Hand Stitching Tips and Tricks

I for one am always impressed by quilts that have been quilted by hand. There is nothing like the texture of a quilt that has been hand quilted. While I admire other people’s hand quilting, I have always found it to be a rather daunting task. But after reading Marianne Burr’s hand stitching techniques, I am feeling confident and may even try to hand quilt a (small) piece of my own. I hope you find these tips useful as well!

Hand stitching tips
By Marianne Burr

  • Milliners needles are long with a small eye. The advantage of using them in hand stitch is that several stitches fit at once, making for a straight line of stitches. The small eye means the thread is not likely to pull out.
  •  Hints for threading:
    • Waxing the thread really helps reduce tangling.Pull the thread over the block of wax.
    • Pinch the very end of the thread between your thumb and a finger and put the needle onto the thread. Just push the needle over the thread, between your fingers, without moving your fingers
    • The needle eye is different on each side, and one side is easier to thread than the other.  If you’re having trouble, turn the needle over.
    • The thread has a twist just like a rope. One end of the thread will enable the needle to slip over it more easily than the other. If you’re having trouble, try the other end of the thread.
  • (Both images are of Marianne Burr’s “At the Market” which is 63″ x 50″ and the photos are by Frank Ross)

    If tying a knot is difficult for you, take a tiny backstitch where you want to start and where you finish. (Make one stitch, and then insert the needle behind it and come up in the same place as the first stitch.) This makes a secure loop of thread in the felt so you really don’t need a knot.

What is the most daunting thing about hand stitching in your mind? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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4 thoughts on “Hand Stitching Tips and Tricks

  1. Oddly enough, I’ve avoided quilting because everything I see written about it usually involves freeform stitching by machine. I’m hardly a technophobe (I teach a web programming language online!), but I prefer hand stitching. There’s something extremely satisfying about the rhythm of it, so I’m thrilled to know that some people still quilt by hand. Maybe I’ll finally give it a try on a small piece!

  2. One tip related to the ‘thread has a twist’ topic: I was taught to thread a needle before cutting the length from the spool, it really works, and I guess it’s for this reason. I have no idea how this will relate to skeins of embroidery yarn though!

  3. Whenever the seasons change, I make an effort to put together new hand sewing projects . Last winter I organized three portable projects and left them in my car, near my favorite chair, and by my desk. I find hand sewing so relaxing because it takes minimal