For whatever reason, there’s something about quilting by hand that strikes my interest. Choosing to create a quilt by hand, though, can be different from using a machine, and a few tips could help you in your early moments. Take it from someone who didn’t do too much studying before she tried to make a quilt! Learning the how-to before you dive in can make things easier and more polished!
Make sure you have the right tools, like good thread! Generic thread can have a tendency to bunch up, potentially leading to a wrestling match with the thread to get it sufficiently through the material. This, in turn, could lead to weakened or broken thread, loose thread from an unwanted knot, or so much frustration that you just cut the thread and start over (personal experience talking!). These are not good things!!! Save yourself the trouble, and pick quality thread!
Likewise, your choice of needle could matter. Since quilts have three layers of material, you should select a needle that can handle the workload, and if you choose poorly, you might have unnecessary struggles in working the needle through. A too-weak needle could give you a too-big headache! Basically, be sure to do your research to find the right needle for your specific purpose. For instance, as Rachel Daisy explains, if you choose large stitches or thicker thread, an embroidery needle might be your best bet. Researching your needle choice could save you trouble!
A fabric pencil can also come in handy since you can mark where you plan to make your stitches, Stitched in Color recommends. Planning can help in making sure things turn out the way you want, and if you don’t like your plan, it’s better to know before you have to start undoing stitches!
One other detail: Choose fabrics that are easy to work with for your first quilt. Silk and satin might look pretty, but they’re slippery enough to make sewing by hand more difficult. Cotton, on the other hand—that stays put!
Know your strategy! A standard process in quilting by hand is to tug the knot at the end of your thread into the material so that it’s hidden from view, which—if you learned sewing as I did in the beginning—might seem strange! Still, it’s a tried-and-true process, it seems! A couple of general tips for this process are to be sure that you're firm when you pull the knot into the quilt so that it passes the material barrier, but to have a softer touch once it's there to get it in place for you to start your stitches without coming completely bringing it through the other side of the quilt. Stitched in color also provides instructions on how to hide that thread away.
Even after the thread is secure within the material, there’s a specific motion that’s recommended for creating your stitches—to weave your needle through several stitches at once before you tug it through. For me, that method used to feel like a way of rushing your sewing since you’re taking it multiple stitches at a time, but it sounds less complex than it actually is! Why? Because you have to be precise if you want the stitches to be a certain size (not to mention the same size), which might negate the rush! Take your time in weaving that needle through for uniformity, and make sure your fabric is loose enough as you stitch! Otherwise, your stitches might look off-balance, as Stitched in Color states.
Know your purpose well enough to adapt! For example, I like patchwork quilts, so something as typical as a quilting loop doesn’t strike me as a necessary tool. But something that *is* important is having the corners of the blocks line up. What I’ve learned through investing time in a class and putting the notion to the test is that there are two things that can help me get my corners aligned: straight pins and peeking to make sure! Having my straight pin just a centimeter off could cause my corners to be off, and trust me when I say that’s a frustrating experience! The corner issue might not be something that’s relevant to all hand-quilting tasks, but I know my niche well enough to realize it’s an issue for me! Be sure you know yours as well so you can discover what little concepts would help to make your work more refined and polished!
All in all, with the right tools, knowledge, and adaptability, you could accomplish a polished final product for your quilting efforts!