Hand quilting is alive and well all around the world! Join with fellow hand quilters to share techniques, tips,
and the BEAUTIFUL quilts being made by others who share your passion for quilting... by HAND!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sore Fingers–Your Remedy?

By Karen Goad

I do believe that most of us that hand quilt at one time or another – deal with sore fingers. Some of us deal with this more than others as it is harder for some to wear protection on their fingers than others. For me it is always the same fingers. Because I use the hand held thimble I can quilt away from me, sideways and towards me when I am at the floor standing frame. I use different fingers for each motion I think and therefore have more than one finger that gets dry and crack. The cold weather of winter doesn’t help any.

I do use lotion off and on all day and sometimes when quilting I will finally resort to putting a band aide on whatever fingers that are bothering me the most but they get in the way.


Finally I need to take a break and let them heal.


I have at times used Bag Balm with white gloves and sleep in them most of the night until my hands get too warm and I take them off. Sometimes this seems to help, other times it doesn’t. So as one hand quilter to others – what do you use for the healing process – is there a lotion or ointment that you have found that seems to work better than others?

My favorite thimble from a friend

by Caron Mosey

It’s not every day that you get to sew with a thimble that has your name on it.  Back in the 1980’s, my good friend Ami took a metalworks class at the Flint Institute of Arts.  One of the projects she worked on was to learn how to make her own thimbles.  She made one for herself, and one for me.  Because my name is spelled so unique, it’s rare that I can ever find anything with my name on it.  So I was thrilled to receive this from her!
Ami used an older thimble that I used regularly as the template for my new thimble… and it fits like a glove!  It has good dimples on the top and side, and the needle doesn’t ever slip when I’m quilting with it.

This is probably my favorite tool, and it still gets a lot of use.  When I wear it in a classroom setting, there’s never any chance of someone grabbing my thimble by mistake.
Thanks again, Ami!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Old timer, same tools

by Debra Anger

Hand quilting tools are very simple for me.  I have been quilting now for over 20 years and have tried my ways of quilting, but have resorted to that thimble that has the brass top. It is the only thimble that I don`t put a hole through and I love the waffle pattern on the top for my needle.

Then it is my fiskers scissors; I don`t have to work at them to close. I see that I forgot to take a picture of my needle threader. I either try to eye it or if I am tired, I use the Clover needle threader... and as you can see the handy dandy gripper when my fingers just get too weak.

Betweens needles are a must, but I am not too fussy on the size I do like the smaller ones; they are sturdier and don`t break as easily. I love to ready what others have used for their tools; we can all learn new tricks. I really want to master that technique `Tin to Tin.` I have the V shaped apparatus that goes under the quilt but need to watch Aunt Becky a few times to get the gist of it.

Thanks for this absolutely wonderful blog at home with hand quilting. FYI: If you want your thimble to fit great, step on it or just bend the opening a bit so that it is oval rather than round.  Not sure why they didn`t make them more to the shape of our finger, but I learned from a wise quilter to just step on it!! VBG

Just a few tools for this beginner

by Haley Ping

I'm a beginning self-taught quilter (three finished quilts to my name -- two of them tiny, none larger than lap sized!) and don't have many quilting tools. Up until last Christmas I had the two larger scissors and a metal thimble (not pictured) I never use! The green handled scissor was a gift and is a Gingher, the medium sized is unlabeled but made in Pakistan (maybe a Singer?), and the large dress shears are Clauss made in the USA. I like them all and I've never had any trouble with any.

The newest item is the black leather thimble. I've only used it a few times when I couldn't get my needle through extra thick areas in my latest quilt. Before I just did without and used my harp callous on my middle finger (I play harp for fun) or something laying around like a book to push the needle through. I don't use the rocking method most quilters describe so maybe that's why I don't feel a thimble is necessary for me?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quilting hardware

