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!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In my hoop

By Ann-Mari Duffy

This has been on and off in the hoop for about two years now.

Have been busy making lots of quilttops. And putting off handquilting large quilts!

Happy quilting

Monday, January 30, 2012

Janet's Hoop

By Janet Olmstead

I'm new to posting on this blog. I have only been hand quilting for about 3 years so I don't have a lot of experience. What I do have is enthusiasm!
I have enjoyed all the "what's in your hoop?" posts. It's been very inspiring to see all the different projects people are working on.

I am currently working on a red and white quilt for a challenge my guild is doing. The challenge was inspired by the Infinite Variety exhibit in New York. I didn't get to go to the exhibit but there were so many gorgeous pictures of it online to enjoy.
I especially loved the quilts with beautiful hand quilting and resolved to hand quilt my contribution to the challenge. I am currently working on the straight lines behind the half feathered wreaths in the setting triangles.

Here is a picture of the whole quilt from when I basted it. I would have liked to make a full sized quilt of this but it needs to be finished by the end of May and my time for working on it is limited. This is the first time I have tried wool batting. I find it a bit puffy compared to the silk batting I usually use but I do love how it needles.

Other than the center squares, I haven't figured out what to quilt in the red areas of the blocks. I'm not very good at planning ahead when it comes to quilting projects. Someone commented on my blog that the quilt would speak to me and tell me what it needs. It hasn't had anything to say yet. Do you have any ideas?

Happy Quilting!

Quilt as you Go question

From time to time I receive questions from quilters about hand quilting.  I will post them here, in hopes that our writers and readers will be able to respond and provide help to each other.  The email below came in over the past weekend.  Can you help?

Just to say how much I enjoy the Hand Quilting blog. It is so interesting!
I like to quilt by gathering running stitches on my needle and kind of scrunching up the sandwich from the left hand edge so that my thumb is on the top but my index finger in underneath and then pushing my needle thro' one, two or three stitches at a time. (Georgia Bonesteel in her book "Lap Quilting Lives" illustrates this as a method she uses.) It is quite tricky to do when you are quilting a large piece and I have been experimenting with quilting smaller blocks and then joining them. (Quilt as you Go).
I would be very interested to find out from other hand quilters if they do QAYG (Quilt as you Go) and exactly how they join blocks.   It's fairly easy with cotton batting but the wool which I prefer has a lot more bounce so it's hard to control and it catches in the foot of the sewing machine. So far I have found "joining strips" easier for the wool but I can't work out a satisfactory way to add borders. (Believe me - it doesn't work when you get to the corners!)
I am currently using Aurifil thread. I started using their "mako" for hand applique (wouldn't use anything else now) and now use it for quilting too. It is very well behaved and if you get a little knot it will just pull out.
I do hope the blog continues to flourish. We are all so unique in the way we sew and little tips and tricks from other people can be really helpful.

Many thanks,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Floor frames

A question from Mary Carolyn

Since the question is what's in our hoops, I'd like some information on floor frames.  I've never used one and would like to hear from those of you who do.  How much room do they take up?  What's the difference between three and four (I think) roller frames?  If you have one that uses long boards, what do you think of it and do you know where are patterns available to build one?  How hard is it to learn to quilt on one  - if you remember?  What other information would you give someone who knows nothing about them?  I've been quilting for almost 40 years but didn't know anyone who had one - and still don't know anyone who uses one.  I quilt just fine (all that practice!) without one but I'm curious.

In The Hoop

Tim's Hoop

I'm getting close to the finish line on the Log Cabin quilt.

When I get so close to the end I have difficulty putting it down! It won't be long and I can bind it (black) and give it a wash. The top is antique and I usually don't wash antique tops until I have all the quilting done. The quilting adds strength to the top and there is much less chance of causing damage in the washer once the quilting is done.

Happy Quilting!

Marjorie's Hoop

This double wedding ring is what's in my hoop.

I'm about 2 months into the hand quilting, and somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 done.  With each "melon", I've outlined each side of the ring plus one row of echo that lines up with the points of the second piece in the strip.

I've been trying to convince myself that this will be enough quilting.  The stitching is 1-1.5" apart except in the center of each circle, which ends up with 4" square w/o stitching.

I am using a bamboo/cotton batting.

I want it to look modern and fresh as it's a gift for a young couple, and am fighting my tendency to over-quilt.  I have an idea for what I'm going to do, but I'm open to suggestions for the centers of these 35 circles.

Double Irish Chain

by Carla Therrien

I am currently working on a king size Double Irish Chain. This quilt is the result of organizing my sewing studio. My goal was to empty a large Rubbermaid tote full of scraps. It was a large undertaking for me, I have never made a quilt this large.

