The Art of Hand Quilting
Hand quilting can be one of your most rewarding accomplishments. Whether a beginner or experienced in making handmade quilts, the challenge and beauty of completing a handmade quilt is one to be cherished. In quilting, one of the most challenging issues is in finding the right fabrics, patterns and supplies and in keeping the quilt stitches uniform and the quilt piece free from puckers and dimples.
In selection of hand quilting fabrics it is important to use printed fabrics that will help disguise imperfect stitches. Wool is an excellent hand quilting fabric but gives a heavier look and some less expensive, unbonded, cottons are extremely difficult to get the needle through. It is also important to use quilt pattern shapes that will not only produce an artistic product, but will allow ease in the quilting process. Hand quilting on the bias of the fabric is easier and gives a smoother appearance on the quilt surface. Therefore, using shapes in your quilt such as circles, triangles, hearts, flowers and other diagonal quilting pieces allows the quilter to take advantage of the fabric bias.
All hand quilting requires a needle and thimble and the selection of these are necessary in assuring a successful quilting experience. There are many types of thimbles, and it is generally a matter of personal preference as to which to use, but some quilters suggest using a thimble with deeper dimples for hand quilting because it grabs the needle more effectively. In addition, although quilting needles are rather short, many quilters prefer longer needles when hand quilting to ease the movement of the needle through the quilting “sandwich” and to increase the number of stitches per inch. The comfort and enjoyment of hand quilting is often determined by the needle that is used. When beginning hand quilting it is most important to accomplish even, controlled stitches, even if only 6 stitches per inch with a goal of achieving 10-12 stitches per inch.
The Handquilter gives advice, tips and a tutorial
entitled hand quilting 101 to beginners who are attempting hand quilting without the assistance of a class or fellow quilter. This hand quilting site suggest using needles between the sizes of 9-12; the higher the number, the shorter the needle.
When hand quilting, the finished quilting stitches should be evenly spaced and the quilt should have minimal puckers or wrinkles so that the quilt will lay flat. Using the proper thread for hand quilting will make quilting easier. Quilting threads such as Guttermann is much easier to quilt with, but whatever brand you use it is important that it is a quilting thread especially designed for hand quilting.
As with most projects, the more hand quilting you do the better and faster you will become; however, even a beginning quilter can produce a quality piece that will be treasured for years to come.