I've been hand quilting since 1993 when nobody would show me how they did it in case it wasn't the "correct" way even though I resorted to whining and begging.
I read everything I could get my hands on and proceeded to teach myself. I've been on some sort of quest since then to find the perfect thimble to no avail. Until now that is.
I ordered a PQF thimble which arrived today, it's made of an industrial type of rubber and it is claimed that it will last a lifetime.
I raced home from collecting the mail and put a few stitches in the current quilt.
Of course I'm going to have a longer session but so far I love it so much that I'll have to get another one as a back up. I have a large knuckle that hurts with other thimbles so this one is very comfortable.
I've never mastered using just my finger underneath the quilt to feel the needle and quickly realised that I'd have to wear something. I started with a thimble and graduated to the Aunt Becky and I now use TJ's quilting spoon. The only down side is that I go through a lot of needles as they get dulled so quickly. I've been through a few spoons too.
I'll use just about any quilting needle from size 12 to 10 but I do seem to prefer a 10. Mostly I end up buying the Piecemakers brand as it's what's readily available at my local quilt shop.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Marking tools I use

by Ann-Mari Duffy

When I first started to handquilt I used Fine Marker-Violet that is air erasable. But that did not work for me. I was too slow to quilt, and had to remark the lines all the time. Booooring!

I have tried different markers. I love gadgets, and find that I use different ones that suits my project.

One type I use is  the blue water-solubles. I have not had any problems yet....
But who knows after ten years!

I also use some chalk pencils. They come in handy when marking dark coloured fabrics.

The tool I love the most is my heramarker.

Happy Thanksgiving


P.S. The quilt under my tools is the first single-bed I handquilted.
The cotton batting I used is a bit heavy, and I had a big job quilting it! I put it on top of my duvèt in wintertime and it keeps me warm.

One More Marker

by Sharon T

Thanks to Caron for setting up this blog for hand quilting and allowing me to participate. I live in the NW corner of WA, and I was bitten by the quilting bug in 2002. When I started, I thought the only reason you pieced a top was so you could hand quilt. After a few years, that got a bit old; too many baby quilts were being done by hand! In 2005 I purchased a longarm to quilt for others, yet I continue to have 1 or 4 hand quilting projects on the go at any given time. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting and stitching.

Here is my fav marker. It is made by Prismacolor Verithin color 753 Metallic Silver. It's similar to the Roxannes white or silver pencils, but I don't have the breakage issue with this pencil. It also has a thinner lead so I can get a sharper point. Speaking of that, I love my Clover sharpener. I keep it in a film container, (remember them) and it travels with me all the time.

I've also shown a white marker from the same company, but I haven't tried it yet. The great thing about the silver marker is that is shows up on most everything. However, it does rub off. After marking four columns of feathers and watching the feathers rub off after quilting for a while, I ended up only marking about 6" at a time. Now if you are quilting in a floor frame, I'm sure it would be different, but I quilt in my lap.

All the other markers that I use have been mentioned, blue Mark b Gone and the white Clover. Alas, there is no one great magical marker that is perfect for every project, so I always tell my students, try them all, but TEST, and use the ones that work for you!

Happy Thanksgiving to all,

My stash of marking tools

by Caron Mosey
I’m probably like most other quilters in the world.  I’ll buy and try just about every marking tool there is, always searching for just the right miracle tool.
I have only tried the colored washable markers once and achieved a small degree of success with them.  They are now reserved for my grandchildren’s coloring. I’m leery of using them on something important only to discover a problem years later when the chemicals in the ink return to haunt me.  Yes, I do test everything I use, but if it washes out today and shows up in ten years…. that’s my fear.
I like to have some straight line rulers on hand when I am quilting.  My favorite is the acrylic quarter inch rod on the left.  It marks a perfect quarter inch line from any straight seam, and I can see through it.  I use this mainly for drawing lines on solid color fabrics.  I can usually eyeball a good straight quarter inch line, and do so when quilting on anything that’s not a solid.  However, I find that the eye will go to a straight line on solids and notice the least little wobble, which is why I draw lines on solids. 

Above are my favorite marking tools out of the box.  I love the blue water erasable pen, and have not had any problems with it since I began quilting in the late 1970s.  I leave the marking in place until I am finished quilting and binding the quilt.  Then, the quilt goes into my CLEAN washing machine with cold water for at least an hour where it sits but does not agitate. Then I drain the water, add warm water and a little soap and softener and wash it for a regular cycle.  I like the puckerd, old quilt look, so my quilts always go in the dryer.  (Well, maybe not my art quilts…)

