Attach Applique Border Before or After Applique is Complete?

Published on Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Hello,

I am currently adapting your wonderful floral 10″ border (from Reflections of Baltimore) to use with four 16 inch blocks designed by Gabrielle Swain.  My question is this:  Do I applique the borders BEFORE attaching them to the blocks, or AFTER I applique? 

 If doing the applique first, how do I ensure the borders will not stretch and become distorted?

 Thank you for any input. 

Marilou

Reflections of Baltimore Quilt

Hello Marilou. Good luck on that border. It was a VERY long time ago when I made it and I remember it took what seemed like forever to stitch. You are a girl after my own heart to undertake such a project…I think there a very few of us that undertake long projects these days!

Anyway, at the time I stitched that border, I had the same concerns you have voiced and so I appliqued the border after it was attached to the quilt center. If I remember correctly, it was cumbersome, but not impossible to
do.

These days I applique my borders separately and add them at the end. When I plan applique borders I purposefully plan the border so that in the place where I join the border pieces, I can stretch or reduce the fit if needed, i.e., a stem that can be lengthened or shortened to adjust the fit, or place a flower, or other large piece, over the joining seam.

Border of Autumn Fair Quilt. The seam joins where the striped background fabric changes direction....near the grapes and lemons.

 

I have not looked at the Reflections border pattern in a long time, but I believe the design changes often enough that you should be able to adapt it as I described.

Good luck! I would like to see your finished work!
Jeana


Planning an Applique Border for a Pieced Quilt

Published on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Dear Jeana,
 Your comments in the “Sewing Room” portion of your website are both  thoughtful and valuable.  Like the appliqué directions in your book, they are clear, practical, and artistic. Thank you.
 
 My favorite quilts are those that combine piecing and appliqué.  I would  like to add an appliquéd border to a quilt center made of three inch blue and white basket blocks ( with a few bright yellow added to keep its maker from dozing off) .  Are there proportion guidelines I should be following?  Given the small size of the baskets, are there motifs you might suggest?  I usually have the border imagined before the quilt center, but this time I am stumped.

Again, thank you for sharing your talent and your knowledge.
 
Gratefully,  Toni B

Hello Toni. Thanks for asking. Actually it took me a long time to figure out the answer to your question and I am happy to share.

For me the question was “How do you make an appliqué border look right on a pieced quilt?” I had seen (and made, see quilt shown below) appliqué borders on pieced quilts that did not blend leaving the appliqué border—which had probably taken a very long time to make–looking like an afterthought instead of enhancing and balancing the quilt center.

The answer is very simple. It is simply matching the “density” of the appliqué pieces in the border with the “density” of the size of the major, or largest, patchwork piece(s) in the quilt center.

 In your case, a pieced basket has a fairly large half square that defines the “basket” shape. I would plan a border motif that is approximately the same size or “density” of that large basket half square.

 For example, an appliquéd five-point star, or any flower shape, that is approximately the same size as the basket’s half square triangle would balance the weight of the border with the weight or the density of the piecing.

 However, if you choose a thin vine with smallish leaves and berries as a border, they would not carry enough weight/density to balance the piecing……even though your blocks are a very small 3″ square.

 If your blocks were 3″ nine patches, the vine border I just described would look great because all of the individual pieces of both the piecing and the appliqué would be tiny, but if some pieces are large it is important to balance that large size in the border.

So, for your quilt, a vine border would work as long as some of the pieces along that border were large enough to balance the patchwork pieces. All of the pieces on the border would not need to be large, just the main focus piece such as a star, or a tulip, or a rose, etc.

 A swag border would also work; just keep in mind that you need to balance density between the quilt center and the border.

 Our minds are pretty amazing at knowing when the balance is right, so try drafting a few different swags or flowers, or whatever; when you get to the right size, your mind and eyes will say “that’s it!” and it will be right.

 I hope I have made this clear, if not feel free to contact me again and I will see if I can explain better.

