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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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Traveling with the Needle

If you finish a line of hand quilting with plenty of thread still in your needle, you may want to move to another area without knotting your thread and starting again. The technique for doing so is referred to as “traveling,” which is often used for continuous quilting designs such as feathers. If the distance you need to travel is more than 1" to 2", however, it is best to knot the thread and begin again.

1. When you finish a line of stitching, run the needle point through the quilt top and batting only, moving it toward the next quilting area. If you are using a contrasting thread color that is darker than the quilt top, be sure to slide the needle deep into the batting. Bring the needle tip out about half a needle length away. Do not pull the needle all the way through unless you have reached the point where the next stitching line is to begin.

2. If you have not reached the starting point of the next stitching line, grasp the tip of the needle only. Leaving the eye of the needle between the quilt layers, pivot the needle eye toward the point where the next stitching line will begin.

3. With a thimble on your middle finger, push the tip of the needle, eye first, toward the next starting point. Bring the eye of the needle out at the starting point, pulling out the entire needle, eye first. Begin stitching where desired.

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