I thought it would be a good idea to write a post with some of my tips for beginning hand quilting.
Since posting my last blog I have had many people write to me expressing how much they like the look of hand quilting. What concerned me was the fact that many of these fellow quilters had been turned off the technique by the wrong teacher, or felt they did not have enough time to hand quilt, or had never tried hand quilting because they didn't know where to start.
It's probably no secret that I am a big fan of hand quilting, not only because I love the look and feel of hand quilted quilts, but because I find the process very relaxing.
However this wasn't always the case. It took me a long time to find a hand quilting technique that gave me a perfect result, was quick and involved no pain. I also came to realize that hand quilting involved a number of key ingredients. Get these right from the start and you will come to love hand quilting as much as I do.
So here are my my tips for beginning hand quilting:
Choose a thin batting, I prefer cotton.
Choose a thin good quality cotton backing fabric, the thinner the backing fabric the easier it will be to hand quilt.
Iron your backing fabric, if you joined pieces to fit, press the seams open
Tape backing fabric to the floor (use masking tape), right side facing down and smooth out so there are no folds. Do not make the mistake of stretching your backing too tight. This will cause the fabric to contract when you release the tape and give a poor result.
Make sure your backing fabric and batting are approximately 8" (20cm) larger than your quilt. This will enable you to place the outer borders in a hoop.
Iron your batting if it has fold lines
Place batting over the backing fabric, then place your quilt top right side facing up over the batting.
I pin all layers together using flower pins (they are bigger and longer then normal pins)
Tack all layers together starting from the centre and working out. I use a contrasting thread colour to the quilt so that I can easily see the tacking. This makes it easier to remove later.
Thread the end of the spool and start to tack. Don't be tempted to make your stitches too big. 1-1 1/2" is a good length. Use a long needle for this, not too thick!
Always secure the tacking thread into the outer batting not the quilt.
Return to the centre and cut the thread needed for the other side. Thread and continue to baste or tack in the opposite direction. Repeat this process working in a grid formation. Your rows should be approximately 4"-6" apart.
I use an old tea spoon to help pick up the needle when tacking, this stops my fingers from getting sore. Don't use a teaspoon form your best cutlery set because it will probably end up with lots of small scratches on it from the needle.
If you are finding the process hard on your back, it is fine to lift up the quilt once you have some base rows. You can then continue on a table (as shown in my previous blog post) Once again don't tack your quilt on your best dining room table or you may not be impressed when you discover scratch marks!
Make sure you sew a tacking row close to the outer edges, this will help when attaching the binding at a later stage.
Taking the time to prepare your quilt for hand quilting is time well spent. Don't rush this preparation, you may be sorry later on!
Once you have finished this stage you and now ready to begin hand quilting.
I'll post about that tomorrow, stay tuned!