Sunday, March 1, 2009

Handquilting

Here you see the tools I use for hand quilting. I use the spoon method using the TJ quick quilter underneath, I used to use a thimble, the old spoons from the op shop and then I discovered this tool.
I have also taken to using a rubber finger on my index finger to pull the needle through and reduce some hand strain. I've used all sorts of thimbles, this is not the best one I've used but it is the cheapest and doesn't wear out. My hoop is only a 14 inch because I have short arms
I am a self taught quilter because when I wanted to learn how to quilt in the traditional rocker method, nobody would teach me. I practically begged other quilters to teach me since there were no classes. I tell you, I would have walked on glass but no, nobody took me under their wing.
Now this sounds unusual for quilters not to share but I've come to understand why. I think they felt that the way they did it might not have been the "real way" and they didn't want to corrupt me. The answer was always, you have to learn your own way because everybody does it differently.
I got every book out from the guild library and proceeded to teach myself. I tried just using my finger underneath to feel the tip of the needle, I couldn't do that, I kept subconsciously moving my nail in the way to avoid the pain until I lost that fingernail.
I switched to a rounded thimble on the underneath finger and that was working. Of course I had read that 12 stitches to the inch, top and bottom was the goal to be a good quilter. I no longer believe that! I impose my own standards now to please myself!I have to say that the perseverance paid off, why did I persist when I could have given up? There were no long arm machine quilters, big stitch hadn't taken off, and machine quilting wasn't what I wanted to do.
I now have the pleasure that hand quilting gives me, the quiet moments of the needle moving in and out, creating the soft wrinkly texture of a quilt coming alive.

I can't beat the feel and look of a hand quilted item made by my own hands.

31 comments:

Shari said...

Your hand quilting is just beautiful Janet. Sorry it was just so hard to teach yourself and that no one would help. Bit different these days I think. And I love your Pies and Tarts. What a great BOM.

una quilter said...

Oh my! So beautiful. The last picture leaves me speechless... What an acheivement to be self taught. Bravo! Nothing beats hand quilting and hand quilted works of art, such as yours.

Lurline said...

I think self-taught is the RIGHT way to go - who says it is not the correct way and the way you feel comfortable is the best and the way you will achieve - you've certainly got it - beautiful!
Hugs - Lurline♥

Amy said...

YOU GO GIRLFRIEND.......Your quilting is gorgeous.I was shown for about 5 minutes and decided to do it my way..........I need to finish up my quilt, now you have coaxed me into it,lol!

Quilts And Pieces said...

Wow! I can't believe you taught yourself how to do that gorgeous quilting! I do know what you mean about people not thinking they do it right! I'm glad I asked someone who hand quilted but wasn't an expert. It got me started and now I"ve tweaked it for me. Course my hand quilting doesn't even come close to yours! But I do enjoy it!

Juliann in WA said...

Wow! This is lovely. I also taught myself t hand quilt but not the rocking method and I am always pokinig my fingers and mangling my thumb pad when I quilt. But I do love hand quilting too. My stitches are not as beautiful as yours but I am happy with what I do too. It is all about the experience don't you think?

Chookyblue...... said...

your quilting looks great.......wished I knew how to do it..........one day I will work it out..........

Sue said...

Excellent handquilting! I taught myself, too, but I can't get the hang of using anything but my fingers underneath. If I use anything else I can't tell if the stitch went through. I sometimes put a layer of clear nail polish on the finger underneath to protect it but I hope to find something that works better for me someday.

Carrie P. said...

Wowee!! Gazowee!! Your hand quilting is so awesome. I have taught my self from reading books too. I don't do it enough to get really little stitches but they are pretty even. Maybe one day I will be as good as you. I better get to practicing.

PAULE said...

Exquisite handquilting ! I also taught myself and use TJ's spoon. Great device !

Janet said...

Your handquilting is beautiful! I can't wait to see the quilt in the first picture finished. I am curious about your spoon method. I'm a self taught hand quilter too - one who needs lots of practice.

pamina said...

Your handquilting and your appliqué are beautiful !!!

Jan Richards said...

Your blog and your work is so special. I am in awe of your work.
You are so productive...do you ever
sleep? Keep up the beautiful work.
You really encourage me to try to do more.