I must admit I struggle when it comes to choosing how to quilt something. I decided on this one, to use the same motif, but in two different sizes.
This a  close up of the alternate blocks
King sized Double Irish Chain
I am amazed at the progress I have made on this quilt. I started quilting it after Christmas and only have  a couple of blocks to finish up before I start the border. It does prove the point that diligence pays off.

In My Michigan Quilting Hoop

I’ve been faithful to quilting on the Yes We Can, Jane quilt… adding a few hours of quilting most evenings.  I’m just about finished with stitching along the sashing in one direction, and this week will probably  begin going in the opposite direction (perpendicular, I mean).  It’s difficult to see the stitches I’ve made, as they go right along the white sashing in a matching thread color.  But they are there!


I happened upon a post of Helen’s blog this morning to see her progress on a quilt she is hand quilting for Zoe.  Drop by and take a look!  It’s beautiful and colorful.

Yesterday I had lunch in Lansing, Michigan with Tim Latimer, another writer on this blog.  We had a good time, and of course, had to go visit Country Stitches when we were done eating.  We each added to the weekly income for the shop, excited about our purchases.  What a fun time!

Hoop? What hoop?!

By Annemart Berendse

Glenn asked us to write what's in my hoop. Well, I do have a hoop. Even more than one. I have a Jasmine Heirloom floor stand hoop, I have a border hoop (half ring), I have a lap hoop and I have a simple plain round hoop. And they are all like this one. Empty. Oh, and enjoy the green slipper on my foot on the picture!;-)

Work in progress.
But that doesn't mean I am not working on a quilt. My frame Alice, a Jasmine Heirloom frame I am very proud of, is filled. I am working on the feathers of a Broken Star. I have a system in quilting. First the main lines, than the feathers, than the grid. That way my grid is never curved or out of rhythm through quilting somewhere else.
Oh by the way, the seam on the picture seems bend. I assure you, it's not. It's the clamp to keep my quilt flat in the frame.
I am working with a variegated thread from King Tut.

The quilt is not really visible on the quilt picture, for visible inspiration, see below. It will be work in progress for a longer time, as I spend my time on my work, my blog, decorating shoes and regular things like bathing, eating and sleeping too...;-) Lenience is a great thing!

Broken Star
Have fun quilting!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In My Hoop…..

By Karen

I have several projects going right now, in my small hoop I am hand quilting a sampler quilt.  I have 20 Farmers Wife’s blocks that I made.  I didn’t want to make anymore as I tired with the blocks for some reason and I’m not interested in making this quilt any larger!  I use a 14 inch hoop or my large 3 roller floor frame – as the frame is occupied with a different quilt – the Farmers Wife is in the hoop.

I am using a simple stencil for the white blocks in this quilt and the other blocks will be outline quilted I do believe.  I am using a golden brown YLI thread for the quilting.  As you can see I do not take tiny, tiny stitches as some of you do.  I am not concerned with trying for 10, 12 or even more stitches to the inch.  I rarely ever count my stitches – when I do I know that I have a consistent 8 to 10 stitches per inch and that satisfies me.    I do not enter my quilts into show – I make them for me and for my enjoyment – a release of my creative spirit!


On the floor while I was pin basting it.


If you are new to hand quilting I urge you not to be concerned about how many stitches per inch you can do but to be aware of being consistent – whether that is 6 stitches per inch or more – consistency is what makes it look good.  And most of all enjoy what you are doing or it isn’t worth the time you put into it.

What's in your hoop?

By:Glenn Dragone

Take a candid picture of what's in your hoop and post it.  It's a great way to see what's happening in the hand quilting world.

Give it a click!

Batting and needles

I have my preferances, as do every other quilter.

Dream wool - love the loft! And needles like a dream...

Clovers gold eye number 12

I do occationally choose other needles, if the piece I am quilting has a lot of seams, as these needles tend to bend if I have to use some force - I then will normally go for a number 11 between.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Using Unusual Threads

By: Suze

What kind of thread do you use for hand quilting?
If you quilt like I do, you are not limited to just cotton quilting thread!
I have a couple that were quilted with Monopoly...

Susan Magnolia: This is a painted piece I started at Road To CA in a class from Patt Blair. The batting is wool and is not trapuntoed - it just is that puffy from the densely stippling the background, the center flower and leaves stand out.

Midnight in the Pumpkin Patch: This piece was outline quilted with Monopoly.

And a couple that were quilted with is one:

Penrose Posey: This piece was quilted with gold metallic.Sorry it doesn't show too well in the picture - the quilting is shiny in person.

