About our author:
Annette Millard is passionate about sewing and has worked in the sewing industry for many, many years and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. She currently enjoys supporting the Coats & Clark community writing blog posts about products and projects for the Coats Sewing Secrets Blog.
Quick! Fast! Easy! Instant! These seem to be the words we frequently think most important when we’re planning a task. Even our leisure lives become invaded with this mantra and too often, I find those same words crossover into my quilting and sewing life. So, let’s stop, even if just for a minute and think about why we quilt. What drew us to this magical art and what keeps it enjoyable? Was it speed? Probably not. So perhaps, slowing down and mindfully enjoying the process of what we can create with our hands could recreate the joy that first caused us to take up needle and thread.
And, so . . . Hand Quilting, a slow, mindful form of stitching that makes every project unique and distinct. Not “quilt in a day”, but a fabulous, purposeful, creatively, joyful form of quilting that connects our ancestral traditions with modern trends and recharges our passion for stitching. If you haven’t tried it, I have good tips, a marvelous thread, resources from your favorite experts and a beautiful project for you. And, if you’ve already discovered the amazing calm and fulfillment of Hand Quilting, you’ll enjoy adding even more info to your “by hand” file.
So let’s talk thread - one of the most important “tools” for hand stitching success! Coats and Clark makes a wonderful Hand Quilting Thread that is designed specifically for your hand stitching needs. You’ll find it in over 25 beautiful colors, so you’ll easily be able to match your fabrics. Many quilters find it’s best to choose threads that match each of the fabrics you are using as Hand Quilting stitches are larger than machine stitching and will be more distinctly visible. Other quilters suggest matching the thread color to the backing as those stitches tend to be longer than the top stitches so they will “hide” best in a matching color. You may find that you want to choose a busy print for your backing so that the threads that match your top fabrics will blend in well on the back, also. Whatever you choose, just be sure those swatches are tucked into your pocket when you go out to choose your thread!
Coats Hand Quilting thread has a glace finish and is made from a cotton wrapped polyester core that makes it strong as well as flexible. The polyester core is a uniform size, so it creates a smooth thread that holds up well to any stress we may put on it as we’re stitching. Click here for more information about this fabulous thread. You’ll find a download link for a PDF of those gorgeous colors, too!
Before you begin your Hand Quilting adventure, you’ll want to thread several needles with 45 to 60 cm lengths of thread, so you can efficiently keep stitching. Choose your needles carefully. Hand Quilting needles are betweens and a size 10 is a good choice. You’ll want an eye that isn’t too small to easily thread on a needle that is strong enough to slide through your layers of top, batting and backing. Click here for a short, fun YouTube video on threading multiple needles onto one spool of thread. Such a great idea!
Using a fairly short length of thread (none of those meter long lengths, please), will help prevent tangling and keep your working thread manageable. Lack of knottiness, is another one of the reasons I love the glace finish on Coats Hand Quilting Thread. Although many quilters use a waxing product to prevent knotting, the gorgeous finish on the Coats thread inhibits and resists knotting all on its own. The very last thing you want when Hand Quilting is to find unwanted knots in your working thread!
Now, what about those little stitches and how do you get them even? Well, here’s the wonderful thing about handmade - practice makes perfect and . . . it doesn’t have to be perfect! Seasoned hand quilters will tell you that the more you stitch, the more even it will become and if you examine those stitches up close, there are always variations and it’s okay. To quote Marianne Fons, “Hand quilting is like going for a walk for pleasure rather than getting in your car to go somewhere quickly. “ Slow down, enjoy what you’re doing and the patience you’ll develop from the process will enrich your life in so many ways!
Sometimes, you just need a buddy to hold one hand while you Hand Quilt with the other, so here’s some help from our friends in the big, wide quilting world.
Click here for the Quilty Hand Quilting video, mentioned above, featuring Mary and Marianne Fons.
Now, click here to learn Alex Anderson’s Top Three Hand Quilting Cheats. Thank you, Alex!
And, finally, click here for a marvelous Craftsy post on the Hand Quilting Stitches you’ll need to know, like you see in the photo above. Quilter’s Knot, Running Stitch, Tunneling and Rocking will soon become a natural part of your quilting vocabulary!
Are you ready? Feeling better now? Good! We have a beautiful Modern Traditional Quilt for you that features both machine and hand quilting. It’s the perfect combination of tradition and modern style and you’ll love making it. You’ll machine quilt some areas of your quilt then finish with beautiful hand echo stitching around the white sections. Coats chose lovely Free Spirit solids, but you may want to use prints or dynamic florals. Put your “hand” to it and make it your own!
Click here for the quilt project that includes a link to the PDF tutorial. Full color to make it clear for you!
In Summer, my very favorite thing about Hand Quilting is it’s portability. Take your charming, calming stitches along on your next road or day trip and carry it along to the kids’ sports practice. And, for even greater joy, get your friends involved, plan a gathering and invite those kids, too. Stitching is always better in community and a Play/Hand Quilting group will make your Summer the best ever!