Monday, June 13, 2011


With the weather changing I'm anticipating more time spent indoors, listening to the radio, watching Corrie Street and The Young & the Restless (my guilty pleasures). I usually have a knitting or spinning project on the go, but this winter I've decided to broaden my horizons and look at hand quilting. I signed up for a mini class at Traditional Pastimes and I was off and running.


I chose to use a high contrast thread for my first project so I could easily see my stitches, as consistency is a goal. In this case we were advised to aim for a consistent stitch length - increasing our "stitch per inch" would come eventually. We lightly pencil traced our pattern on white cotton muslin, pinned our three layers (muslin / batting / muslin) and loosely sandwiched everything into our hoops.


I'm a bit of a gadget freak, so hearing that there are lots of bits like "betweens" (special needles for quilting) various hand quilting threads, and thimbles galore! I was in heaven. Above are 2 betweens. They are 2 different brands. One bent quite quickly as I was struggling with my "rocking needle technique." Thankfully needles are relatively inexpensive - so if you buy a size or brand that isn't working for you, you haven't made a huge investment. I've tried 3 brands thus far and discovered one bends quickly, another works great but literally snaps in half - and the last ones seems to be holding up great, but I had to move to an even shorter needle to easily advance it through the layers but the trade off is less stitch loading. All so very interesting to a newbie like myself.There are lots of examples of "rocking needle technique" on the internet - and You Tube is a goldmine. Below is a short 2 minute video which demonstrates the technique about 1 minute in... be patient now! I also love the whole community aspect of this clip.


I also have a DVD called That Perfect Stitch by Dierdra McElroy. Everything from needles, batting, fabrics, hoops, frames, threads and thimble styles are reviewed. The author also shares with the consumer her ratings of numerous brands - which I found helpful. Even the pre-wash fabric topic is discussed. There is also an extensive chapter on the hand quilting technique itself -from threading your needle, securing the knot, various rocking the needle techniques and ergonomic considerations to prevent repetitive strain injuries.


A nice thing about hand quilting is that it is absolutely silent. I can easily listen to podcasts and have a few Audiobooks waiting on my Ipod. (I think my consistency is improving here!) Not only can I can hear the content - but I almost feel like my comprehension of the content is improving. Needle in... needle out. Needle in... needle out. A rather unique experience for me is that ... I seem to be speaking less and (heaven forbid) listening more!


3/4 inch masking tape is used to mark our lattice style background pattern.

I have discovered another big plus for handquilting is that it is very much like hand spindling. It can be a portable easy pick up - put down endeavour. Because of this, I suspect that hand quilting (like spindling) could considered "slower by the minute - quicker by the week."  You can sit in your favourite comfy couch, with your favorite tea in your favorite mug at your side,  your favorite pooch at your feet (I guess your spouse will do to...)

Well that's my "in process" blog for today - I'll keep you posted!

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