Penrose Posey: The full wallhanging.

A couple of tips for handling unusual threads.

- Don't make a knot and try to pop it thru the top..instead, enter the quilt top about 4 inches away from where you want to start quilting and leave that long tail in the batting..make a small loop knot on the surface - hold on to the tail by pinching it with your non-needle hand thumb and forefinger as you pull the loop snug..if you start near a seam or out from under an applique, this tiny knot will not be visible..likewise, when you end the thread, take a small loop knot (either in a seam or under a piece of applique) and bury about 4 inches of the thread before clipping.

- Use fairly short pieces of thread (remember to add the 4 inches for the starting tail though)

- Going thru bulky seams may break your thread..try to avoid!

- I would not use these unusual threads on any piece that would get washed a lot or would be used on a bed.

What unusual threads have you used?

My Current Project..

By: Erin Anderson

I haven't posted here yet - haven't had the time. But I wanted to show you what my current hand-quilting project is...

This picture was taken before I got it basted, when it was still a top. I've got most of the squares quilted and am debating what to do with the borders. I put a wool batting in this one, as I love how a wool quilt puffs up with the quilting. I quilt in a round hoop that is 14" across. I know an 18" hoop is the traditional size, but my arms are just not long enough to reach across that far (or maybe it's that my belly is so big my arms can't reach? Whichever).

I've been working on this quilt for a year and a half now - hopefully I'll have it finished in time to hang for this year's Halloween..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Batting and Needles

by Haley Ping

As a beginning quilter without many tools or experience, I've always used what the LQS recommended when I first started and haven't tried anything else. In fact, I haven't bought batting in a few years because I'm such a slow stitcher but the Quilter's Dream Cotton batting packaging looks familiar. lol Soon I have to get another package for the newest quilt I've almost completed.

For hand quilting needles, Piecemakers were recommended and so that's what I use. Apparently size 9. I don't know the differences between sizes. One thing I do notice about the Piecemakers brand is that I quickly wear off the chrome coating on them! This happens with my steel crochet hooks too, where I hold them they turn black from use, rather quickly too. Is it just me?

Also, the only reason two are missing from my package is I lost one somewhere, the other is in my pincushion. Are needles ever "used up" and in need of replacement?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Current Quilt Top

by Haley Ping

The last week and a half I've been machine piecing a quilt top for our expected son (we're adopting a 6 year old boy and are not sure when we will pick him up yet but think in the spring sometime). The pattern is from Kathleen Tracy's book Civil War Sewing Circle.

This afternoon I laid out all the blocks, sashing, and borders on the floor to arrange the blocks and see how it would look all put together.

While stitching the first few blocks together I noticed that I made mistakes on two of them and am trying to decide whether I should fix the two blocks with mistakes before I sew all the pieces together. Would you? Do you even notice the mistakes unless they were pointed out?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And more battings

By Françoise Lietaert
I'm a Belgian quilter for 18 years, new to this blog and loving it.

What I'm working on currently is the 'big-stitch' quilting on the blue fabric.  I am using bamboo batting for the very first time, bought it from a French company.  As you can see, it has very little loft, which I like a lot and it quilts easily. But I agree with a previous post, it does beard some.  I'm using Valdani perlé thread and embroidery needles, up to 6 at a time.  

I have done some bigstitch quilting in an earlier quilt because I found it suited the quilt. It was that or machine quilting in my opinion.  In the lower photo you can see how thin the batting is. It is Thermore by Hobbs.     

Underneath, you see a piece of the same Thermore batting, which I now used for a wallhanging with japanese fabrics. This one has regular quilting with variagated thread as you can see. It quilted very easily.  I absolutely love the look of the no-loft batting, but I don't think it would be good to use in a quilt you want to sleep under.      

The next batting I want to show is the one you see underneath. I used it for a wallhanging with this dark fabric. I found it was a bit harder to quilt, but I do not mind that at all. I do find it is rather stiff and since I don't like that, I don't think I will use this kind again.

The last photo I took this way to try to give you an impression of the feel and look of the batting. This quilt has the famous Hobbs 80%  coton- 20% polyester. I like that batting a lot.

As you can see, I have used different battings over the years. If I had to choose only one, so far I would go for 100% coton. But I already have a wool batting waiting, so maybe I will change my mind in the future. And I want to try silk batting. For one of my future masterpieces that's waiting in my head to be made.

Should I?

By Marjorie Rich
Has anyone else spent a weekend bogged down by shoulds?  I had a project in mind Saturday, when I decided I should clean up my sewing area (since it's in the Living room and my family should be able to find a place to sit.)  Then I decided I should pre-wash and fold a bunch of fabric I'd purchased.  And I should wash that box of silk ties that I want to make a quilt from.   

