Hand Quilting Tools

Ferris Wheel is still in the process of being hand quilted. I have actually taken out some of the hand quilting because what I thought I’d like I definitely don’t like. So I’m redoing a couple of blocks. Now that I’ve got a plan for the quilting, it will go much faster … I hope. Not only have I taken out the machine piecing I originally started with, I’ve also taken out some of the hand quilting.

My favourite tools for hand quilting include these 4 thimbles and the YLI thread. For the most part, I use either the cone Thimblelady thimble or the original silver one. The little black leather thimble I wear on my finger beneath the quilt. It saves wear and tear on the finger underneath, but is thin enough that I still feel the needle as it comes through. The spoon thimble is my favourite when I quilt without a hoop, which I sometimes do, particularly when I’m at the edge of a quilt. YLI hand quilting thread is my absolute favourite and the one to which I always turn.

This is my favourite hoop, although it’s a bit large and sometimes too heavy for me.

On nights when the round wooden hoop seems too heavy, and there are many of those, out comes this Q-snap rectangular hoop. The difference in weight is really noticeable. How lucky are we that we have so many tools that we can find and use the appropriate one, depending on the application and how we feel?

Then there is this, my wonderful floor frame which I’m not quite as comfortable using for hand quilting but what a bonus it is for basting! I can put the quilt sandwich in it and baste that way. No more crawling on the floor to pin or breaking my back leaning over a table to baste.

I taught myself how to hand quilt mostly from books. These are two of my favourites. I picked up a lot of hints from the Jinny Beyer book Quiltmaking by Hand, some from That Perfect Stitch but I think the most important lesson I learned was from watching the Thimblelady’s DVD on hand quilting. I’ve developed my own method which is a combination of all of the above.

There’s one thing that I find makes a big difference for me and that’s using my index finger, rather than the middle finger, to rock the needle. I’ve often wondered if anyone else finds that it’s easier to quilt using their index finger. I find my hand doesn’t fatigue anywhere near as much.

What about you? How did you learn to hand quilt? What are your favourite tools and methods?

A Baxter close-up. He was reclining near a quilt book.

14 thoughts on “Hand Quilting Tools

  1. I haven’t done much hand-quilting, despite having a couple of lessons from Liuxin Newman – Thimblelady – when she was first starting to teach her method of quilting. Perhaps one of these days I will get back to it! Perhaps Baxter is deciding which quilt he would like you to make for him.


  2. Not too many tools for hand quilting. The benefit is you don’t have to lug a big heavy machine around. When I am hand stitching, I always use my middle finger, never thought about using the index finger.


  3. I learned to qult using the book That Perfect Stitch as well. I also use her thimbles (Roxanne brand). It is so relaxing to sit for a spell amd stitch. I’m starting my days an hour earlier than the kids so I can get some quiet time before the day begins.


  4. Funny. I have a “thing” for that YLI quilting thread… but I won’t go into that here. I taught myself how to hand quilt and I started with that particular thimble. I also use a rubber gripper to pull the needle thru because my grip is for “diddly squat.” But mostly I want to mention I really have a love-thing for that YLI quilting thread. 😛


  5. I love the eyes Baxter has on us….
    Spud went mad cat this morning very funny.
    I hand quilt with a thimblelady thimble on my middle finger, I have been using it for years. I have a circular hoop as well and last year got a floor frame now to complete a top to try on it.


  6. I made myself a very large thimble that I wear on my thumb…I don’t follow anything like the “normal” method of hand quilting….The benefit of teaching yourself how to do it is that you don’t know its wrong….you just do it how it is comfortable.


  7. Love YLI thread — it’s all I ever use for quilting. I also love the YLI “Select” thread for hand piecing. Thanks for the info — I need to try some different techniques to take some of the stress off my wrist.


  8. Is there a video for using that hand held ‘thimble’ somewhere?

    Cathy, what kind of frame is that? I wouldn’t want to sit at that kind of frame but I’m intrigued by the idea of using it for basting.


  9. Big sigh…I do love that Baxter of yours. 🙂

    I have yet to hand-quilt a whole quilt (helped in a few quilting bees) due to my carpal tunnel, hand sorta goes numb a lot.

    I know two people with that Jenny Beyer book, will have to look into it. 🙂

    When I hand stitch I love using a tailor’s thimble…and I switch between my index and middle finger while stitching.


  10. I’ve got Jinny’s book too. I’ve learnt a lot from it for hand piecing, and it’ll be my go-to book when I finally finish moonglow and can start quilting it.
    Thanks for the tip on the q-snaps. I have some that I bought for targe embroidery pieces, but I hadn’t thought of using them for quilting


  11. I took a class with Deirdre McElroy at a quilt show and bought her thimble (Roxanne brand), which she fit to my finger. It seemed like a ridiculously expensive luxury item at the time, but now I wouldn’t give it up. I’m working on hand quilting my first queen-sized quilt. Started last July and hope to finish by this July. My hoop is on a floor stand, and that’s also something I couldn’t give up – but it makes my work non-portable. My wish: to be able to hand quilt in a direction other than directly toward me.


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