Monday, July 23, 2007


HANDQUILTING

If you're a handquilter you now have my utmost respect! I love to do a variety of handwork i.e. hand applique, stitchery/embroidery, handsewing bindings, etc. I've had a very strong desire to learn how to handquilt so a friend said that she'd very happy to teach me one-on-one; be my mentor. We arranged to meet this morning at 10:00am at a local quilt store and off I went.
I'm not sure that handquilting and I will ever get along! First of all you must use a thimble - I hate thimbles - I don't use one, don't like to use one and own only one cheapie. Did I mention that I hate thimbles!

We started out talking about needles, thread and then the dreaded thimble. She brought one I was able to borrow from her to work on this thing called HANDQUILTING. What was I thinking???? Someone should have stopped me! OK, so I don't use a thimble, therefore I'm not comfortable wearing a thimble and now I must learn how to do at least one stitch.
:-( Wasn't happening!

I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't hold the hoop and do all the finger aerobics I was suppose to do, I was very stressed and frustrated! And, quite frankly near tears! (I've been very weepy lately - sigh!)

No, I'm not going to give up! In fact, she gave me some 'homework' to do and we plan to meet again next Monday!

So, if you're a handquilter, I mean it when I say you have my utmost respect!
I appreciate your visit!
TTFN

27 comments:

Lisa D. said...

I am in total agreement, Darlene. Hand quilting is NOT my thing, and neither is wearing a thimble. I have found these goat skin leather thimbles to be extremely comfortable. Although I don't hand quilt, I wear one when I'm stitching on a binding. http://www.quiltersresource.com/detailview.jsp?item_id=7943-M

Nadine said...

HELLO, HELLO, my dear friend !
Just came back from vacations two hours ago, and my first visit is to you ! I've got soooo many things to tell you (will e-mail soon), but in the meantime just want to tell you NOT to give up with handquilting : it's a bit "tricky" in the beginning, but I'm sure you'll soon master it !

A BIG, BIG ((HUG)) to you, from NADINE (who missed you very much) !

Libby said...

Now, now, now . . . I, too, was a CONFIRMED non-thimble wearer. Had been such since childhood when Mom and Grandma begged me to use one. *bah* Thimbles are for sissies - and that I surely am not *s*
Like Lisa, I started out with a goat skin thimble, graduated to a black leather model (which I now use when I applique) and then began using a metal thimble complete with ridge-y things and dimples.
Don't give up yet - just work on being comfortable with one aspect at a time - try different needles, threads and thimbles. Ultimately you will find the combo that works for you.

Meredith said...

Do not give up. I felt the same way and now I love it. Just know that it takes time. Over time you will find what works best for you. I use a thimble that is metal. You may be willing to use a thimble once your finger starts bleeding.LOL.

Sew Unique Creations said...

Don't give up! I can't stand thimbles either, but I found my favorite by trying several different ones. I now use a small leather thimble that is very flexible and doesn't feel like you are wearing a "hunk of metal". Your quilting stitch and rhythm will come in time and all will get better!

Belvie said...

Like everyone else said....Don't give up!! When I first started sewing I didn't use one, but when I started taking home economics classes in junior high, the teacher made us. We whined and complained, but she still made us. She told us if we would put the thimble on at home and wear it all day, we would get use to it. So, I did and she was right! Now I can't pick up a needle without also picking up the thimble.

Bren said...

Belvie is right. Wear that thimble all day. You will get so you don't even feel it. I wear the same one you had in the picture a real cheapy and I forget to take it off if I have to set my quilting down for a minute because it feels like an extension of me. I did use the goat skin thimbles but because I quilt with the top of the thimble I went through them like crazy. Hang in there you will be glad you did.

Leah S said...

I've taken a stab at handquilting (ow... bad pun) and I never use a thimble. I don't like it, nobody told me I couldn't use a thimble... I don't! :)

Elaine Adair said...

You DO get used to a thimble. I like occasional hand quilting ... it is so peaceful, gentle, and yet, you're DOING something, sitting next to DH, keeping him company, while he is switching channels on the TV!!!

Bleeding on a quilt from NOT using a thimble is NOT a good thing. Do you do binding by hand? Maybe you need a better fitting thimble. I have two, depending on how 'fat' my finger is that time of day.

Don't give up - hand quilting is a lovely thing.

Sharon said...

Darlene, I've done just a little hand quilting. It's not my thing really. I only do small projects. I had a hard time with the thimble too but you do get used to it.You just have to keep practicing and then all of a sudden it will come to you.

Nan said...

Oh my, Darlene! I admire your desire to learn to handquilt. I have always felt a handquilter was a breed apart, in that they seem to have so much more patience than most quilters today. I am all for time-saving methods such as rotary-cutting, machine quilting, jelly rolls and charm squares, and I don't happen to think that makes me a so-so quilter, just a faster one! I have done some handquilting - or I should say, have attempted to do handquilting, and people have liked my efforts, but it's not something I want to spend my time doing, obviously. The only handstitching I do these days is embroidery and counted cross-stitch!
As for using a thimble, I have one thimble that is my favorite, probably because it belonged to my mom, who died many years ago. I don't wear it very often, because I don't really like the feel of it, but I can't hand-sew quilt binding without it now!
Don't give up on your worthy quest, my friend, you will do well, I am sure! Just think how proud you will be when you've mastered the technique!

