Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Hand Quilting a Fused Quilt. . .

I received a nearly urgent email today:

I love fusing and think it's a great technique. However, does it translate well for hand quilting? I haven't tried it yet, but have others that you know of? Any tips? My machine quilting's just not there yet and I want to get going on some projects.
Signed, Lovely Reader

Dear Lovely,
Yes, hand quilting is quite a respectable substitute for machine quilting a fused quilt. I do it all the time, and not just for small works. I have a trick, wouldn't you know it, and I am happy to share it with you.
I fuse the top to decent batting, (Hobbs Heirloom Cotton 80/20 is my favorite) and then I use either pearl cotton or embroidery floss to hand quilt it. ( Don't ask what size needle, I lost the package. I just found the needle that fit the thread).
I only quilt through the top and the batting, as I have not sewn on the backing fabric yet.

click to enlarge

This small quilt is an example of the hand quilting that I use. Notice, when you enlarge the picture, that the quilting is not invisible teeny weeny stitches. If I am going to bother to hand quilt something I want it to be visible.

I have even hand quilted through fused silk charmeuse, a very very tightly woven fabric.

Sometimes the hand quilting stitches are somewhat akin to embroidery, of the reckless variety.

And sometimes the quilting makes the quilt more interesting because it adds a linear element that is not a straight line.

This is a detail of a very large quilt, which is hand quilted first and then machine quilted after the sandwich is made. I apply the backing fabric like sewing a pillowcase and afterward I add bit of machine quilting to hold all the layers together. Since the top is fused and hand quilted already, it is easy to just machine stitch a few places to finish the job. Of course I am only making wall art here. Nothing that will be laundered.

This is hand quilting and /or embroidery used as quilting. Notice the machine work. This is strictly the simplest stitch in the ditch stuff, feed dogs up, not free motion. Any one should be able to do this easily.
So to try this out, make a small fused quilt top and stitch it with thread you can easily see, and a needle that is comfortable to use. Remember, just the top and the batting will be layered and stitched. I like a thimble or a finger cot sometimes to hold the needle while I ease it through.
I never ever do anything that is hard. I am way too lazy, so always assume there must be an easy way to do it.


  1. These are FABULOUS pieces, as always Melody. I am really tempted to try hand quilting on some pieces, especially since you make it sound so easy. I may even quilt through the back!

  2. Thanks for the examples and the explanation of your process. It was something I'd been wondering about and this definitely answered my questions!

  3. More lovely work for us to enjoy...and I am now tempted to try hand quilting again. No teeny weeny impossible stitches per inch.
    Great lesson! Jen

  4. Interesting...still being new to all of this I never considered combining the quilting with embroidery thread and making it stand out...great idea!

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