 Meanwhile, good luck on your quilt.

Jeana

Here are two examples of appliqué borders on a pieced quilt. One of them is right, the other wrong.

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The Ocean Waves quilt has a grapevine border that is too open to balance the density of the quilt center (lots of busyness) Thus, the border does not balance with the quilt center.

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The Rabbit Patch quilt is well balanced simply because the large bodies of the appliquéd rabbits in the border balance nicely with the large half square triangle if the pieced baskets.

 


Ten Favorite Quilting Books….and Why

Published on Monday, March 30th, 2009

A comment from Jeana’s Journal asks:

OH MY I feel the same way about my quilt book library.

The best investment I ever made is my books. I started collecting about 8 years ago but have bought a lot used from Amazon. As soon as someone mentions a book I go looking for it! So can you tell us your 10 favorite books????
Kathie

Dear Kathie: After considerable thought I have come up with a list for you. Some of these books are sentimental favorites because they are the early ones I read and from which I caught the enthusiasm that has fueled my passion about quiltmaking these many years. So here they are, in no particular order:

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1- Two books, Patchwork Patterns and The Quilter’s Album of Blocks & Borders, by Jinny Beyer, are listed here because I feel they are companion books that together make an amazing whole. When I started quilting in the late 1970’s very few patterns, or even books on quiltmaking, existed. Upon deciding to make a quilt, a quiltmaker must be able to envision her completed quilt and draft her own patterns.

When Jinny Beyer published Patchwork Patterns in 1979, it opened up vast possibilities for patchwork pattern drafting and design basics. Jinny’s clear and logical directions for pattern drafting takes one from basic four patches to complex mariners compass designs. It is still a basic textbook all quiltmakers should have.

In 1980 Jinny Beyer logically followed her first book with The Quilter’s Album of Blocks & Borders. Over 750 patchwork patterns (for ideas of how to use her pattern drafting instructions) are included along with many pages of pieced border pattern ideas. This book a virtual gold mine of patchwork ideas.

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2- Baltimore Album Quilts. Dena Katzenberg of the Baltimore Museum of Art put together a landmark exhibit of Baltimore album quilts in 1981. This book is a catalog of that exhibit.

Until then, patchwork had been the primary focus of contemporary quiltmakers. With this exhibit Ms. Katzenburg brought our gaze upon the possibilities in applique quiltmaking.

My purchase of this catalog in 1984 (from the Museum for $19.00) was the beginning of my career as an applique quiltmaker and designer. As you can see from the cover, this book has been much read, loved, and used—sadly, thus decreasing it’s monetary value. It was my bedtime reading for several months until I decided that since there were no patterns to make gorgeous applique quilts, my best efforts would be better than making no applique quilt at all.

The designs I drew in imitation of this style became my first published book, Reflections of Baltimore (1989).

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3- The Quilt Engagement Calendar Treasury by Cyril I. Nelson and Carter Houck, is a summary of many lovely antique quilt discovered in the early resurgence of quiltmaking in the late twentieth century.

Beginning in 1975 Mr. Nelson published an annual quilt engagement calendar. The desk-sized, week-at-a-glance calendar featured a full page photo of a different antique quilt for each week.

For those of us hungry to see antique quilts, this yearly purchase was a must! I collected all of the calendars as they were released from 1980 until the last was published in 2001. (I may be mistaken on the last year, but it is the last calendar I found.)

The Quilt Engagement Calendar Treasury is a collection of “some of the best quilts illustrated in the calendar” from the years 1975 to 1982. It is a visual feast of valuable antique quilts that have long since disappeared into private collections

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4- Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them by Ruth E. Finley, first published in 1929, is a treat.

My copy is a 1981 reproduction of this gem of a book and so well used that the pages had begun to fall out so I have a comb binding put on it to preserve the book intact. With all black and white photos, it is not great as a picture book, but Mrs. Finley’s folksy writing style is worth the read. Actually, I learned a great deal from Mrs. Finley and she was a valuable source for me when learning about the history of red and green applique quilts.

