts on my big dining room table on top of an oilcloth tablecloth. You do not need to tape the back of a tacked quilt to a surface. I haven't worked out exactly why, but trust me, I am as sure that you really don't as I am sure that you really do need to if you are safety pinning.
The other important thing in this photo is the thimble. You really need to wear a thimble on your middle right finger (presuming you are right handed). If you don't you will get a hole in the side of that finger and it will be very sore and you will have to stop sewing.
When I teach my students to hand quilt they find the thimble very uncomfortable at first. I tell them to persevere, but if they or you are really struggling then I would suggest buying a more fitted textile thimble with metal mesh in the relevant place, like this one by Clover.
Some quilter's also like to wear a thimble on the middle or forefinger of their left hand. Over the years I have tried this, and I have tried leather thimbles and little metal disks that you stick to your finger tip, but have now given up as I feel those fingers need to be free to 'feel'. So nowadays I just accept that those 2 fingers are going to get pricked. Try and keep them out of the way of the needle as much as possible, and alternate between the one 'taking charge' of the needle as it appears through the back of your quilt.
The important thing about quilting as opposed to other hand sewing is that we do not want to see any knots on the back. So we need to learn how to 'bury' our starting and finishing knots in the layers of our quilt sandwich.
First of all cut yourself a length of thread ( I use a length of no more than 30"). Run it through your beeswax a couple of times, if you are using it. Knot one end and then insert your needle about an inch and a half from where you would like to start stitching (through the centre of your layers, you mustn't be able to see the thread from the back).
I should also add that these photos don't show me quilting very naturally as nobody was in the house to help me take the photos when I did this tutorial so they all show me one handed (apart from the beeswax one which I did on the following day).
A few other points, always start quilting from the centre of your quilt out. I have not done this above, because I want to use perles for most of the quilt and just wanted to do a tiny bit using cottons to show you. This border bit was the only place I thought it would work design wise so I started there. This is very naughty of me (please don't tell the Quilt Police!), but as this is such a small quilt I think I will get away with it.
The other thing is that I do not use a hoop. I know that this is usually advised but I don't like it (I find it too constricting and get annoyed by having to keep moving it around the quilt just as I get going) and haven't felt that my quilting has suffered without it. I would suggest trying it for your self if you fancy it as I know a lot of quilters swear by it.
I was taught that you should aim for the stitches on the back of your quilt to look the same as the stitches on the front. This is very hard to do. I wouldn't worry too much about that. It will look lovely either way.
Katy from The Littlest Thistle blog recently put me on to this amazing pen. It is a Frixion pen by Pilot. It works just like a fine liner but once you have finished with the line you simply iron it and it completely disappears! Like magic! It is my new best friend which I use for embroidery, applique and quilting. You can get them from any good stationers or supermarkets.
So there are a few things you can do. You can tie a double knot (one on top of the other) this is fiddly but possible. Or you can use my cheat method below. This is very much an 'illegal' quilt method (again don't tell the Quilt Police) but it does achieve the 2 important points of securing the thread and not showing a knot. You will need to find the right place on your quilt to do this though.
As I said, normally I would use every colour I could get my hands on (I am very much a 'more is more' sort of person!), but as this is such a dark, primary coloured top I am going to use just white.
Cut the same length of thread but DON'T use beeswax!
I like to make my quilting stitches larger when I am using perles but keep the gaps between them small, in the way that Sashiko is worked. This is so I can see as much as possible of the lovely perle cotton.
Congratulations to any of you who read all of this and I hope you found it helpful. Please fell free to ask me any questions in the comments, as, despite the length of this post, I'm sure I've missed something out!
Thank you Jo!
Don't forget to link up your Q1 finishes - the Q1 post-quarter link is open and it will close at midnight MST, April 7, 2013. And if you still have some UFOs I hope you will join us for Q2 of the FAL, Q2 FAL lists can be posted starting on April 8.