I sat down with Eliane Bergmann from Patchwork and Poodles (electronically–I would have loved to have her over!) this month and asked her question about her creative journey, hand quilting, design inspiration, and more. I shared Part 1 Here. Today, I’m so happy to share Part 2, and it’s all about hand quilting!
We featured her Modern Crossing Pattern this month, and I just love it, in all of its variations. Check out #moderncrossingquilt hashtag on Instagram to see some really beautiful quilts!
When I first started hand-quilting quilts, I actually felt a bit guilty. Not very long before, I had bought what is my most expensive purchase to date (save my car and house), my Juki sewing machine. And I do love my Juki! But I had specifically picked the Juki because of its ability to quilt so well, particularly free-motion quilting. My motivation was to buy a machine that would allow me to quilt all of my quilts at home instead of sending them out to a longarmer. So here I was, with a fancy sewing machine, and instead of using it, I was sitting down with a needle and thread and quilting my quilts up by hand! Don’t worry, I got over my guilt really fast. Although I wish I could hand-quilt all the quilts I make, it just isn’t feasible from a time perspective, so I still machine quilt quite a bit of them. Even so, I usually can’t help myself and end up adding some hand-quilting details!
I’m self-taught when it comes to hand-quilting, although I did some hand-embroidered tea towels back in the day which helped in the transition to hand-quilting. Like most things, I just decided I wanted to do it and so I did. To this day, my mom BEGS me to share with her what needle I use for hand-quilting so she can have one too, but to be honest I have no idea. I just picked one from my stash and off I went! To appease my poor mom, and everyone else, I’ve recently bought 3 different types of needles and will be trying them all and reporting my findings on my blog. I tend to go by “feel”. I’ll have some needles next to me and I’ll try a few on my project until I find one that glides well through the fabric and gives me the stitches I’m looking for. I did recently write a blog post on tips & tricks for hand-quilting, because the type of batting you use and other factors will affect your experience.
For me, I enjoy the process of hand-quilting. I’ll sit down with my husband and we’ll pop in a movie. It’s my way to unwind and relax. I also love the feel of a hand-quilted quilt; they’re softer and cozier off the bat than one quilted by machine. I have a theory about why this is, and it is twofold. First, hand-quilting stitches aren’t as tight as machine ones because you’re only using one thread, you don’t get the interlocking stiches like you do by a machine. This means your quilting lines are more flexible and drape better. And second, the oil from your skin and the hours you spend moving and manipulating the quilt help to soften and “break in” the quilt that much faster.
When I first started hand-quilting quilts, I would match the thread to the fabric behind it. Although it added some lovely texture, you couldn’t actually see my stitches and all the hard work I had put into it! So now, I’m getting much braver with my color choices. My scrappy baby Modern Crossing is quilted with pale pink thread. It still matches the quilt and doesn’t detract from it, but it stands out just a little bit. My throw size Modern Crossing is quilted in avocado green thread. Again, because it is on the charcoal background, it isn’t crazy noticeable, but enough that when you get near it you realize there’s another element to the quilt. I’ve gotten even bolder, quilting my Flight Path quilt, which is a navy background, with red thread. While quilting it, because I was a foot or so away from it, I kept thinking it might be a mistake and I should have chosen something softer. But now I love it, and when viewed from far away, it really doesn’t detract from the overall quilting design.
If you’re worried about hand-quilting a whole quilt, start small. You can add some hand-quilted details to a machine-quilted quilt for so
me lovely texture, or I have a tutorial on my blog for hand-quilting your binding with big-stitches. It adds such a fun, chunky pop!
My advice is always to make something your own. Don’t be afraid to break the “rules” because modern quilting is all about defying traditional quilting rules. I used to be worried about sharing my techniques for doing things because for the most part I made them up as I went along and I wasn’t sure if there was a “better” way of doing it. I’ve come to realize that if it works for me, it might work for someone else too, so I’m always happy to share what I do and why I do it a certain way. It comes with the caveat that there might be another way to do it that I don’t know about, but this is what has worked for me. I’m always open for questions, so feel free to hit me up on Instagram or through the contact page on my blog. A lot of times, someone’s question will become a blog post so that we can all use and reference the information in the future!