Then I hit the ultimate should.  There was a quilting book I received from a friend for Christmas on hand quilting.  I really should read it.  It was my undoing.  I found out that I use the wrong thimbles, crappy batting, dangerous thread, worthless thread conditioner, and evil marking tools.  I was already in a should-y mood.  Maybe I took it too personally. 

Then I came to Celebrate Hand Quilting and my mood was much improved.  Audry's favorite batting is the one with the best price (a quilter to my own heart!).  There was also a discussion about stab stitching (also snubbed in the book).  Finally, I was inspired by a "should"...I really should write a quick post to thank my fellow hand-quilters for keeping it real, and giving me ideas and inspiration without making me feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.  Thanks.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Yet Another Opinion on Choosing Batting & Needles!

I didn’t intend to add my opinion into the mix this month as there has been so many wonderful postings about needles and batting in particular. Then Caron wrote something in an e-mail a couple weeks ago that got me to thinking about how we are all at different levels of ability in our quilting and at various places in our lives. Yes! That’s exactly right. For me, hand quilting is all about that calming influence I get at the end of the day while at the same time, stitch by stitch, I am making something beautiful that links me back to my grandmother and likeminded women throughout the years. I primarily quilt to relax and unwind (not to make quilts for shows etc.) so my reasons for choosing batting may not be the same as yours.

Lets face it, quilting is not a cheap hobby! I realize that the batting I’m in love with has somewhat of a bad rap with serious minded hand quilters, but here’s where I openly admit that Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 premium cotton blend is still my fave choice. This is why. I can buy an entire roll and have it shipped to my house for under $5 a yard. That means I can get up to five or six quilts completed a year (or more) instead of maybe two or three because unfortunately money is still a factor with me at this time in my life. Cutting directly off the roll means I can cut exactly what I need for each quilt efficiently and never have to worry about changing my mind midstream and perhaps using a pre-packaged batting unwisely--no unnecessary waste ever. The rolled batting also means I only have one wrinkle to smooth out and contend with. Hobbs 80/20 has a very good look and feel compared to some other bats (I will never use an all poly bat ever again) and my hand stitching has not been small enough to discourage me from using this particular blend up to this point. This batting washes and holds up well under the ’well used’ conditions some of my quilts have to endure, plus when I wash my quilt after it‘s finished, I have just enough of a crumpled look to make me very happy. BTW, my mom wouldn't take a roll of this batting if she was offered it for free! I’m so glad we live in a day and an age where we can have such plentiful choices!
My favorite hand quilting needles are the Piecemaker brand in size 8 or 9. I’ve tried out several other brands through the years, some with really great reviews, only to return to Piecemakers. I tend to bend and bow or literally snap my needles in half periodically . Another problem I tend to have with premium needles is difficulty in threading the eye. Either way, I get the most mileage and the least frustration out of Piecemakers as they seem to fit my particular style of hand quilting the best.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quilt batting

by Mary Carolyn

My favorites have been posted already this month - Poly-Fil Cotton Classic and Quilters' Dream Cotton Request weight, both thin, 100% cotton.  I love both and keep them on my shelf.  Which I have more of depends on what was just on sale.  To me, both are easy to needle and give me the finished look I want.  I always wash my quilts when they're completed because I love and want the puckered look of an old quilt.  I just tried a blend I purchased several years ago, Hobb's 80/20 cotton/poly blend and I'm not at all impressed.  I followed the directions on the wrapper (which says 3% shrinkage but I didn't do a 'before' measurement) for spacing my quilting but it wasn't close enough.  Perhaps if I'd done more quilting on it, I'd like it better.  I'll try it again on a doll quilt as a test because I have two packages of it, both king size!  Luckily, this quilt was something I machine quilted  because it's intended as a play quilt for a two year old and not an heirloom.  I normally applique and quilt by hand.  If I'd done that on this quilt, I'd be really disappointed right now so it's back to my old stand-bys until I've done some testing.

Even though thimbles were a topic last month, I have to add I love the Clover thimble.  I can grip my needle with the sides (rubber? poly? I don't know) and don't have to reach for the pliers when I'm doing a utilitarian stitch.  My finger seems to be between standard sizes and this one fits.  The sides give just enough to go on and be comfortable but not fall off.  I have spares and I don't usually buy spares of thimbles.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quilting with Redwork

by Caron Mosey

I received an email a few days ago from a quilter by the name of Linda, who asked about quilting on a Redwork quilt.  She asked,

I would be interested in getting your take and the hand quilting groups take on whether you should hand quilt through a redwork embroidery quilt.