I found this little chalk holder and array of chalk sticks in various colors.  I find it helpful to sketch out an area, mark major lines, or roughly draw feathers.  I don’t mark my entire quilt with these, however, as they are quick to disappear with movement of the quilt while quilting.
You notice that I don’t have the purple marking pen in my stash.  There is a reason.  When I first bought one, I marked an entire quilt for hand quilting.  It was BEAUTIFUL!   Then, within hours of starting to quilt, all the lines disappeared.  Silly me didn’t realize that it was AIR ERASABLE.  I thought it was just like thesmile blue markers, only in purple.  So I hate the purple pen. It really wasn’t my fault, it was the pen’s fault.  I have a Master’s degree in reading instruction, after all!  I CAN read. The pen was deceptive, and I’m going to stick with that.
I think the fact that I have a whole little drawer full of marking tools speaks to my compulsion to try anything.

You too?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quilting in a hoop

Not every hand quilter has the luxury of quilting on a large floor-standing frame.  I have one, but since we “downsized” our house, there’s nowhere to put it.   So I quilt on a hoop. Quilting on a hoop actually has a lot of benefits, the major one being that you can turn the hoop to quilt at an angle that is comfortable, rather than stretching, contorting and pulling muscles until they ache.

But quilting on a hoop has a major downfall in my home.  I can never seem to keep the tension on the quilt at the right level.  This is particularly a problem when I set the hoop down and walk away to make dinner.  Specifically, to make spaghetti.

Whenever I do that, the quilt gets a big lump in the center, and then pops out of the wooden frame.

Like this:


And this.


If you have a method of solving this problem, I’d be happy to hear it.

Scissors everywhere!

by Annemart Berendse

For this blog we were asked as participants to contribute a log about scissors and thimbles. When I collected all my scissors and thimbles I decided to split the log. How could I put all my scissors, thimbles, other handheld hardware and what more in one log?! So here is, after my contribution of the log about thimbles, my collection of everything that cuts and clips.

On the right my 'tiny cutting' collection. Start clockwise on the upper is my curved tweezer cutter, for tiny cutting actions, like nipping of a tail of a quilt thread. Then the cutter pendant of Clover, great for in an airplane. Nobody knows it's a cutter! The Gingher thread cutter (I am a great Gingher fan) with sharp points, for quick cutting quilt threads to quilt at my frame. The white square in the middle is a Clover needle threader and cutter in one, I use on the go for my hexagon project. Great for airplanes, or any traveling at all. And finally the long thing on the left, which is a seam ripper (or negative quilter), also Gingher. I do have another cutter, a small scalpel for applique work, but that's not in my reach now. That's something else for I couldn't find it wherever I searched...
Now for the scissors. The whole Gingher collection and a standard Fiskars. On the left the Fiskars, my blunt scissors for on the go if I need scissors to take with me. Then my Gingher collection from the top.
The one above are sewing scissors, 5" straight. Ï use it for the small cuts in fabric. The second from above are the 7" dressing scissors for large cuts. The third are my 4"curved pointed scissors with large eyes (I do not have the smallest fingers...), great for clipping  small threads on your quilt. And finally my applique scissors with duck bill. If you want to cut away the back of your applique, the duck bill prevents that you cut in your quilt. The bend construction gives you full control while being above your quilt. The points of these scissors are not pointing in your quilt, but are horizontal while cutting. That's great when you just gave it all to make the most beautiful quilt in the world!

To be honest, I do have some more scissors. But actually, I got a bit embarrassed when I took them all out... Sometimes you can also be TOO honest!

Have fun quilting!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Quilt Marking Trials

By Audrey Easter

Quilt markers are something that, frankly, I love to hate. I'm still trying to convince myself to go completely marker free.*wink Through the years I have tried various and assorted methods including: mechanical pencils, wash-out blue markers, colored quilt marking pencils, a chunky chaco type marker and even dial bar soap. Then, someone turned me on to air erasable markers and convinced me they were the go-to quilt marker for someone like me. I really don't like to mark my quilts until I have them in a hoop so this made perfect sense. Following their seasoned advice, I bought the common purple air erasable pen at Walmart for years without any problems whatsoever. Then, Walmart switched the brand of purple air erasable markers on me and shortly thereafter I ended up with a quilt that had permanent marking on some of my green and blue fabrics. Grrrr. I don't remember the brand of the marker I used so successfully for years because of course I threw the pens away when they ran out of ink and most brands have a similar look and packaging to me. The pens in the picture below are still kept in my drawer with a big 'Do not use' written on the back so I won't be tempted to forget.
Shortly thereafter, I started doing a little bit of research on the subject. While reading through my 'Quilting With Style: Principles For Great Pattern Design' book by Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham, I discovered the 'Verithin' pencil which is commonly sold at stores with art supplies. I love this pencil. It's my absolute favorite now, although I admit it doesn't work great on white and cream fabrics. It's cheap, it's simple and it comes out very easily. I will say that I've only tried the white and gray colors and didn't like the gray pencil nearly as much so quickly abandoned it.
My mother bought me the 'Miracle Chalk' pictured below this summer, but I haven't managed to test it out yet. It looks very interesting to me. Also, I'm wondering if anyone has ever used washable 'Berol' pens for marking their quilts? I've been wondering about investing in some of those.

