Tip Tuesday: 7 Tips on how to Quilt by Hand

When you were a little kid, did your mother or grandmother sit you down and sew alongside you? This is how a lot of children learn how to sew, and eventually, how to quilt by hand. Of course, your mother’s mother probably taught her how to hand quilt. These skills are often passed down through the generations resulting in a long line of quilters. Hand-sewn quilts aren’t usually the first project a child begins with, but those hand-sewn blankets often lead to future quilts! Because hand sewing was the first exposure for a lot of us, we’ve developed some handy tricks. Below are some tips other quilters have developed on how to quilt by hand with a few tips from Fons & Porter.

Hand Quilting Needles
Hand Quilting Needles, Size 7

TIP #1:
A Slick Idea

To help keep metallic threads from separating and breaking when hand quilting, draw a length of thread over beeswax.

Bobbin Saver Bobbin Ring
TIP #2:
35mm Thread Dispenser
Use empty 35mm film canisters to dispense thread for hand sewing. Wind 4 to 5 bobbins with the threads you need, and place them in the canister. Puncture the lid several times, and pull a different thread color through each hole. You can thread needles without the threads tangling.
Fons & Porter tip: Use the Bobbin Saver to keep track of up to 20 bobbins!

TIP #3:
Get Through It
Use a leftover party balloon as a gripper to help pull your needle through a tough spot when hand quilting.

Clover Wonder Clips

TIP #4:
Bobby Pin Binding
Old-fashioned, cushioned bobby pins make great clips to hold your binding while hand stitching it to the back of your quilt.
Fons & Porter tip: Clover Wonder Clips do the trick without using pins!

TIP #5:
Car Kit
Put together an emergency kit of hand piecing that you always have in the car. If you get stuck somewhere, you can work on this special project. You may be amazed how soon you complete the take-along project!
Fons & Porter tip: This Double Wedding Ring quilt kit would make the perfect car kit! This project, as a hand sewn quilt, sure would be impressive.

1930s Double Wedding Ring Pre-Cut Quilt Kit
1930s Double Wedding Ring Pre-Cut Quilt Kit

TIP #6: 
Inside Out
If you use a rubber finger stall to help pull stubborn stitches through when hand quilting, turn it inside out. The bumpy surface reduces finger perspiration, and the needle will pull through more easily.

TIP #7: 
Maintain the Tension
If you are interrupted while hand stitching, wrap the thread around the needle in a figure eight to maintain tension on the thread until you get back to the work.

Some of you didn’t get into quilting until later in life. I always say, it’s never to late to learn how to quilt! On that note, it’s never too late to learn how to quilt by hand, either. Catch up on all those hand stitching techniques with Mark Lipinski’s Slow Stitching Movement web seminar. This hour-long webinar celebrates the process of sewing and delving into fiber art creation. The Slow Stitching Movement teaches a higher form of creativity and places importance on quiltmaking.

As always, tell me about your experiences in the comments. I’d love to hear about anything you want to share about quilting, and if you have a comment about hand-sewn quilts, please share! If you’d like to submit a tip of your own, visit the Quilting Tips Submission page on our website.

Carrie Sisk, Online Editor, Fons & Porter


Happy Quilting!

Carrie Sisk, Fons & Porter, Online Editor

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Carrie Sisk

About Carrie Sisk

Carrie's first sewing machine was a gift from her dad—a better gift was never given. A crafter, trained pianist and experienced paintballer, when the opportunity arises, she's hiking in Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park.

3 thoughts on “Tip Tuesday: 7 Tips on how to Quilt by Hand

  1. When I sew for long periods at a time and my foot gets tired staying at the same angle on the pedal, I simply flip the pedal around and press down with my heel. I find I have less aching in my knee and ankle.

  2. Another tip: When having difficulty seeing the eye of a needle to thread it, hold the needle in front of white paper (or anything white). The hole is more visible. For sewing machine needle, hold a white slip of paper behind the needle.