If you're itching to give hand quilting a go, and don't know where to start, I highly recommend this video by Sarah Fielke - it's how I learnt. I watched it again and again until I was happy with my own technique.
I going to try to answer some of your questions about hand quilting here and in future posts. My next post will be about the designs I choose to hand quilt on my quilts, but today's post is about threads, needles, thimbles and hoops.
Many of you have asked me what threads I use for big stitch hand quilting. The answer is - a variety. I have many colours, thicknesses and types of threads to chose from. Each quilt needs something different, and I try to make each quilt different too.
1. DCM Perle 8.
This thread is great. It's probably the most cost effect option in my collection and comes in a wide range of colours. It's what I used for my first few years of big stitch hand quilting. Here's a tip - when you get near the end of the ball and the card with the label starts to fall off, write the number inside the reel with a permanent marker. Then you can buy a new ball without trying to colour match.
2. Sue Spargo Eleganza perle 8 by Wonderfil
These threads are gorgeous. Sue Spargo developed the colours in conjunction with Wonderfil. I used these threads for some of the embroidery on my #instastitchwithSue mystery quilt - see here. These threads are the same thickness as the DMC perle 8 above, and can be used for hand quilting. However, they are justifiably more expensive than DMC perle 8.
3. Wonderfil Razzle and Dazzle
Wonderfil have made some gorgeous shiny rayon threads that I like to use.
Razzle is perle 8 thickness and it comes in plain or variegated colours (top 5 threads in photo above). It's quite difficult to control because it's rayon and therefore slippery, but it does give a lovely result as a special feature. Remember to keep your thread length quite short because it does fray easily. I wouldn't attempt to quilt a whole quilt with it.
Dazzle is also perle 8 thickness and it has a built in sparkle! The great thing about this thread is that the sparkle is embedded and doesn't get in the way as you pull the needle through the fabric. I have quilted a whole dark quilt in a combination of Razzle and Dazzle and it was fine to use.
4. Valdani 12wt and 8wt
Some hand quilters just love Valdani and use it all the time. It's very expensive in New Zealand, and not many shops stock it, so I only have one tray of 12wt that I bought online. I like using it, but I'm not rushing out to buy more colours. I find that the 12wt is like a skinnier version of DMC perle 8. (Unlike DMC perle 12 which doesn't feel like a skinnier version of DMC perle 8.)
5. Aurifil 12wt and 28wt
I've saved the best til last! I have become an Aurifil convert over the past year. I love the range of colours available and the different thread weights.
I have their thread chart and can lay a true sample of the thread against fabrics to choose the right colours to order. I started buying the 28wt to hand quilt my la passacaglia. I knew perle 8 was going to be too thick for the tiny pieces in that quilt, so wanted a thinner thread that came in a range of colours.
Aurifil's 28wt is very strong, and similar to Gutermann quilting cotton.See the bottom two threads in the photo above - Gutermann 40 quilting cotton (black) against Aurifil 28wt (blue).
Aurifil's 12wt (teal thread on red spool above) is the same thickness as Valdani 12wt (pink ball).
I do like Aurifil's 12wt now and use it for most of my hand quilting.
top to bottom:
Wonderfil Razzle and Dazzle - these are the thickest. Although the state they are equivalent to perle 8, I find them to be fractionally thicker.
DMC perle 8 and Sue Spargo Eleganza - these are both the same thickness - perle 8.
Valdani perle 12 and Aurifil 12wt - these are both the same thickness - perle 12 (thinner than perle 8).
Aurifil 28wt - thin and strong
Gutermann 40 wt - thinnest and what I use for sections that won't be seen.
See the difference? click on the photo to enlarge it if necessary.
So that's the threads I use. I hope that was helpful.
As for other hand quilting necessities:
I use a Clover open sided thimble on the third finger of my top hand. I don't have anything on my other hand, and never seem to end up with callouses.
I use Clover hera markers and my quilting ruler to mark my quilting lines (or sometimes a chalk pencil).
I use John James Chenille needles number 24 because they have big eyes to accommodate the thick threads, and very sharp points. I use them for all the threads above because I'm used to them and like them.
I usually have 4 needles threaded at once so I can quilt an area before I have to move my hoop to a new area.
I have a large round, wooden quilting hoop, and I always use it when I'm hand quilting. It keeps my tension nice and even. My hoop is 18" diameter, and I wouldn't recommend going any larger unless you have very long forearms.
I hope that covers everything. If not, leave me a question below and I'll try to answer your question next time.