Excellent question, Linda!

Linda sent a link to this photo on her own blog for us to look at:
If you click on the photo, it will take you to Linda’s blog, where you can visit and hang around with her.

You can see that Linda has quilted in a cross hatch pattern OUTSIDE the redwork lines, but not inside.  That will leave the area within the embroidery unquilted and loose.  I guess my thought is that that I would quilt enough on the inside area to hold it in place, but not so much that it will detract from the embroidery.  Does that make sense?

I’m not good at all with drawing on my computer, but the photo below shows blue lines where I might quilt inside the block if this were mine.
I wouldn’t quilt around each item in the picture, just the larger ones or in areas that are bigger and need something to anchor the layers.

What would you do?

Linda’s email prompted me to think about my Redwork owl quilt that is awaiting hand quilting.  How would I handle that?  Hmmm… not sure…


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stab Stitch Quilting

I received a request yesterday about stab stitch quilting:

“I just discovered your blog and your great tutorials. Do you know of a tutorial or directions for the "stab stitch" for hand quilting? I have taken a class at Quakertown Quilts in my area (The Woodlands, Texas) on hand quilting using the traditional method. I have not seen a description of the stab stitch technique for hand quilting and would like to try it.

I appreciate any advice you can give me regarding this stitch.

Thanks much,




I always thought that “stab stitch quilting” was something that I did to get through thicker seams.  I use it after several attempts to use the traditional “rocking stitch” fails due to thickness at the seams.  Could I have been missing something after 30+ years of quilting?!?!  GASP!  So I started to do a search and see what I could find.

Barb Robson has a blog article on stab stitch quilting that you might find useful.  

Wikipedia has an article as well, and says that stab stitching is making “one running stitch at a time.  However, don’t rely on Wikipedia to always be accurate, as anybody can submit writing to Wikipedia as if they are an expert.

Linda Halpin’s website includes a mention of a workshop she teaches for “poke-pull (or stab stitch) quilting.”   Linda has been quilting for years, and I would rely on her expertise to be accurate.

I did a search on YouTube for videos on stab stitching, but came up empty handed.  I think that’s because most quilters only utilize stab stitch quilting the way I do – for those difficult, thick areas.  I think!

So, I’m turning this question over to our hand quilting experts on Celebrate Hand Quilting so they can provide their feedback to Dorothy. 

Ladies and gentlemen, can you help Dorothy?

from Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Batting and Needles

By Glenn Dragone

I’m in the same camp as some of the others when it comes to the brand and content of batting I like to use for hand quilting. By far, my favorite is wool, which to me has the best hand and makes hand quilting a pleasure. I use two brands and like both for different reasons.

My favorite, Quilter’s Dream Wool, is my go to batting in general. I like that Merino Wool is incorporated into the batting, and it seems to be cleaner wool than others I've tried. It also has a bit of a lift to it that isn't too puffy. Quilting is easy and enjoyable with it.

My second choice, Hobbs Tuscany Wool, is very good quality wool with similar qualities to Quilter’s Dream Wool, so much so that it’s hard to tell them apart. For me, it’s a matter of price and availability when it comes to choosing between the two.

My least favorite, Hobbs Standard Wool, can be dirty and quickly falls apart. At times, the texture reminds me of a spider web. The packaging is bad too, basically it's a rolled mess. But, I like its lack of loft, and when finished, the quilt has a real antique feel to it. I love that very flat effect.
If I use cotton batting, I always use Quilter's Dream "Request" or "Select".  "Request" for a very flat antique look and "Select" if I want a bit of a loft to the finished piece.

On to Needles… I think I’ve tried every quilt needle on the market, except Piecemakers, which I’m currently awaiting a shipment of. Simply put, I like a very pointed tip on a strong size 12 needle. Right now, I’m using the Clover betweens, which are a bit longer than what I normally like, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue. I like the point as well as the fact that they don’t easily bend or break.

There you have it. Nothing really new from what the others have already said, just my spin on it.

Batting and needles

I use both wool and cotton batting. It is more easy on my hands to use wool, but I love to touch quilts that are handquilted using cotton. I don`t prewash batting.
I use Quilters Dream cotton or wool, because that is what my local quiltshop sell.
In the near future I am planing to try silk, and a new batting made of bamboo. 

When it comes to needles I have tried several types. These are the ones I use

When I was learning how to handquilt I used these from Piecemakers, still like them.

I have also tried the ones from Roxannes, and like them too.

My favorite at the moment is these from Bohin. I like size 10 betweens/big eye. When threading these I feel like the mouse in Disney`s Cinderella!
They are about 1" long, and don`t bend ore break easy.