How to Hand-Quilt a Quilt

Written by deborah jones
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How to Hand-Quilt a Quilt
Hand-stitched quilts have a traditional, homespun look. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Most quilters do the top stitches that give a quilted appearance to a quilt by machine, but if you don't have a sewing machine or you prefer to sew by hand, quilting is still possible. Quilting by hand is more time-consuming than by machine and it can be tricky to learn how to do tiny, evenly spaced stitches, but the skill, once mastered, creates a traditional, homespun effect that cannot be achieved when working with a sewing machine.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Curved upholstery needle
  • Quilting 'between' needle
  • Quilting thread
  • Hoop
  • Thimble

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  1. 1

    Use a curved, upholstery needle to baste the layers of your quilt together. Work the basting stitches in grids, leaving no more than 4 inches between stitches.

  2. 2

    Fix all three layers of your quilt loosely in a large hoop, making sure the layers lie flat with no puckering or gathering. Avoid stretching the fabric taught inside the hoop.

  3. 3

    Thread your quilting needle and tie a double knot in the end of the thread.

  4. 4

    Push the point of your needle through the quilt layers with one hand, feeling underneath the quilt with the other hand, until you just feel the point of the needle.

  5. 5

    Guide the needle with your hand from underneath the quilt back up into the fabric so that it makes the smallest stitch possible on the underside of the quilt. Apply pressure on the needle from the top of the quilt with your thimble to push the needle through the fabric layers, then pull the thread through to complete the first stitch.

  6. 6

    Repeat this running stitch action, first pushing the needle back down through the top of the quilt to make a tiny stitch on top of the quilt that matches the size of the first stitch you made underneath quilt. Continue the running stitch along all the sections of your quilt, moving the hoop as necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • As this small running stitch can be tricky to achieve through the three layers of quilt fabric, create a small practice quilt by layering up three or four 5-inch squares with the same fabric and batting in your quilt. Practice making a neat, running stitch on this practice square before stitching onto your quilt. Once you are comfortable making each stitch individually, you can make several running stitches at the same time by pushing the needle up and down through the quilt fabric before drawing the thread through.

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