Her writing style is definitely not politically correct, but her opinion about the quilts she describes is very clear. Here is one very entertaining passage as she describes an early Pennsylvania German quilt:

“Only a soul in desperate need of nervous outlet could have conceived and executed, for instance, the ‘Full Blown Tulip’, a quilt of Pennsylvania Dutch origin. It is a perfect accomplishment from a needlework standpoint yet hideous. The ‘tulip’ block is composed of eight arrow-shaped patches of brilliant purplish red; the four leaf-shaped patches inside the circle are of the same color; the eight petal-shaped patches inserted between the red arrows are a sickly lemon yellow. The center of each tulip is made of the material used for setting the blocks together—homespun of the most terrifying shade of brownish green, beyond question the accident of a private dyepot. The inner saw-tooth border is of the red used in the blocks. The whole is surrounded by a second border, fourteen inches wide, of dazzling bright orange. This green-red-lemon-orange combination is enough to set a blind man’s teeth on edge. And yet as an example of needlecraft the quilt is a triumph…..”

Old Patchwork Quilts is an entertaining dialog about quiltmaking in the early twentieth century and provides a nice view into the thinking of quiltmakers during that time.

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5. State quilt documenting project books are my next favorite. It is far too difficult to highlight only one of the dozens of these books that have been published by the individual state document committees.

They are all amazing picture books of antique quilts from early nineteenth century quilts through to the present day. In years to come these books will be the only record of many of the quilts they portray, making them all ever more valuable as the years advance.

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6. Forget Me Not: A Gallery of Friendship and Album Quilts by Jane Bentley Kolter, 1985. This lovely book with both color and black and white photos of album quilts is a great reference book for those interested in album quilts.

With clear writing and many photo illustrations Ms. Kolter describes a type of quilt that includes both piecing and applique memorials made by and for a population that was on the move in the mid-nineteenth century. This book has received little recognition, but I believe it is a staple in tracing the history of nineteenth century quiltmaking.

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7- Quilts In America by Patsy and Myron Orlofsky, 1974 and 1992. Mr. And Mrs. Orlofsky were researching quilts during a time when most of us were oblivious to the beauty, history, and discovery available through this fascinating medium.

Their approximately 368 page volume was, and still is, an excellent and comprehensive guide to the history of early quiltmaking in America. If I have a question, I can usually find a great answer there.

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8- Calico & Chintz Antique Quilts From the Collection of Patricia S. Smith, 1997. This amazing book is a catalog from a 1997 quilt exhibit held at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum.

Beginning with exquisite color photos of very early nineteenth century quilts (with close-ups of the gorgeous fabrics in them) to a clear and thorough description of quilts from the first quarter of the nineteenth century, this book is amazing.

This book came available just as I was beginning to learn about nineteenth century fabrics. It was exactly what I needed when I needed it. It may be my favorite “picture book” of old quilts.

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9- The American Quilt, A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950, by Roderick Kiracofe. 1993. Here is another excellent quilt picture book along with excellent, readable, and understandable text about the history of quiltmaking.

It is outstanding in it’s clarity and presentation of information with an added excellent feature of a visual time-line that traces and illustrates trends and styles of quiltmaking through the decades. This book is an excellent resource.

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10- Aunt Jane of Kentucky, Eliza Calvert Hall, 1907, reprinted 1974, 1984. This book is not exactly a quilt book, it is an entertaining book that conveys a good deal of common sense wisdom with stories of a fictional character’s lifetime remembrances. It was originally written as separate stories which appeared in various publications between 1898 and 1904.

