According to many quilting enthusiasts, the right way to sew a quilt is always by hand. If you’re interested in learning how to hand quilt, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll even teach you how to hand quilt with no hoop, and it’s all much easier than you might think.
Sometimes hand quilting without a hoop is a little easier, especially if you’re designing something large by block or something very small. It’s always good to know how to hand quilt with no hoop because many times it’s the easiest way and causes less stress on your hands.
Does Hand Quilting Have to Be Complicated?
When quilters hear “hand quilting,” it can be intimidating to them. Add to that “hand quilting without a hoop,” and many of them simply fear the task. Nevertheless, hand quilting without a hoop doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating.
In many ways, a hoop can be thought of as an extra set of hands that reduces stress and allows your hands to experience much less pain. It’s a hands-free way to quilt and allows you to concentrate just on your stitches and nothing else.
The thing is that if you’re sewing something very small or very large, the hoop might not even be necessary. In fact, a hoop can cause more stress instead of less stress in certain situations. If you’re wondering how this happens, let’s delve right into how to hand quilt when you’ve decided not to use a hoop.
How to Hand Quilt with No Hoop: The Basics
When hand quilting without a hoop, make sure that you use more than one layer of fabric and make sure that they are always against one another. One hand will remain underneath your quilt so it can help guide your needle, while your second hand will be on top of the fabric. Make sure that the quilting fabric is always firm and use the first hand to support the fabric, much as if the hoop would if it was there.
When you’re stitching the fabric, make sure that the knot is pulled through and ends up on the quilt’s back section. Overall, quilting without a hoop means that you won’t need nearly as many materials. After all, these materials and accessories weren’t available one hundred years ago but quilters still were able to create beautiful works of art.
Here are a few required materials you’ll be using when you’re learning how to sew a quilt by hand without a hoop:
- Quilting ruler to make sure that edges and angle lines are cut accurately
- Quilting needles that you deem most comfortable (keep in mind there are needles made specifically for hand quilting); many experts recommend a size 8, 9, or 10
- Thread, preferably the type made out of 100% cotton
- Scissors for cutting, but make sure that they are small and light
- Marking tools, which can include pencils and even washable markers
When you thread your needle, you’ll want to make sure that it is 18” to 24” long so that you have enough thread to last a while but not so much that it starts to tangle. Tie a knot at the end of your thread and decide where you want the quilt to begin. Once you do this, pull both the thread and your needle into the back of the quilt at that spot.
Next, give the knot a little tug and bring it through your supporting fabric. You’ll want to make sure that the knot can’t be seen when you look at the top part of the material.
Once you begin stitching, make sure that the stitches are even and small. If you’re a beginner, you may sew larger stitches, which might be unavoidable if you’re inexperienced at quilting. As you gain more experience, however, your stitches should automatically look smaller and more even.
And if you’re curious about the size of your stitches, consider this: most experts recommend six stitches per inch when you’re just learning to quilt. Once you get better at it, you can try for 12 stitches per inch. Also, always use the hand underneath the quilt to push any loose strands of fabric back onto your needle.
If you load up the stitches on the needle, this can prevent the pulling of all of your thread too far up as you stitch. In fact, if you load two or three (or more) stitches onto your needle before you pull up, it can give you a little more control over your stitches as you sew.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you use the same amount of tension all throughout your quilting thread. This is yet another skill that will get easier the more you practice.
How to Hand Quilt When You Don’t Have a Hoop: How Long Does It Take?
Hand quilting almost always takes longer than quilting with a sewing machine, but there are a lot of variables that go into the process and affect how long it takes. If you’re creating a quilt that isn’t too large, you may be able to have it completed in a day or two. Much larger quilts, however, may take you months.
One of the things that affects the length of time it takes for you to complete your project is the type of stitch you use, as well as the patterns you choose. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular stitches for quilters.
Running stitches aren’t difficult. Begin by placing your needle into the fabric in the back and bringing up thru the fabric in the front. Continue to bring the needle up and down the fabric at a consistent distance leaving spaces between your stitches. To make the process go faster, you can make multiply stitches at one time. Try and make the stitches the same length as you continue to sew.
