Hand quilting is such a fun way to add texture and visual interest to a quilt! I love the look and feel of it, and the process forces me to sloooow down and enjoy the time I spend sewing.
Hand quilting tools can be as simple or elaborate as you want. I've found that there are really five essential tools that I need to have in my hand quilting kit at all times. These are my go-tos. If you're new to hand quilting, I encourage you to start here!
This is arguably your most important hand quilting tool! When you’re stitching by hand, you will want a needle that fits comfortably in your hand, is long enough to hold a few stitches, and is big enough to create a big enough hole for your thread to pull through.
I buy packs of needles that contain assorted sizes, and then try out different needles to see what feels best to stitch with. The thickness of the needle will affect how it stitches, as will the shape of the needle eye (the part the thread goes through).
When I hand quilt, I like to use a thick thread that is going be very visible and show my stitches. I use Aurifil 12 wt cotton
, or DMC size 8 pearl cotton
. I try to avoid anything much thicker, though— I find thicker threads, like size 5 pearl cotton, don’t easily pull through my quilt.
I am a minimalist when it comes to tools, but I find a thimble to be absolutely essential if you’re going to hand quilt. When you stitch, you will wear your thimble over the ring finger of your dominant hand. You’ll use your thimble finger to push your needle through your quilt. Without a thimble, your fingers quickly become sore and raw!
4. Marking Tools
You’ll almost always want to mark your lines before you hand quilt. This keeps your lines looking tidy and intentional.
If you’re getting started or simply don’t want to buy new tools, you can use the smooth edge of a butter knife in much the same way. (The reason you might want to chose a Hera Marker is that it's less likely to catch on your fabric, and easier to control.)
For templates, curves and free-form marking, I like to use a washable fabric marker
. I use this blue one from Dritz
, but there are so many options out there! The key is to use something that is specifically meant to wash out of fabric, and to test it out. The last thing you want is marker lines staining your lovely quilt!
5. Embroidery Scissors or Thread Snips
When you’re hand quilting, you will find yourself cutting many lengths of thread, and trimming short tails and knots. You can totally trim with a regular pair of sewing scissors. However, I find that it is way to easy for me to accidentally slice into my quilt when I use my regular shears. Instead, I keep a small pair of embroidery scissors
in my hand sewing kit, and use them to trim thread tails.
And those are all the basics that you’ll need to start your hand quilting journey! What are you hand quilting must-haves? Let me know in the comments below!
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