The chapter titled, “Aunt Jane’s Album”, is about quiltmaking. Through her quilts Aunt Jane describes how making quilts relates to everyday life. Here is one of my favorite passages from the chapter:

“Did you ever think, child,” she said, presently, “how much piecin’ a quilt’s like livin’ a life? And as for sermons, why they ain’t no better sermon to me than a patchwork quilt, and the doctrines is right there a heap plainer’n they are in the catechism……..You see, you start out with jest so much caliker; you don’t go the store and pick it out and buy it, but the neighbors will give you a piece here and a piece there, and you’ll have a piece left every time you cut out a dress, and you take just what happens to come. And that’s like predestination. But when it comes to the cuttin’ out, why, you’re free to choose your own pattern. You can give the same kind o’ pieces to two persons, and one’ll make a ‘nine-patch’ and one’ll make a ‘wild-goose chase,’ and there’ll be two quilts made out o’ the same kind o’ pieces, and jest as different as they can be. And that is jest the way with livin’. The Lord sends us the pieces, but we can cut ‘em out and put ‘em together pretty much to suit ourselves, and there’s a heap more in the cuttin’ out and the sewin’ than there is in the caliker……”

So, there you have it, a long list of ten favorite quilt books.

Enjoy!

Jeana


Critique My Quilt

Published on Friday, March 7th, 2008

Hi Jeana

I have attached two photos of my quilt that I finished hand quilting. I put the photos up on my blog already. I wanted to ask you to look at them and let me know what you think.

I hand quilted and hand appliqud this quilt. I do appreciate if you would consider sharing your vast experience with me. I do enjoy reading your blog.

I also wanted to ask you if you do anything particular to a quilt edge after it is hand quilted prior to putting on the binding? Something like a stay stitch.

Thank for your time

Meredith

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Meredith, your quilt is lovely and well done. I am especially impressed with your tiny hand quilting stitches! Many of us work a lifetime to even come close to the hand quilting skill that is evident in your quilt!

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Since you asked, I do have a couple of thoughts that you may find helpful. On the topic of the quilting, the eight-point star quilting motif is very nice and it compliments the curving lines of the applique motifs.

When planning a format for quilting it is good to consider what would enhance and increase the appeal of the existing quilt top. Often the choice of a very linear pieced quilt top design is “rounded” quilting to soften the straight lines (that is why we see so many feathers and pumpkin seed formats on linear and graphic Amish quilts). In the case of round edge designs (such as applique) straight-line quilting complements the soft edges of the applique (again, think of classic applique quilts and the familiar cross-hatched quilting formats that set them off). So your quilting format choice is good.

My suggestion about the quilting is that there be more of it. Your consistency of the same density (or amount) of quilting across the whole surface of the quilt is well balanced and good, but when wrinkles in the un-quilted areas of the border are evident it detracts from the beautiful whole of a quilt. Perhaps a continuation of the diagonal line quilting into the border would add the needed stitches and smooth out the puffy places in the border.

Also, you did not mention the size of your quilt. It looks to be fairly small. Another factor to consider is that small quilts invite more quilting. When the scale of a quilt, as a whole, is small, quilting lines need to be close together to be in keeping with that small scale.

And, finally, if you plan to enter competition with a quilt, remember that more quilting is always good advice. The amount of quilting on the quilts that win top prizes is always plentiful.

In answer to your question about stay-stitching the edge of a quilt before putting on the binding, the answer is yes. However be sure that the stay stitches are not tight and they do not pull the edge of the quilt too much. The simple process of attaching the binding to the quilt (before hand sewing it down) has a tendency to pull the edges of the quilt in just a bit and that is usually just enough to make the quilt lie flat.

Congratulations on your beautiful wall hanging.

