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I am trying to learn the art of hand quilting but having a difficult time getting the needle to "rock" but can do it somewhat but the stitches are uneven and not straight. What is the secret to begin to lern to hand quilt?

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Practice practice practice? One thing I will swear by is getting high quality quilting needles. I'm pretty easy going and a cheapskate to boot, so before I started hand quilting and doing hand applique, any needle was good enough. I was SO wrong. High quality quilting needles literally glide through the fabric and give you better control of your stitches because you don't have that "shove and jerk" motion that causes uneven stitching.

I also get more even stitches when I use a quilting hoop than I do when I sew on a standing quilting frame. I can push "up and down" with my free hand against the quilt sandwich closer to my stitches on the hoop than I can the frame and that helps me control the length of my stitches as well.

Finding the PERFECT thimble is also worth it. I still haven't found "the one" that works perfect for me, but when I do find the brand, type I can't live without, I plan to buy 10 of them!
Practice, practice, practice. First work on getting your stitches an even length. The length of your stitch will shorten up in time (practice). Good quality needles and thread make a big difference. You should be prepated to thread a lot of needles at once when you begin to work; keep your thread on the needle length fairly short to avoid getting snarled up and use a large size needle for now. You will be able to graduate to a smaller needle with practice. Did I say practice? PTL
It's SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO true but it's the one thing that a perfectionist/instant gratification person like me HATES to hear. I wish there was a magic formula that made this particular part of quilting go faster and easier, but there ain't. Practice....and lots of bandaids.
I'm glad you gave this review of the Grip It dots. I've used their other product (the plastic ovals) under a soft thimble to prevent my tiniest needles from poking me from the eye end (I hate that!) and while I love the product, it won't withstand a hand washing and it certainly wouldn't grip a needle at all. I've wondered about the gripper dots for a while and wondered if they stayed on better, and now I know! I'll have to pick some up! Thanks
http://www.quilterstv.com/?bcpid=1463341049
This is a link to Jean Brown's method of quilting. She uses a hoop, deep recessed thimble, and a quilting notion called an aunt betty. She also has a web site where you can purchase the thimble and aunt betty which are key to doing her technique. I found it works much better than the rocking method. My hands don't get as tired and once you practice enough it goes along faster. Hand quilting is all about practice!
Budsgram,

That video is AMAZING! I'm going to find myself an Aunt Betty ASAP!(When I Googled it, it's actually called an Aunt BECKY rather than Aunt "Betty"....FYI)

Alma, I suggest you take a look at the video since you haven't developed any ingrained hand quilting habits yet that you would have to break to learn the method Jean Brown uses. I'm going to struggle with it I can tell because of my old habits, but I cannot believe how fast she loads that needle with perfect stitches!!
Jean's video is excellent and all the comments about practice are exactly right. We sell the Aunt Becky: http://www.connectingthreads.com/Tools/Aunt+Beckys+Finger+Saver_TD8...
Jean also has a website the link is
http://jeansimpressions.com/
she sells the thimble, aunt becky, and deep recessed thimble
I loved how in the video (mentioned above) the night before she starts working on her quilt, she "loads" something like 30 needles before she sits down to quilt so that when one runs out, she just picks up another one that she's already threaded and knotted! She stores them needle-end down in what looked like a large pill bottle and drapes the threads over the sides and then puts the cap on. thought that was a KILLER idea because I hate the stopping, starting again thing and so I usually use more thread than I should at a time and then I deal with knotting or tangling etc.

I thought that was a GREAT idea. I also like how she used her needle to "sweep" around under the quilt top to pull the tail of her knotted end into the quilt rather than clipping it. That quick little video really contains a LOT of great basic information for beginning quilters (and those of us who are too stubborn to learn it from someone else).
P.S. Tansy- You really should see that video. She does NOT "rock" her needle and her wrists do not bounce up and down because of the "Aunt Becky" device she uses under the quilt. This keeps her wrists and fingers from getting tired and sore and she quilts amazingly fast.
I ordered the Aunt Becky...do I need a recessed thimble or use the ones I have?

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