Della said...

I am a hand-quilter. It took me a very long time to "learn" to use a thimble. My mom would tell me to put it on my middle finger...fine, then I used a different finger. As time passed I found for hand sewing, a thimble on my middle finger works best, however for hand quilting a thimble on my index finger works best for me. Having said all that, just try your thimble on a different finger and use what is comfortable. And the best of luck to you dear.

atet said...

Ok, this is not inspiring me on my quest to learn how to handquilt this summer. Aarrghhhh.

Helen in the UK said...

Don't give up without trying other thimble types. Like others have mentioned, a leather thimble works well for me. Much less bulky and 'alien' feeling :)

QuiltingFitzy said...

Roxanne thimbles are supposed to be returnable if the fit isn't right. I've never tested the theory, I love mine. I do wear it a little cocked on my finger tho, I tend to quilt with the side of my finger more than I realized.

I never used a hoop, I didn't want one more thing in the way between me and the fabric. It was just too cumbersome. If you baste really well, you can get away without it.

Just don't give up, you'll get there, your own way, your own time!

Carole said...

I wouldn't give up. As I say to dd "you can do anything you set your mind to" You might want to try the Roxane thimble. It merely covers the ball of your finger. Perhaps shopping for a special hand quilting thimble will help with the process. I have a thimble that I purchased for HQ. Wendy also doesn't use a thimble. I wonder if she hand quilts. Good luck and remember what I say to dd. ;o) Keep well my friend!

Thimbleanna said...

What an interesting post -- and fun to read through the comments! YOU have my respect if you can sew without a thimble! I can't even touch a needle without having my thimble -- it just feels too awkward to me. Isn't it funny how we all have our own little habits? If I tried to quilt without a thimble like Leah, my fingers would be hamburger. Like everyone else said, it's just awkward at first, but soon it will be just an extension of your finger!

Wendy said...

I never learned how to use a thimble properly so I don't like using a thimble. They feel funny and awkward on my finger, which makes it slow for me to hand quilt. If I have to use a thimble (which it's very often) I grab a leather one. I don't hand quilt but I did try and made a pillow top which I'm happy with how it turn out. Back to the machine for me!

Judy said...

Well I am so sorry you had trouble, but usually everyone does the first time. Now I can't use a thimble like you showed because it has NO dimples on the sides. Lots of people use the tip of the thimble and that works for them, but not me. I can't bend my finger that much...it kills my hand after 5 minutes. SO I bought an adjustable Clover thimble that has tons of very deep dimples and it was like $3. So I quilt with my middle finger straight and use the fat pad of my finger.

It just takes finding the right pieces and practice. See if JoANn's has the clover thimble if your hands are giving you trouble or using the tip isn't working. Try another needle. I was trying ones that were too long at first and just keep trying. Most of all...remember that you don't have to hand quilt if you don't like it!! It's your choice!

Suze said...

I know exactly what you mean about getting comfortable. I sure do hope I get it figured out one day.

Knot Garden said...

It does take time to get used to a thimble. The reason I use one is because I found it impossible to hand quilt without one. I use the flexible leather kind which allows you to retain some "feel" of the needle. You do get used to it and it really does make hand quilting easier. Give yourself time, and good luck with it!

Nicole said...

I actually like handquilting, and don't do it nearly enough. I find that when I get into it, at first everything feels really clumsy, then with practice, it feels more comfortable and my stitches start looking more even and smaller. I also use a thimble by Roxanne, that is kind of pricey, but comes in tons of sizes,and has a cutout for your fingernail!

Karen said...

I'm the 23rd comment on handquilting! You sound like me, I can barely do it. When I put the thimble or thimble-creation on the finger that is doing the pushing, then my brain tells other fingers that are not hampered by thimbles to do the pushing. My stitches are the size of pencils.

Cadence said...

When I was in High School,I learned about traditional African quilting culture,our teacher wanted every student bring back the most likeness piece of cloth we going to make a quilt!
That was such a fun time quilting with friendship.Time flies

Debi said...

I recently learned how to hand quilt and was instructed on using a thimble. Just like you, I hate thimbles. The lady at my LQS, gave me a ThimblePack, self adhesive metal thimble. I love it and have been using them ever since.

Kairle said...

When my mother was in HS her home ec teacher told the students that she would give them extra credit if the learned to use a thimble. That was motivation enough for her. lol!

I love my Roxanne thimble. It's almost like wearing a piece of jewelry. And I sometime forget to take it off!

Patti said...

I know you will have heard it many times - but practice does make it easier. Practice, practice, practice! I've taught many hand quilting classes, and every one of my students experienced exactly what you did. Remember, applique wasn't easy for you to start with either. You can do this. Just keep at it, and one magical day you'll realize it is getting much easier and you are really enjoying the process!

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