Kathie said...

omg I need to come over and let you give me lessons!
I am hand quilting away the past few days and really enjoying it
it will be another week before I get my rhythm going again and my stitches consistent BUT its my quilt and I am happy with it!
your sttiches are amazing!!!!
I shoot for 9 stitches per inch!
how do you mark your feathers?
Kathie

Fiesta said...

God your quilting is spectacular.
Now you must share with me what you mean by spoon?
I used a thimble with the raised brass head and I love that one the best.
I also use Roxannes quilting needles and so far they have proven the best for me.
Also, I have been using the PVC pipe frame which is very gentle though I like your frame too.
Like you hand quilting is my preferred method.

ranette said...

OMG...Spectacular! I've handquilted very little, took me 15years to finished 1 baby quilt...lol, but lately I've felt the pull of handquilting.

Your work is just inspiring! Wish you could teach me.

Mary-Kay said...

Your hand quilting is beautiful. That is a job well done. I am going to hand quilt a redwork project of mine and am trying to brush up on my hand quilting. I have been reading "That Perfect Stitch" by Roxanne McElroy. There are so many things that help to make a perfect stitch and she explains all in detail. Not that your quilting isn't perfect but if you want to know how certain fabrics don't work for hand quilting give the book a lookover. I think it's a great book and the details and extreme this lady went to are amazing.

Karen said...

Your hand quilting is beautiful! I like your idea of the rubber finger to help pull the needle through. The spoon looks interesting, but I must feel the needle on my finger. I use the underside, tip, of my thumbnail. Sounds funny, but works great.

Jennifer said...

Oh, that is quilting. Once you have made things as beautiful as the ones in the photos, I can see how you would feel that nothing else is the same.

Fiesta said...

Janet me again. How do you decide to stitch tiny little swirls in the centers. I guess they are called fillers? Do you mark theses?

Darlene said...

Your hand quilting has taken my breath away - wow, wow, wow! It's absolutely stunning, Janet!!!

I'm a frustrated hand quilter - it's something I want to do very badly but have a simple fear of it. I took a one-on-one class from a friend and she kept slapping my hands because I wasn't holding everything like she does. Sigh - so my practice piece sits collecting dust. It's obviously something that requires a ton of practice.

Again, your work is incredible, Janet.

Dorothy said...

Janet, your quilting is amazing! I wish I had your patience.

tracey said...

*drool*

janet, have i told you lately how *amazing* you are?!? your quilts need to be in books, my dear.

btw...i decided that the wonky leaves weren't working for me after i saw yours. out they came and i have a whole pile of pieced ones made to go at it again. :o) you're inspiring, to say the very least!

tracey

julia said...

Hi Janet,
first, let me say: WOW! I'm impressed by your beautiful quilting...it's awesome! And the appliqué is exquisite...
I'm stil just a beginner regarding handquilting ~ also selftaught...can you recommend a book that you liked most?
I wish I'd lived near by, I would beg to be teached by you...in exchange I could bake you any cake you want...make ice cream & give you tons of fabric ;o) {can you say I'm desperate...}
Cheers, Julia

sforme said...

Your handquilting is awesome. To me there is nothing quite like a handquilted quilt, so soft and beautiful. It's so nice to see the art of handquilting being used.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Stunning!

I'm a self taught quilter too and I use the Aunt Becky tool which is very similar to your TJ tool...and like you I would never go back to the rocker method.

Marit said...

Your handquilting is beautiful, like your quilt! I am a beginner at handquilting, and love it. Thank you for sharing about your way of doing it, it is very inspiring. Love your blog! Thank you for your visit, Janet.

Anonymous said...

Hello from Kentucky! I'm a self-taught quilter, too. I agree with you when you say in your March 4th post that it is not the number of quilts produced but doing what you want. I think hand quilting is the most pleasurable part of the quilting experience and your handquilting is gorgeous. Hugs to you - kelley

Kellie said...

Janet what can I say ... really your quilting skills are second to none!!!!

Kerstin said...

Janet, I'm astonished at your perfekt quilting! I also like handquilting and taught myself. You're right, it is so relaxing.

RoseMary said...

I love your work. But there are still quilters out there, that don't want to share what they know. And there are quilters who don't want to take you under their wings, have no idea why. I always thought that was what quilting was all about. Thank You for sharing yours.