My Tool Box

by Kathleen Baughman

 This is my tool box just for quilting. I keep all the tools I use in here so I know exactly where there are . Now you see there are many things in there but I'm only going to show just you a few of them. I did notice that in an earlier post  by Annemart Berendse she wrote about the yellow needle puller, it sure helps when trying pull your needle through a thick spot like where the seams meet.

 The scissors that are my favorite, is a small pair of Ginghers.  They have such a nice feel to them . I also sometime have used a pair of snips but they are usually next to my sewing machine. I also have a needle magnet, it's the little round painted thing in the right corner. It is just so cute.

My thimble of choice is my Roxanne. I use to use a standard flat top thimble but I notice my hand was starting to hurt so I changed to this style and it has made a world of difference. That is my thimble bag I wear, so I don't leave my thimble somewhere and can't find it. Of course you haven't done that.
Well that's all for now. 
Till next time

Memes on markers

What might seem a like a simple tool, the instrument used to mark a pattern onto a quilt, is as diverse as the people who use them. The quilt marker can spark lots of conversion and some debate.

I must admit I have tried almost every popular type of marker for sale. Everyone has a favorite and there isn’t a correct, better, or even more effective one out there. It comes down to one important fact: If it works for you, it’s the right choice!

Here’s my two cents on the topic:

Chalk Pencils:


Starting off with the most popular, the General’s pencil and “Quilter’s Choice” from Roxanne.  I have to admit, I have bad eyesight and tend to mark my quilt with a heavier line. This one fact has skewed my opinion of these pencils.  I really (REALLY) don’t like these at all. I have had numerous problems with the pencil mark remaining on my quilt after repeated washings. I have read every home remedy and tried them all. I tried the Aqua Eraser from Sewline as well, and wasn’t happy with the results. Yes, I know the marks will come out over time, but frankly I’m not thrilled with that resolution. 

Mechanical Pencils:


To me, these are a better option when considering a pencil.  The “lead” is chalk and in theory washes out very easily. I will say it does wash out, but again I an not happy with the tiny residual marks, initially. I know, I’m picky!

Erasable Markers:


 The choice that most will frown upon but the ones I love!  To each his own as they say. There are a few things that you have to watch out for when using erasable markers. NEVER expose the marked quilt top to an iron or even the sun. The ink will set and, in the end, a very upset quilter will be standing at the washer screaming! I do like the fact that the mark is completely erased when water is applied. I have heard the nightmare stories where the ink migrates to the batting. I can see how that can happen. Once water is a applied to erase the mark, the ink will spread. I use a pencil type water brush to get the marks out as I go. Again, this may seem like too much of a bother for most. I like that I get a bold line and can control the “erasing” as I go. To further ensure the marker is removed, I soak the finished quilt in cold plain water and then wash the completed quilt. If there is any migration of the ink to the batting the plain water soak will do the treat to remove it completely.

