Thursday, July 11, 2013

Big Stitch Update

I get lots of questions about the big stitch method of quilting. I did a post on the subject HERE. You can read that post and I will add a few things here today.  When I did the original post I was still using a regular quilting hoop. Since then I have broken down and spent the money to buy a Morgan hoop. It is heaven! I knew it would be but I am super cheap and the one I had worked.

I quilt for hours at a time and that means that after a while my shoulders and neck kill me from scrunching over the quilt. The Morgan hoops help with that a lot. You can see it is double hoop. Mine is 14" on one end which I use the most and the other end is 10" which is nice for smaller projects. There are little legs that connect the two and create a stand. That is the great part of the design. The stand supports the weight of the quilt while bringing it closer to you and eliminating the sore neck and shoulders from holding the quilt and scrunching. This is especially nice on big quilts. The size I have retails for around $55 and for a cheap-o like me that was a stumbling block. Let me tell you what though, I am so happy I got it. The quilt I am working on has been so much easier to handle with this hoop and I am hooked.
I mark my quilts mostly with the Clover blue washout markers. They are easy to draw with and the lines don't rub off. I don't usually (never) mark the whole quilt in advance. For one thing I am too impatient and for another I don't want the lines on there for any longer than necessary. I mark a section at a time and then remove the lines. My friend Shirley Beckett gave me a great tip for this. Keep a small container of water and some q-tips handy. You can dip the Q-tip in the water and rub the lines right off as you go along.  I find that this works great. Shirley is very smart.
I don't own a lot of quilting stencils. I mostly make them from layers of freezer paper or cardboard. For this quilt I quilted circles over the square blocks. Curving lines complement geometric piecing. Also if your square is not perfectly square it is not as noticeable as if you did 1/4" outline or 1/4" inside. The tan border was kind of plain so I am quilting diamonds on it which adds some interest.
I use Valdani pearl cotton for my quilting. I love it. It comes in a million different colors and is colorfast. It also provides hours of enjoyment for wayward kittens. I tend to use the variegated pearl cotton exclusively. I love the variation in color and I think it really adds something to the look of the quilting. I use size 8 the most often but if I am doing something that I want to be a little finer or more heavily quilting I use the 12. Big stitch creates a lot of texture so you can use a color that blends with the background and still get a lot of impact. Or you can use a contrasting color that adds to the overall design. Eggplant is a color that is repeated through out this quilt but in very small amounts. I used an eggplant thread to quilt. It blends nicely with all the prints and adds interest to the tan open areas. Stitch size is not as important as consistency. My stitches vary in size from project to project depending on the look I want. Obviously you wouldn't want big 1/2" stitches but there is no set rule. Just keep the stitches even and consistent. I usually load 2-3 stitches on my needle at a time. That is a pretty good number to keep things even. If I am doing fine hand quilting I usually load around 7 stitches at a time. I use a #22 or #24 Chenille needle.
I think between the old post and this I have covered most of the questions I am asked. If not leave a comment or shoot me an email. My friend Ann is trying to convince me to do some videos. Maybe we will do one on this if there is enough interest.
Happy Quilting, Dawn


  1. Thanks, Dawn! Now I feel ready to tackle it. Only thing missing is the #8 perle. All I own is #12 of Valdani ...... but we'll play with it and see.

  2. Thanks for the info. You didn't say what size and kind of needle you use. Share please.

  3. I have somehow landed on your blog and so glad I have! I have really enjoyed looking around at the quilts - I love your 'vintage feel'. The picture of your booth at Paducah looked amazing! Will pop by again. xCathy

  4. Ready now to get my double hoop!
    Are there "grades" of hoops? I have seen a wide price range - 35 - 54,
    Would you share your hoop specifics?

    Can't wait ....

  5. I love this post. It was cute and funny. I can sympathize with you on the quilting hoop being $55 and not wanting to spend that much. Eggplant is not a bad color. I didn’t even know you could load your needle with stitches.

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