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The Woes of a Beginning Hand Quilter posted: 1/5/2003
by Malia Webb Printable Page
Category: Quilting Method: Hand
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When I started hand quilting 4 years ago, my first project was a queen size bed quilt for my daughter. I put in high loft batting, bought a $3 hoop from JoAnn's, and began the task, using whatever needle I had on hand. To my credit, I did have sense enough to buy quilting thread, even though it was cheap stuff.

After I finally got the high loft sandwich basted, which took me eight hours alone, I put it in the hoop. The hoop broke. So much for the $3 Joann hoop. I taped the hoop to hold it together. Duct tape is a wonderful thing.

I began the task. I had marked the top with a pencil. Too bad I used a school pencil. I remarked the top with pencil as I went along. I made sure the marks were going to be there a while. I used two small stencils, omitting a few of the lines as it was a too "foo-foo" for me, meaning it had a lot of little bitty curves, and I wasn't going to do curves if I could avoid it. I figured out that much before I began. Too bad I didn't figure out more than that, like the pencil.

There's a property in high loft polyester batting that I failed to note. The more you have to quilt through means the bigger the stitch will be, and the more uneven. Also, the quilt is more apt to have bubbles and uneven stretched areas, which are not obvious when you look at it, but becomes something you have to deal with as you go along, pinning here and there to keep the fabric from shifting around. Hum. Guess high loft batting isn't that great after all.

Well, I had an old needlepoint floor frame from my needlepoint days. It is fully adjustable - for needlepoint. I thought I could pin the quilt to the frame and have a better area on which to quilt. The not so simple act of pinning it onto the frame meant that I was out in la la land when I came up with that idea. Live and learn!

Three months later, I finished the hand quilting. The hoop had to be replaced with a better one. More money spent. The thread kept breaking, so I spent more money on thread. I purchased different needles for the purpose, as I went through them like crazy. Bought a Roxanne thimble (the only smart move I made). More money. At least the Roxanne thimble was money well spent.

I learned several things:
Low loft is better. Buy good between needles. Don't skimp on the hoop or frame. Protect your hands from repetitive stress. And lastly, read a book on the subject! What I spent on all the bad products would have easily paid for the book twice over.

You get what you pay for....

2003 Malia Webb

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