How to Quilt by Hand

Learn to quilt by hand with these easy hand-quilting techniques.

| September 2014

  • Hand quilting
    Even with the most modern of quilt patterns, hand quilting is a way to connect with the long tradition of quilting worldwide.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 1: You can use slightly thicker quilting thread or even pearl cotton for hand quilting.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 2: Wrap the thread around your needle three or four times.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 3: Pull the needle through until the knot forms.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 4: Push your needle through just the top layer of fabric and tug at the thread until the knot "pops" under but doesn't come out the other side.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 5: Trim the end of the thread.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 6: Begin quilting, stitching through all three layers of the quilt.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 7: "Rocking" the needle makes quilting go faster, as you can do more than one stitch at a time.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 8: At the end of your thread, tie a knot as before.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 9: Pull the knot at the end of your thread through the top layer of your quilt.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Hand quilting
    Figure 10: Continue quilting until the entire quilt is done, hiding knots as you go.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography Inc.
  • Quilting with a Modern Slant
    “Quilting with a Modern Slant” by Rachel May is full of quilting tips and tricks, as well as ideas on how to make a quilt that builds on the aesthetics of traditional and art quilts.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

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  • Hand quilting
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  • Quilting with a Modern Slant

Quilting with a Modern Slant (Storey Publishing, 2014) offers a glimpse into dozens of unique visions, with profiles of quilters and artists who have developed their own aesthetic and quilting tips and patterns from author Rachel May. Modern quilting offers the freedom to play with fabrics, patterns, colors, stitching and the way in which they all connect. With photographs of finished quilts, quilting tips and tutorials on natural dyeing, machine quilting, appliqué, finishing, improvisational piecing and even starting a blog, this book is chock-full of ideas to inspire quilters of every level. This tutorial from “Chapter 4: Quilting from Tradition,” was co-written by Alice Webb Greer and Rachel May and shows how to quilt by hand.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Quilting with a Modern Slant.

Hand-Quilting Basics

1. Use tiny needles when you quilt by hand (these are—no surprise—called quilting needles). When hand-quilting with a hoop, leave your fabric a little less tense than when you embroider, so that your needle can move through all three layers several stitches at a time.

2. You can buy special, slightly thicker thread for quilting by hand. (Figure 1 in the slideshow) If you’re new to it, you may want to choose a color that blends with your fabric. Or, try using pearl cotton, which is heavier weight and will draw more attention to your stitches (and will also require a bigger needle).



3. Make a quilter’s knot in your thread by wrapping the thread around your needle three or four times. (Figure 2 in the slideshow)

Pull the needle through until the knot forms. (Figure 3 in the slideshow)

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