Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do You Big- Stitch?

Once again I am behind on blogging. I am spending most of my time working on the next book and some magazine work. That doesn't leave much to blog about. So, I thought I would do a quick post on Big Stitch quilting. I get alot of questions on this subject. I am currently working on quilting a quilt using traditional quilting methods and big stitching this quilt. I love both equally.

When I first started making quilts many moons ago, I began by hand quilting tops that were made by my grandmother. I fell in love with the process. It is so relaxing and there is something satisfying about feeling those three layers become a quilt.

Big Stitch is done in the same manner as fine quilting with just a couple of differences in supplies.

Your quilt still needs three layers basted together. I am often asked about batting- I use either Hobbs 80/20 or Hobbs Wool. (the Hobbs guy at Market got me hooked on the wool) I use a quilting hoop, size 12". 14" would be better but I am cheap. This one has served me well for 11 years and until it quits working I won't be upsizing. You use the same rocking motion for big stitch as you do for regular quilting.

I use a Roxanne thimble. I bought my thimble about 11 years ago and it is more valuable to me than my jewelry. I had a hard time finding a thimble that worked for me until I found this one. They are sized, and have an opening for your nail. Do not be put off by the price, they are worth every penny and will last for your lifetime. On my finger under the quilt I have a piece of hospital tape. I have a callus on that finger because I quilt alot but even so I use a piece of tape for extra protection. I usually quilt for hours at a time. The tape gives me that and I can still feel my needle.

I am a bit of a thread snob. I love above all others the Valdani hand dyed perle cotton. I use this for all my quilts. It comes in different sizes and is hand dyed. They have a lovely selection of colors. You can find a color to match any project and the variation of the hand dyed threads really adds to your quilting. I use a size 8 for all my quilting.

And that leaves just the needle to talk about. If you asked 5 quilters what kind of needle they use you would get 5 different answers. I have played around with needles to find what works best for me and found that what I prefer is a size 22 Chenille needle. I generally buy DMC brand as it is readily available in my area. This needle has an eye that is easy to thread with the perle cotton, is sharp and is a nice length to get consistent stitches. That is the key to good big stitch quilting- consistency.

For those of you in the mid Missouri area or within driving distance, I am in the process of setting up a 6 hour workshop on big stitching. If you are interested in more info, shoot me an email.

Happy Quilting, Dawn


  1. Many years ago, I did three quilts using a big stitch, and got laughed at! I was told I was cheating! Looking back, I think they are some of my favorite quilts!


  2. Love it!!! especially the Valdani..

  3. I love the big stitch quilting!! Thanks so much for sharing all your secrets!! I learned a lot!

  4. your collection of pearl cottons are beautiful!
    I like the big stitch and use the same needle.
    Its a little hard to retrain my brain to think big not small.

  5. I always like the look of big stitch. I have not done it as of yet but I do like the look!

  6. BIG is the only kind of quilting stitch I know! Wish I was closer and could come to your workshop. :(

  7. I love to big stitch as well. It's so relaxing but not tedious like the regular quilting stitching (at least to me). I tend to work without a hoop however.

    Donna K. from N. TX

  8. My friend, Denise, called this "chunky quilting". SHe shared a log cabin quilt at a quilt show many years ago and it was "chunky quilted" with pearl cotton. It was just gorgeous. I liked it so much, I "chunky quilted" a scrappy lap quilt. I often use floss or Perle cotton to handquilt small projects. I like to see the stitches and think of them almost as a design element of the project. The key, though, is even stitches and then it looks great. Like anything, just practicing works and since we all like to sew, well, practice is easy to do! :-)

  9. this is something I definitely want to try.

  10. Dawn I don't live in mid-Missouri but my sister does and depending on when you do this workshop, I'd be interested. Please let me know when you pick a date. mbushretiredatgmaildotcom
    blessings, marlene

  11. Do I Big-Stitch? NO...not yet...but, I'm going to. I have a quilt in mind I want to try this on using black thread.

    I do hand quilt the regular way but thought this might help me speed up some of my un-quilted tops that are piling up.

    Can I use regular DMC cross-stitch thread or do you think I should just go ahead and order some Perle cotton? A-n-d how many strands do you use??

    I really appreciate all the info you have shared in your post. It is so timely for me since this is what I have been thinking about this last week!!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  12. I love big stitch quilting. One issue I have is trying to determine how may balls of thread I will need for a project. I know that stiching designs vary greatly but is there any guide for how much you need?