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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tools for Hand quilting

Whenever you use your sewing machine, you make sure (I hope) that it is oiled, dusted, and everything is working right.  You know to change your needle regularly, keep bobbins loaded in advance of when you need them, and hopefully how to adjust your tension.  You probably know what fabric your machine likes to sew on, and what fabrics make it choke.  For my old Bernina, denim is pushing the limits.  

When you are a hand quilter, it's every bit as important to know what works FOR YOU.  What I use for hand quilting might drive someone else crazy.  My thimble won't fit everyone, and I'm particular about my scissors.  In fact, some days my thimble fits better than others! 

Over the past couple of months, I've been hand quilting this spools quilt on a hoop while sitting in my favorite chair.  I've noticed that the thimble I love the most for hand quilt keeps falling off.  Now, I've lost about 125 pounds, but that shouldn't cause the tips of my fingers to shrink, should it?  So I put a piece of moleskin inside the thimble, hoping that would make it tighter and it would grip my finger better.  It did... for about three days.   I invested in a new thimble a size smaller.  In fact, it's called a "petite" size.  I've never been petite anything, but I'll take it!  It hugs my finger tightly and doesn't fall off, but the end of it is smaller in diameter, and I'm not sure I like it.  I have to keep my fingernails trimmed pretty short for hand quilting, but I spend my days typing, so it's no big deal.  I've never been one to get fancy manicures, so it's OK.  What I love about this thimble and it's bigger sister is that there is a ridge around the end of the thimble so the needle won't slip when I'm pushing through a seam.  It also has little crosshatches in the tip to help prevent slipping. I do NOT use a thimble or anything on my hand that goes under the quilt.  I like to feel the needle, and putting anything on my fingers underneath just feels wrong to me.

I use a hoop for quilting most of the time now.  It is easier on my back, and in the house we are living in now, I don't have room for my beautiful wood floor frame (made by my master woodworker hubby). But this works for me for now. 

I have two favorite pair of little scissors for doing hand quilting.  The little gold ones are Ginghers.  The other pair is one that I received from a dear friend when my first book was published back in 1985.  They are from Italy, and they fold up and fit in a little leather case.  She had them engraved with APQ c.1985 (for America's Pictorial Quilts,copyright1985 (American Quilter's Society.) 

I keep my thread on this cute little spool holder that I bought ages ago.  It keeps my kitty from untangling the thread every other minute. 

What tools do YOU use when you're hand quilting?  Please share with us what works for you!


  1. Great post! I really love your thread spool holder. That is a great idea and I need to get one of those !!

    I have never been able to get used to a thimble but instead have used the leather thimble pads. Recently I bought the hand-held thimble and though it takes getting used to, I like it.

    I quilt in both the hoop in and floor frame.

  2. LOL - you lost weight in your fingers too! If you really think about it loosing that much weight it was bound to come off all over. It is nice to see what tools work for others.

  3. I love your spool holder!
    I am still a relatively inexperienced hand quilter so I am still finding my way by trying different tools and techniques.
    Thank you for creating this blog.
    Congratulations on your weight loss! :)

  4. I am so excited for this new site you put up. I too being a hand quilter it is nice to see something just for us. I like the idea of others sharing. As soon as I get my quilt enter, I hope to share too. I too have experience the change in weight effecting your thimble. I have 2 now. I like Roxanne's.

  5. I should invest in a thread spool like that too. I have my favorite scissors and well favorite needles and I have a few thimbles, look like yours with the ridge, I like having that too. The thimbles I buy anytime I see them so I can't loose them or have a few in my travel case as well as in the drawer of my sewing table where I hand quilt. I find that different times of the day one maybe more comfortable then another.
    Thanks for starting this blog, my goal is to do a lot more hand quilting, I love the look, I love the feel of hand quilting and the PROCESS I find so relaxing.

  6. It was a tradition in our family that a girl reaching the age of 20 got a silver thimble for her birthday. Mine was enameled with a beautiful floral design and it was just perfect. Sadly, it was stolen about 20 years ago and I have never found another I like. I use one of those rubber ones made by Clover and that works fine if I use one at all.

  7. Love that you put this blog together. Also congratulations on your weight loss, such an accomplishment. I use Jean Brown's method of hand quilting. It uses a high ridge thimble, rubber finger tip and a tool called the aunt becky. I have a bit of arthritis and her method doesn't aggravate it. Thanks again for putting this together, hand quilting so therapeutic!

  8. I love the new blog! I often lick my finger and that seems to help keep my thimble on - but I haven't lost 125 pounds so my fingers haven't shrunk! I am a lap quilter - no hoop. That is also a neat thread holder you have. ~Jeanne

  9. Thanks Caron! A much needed blog for all us "traditional" quilters!!
    So nice to know that hand quilting is still alive and well

  10. Yes, when you loose weight, your fingers loose too. Thanks for starting this blog. I love to hand quilt and sharing this passion with others is great!

  11. Thank you for starting this blog. I'm a new quilter, and am right now hand quilting a doll quilt. I like doing it very much, but I could use lots of info. What a great idea.


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