I learned to hand quilt a few years ago, and since then I've spent hundreds of hours stitching away. Those of you who enjoy these SQ tutorials have been asking me to "finally write that tutorial!" Even though I've filmed many spontaneous Facebook live videos and IG stories about hand quilting, only now have I planted myself in a chair and filmed everything I know on how to hand quilt.
Writing this tutorial loomed large in my head, because there's so much to say! I have so many feeelings about hand quilting. As much as I love picking fabric, piecing on my machine and even (can it be?) basting, hand quilting will always feel special to me in a way other techniques don't.
Many of you already know how much I love diving into our shared quilt history and learning about our wonderful Quilt Mothers who laid the foundation for us. When I'm hand quilting, I feel a spirit connection with them. I feel tied to a strong sisterhood of makers, creators, builders, matriarchs and dreamers.
Oh my fellow quilters, I could wax poetic on this for pages and pages, but that's not why you're here. You're here to learn a sewing skill that has been passed down from generation to generation for...generations! On to the hand quilting video tutorial!
How to Hand Quilt Video Tutorial
Everything I cover here in this blog I also cover in the video. However, if you continue reading, you'll find all of the links I reference in the video.
Hand Quilting Supplies
After testing out many different kinds of needles, threads, thimbles, etc... These are the notions that I've landed on as being my go-to faves.
And don't forget, after you stitch one million stitches to gather the family together for everyone to stand on it. 😉
Hand quilting is all about touch and what feels right. Because of this, I recommend trying a few different kinds of each notion and then deciding for yourself what is the most comfortable. I've stitched with many quilters who hate my leather thimble and love the thimble pads (which don't work for me at all.)
In-Depth Lists of Hand Quilting Notions
- Thimbles: Your Guide to Finding the Best Thimble
- Thread: I have a handful of articles on thread. Here's a list of 4 of them.
- Needles: The 5 Types & Sizes of Hand Quilting Needles
- Scissors: The World's Best Sewing Scissors
- Marking Tools: Quilt Marking Tools: Different Ways to Draw Guidelines
- Rulers: 4 Best Quilting Rulers
How to Hand Quilt: 3 Easy Steps
Now that you have all of your supplies (and there aren't many), it's time to learn the 3 basic steps to hand quilting: Knot, pop and rock it. Say that 5 times fast. Knot pop and rock it. Knot pop and rocket. Knotpopandrockit!
You got those 3 steps in your head?
You can make a simple double knot with your thread, or you can watch the video above for a demonstration on how I make a fancy quilter's knot. The key here is to make a secure knot that's not too big to pop through the weave of your fabric. Oh! But I'm getting ahead of myself...
You've tied your knot and trimmed your little thread tail. The next steps is to decide where you would like your stitches to start. Pierce the fabric with your needle, catching only the quilt top and not the batting or backing, about 1" away from where the stitches will start.
Poke the tip of your needle out where you will begin stitching and pull your thread through. Oh dear! You're left with a knot sticking out on the front of your quilt! Can you guess what to do next? We pop! (For some reason this always make me think of the bend and snap from Legally Blonde. ha!)
Give that knot a little yank and pop it through to the inside of the quilt. Be careful not to pop it through one hole and out the other. However, if that does happen, try again and be a bit more gentle.
Don't worry about ripping your fabric. The knot will find it's way between the yarns of thread that make up the weft and warp of the fabric. Once the knot is through, I give the hole a little scratch with my fingernail to close it up.
3. Rock it.
The best way to hand quilt a running stitch is to rock your needle in and out, up and down, using your thimble-covered finger. This will keep tension off of your other fingers and, with enough practice, will give you the most even stitches.
To know what I'm talking about, check out the video above.
Finishing Your Stitches and Hiding Your Knot
To finish your stitches we are going to implement the same popping technique to make our knot nicely hidden. Once the knot is underneath the quilt top, I like to rub it into the batting layer a bit so that the knot gets nicely tangled in the fibers of the batting. This will help ensure that your stitches remain secure.
More Helpful Tutorials on the Quilting Process
There are a few steps to take before and after you jump into hand quilting. Below are links to tutorials on the different stages of the quilting process. You can also find a lot of these, plus more, in the Quilting 101 tab located in the top toolbar.
I hope you found this video and tutorial on how to hand quilt helpful and informative! Please let me know if you have any questions on the quilting process or supplies. Also I'd love to hear your hand quilting tips!
Below is a finished picture of my Reflections quilt and also what I looked like at 14 weeks pregnant. I felt huge, but now at 23 weeks, I realize I wasn't. 😉
Below are examples of some of my hand-quilted quilts. Some of them are fully hand quilted, and some of them use both machine quilting and hand quilting. Let's start with my very first attempt at hand quilting. The photo is a bit blurry, but that's how I was taking most of my photos in 2014.