Hand Quilting: that joyful process surges in popularity

SOME FOLKS believe modern quilters don’t hand sew. This is not surprising since “modern” usually means what’s popular at the moment such as the latest technology. In the case of quilters, that means long arm machines. But, hand sewing is modern because it is gaining popularity among quilters at this moment.

I JUST READ an article from the National Quilting Association titled, “Handwork makes a Comeback.” The article includes a quilt by Chawne Kimber: Wedowee. I’m a huge fan. The main point of the article was that modern handwork is innovative with “big stitching” and combining hand stitching with machine stitching.

I love hand quilting.  I use some BASIC TOOLS:  hand sewing essentials

  • Thread: 40 weight Prescencia for small stitching and 8 weight perle cotton from the same brand for big stitching.
  • Needles: Size 9 and 11 made by John James for small stitching and a variety of needles from the Big Stitch Quilting Needle Pack made by Colonial Needle Company for big stitching.
  • Notions: Small snips for clipping; sometimes bees wax, and safety pins for basting.

I use a thimble as well. I have used it for longer than I can remember. It’s essential to me.

butterfly appliqueI buy thread and notions from Hand Quilting Supplies, an online shop.

Tim Latimer is also a resource. He is an amazing hand quilter and has video tutorials. (here and here)

Quilting Adventures has a Back to Basics series, and there’s one on:

Be modern and try some hand sewing,


I’m linking up with Late Night Quilter’s Tips and Tutorials Tuesdays, where incidentally she has a video on making thread knots.

Hexagon Applique Tutorial

In my Random Perfection quilt I used hexagon applique. To avoid the problems I encountered where the fabric came out,  you will need to make sure some of the folded fabric comes underneath each stitch line. Also, I didn’t use Aleene’s Fabric Fusion glue which is a permanent glue. That may explain why the folds came out as well.

First I’m going to show you how to make a perfect hexagon applique. Then I’ll show you the “more fabric” way which will result in all the edges staying inside the hexagon applique even without permanent glue.

There is more than one way to make a perfect hexagon for applique and English paper piecing, but I like this method.


Cut a strip 2 5/8

Cut a strip 2 5/8″

Cut across the strip 2 1/2

Cut across the strip 2 1/2″. The piece is now 2 1/2″ by 2 5/8″.

Add a dap of glue to your paper hexagon (this is 7/8

Add a dab of glue to your paper hexagon (this is a 7/8″ hexagon)

Trim around the edges. There should be at least 3/8

Trim around the edges. There should be at least 3/8″ from the edge of the paper to the edge of the fabric.

Spray regular starch into lid of starch and apply a small amount around the edges.

Spray regular starch into lid of starch and apply a small amount around the edges of the hexagon with a brush.

Press the hexagon with an iron.

Press the hexagon with an iron.

This is a perfect hexagon applique. You can remove the paper and there’s no basting strings to remove.


Use more fabric and don’t trim the fabric into a hexagon. Instead, do this:

Dab a little glue on paper and attach to the fabric. Do not trim into a hexagon shape. Press.

Dab a little glue on the paper and attach to the fabric. Do not trim into a hexagon shape. Press.

hexagons more fabric


  • Make a few hexagons with the “more fabric” method and apply them using glue. I used Appli-Glue (it washes out).
  • Draw lines 7/8″ apart.
  • Space the hexies 1/4″ apart (1/8″ inch from the hexie edge to the drawn line)

hexagons experiment measuring

  • Make a quilt sandwich:

hexagon quilt sandwich

  • Stitch straight across the points. It takes three passes to get all the points.

hexagon stitch hexagons quilted

  • Square up and bind.
  • Wash it.

What happened?

hexagon experiment closeup

hexagon experiment

Success! None of the ends came out.

Taking a break from experimenting,


I’m linking up with The Late Night Quilters’ Tips and Tutorials Tuesdays.

Random Perfection

Birds fly.

Over the Rainbow, why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?

                                         —Over the Rainbow, Lyric by E.Y. Harburg, Music by Harold Arlen

One of my goals for 2015 was to finish my yellow hexagon applique quilt. The yellow hexagons led me to thinking about The Wizard of Oz musical which I saw last summer and the song, Over the Rainbow. I took the words and used hexagons as musical notes.

I hand appliqued the “notes” and added green and orange hexagons to my rainbow. I machine stitched them using the method I saw on Modern Handcraft.

I added orange for the binding and it looked fabulous.

  • Then I washed it!

why ohwhy can't II noticed that sides of the appliques were not stitched down and were coming out. This was caused by the way I folded the hexies. See in this photo the way the fabric was folded straight down. The stitching across the point of the hexagon did not catch the fabric. Some of the fabric caught and some didn’t.

yellow hexies up closeI fixed some of them. But, man, what a chore.

I’m looking at it and wondering, “why can’t I just embrace this?”

I took off all the hexies which weren’t nailed down — 303 hexies to be exact.

303 hexies

And, I loved the outcome:

random perfection

I would not have placed these hexies in this configuration, but it feels better than the pre-washed quilt. That’s Random Perfection.

Finding home in the random,