Jeana


Sewing Room Question

Published on Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Jeana,

I read your note about categories entries in the shows recently. I and others have entered hand applique work in the traditional style. I have entered several Broderie Perse, and Baltimore Style work, all hand done, including quilting, and never juried in, not complaining that I didn’t get chosen, but that, when I/we see what has been chosen, it is disappointing that it is usually some Beaded, unfinished edge, machine appliqued, and with painted work, paint with no stitching except quilted by machine. I am sure glad I am not the only one who is disappointed in what the judges like these days. The bright Color is always the choice of the judge these days, instead of traditional fabrics. Always the so called Art Quilts are the favorites of the judges. So I don’t even try any more, to compete, I can’t compete with paint. J. from Texas

Dear J.Thank you for writing. I understand and agree with many of the things you have said, but there are a few things I have learned that may help you understand quilt judges and contests better—seeing for myself certainly has enhanced my education. So if you don’t mind, I would like to address your concerns one at a time:

Traditional Applique: Hand applique is still and always will be a viable and very competitive medium in quilt contests. However, and this is big, if you are making your own version of an established style of traditional applique, i.e., Baltimore Album, it must include a new twist on the idea of an album quilt. For example, an unusual or very complex setting and/or border combination that has not been seen before is needed. (I am not saying you cannot use traditional borders or settings, I am suggesting that you combine appropriate elements that are a new combination. Study antique quilts and combine ideas from several to create your own new and unique version. That is what I do.) Or, design your own applique patterns.

Folk art quilts very definitely have a place in competition. However, a simplified, or less than realistic, interpretation of a subject does not give license to skimp on workmanship or amount of quilting. It must measure up in quality to the best formal quilts.

Sept 07 21.jpg

I included the applique quilt shown (and above) in my blog purposefully, it is a very traditional 1860’s era quilt using old familiar patterns (Oak leaf & Reel, a pieced eight-point star, and a simple swag). I promise you that if this quilt had been newly made and entered in Houston in the Traditional Applique category it would have been a contender for a top prize because it was a new setting of traditional patterns and it is clear at first glance that it is beautifully executed with careful workmanship and much thought put into it’s making.

To clarify this point about a quilt being unique and a new idea, and at risk of being offensive I will be even more blunt, any quilt entered that is easily recognized as a Baltimore Album (with familiar patterns from published sources) or a reproduction of any well publicized and published pattern (or group of patterns) will not get past the first cut (no matter how much time was spent or how perfect the workmanship) simply because it has been done before and we have all seen it. That sounds harsh, but a quilt contest is about rewarding new ideas (or new interpretations of traditional ideas) and recognizing excellence in executing those ideas.

About Broidere Perse quilts. I honestly don’t think that style of applique would make any difference to the judges, nor would they think it was cheating applique. If it is beautifully planned, carefully executed and lavishly quilted it would measure up against any other form of applique. I have judged many quilt contests and every judging team I have been on works together in appreciation of all forms of quiltmaking regardless of a judge’s own specialty.

Color: For a quilt to be noticed, and be a contender for a prize, the colors need not knock you over in brightness, but they must be a harmonious combination, with much attention paid to value and color placement. Far too often the comment made in the Houston judging about color was that there was not enough contrast—meaning the quilt was medium in tone when the use of lighter and darker fabrics (instead of staying in the mid color range) would have created a far more interesting quilt. I could spend a long time on this topic but I’ll get down off my soapbox and move on because there is much more to be addressed.

Machine vs. Hand Quilting. In today’s world the amount of time spent, or technique used (hand vs. machine), on quilting is meaningless. What is important, however, is that the technique chosen is well thought out and executed as perfectly as possible.

As the machine quilters have become more skilled and inventive in their formats, they have “raised the bar” on hand quilting too. If you hand quilt, it must compete in quality and quantity with machine quilting.

Those two elements, Quantity and Quality, have always been important in winning contests, they are just more important now because the machine quilters have excelled. It does not sound fair when considering the amount of time invested in these separate mediums. However, in reality if we judges had seen two comparable quilts with equal measures of well done machine quilting and well done hand quilting, the hand quilted quilt could easily have won out simply because of the time invested in the hand quilted quilt. We did not, however, even come close to seeing anything like the above scenario in Houston this year.

Workmanship: It may not seem it to you, but whatever medium a quiltmaker choses (beading, machine applique, etc), it must be well done, appropriate for the design chosen, and purposefully done.

