Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Adventures in hand quilting

One thing I've noticed about the projects I'm taking on now is my determination to just get. them. done. I have so many quilts on my 'bucket list' that if I don't get wriggling, I'm going to be 98 before I've made half of them. In my mind (I'm too scared to write too much of this down) there's a list of the quilts I can do this year, and next year. And a list of the quilts that I'll think about at some point. Most of the quilts on the first list I have the fabric for, give or take. I suppose technically this should mean no more shopping, then hey!

Anyway, I digress. I started Millefiori around the time school went back this year in early February, and have been working on it fairly solidly most evenings. Now the top is finished. And rather than let it languish in the pile of unquilted tops, this time I'm going to finish it! And it deserves the full hand-quilting shebang, don't you agree?

This process may look like it's not for the faint-hearted, but it's really not that bad! The basting is a bit of a palaver, taking place as it does hunched on the floor for several hours. But it was finished well before I thought it might be. You take long stitches, working from a gridline at the centre out (use a new piece of thread each time, starting on one of the centre lines and working out to the edge). Secure the end of the thread in the batting with a couple of little stitches. The rows are around 6 inches apart.

Working flat on the floor, it can be a little hard on your hands and wrist. You can use a little teaspoon to  help 'lift' the needle up as it comes through. I used this technique on and off throughout the process and it worked quite well but I found I didn't need it all the time. Perhaps that had something to do with how tired my hand was feeling! Speaking of which, don't expect to get this done in one go! This quilt is around 60 inches square and I estimate that it took around three hours to baste, in sessions of half an hour or so.

And since Sunday I've been quilting merrily away, using Perle 8 thread. This is also going faster than I had imagined and so far I'm loving the process! Once again, a little hard on the hands, and I need to remember to take some breaks (including all of today)!

So there you have it, I'll be back with some more progress pics soon! And I'd love to hear about your hand quilting adventures, please leave me a comment! Do you love it, hate it, haven't tried it but want to?

This doesn't happen too often (but maybe it'll happen more often from now on), but my blogging actually coincides with Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day, so I can link up for once. Hurrah! If you've come over from Lynne's, thanks for popping in!

Lily's Quilts


  1. I am a handquilter, always have been, recentely have been learning how to machine quilt, in order to get a few more quilts 'done'. However, I love handquilting. I would love to use perle 8, but it is not sold in our country (The Netherlands), which is a strange (and annoying!) thing, since most quilters here are very traditional quilters and therefore handquilters. Enjoy your handquilting, I love your colors!

    1. That's interesting Phyllis! I also originally learnt to hand quilt in the traditional manner, but I couldn't get the hang of tiny stitches. So perle 8 thread is perfect for me and my less-than-perfect stitches!

    2. That's interesting Phyllis! I also originally learnt to hand quilt in the traditional manner, but I couldn't get the hang of tiny stitches. So perle 8 thread is perfect for me and my less-than-perfect stitches!

  2. Your quilt is beautiful! I LOVE handquilting. Wish I could hand quilt everything, but it's hard on the hands and takes longer than machine quilting. I machine quilt most of my modern quilts, but I have one top that is demanding that it be hand quilted. Hand quilting relaxes me, so hope to start on it soon.

  3. well helloooo there. This a particularly gorgeous quilt, and absolutely should be hand quilted - I can't even imagine machine-quilting a design like this. Sarah's original quilt in the book is just gorgeous too - I love how a whole different look can be created, depending on fabric choice. I have never hand-quilted a quilt before, but I love the look and texture of hand-quilting. In fact, not just the look of hand-quilting, but also what it represents - the time, care, sitting-quietly, thoughtfully making each stitch. Leave aside the painful finger tips though, let's keep this postive (I need an emoji right here!).

    And I do love machine-quilted quilts too - so many different textures and looks. But I do think some quilts just call out for hand-quilting.

    Phew, that's a big, though not eloquent, comment. xx

  4. ohhh I love the quilt and love other people's handquilting just not the time or effort for me to do much at all of it. I did start some projects with perle 8 and prefer it to embroidery thread.

  5. it's looking gorgeous. i am so pleased you hand quilted. i am sure sarah fielke would love it.

  6. I love hand quilting (and don't completely hate the tacking part, once I set my mind to it - I use quilt basting needles or long darners to make it easier) but have never quilted with Perle 8. I've used coton a broder, which was lovely, so I think it will be like that but with more shine. I'm thinking of trying a thinner Perle for my hexy quilt (maybe 12? 16?) but I think I'm going to have to wait until it's ready to layer before I make a decision...

    I can't wait to see more of your hand quilting - this quilt is going to be superb!

  7. wow this is going to be awesome,love your blog.xx


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