Hand quilting is something I’ve always wanted to try but making an entire quilt has always seemed a little daunting and time consuming. I’ve had no plans in my immediate future to commit to making a quilt, although it is on my list of “someday I will”.
But then my friend Tony gave me a beautiful chevron quilt she had made and it put a little quilting bug in me. So when these darling “Dowry” charm packs from Anna Maria Horner arrived in to the store, I thought testing out some hand quilting on a small project would be a good way to see if hand quilting on a bigger scale might be in my future.
- 2 pieces of fabric from a 5″ Fabric Charm pack or
- 2 pieces of fabric 5″ x 5″
- Quilting needle and topstitching thread ( I used Gutterman heavy duty thread)
- Sewing needle and coordinating thread
- Fabric marking pen or pencil
- 1 piece of 5″ x 5″ Quilt Batting or Flat Craft Batting
- Polyester Stuffing
- Dried Lavender
1. Planning your Design
First off, you’ll want to think about what sort of stitching design you will want for your top. For the first top (see above) I took it easy and spaced the stitching 1/2″ apart and ran it on the diagonal. For the second top above, I branched out and played around with outlining the design of the flowers on the fabric. On the third top above I used a combination of both these styles. What’s fun about quilting is how much the hand stitches can change the look of the fabric. Doodle on a piece of paper or take a peek at some finished quilts if you get stuck thinking about your stitching design.
You can also play with the thickness of thread. For all these samples I used a thicker “top-stitching” thread to emphasize the stitches.
2. Baste together fabric and batting
Before you start hand quilting, you’ll want to align all four raw edges of the fabric and batting and then hand baste them together around the outside. Later you will be machine sewing the top to the bottom using a 1/2″ seam, so try and keep your basting to within 1/4 – 3/8″ from the edge.
3. Hand quilt the outline of your design
When outlining a design, use longer stitches on the top and shorter stitches on the back to get better detailing. Insert your needle straight down, then back up again through all layers and back down, moving your wrist and working the needle up and down. (This is called rocking the needle.) Some quilters use a hoop, but this project is more decorative than functional and rather small, so you don’t have to use an embroidery hoop unless you prefer to. Also, if you are stitching a lot you might want to use a thimble, although I didn’t. Why? Because I found it awkward. Kinda funny considering the name of my blog is I always pick the thimble, but oh well!
When you’ve finished the outlining you are ready to mark the interior portion of the design.
4. Mark the stitch lines
Using a wash-away fabric pen or marker, mark lines across the top of the fabric 1/2″ apart in the direction you want your stitching.
5. Hand quilt the body of the design
For the horizontal lines, I tried to keep the stitches the same length on the top as on the bottom. Insert your needle straight down, then back up again through all layers and back down, moving your wrist and working the needle up and down.
6. Sew it all together
With right sides together, align all the edges of both fabrics and pin together – leaving a 3″ opening on one side to turn inside out. (To help remind me to stop sewing at this location, I mark where I want to stop sewing with two pins.)
Using a 1/2″ seam, sew around all four edges slightly rounding the corners as you sew and leaving an opening on one side.
Trim the corners diagonally. Trim off the batting to about 1/4″ away from the seam.
Turn the sachet right side out through the opening. Push out the corners with your finger or tool.
7. Fill with lavender
Stuff in a small handful of batting to help fill out the pillow and then pour in the lavender. If you are running short on lavender, you can mix in some flax seeds as an extender.
8. Sew the sachet closed with the ladder stitch
With a little practice, the ladder stitch works great to hide stitches when closing two seams together. Switch to a thread that blends with one of your fabrics and fold in both raw edges of the opening towards the inside of the sachet.
To start the stitch, run your needle along the folded section of the seam and pull your thread up.
Next, grab a little bit of the opposite side of the fabric (in the fold) straight across from where you just came out and pull your thread up.
Now, put your needle back into the hole that you just came out of on the first side. Run your needle along the fold, coming out the same distance as your previous stitch and pull your thread up. Then grab a little bit from the other side and repeat these steps.
What was the final verdict on hand quilting? Well, I LOVED making these sachets. They were so quick and easy and they actually felt more like embroidery than quilting. So after making these, yes, there is a day in my future when I will commit to a hand-quilted full sized quilt! But just not today.