Since it is my specialty, I will address what I looked for and found in the best appliqued quilts: hand applique should lie flat (looking almost as if it had been painted in place), the applique pieces should fit snugly against the quilt top, the edges of the applique pieces should be smooth (not bumpy), the applique stitches should not be obvious, and “inside” and “outside” points should be fray-free and secure.

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Quilting on top of applique is recommended to add dimension, texture, and secure the pieces in place. The “puffy” applique look is not professional. All of the above sound harsh, but the best quilts included these elements.

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When you are looking for “the best of the best” it always comes down to quality of workmanship.

Paint vs. Fabric: Fabric first: Because I spend so long on the quilts I make, I have worried in the past that by the time my quilt is finished it will no longer be viable for publishing, or a contest, because the fabric is older. At the end of this year’s judging I realized that I had not paid the least attention to the fabric used. What was of greater merit was the design, how color was combined—using fabic—, and whether or not the finished product was well executed. The fabric used was unimportant, it was simply a single element in the creation of a beautiful whole. So traditional or non-traditional fabric had no impact on the acceptability or validity of a quilt.

That said, I, too, am concerned about paint becoming a dominant medium in “quilt” competitions. But, as long as there is a front, some batting, and a backing attached together with quilting stitches it qualifies as a quilt. It is a trend that I am sure will be addressed in the future, but for now paint as a surface design is accepted and is judged as a quilt.

There will always be something new that “pushes the envelope” and makes traditional quilters nervous. I am convinced, however, that if we continue using time-honored methods and the principals of good design and color usage, we have nothing to fear for the fate of classic traditional quiltmaking.

This much I do know, that if we traditional quiltmakers simply give up and “turn it over” to innovative quiltmakers, traditional forms of quilting will disappear from view and we will no longer have a voice. That, in my opinion, would be a tragedy.

So if you are serious about your art/craft (and it is both) you will work on the points I listed above AND continue to enter contests. To be totally honest, I have never entered national quilt contests before, but I am going to start now because I don’t want traditional quiltmaking to disappear.

I hope you are encouraged and will do the same and keep entering contests!

All my best to you.

Jeana


Lap Quilting and Length of Stitches on the Quilt Back

Published on Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Dear Jeana,

I have had your book Loving Stitches for some years now and continue to use it for information, technique and inspiration. I have come to love lap quilting and use it almost exclusively now. However, I struggle to get my stitches as small as when I use my hoop. I can get the top one tiny but I miss out the bite on the back and the thread doesn’t go right through the three layers. I prefer to use 100% cotton batting (Heirloom, Dream Cotton, Hobbs) when I can find it and I use straw needles, the finer the better as long as they don’t snap.

I wish I could just drive on up to Foxglove Cottage and ask for help but I’ll never get over the ocean…I married a New Zealand man 16 years ago and left South Georgia to make a home here on a sheep/cattle/deer ranch. There are plenty of quilters in New Zealand but I don’t know anyone who lap quilts without a hoop. Can you offer some suggestions?
I found your website by searching “Jeana Kimball” and was duly delighted to discover that you will ship internationally. I will enjoy browsing and shopping there I am sure.


Sincerely,

L. Sue

Thank you for writing L. Sue. It is good that you are using Straw needles to quilt with, and you are right in saying that if the needle is not thick enough, the point of the needle will “snap off” from the tension of trying to move through thick layers. I, too, use cotton batting, my favorite is Mountain Mist, Blue Ribbon Batting, but I am not sure if you can get it where you are. Have you looked into wool batting. I believe the best wool available is produced in your part of the world. Wool is much easier to needle, but the loft is different than cotton and maybe what you are looking for is the “flatter” look that is a characteristic of cotton batting.Believe it or not, my quilting stitches are longer on the back of the quilt than on the front. In thinking it over this week as I stitched, I attribute that to two things: 1) the way I hold the needle, and 2) using a Size 8 Straw needle. Let me explain.

“The more often you repeat a task, the more efficient you become in movements to complete that task.”

