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Hand Quilting Basics

Hand quilting results in dashed lines of stitches and a quilt with a soft look. Methods of hand quilting vary as much as quilters do. Adapt the techniques that follow to suit your style. 

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Hand-Quilting Running Stitch

For this classic hand-quilting stitch, wear a thimble on the middle finger of your stitching hand.

1. Hold the needle between your thumb and index finger. Place your other hand under the quilt, with the tip of your index finger on the spot where the needle will come through the quilt back. With the needle angled slightly away from you, push the needle through the layers until you feel the tip of the needle beneath the quilt.

2. When you feel the needle tip, slide your finger underneath the quilt toward you, pushing up against the side of the needle to help return it to the top. At the same time, with your top hand roll the needle away from you. Gently push the needle forward and up through the quilt layers until the amount of the needle showing is the length you want the next stitch to be.

3. Lift the eye of the needle with your thimble finger, positioning your thumb just ahead of the stitching. Rock the eye of the needle upward until the needle is almost perpendicular to the quilt top and the tip is in the fabric. Push down on the needle until you feel the tip beneath the quilt again.

4. As in Step 2, push the needle tip with your underneath finger and roll the eye of the needle down and forward with your thimble finger to return the needle tip to the top.

5. Repeat this rock-and-roll motion until the needle is full.

6. Pull the needle away from the quilt top until the stitches are snug.


Remember that uniformity in stitch length is more important than the actual length of individual stitches.

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