Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking the Plunge-- into Hand Quilting

Yes, you heard that right.  I'm investing myself into learning to quilt by hand!  Does that seem old fashioned to you?  It appeals to my sense of simplicity and using my down time to "do" something. I hate to sit for very long as I always feel there is something that could be getting done!  LOL.

I joined a Facebook page called Celebrating Hand Quilting. There are over 10,000 members!  And daily they are showing off their beautiful hand work.  I'm inspired.  And, just recently there was a gal that posted a wonderful lap quilt and said it took her 3 weeks!  THAT kind of info is helpful and inspiring to me :)  It shows me that these smaller projects we are doing in Quilter's Academy can be done in a reasonable time, as long as I figure out what I'm doing! I'm not about to ask her how long she has been quilting to be able to do that!  But, she DID say that it was for a CUSTOMER, so she obviously can get quilts in and out. A machine is not the only way :)

Google is my friend because it turns up all kinds of results when searching "hand quilting".  I like research and got lots of stuff to sift through.  I was looking for that "thing" that speaks to me, that I can identify with.  There are all kinds of "methods" of hand quilting.  Most prick their fingers, some use spoons that dull the needle quicker, or set up frames that don't fit in my family room where hubby and I sit together. There are lots of choices out there, but I was able to eliminate many just by knowing what I didn't want.

There were two that seemed like good fitting possibilities
1. Aunt Becky's Finger Protector method - The only thing I found about this method was the You Tube video.  And the protector is special order from a special quilt place, not readily available at my LQS or Amazon.  I really liked the speed and no finger pain of this method!

2. The Thimble Lady's method-  I found this method also on YouTube, however she has a High Definition version of the video on her web site which is better to view.  She has a whole learning kit and a DVD that shows step by step the process to accomplish her no pain speedy method of obtaining up to 12 stitches per the inch!  She provides the thimble, thread, needles, frame and learning info in her kit.

I do not know that I want 12 stitches to the inch, but it's nice to know she thinks I can learn that!
I ordered the package and anxiously awaited the parcel to arrive, as if it was Christmas! She is Australian and sent it out the same day I ordered, and it took just over a week to arrive.
It arrived earlier this week and I set about putting together the lap frame which is designed to take the weight of the quilt off of your back and put it on the support of the chair. You place your legs over the bottom T. The top turns 360 degrees.

The pieces really needed ironing, so I ironed the backing and the edges of the top. I did not iron over the printed stencil because it disappears with heat! I quickly basted the pre-printed top, polyester batting and backing that was in the package and started with the first lesson... How to put the quilt in the frame. She likes it LOOSE. It allows you to fold the quilt onto the needle. This is part of what really had me interested. I attempted hand quilting my first quilt and just couldn't manipulate my needle in the tightly stretched frame.

So, after watching the first several chapters of the DVD, and reading the first lesson I started practicing.  4 stitches to the inch, and not even in spacing or stitches. The back does not mirror the front!  This is after about 2 hrs of practicing. I have already ditched the thread she includes.  It is a wonderful thread, easy to thread needle and doesn't curl and is smoooooth.  However, it was yellowy beige and I had a hard time seeing it against this yellow fabric and I really am just practicing so I wanted to easily see the length and spacing of my stitches. I need some bees wax to coat this green thread that isn't nearly as nice. It's simply something I had bought long ago when I thought I was going to be hand quilting that first quilt.

 I came back to it again the next day and practiced about an hour before I finally got this result :

Now I'm still 4 stitches to the inch, but they are more even in length and space. The back looks similar to the front.  So, I'm going in the right direction.  My goal this week is to get 6 stitches to the inch that look good.

In the mean time, I'm still working on Project 2 in my sewing room.  :)
Just finished these two audio books while doing the first 2 projects!

And, I'm still watching like a hawk for a used APQS George.  Afterall, I would love to make charity quilts and FMQ those on a machine just seems more functional.


  1. You know, this 'four stitches to the inch' bit can mean two things. It can mean there are four blips of thread on the right side of the quilt, or that there are two blips on the front and two blips on the back. So you could, in some terminologies, have EIGHT stitches to the inch. Four on the front, four on the back. I remember reading that some years (two decades?) back, when some Amish quilters and novice quilters got together to hand-quilt something.

    (Carolyn firmly shuts her brain to the possibility of joining you in working on hand quilting. NOOOOOO! ((But it would be so fun.)))

    1. Carolyn, you can handle a new hobby! hehehehe. I am not doing so well with adding crochet to my list of talents. This quilting part is starting to take on a whole new life, like it is a totally different hobby from the piecing!

      I am aiming for 6 stitches per inch on both the Top and Bottom of the quilt! No funny new math, no cheating. :) Wish me luck! hehehe