Advice I will suggest STRONGLY: Always try any of these marking instruments on a scrap piece of fabric from the quilt you are working on. All fabric reacts differently. A simple test will prove invaluable, and give you peace of mind throughout your quilting 

Monday, November 21, 2011

More on Tools

by Karen Goad

When I posted the hand held thimble that I use several days ago I forgot all about scissors.  My favorite are these two.  The orange handled are Fisker’s and the green handle are Karen Kay Buckley.  The green pair come with a little plastic protector for the blade.  These are my favorite small scissors, I have larger ones of course also.
My other tools – rubber grippers for pulling needles through 3 layers of fabric
My marking tools, Fons and Porter white chalk mechanical pencil.  A Clover gray chalk pencil, and a wash out blue marker called “Mark B Gone” (as long as you use plenty of water to wash out the marks the blue line does come out – do not apply any heat though until you are sure it is washed out – and I do mean get it really wet)
Other marking tools – masking tape – I use quarter inch and 1 inch mainly.  I have never had trouble with residue from the tape as long as I don’t leave it on for long periods of time – do not leave on the quilt if it will be in a hot area like a car in summertime.
A new tool that I recently picked up.  This is from Clover and it is a 5 in 1 Sliding Gauge.  Slide it to the size you want – I show a 1/4 inch – mark your line and there you go.

The tools in my chubby little hands

By Berit Hansen Gilde

I don’t use many tools when I quilt – just a few essentials:

My trusty thimble, a silicon one from Clover, on my middle finger:

hånda mi over hånda mi under

Love it! Bright and pink, naturally…

A good pair of scissors:


And my favorite quilting thread:


These few but important items enables me to enjoy many hours of this:


I quilt without a frame. This works well for me, even though I know some quilters consider this to be a big no-no.

Enjoy your hand quilting, no matter what your favorite tools and ways are!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The thimbles on my hand

By Annemart Berendse

When I am handquilting it looks like I have the whole hardware store on my right hand. First of all I have a regular thimble on my middle finger. I love my TJ Lane, just like Glenn. It is the middle one of the normal thimbles on the picture and it is closed and heavy, made of Sterling silver and it is just beautiful.

One way or another I love a heavy thimble. It gives me control over my needle, just like a heavy iron. The other thimbles are in a larger and a smaller size to adapt to hotter and colder days and other reasons why my fingers are sometimes a bit bigger than other days.

My biggest treasure is my thumb thimble. As I quilt in a frame, turning the hoop is not an option. To manage that I have a ThumbThimble, created by Ted Storm, an international award winning quilter. The ThumbThimble gives me the opportunity to quilt away from me, from the lower left to the upper right. That way I never have to change position at my frame.
The ThumbThimble requires an adaptation in your technique, but it works great for me. Because I use my thumb and my full hand to make the quilt move, the tension on my hand is less. Instead of putting the tension on one finger, I can use my full hand to make the quilt move. And that is a great advantage for me.

The last item on my right hand is a Dutch invention: the needle puller, the yellow thing on the picture. The needle puller is a gadget to pull the needle through the fabric when you lack the power in your fingers to pull the needle through. On YouTube the inventor demonstrates the use of it, although I position the needle puller not at the top of my fingers, but completely at the base of my fingers against my palm. On my own blog I wrote a link about this gadget as not many Americans are aware of the possibilities (and are not handquilting ;-)).

I will inform you in another log about my scissors. They're worth a log on their own, because you can never have too many scissors.

Have fun quilting!

Meet Our Hand Quilting Writers

This blog began officially on November 16th, 2011.  As of today, November 20th, we have already had 988 viewers, and we have 13 quilters who have signed on to share their love of hand quilting with the world.
Our writers come from all over the world!

Name Personal Blog Location
Ann-Mari Duffy          Hundhammeren, Sor-Trondelag, Norway
Annemart Berendse Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands
Deb Anger Toronto, Ontario
Carla Therrien White Hall, Arkansas USA
Karen Goad Arkansas USA
Julie Fukuda Tokyo, Japan
Audrey Easter Pateros, Washington USA
Caron Mosey Flushing, Michigan USA
Glenn Dragone New Jersey
Haley Pin Johnson City, TX
Janet Treen Sydney, Australia
Kathleen Baughman Rose, Oklahoma
Berit Hansen Gilde Norway
Your name here!

If you are a hand quilter, we would love to add your name to the list!  Send an email to Caron with your first and last name, email address, blog address, and where you live.  She will be in contact with you and provide you with the information necessary to join in on the fun.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My tools

By Ann-Mari Duffy

When I started learning handquilting, I prefered a leather thimble like this one, and I have worn out a few of those.

Now I switch between these two types

I find it difficult to get a good thimble. That is because the size of my fingers change during the day. The plastic thimble is a bit bigger than the one of brass.

My favorite cutting tools are a pair scissors from Fiskars and a pendula from Clover

I wish everyone a happy, quilty weekend.