Take one hand and put it underneath the layer at the bottom. Use your second hand to sew from the area on top. With the hand underneath, just take the needle and return it to the top layer, then use a motion that is similar to rocking back and forth. If you complete this pattern four or five times and then pull the thread all the way out, you’ll see what a great-looking stitch it is.
With a rocking stitch, it always looks better when you use a more dense needle, but do not loop or cross your thread while you’re stitching.
Quilter’s knots are used at either the beginning or the end of the stitch pattern. Start by wrapping your thread around your needle a total of three times, then pull these three hoops over the yarn in a downward motion. This will create the knot.
When you’re done with that, go ahead and cut any excess thread and start stitching at the center of your quilt. Make sure that you pull the knot towards the back of your quilt when pulling it through your fabric.
As you can see, learning how to hand quilt does not have to be complicated. In fact, once you practice a little and get more used to it, it’s really quite simple.
What About Using a Hoop?
While learning how to hand quilt with no hoop is a useful skill, you’ll likely be using a hoop most of the time. Many of the steps mentioned earlier will still apply when you’re using a hoop, so let’s take a look at this method of quilting by hand.
One important factor you’ll want to keep in mind about quilting hoops, also called frames, is that they cannot be disassembled until you’ve completed the quilting. This means that you need to be very careful about how you set up the hoop because you can’t stop in the middle of your stitching and reassemble it.
You’ll likely notice one more thing about quilting hoops: they are deeper than the hoops you use for embroidery. Why? Because the quilt layers are a lot thicker than the fabric you use when you embroider.
While you’re stitching, don’t forget to hide the tail of your thread in between the different layers of your quilt. If you do this, there will be no knots showing through either the front or the back of your quilt, which looks messy and unprofessional.
In addition to these things, keep in mind that when you place your fabric in your loop, it should never be as tight as it is when you embroider. Simply put, the fabric should be able to move up and down as you work. In other words, it needs a certain amount of “give” for the stitching to look good.
Useful Tips for Hand Sewing a Quilt
Now that you’ve learned some of the basics regarding how to hand quilt, let’s go over some tips that can make the process a lot easier on you. Here are a few of them:
- Remember that hand quilting always gives the project a “softer” finish that you can’t get from a quilting sewing machine
- Always keep one hand under your fabric and one hand above it at all times; you’ll use your bottom hand to steady the fabric and your top hand to maneuver your needle
- When buying batting, try to buy some that doesn’t have scrim and that is made out of either cotton, silk, wool, or bamboo; these are much easier to use when you’re hand sewing
- Remember that thicker, longer needles are often preferred by traditional quilters, but you may find that you prefer another type
- If you’re unsure which type of thimble to buy, many experts recommend the leather ones because they eventually mold to the shape of your finger and come in numerous sizes
- If you choose cotton thread made specifically for hand quilting, it will have a coating that makes it easier to pull it through the different layers
Are There Advantages to Making a Quilt by Hand?
While making a quilt by hand may seem tedious and unnecessary, it really does offer numerous advantages. Some of these advantages include:
- It gives you better control over what you’re sewing and how the stitches turn out
- It is “portable” and allows you to do it anywhere
- It can be very relaxing because of its slow pace
- It can be used with a variety of fabric types
- It is reliable and doesn’t depend on the sewing machine not having issues
- It is much less expensive than using a machine
While quilting bees seem as if they are a thing of the past, the truth is that they are still around and as popular as ever. They can be a great way to make new friends and share a common interest with others, and besides, it’s fun to show off your latest masterpiece to other people!
Learning how to hand quilt with no hoop or even with one is a great hobby to have. You have access to hundreds of beautiful patterns, and when you get to the advanced level, you can even create some patterns of your own.
Hand quilting also leaves you with a huge sense of accomplishment once your project is complete. With hand quilting, no two projects are exactly alike, and what’s even better, you can use the skill to make other items besides quilts, including pillow cases, pillows, and even Christmas ornaments.
No one has ever regretted learning how to quilt, and when you decide to do it by hand, it leaves you with advantages that you just don’t get using a sewing machine.