4 tips for hand quilting your first project

"How hard could it be anyway?" I thought as I watched a video of another quilter expertly hand quilting. Do you ever do that? Or maybe it's just me... I watch someone do a skill on social media and think that I, in my beginner state, can also do said skill (insert eye roll here).

Hand quilting is such an issue for me. Am I terrible at it? No. Do I have mad skills where all my stitches are the same length and my nimble fingers fly across the fabric with needle and thread? Definitely not.

Here's the thing though, I may not be an expert at hand quilting, or pressing my seams perfect, or sewing an exact 1/4 inch seam, but if I like the final product then who cares? Are you with me?!?

After my 3 year old was born I decided to try my hand at hand quilting a baby quilt for her. I asked for some basic directions from the owner/friend of the quilt shop I had worked at. She gave me a short tutorial, sold me the supplies and away I went. I remember quilting that baby quilt and telling my husband that if I ever thought about hand quilting anything again to just shoot me. I swore that baby was going to be in college before I finished. I ended up loving that quilt and the hidden messages I had quilted into it.

Skip ahead two years and I decided to hand quilt the Single Star of Dubai wall hanging. Why the change of heart? Well, for one thing it was monsoon where we live. And if you live in a developing country then you know that things like a rain storm means no power for a couple hours. So this meant I was frequently without power in the afternoons when I had time to sew. We also had some travel coming up and I pictured myself lounging by the pool working on a project while my four children sweetly and safely played in the water. Whether it was a delusion or fairy tale, that definitely did not happen. I will say though, that this time I enjoyed the process of hand quilting much more than the first time.

Tips to get you hand quilting your first project:

  1. Find a good tutorial so you know exactly what you're getting yourself into. Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't sew a perfect, even stitch at first, or you can't get the technique at first.

  2. Mark your quilt with a Hera marker or Frixon pen. I thought I didn't need to because, well, how hard could it be right? But seriously, mark it. Especially just starting out, having a guide to follow will save you time and hopefully keep your stitches straight.

  3. Start small. Do not start on a large quilt as your first project. Find a wall hanging, or baby quilt otherwise you might find yourself in tears regretting you ever started.

  4. Don't compare yourself to others. Just enjoy the process. Don't be in a hurry. Ok, so that's like three things. Consider it a bonus. But for real, make your first hand quilting project be something that is just for you. That way there is no pressure and you can do it at your own pace.

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