I found that when I lap quilt I hold the needle in a way that requires the least motion to take a stitch. When I analyzed just how I do hold my needle many years ago when I first wrote Loving Stitches I realized that when I insert the needle into the fabric, to begin a group of stitches, I hold the needle near, or on, the eye, with my thumb and forefinger in the same position I would hold a dart if I were throwing it at a dartboard. My needle hand is under, or behind the needle. With this position I am able to insert the needle straight down and through all of the layers of fabric.

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If you are holding the needle with your hand over top of the needle when you insert it into the quilt, the needle will pierce and enter the quilt layers on an angle. Already, with this angle, you are reducing the size of the stitch on the back of the quilt.

If you are holding the needle with your hand over top of the needle when you insert it into the quilt, the needle will pierce and enter the quilt layers on an angle. Already, with this angle, you are reducing the size of the stitch on the back of the quilt.When I insert the needle into the quilt I do not simply “glance” the needle off my underneath finger, I actually push the length needle through the layers well beyond the tip of the needle. In other words, I over-shoot the desired length of the stitch on the back of the quilt and then, and this is important, I begin to back up the needle (with the point of the needle gently scoring the quilt backing) until it is where I want to re-enter the quilt.

If you are holding the needle with your hand over top of the needle when you insert it into the quilt, the needle will pierce and enter the quilt layers on an angle. Already, with this angle, you are reducing the size of the stitch on the back of the quilt.When I insert the needle into the quilt I do not simply “glance” the needle off my underneath finger, I actually push the length needle through the layers well beyond the tip of the needle. In other words, I over-shoot the desired length of the stitch on the back of the quilt and then, and this is important, I begin to back up the needle (with the point of the needle gently scoring the quilt backing) until it is where I want to re-enter the quilt.

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Then I push the needle straight up. It is easy to come straight up because the point of the needle is already angled upward. This small motion alone (of pushing the needle too far into the back, and then backing it up to position it to re-enter) is the key to longer stitches on the back of the quilt.

Then I push the needle straight up. It is easy to come straight up because the point of the needle is already angled upward. This small motion alone (of pushing the needle too far into the back, and then backing it up to position it to re-enter) is the key to longer stitches on the back of the quilt.I don’t know which version of Loving Stitches you have, but on page 50 of the first version, photos 1 and 3 generally show how I hold my needle. (Those are my hands by the way.) But when I had the chance to do the revised edition, I made sure the photos illustrate much better how I take my stitches when I lap quilt. Those photos are on page 74. If the above explanation is not working for you, an investment in the Revised Edition of Loving Stitches may be worth the priceshort of a trip across the ocean.

Then I push the needle straight up. It is easy to come straight up because the point of the needle is already angled upward. This small motion alone (of pushing the needle too far into the back, and then backing it up to position it to re-enter) is the key to longer stitches on the back of the quilt.I don’t know which version of you have, but on page 50 of the first version, photos 1 and 3 generally show how I hold my needle. (Those are my hands by the way.) But when I had the chance to do the revised edition, I made sure the photos illustrate much better how I take my stitches when I lap quilt. Those photos are on page 74. If the above explanation is not working for you, an investment in the Revised Edition of may be worth the priceshort of a trip across the ocean. I use Size 8 Straw needles for hand quilting because they are long enough to reach way down with each stitch and produce the leverage needed to come back up through all of the layers. I wish it was a thinner needle because I believe my stitches would be a little smaller with a smaller sized needle, but, like you, I tend to break them. To compensate, I concentrate on making the stitches small on the top of the quilt.

I hope this helps. Give it a try and let me know how it works. Hand quilting is such a worthy occupation I hope you keep at it!!

Best wishes to you on a late Friday afternoon!

Jeana

P.S. This photo is from the back cover of Loving Stitches, first edition, it iis a more distant view of how I hold the quilt while lap quilting. (Yes, I am left-handed, the above photos are flipped to look as if I am holding the needle with my right hand.)

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