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Hi everyone!  I'm new to this group and new to quilting.  I took a class at Joann's when I lived in Atlanta and completed my first quilt - a baby quilt.  The lady who taught me was very good, but she only knew about machine quilting, and I have discovered I LOVE hand quilting and piecing!  I've pieced together a table topper and am getting ready to hand quilt it.  I now live in a city where there is not a LQS and do not know any quilters in this area.  So, I wanted your recommendations of what technique I should start with as a beginner.  I really don't want to prick my finger.  I've seen many people like Jean Brown's method, as well as the Thimble lady's.  Would love to hear from you all your ideas.  Thanks! 

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Replies to This Discussion

I too use safety pins.  They are just another form of basting. 

I love Craftsy's classes, although I haven't taken that one. I agree about keeping with it. Practice will lead to more even stitches, which is more important than short. Eventually those shorter stitches will come.

I have hand-quilted for many years and just checked out Roxanne McElroy's book "That Perfect Stitch" from the library.  It has helped me quite a bit with a quilt that is very difficult to work with.  And I learned many little tips from her.  She has excellent pictures and instructions.  A used copy is very reasonable on Amazon.com if your library doesn't have it.  

Craftsy has a bunch of classes on sale through tomorrow night, including a class in hand-quilting. I really love their classes, and you can download them to watch offline, if you know you're going to be away from internet.
Other than a good class, it's the way to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.
Having even stitches is much more important than tiny. You can make a lovely hand-quilted quilt even if you're a beginner.
I use Roxann's size 11 betweens. Many needles bend easily, and then they don't go where I want them. As with most things, though, we all have different needs, so it's good to try various sizes and styles and see what works for you. (I also prefer a size 11 betweens for hand-appliqué, so go figure!)
I'm hand-quilting a quilt started years ago. Something I use a lot is masking tape, when I want straight lines or cross-hatching. I prefer regular masking tape to blue painter's tape, which isn't as sticky and has to be replaced sooner. I use 3/4 - 1", because skinny tape doesn't stay put for long.

You are so (or is it sew) right Peggy, the tan masking tape it best.  I also use it as a measurement if i am spacing my lines 1/2", 3/4" or 1" apart.  Saves a whole lot of marking time.

I use safety pins for machine quilting, basting for hand quilting (unless it is a very small project, then I will use straight pins!). I can't use a hoop, it feels awkward to me. I use a very short needle (might be a 10?) and no thimbles. I just had to do trial & error to find my own way :)

Vicki, I use safety pins for my hand quilting too.  I would be afraid that straight pins wouldn't hold the fabric right and that I would also be stabbing myself with them.  I used to use a lot of basting spray when I lived in Las Vegas, but it doesn't work quite as well here in MO where it is more humid.  

Comment about using masking tape to mark your stitch lines: do you know about that paper medical tape?  I think Johnson and Johnson is the manufacturer.  I used to occasionally use masking tape for some projects, but discovered the paper medical tape peels off clean and doesn't leave a residue on things--fabric or templates.  One brand of that tape has tiny little ... scallops I guess you'd call them, along the edges, but you can find the tape that has a plain edge.  It's also a thinner, lighter-weight tape, so doesn't resist flexing as you maneuver the fabric. 

As for hand quilting recommendations, I definitely recommend using a thimble.  I have several "quilters' thimbles" that instead of a domed top, have a recessed top with a ridge around the edge--that way the needle doesn't slip off.   Where WE (the 3 generations) all wind up pricking our fingers is the left hand, from feeling the underside of the quilt for when the needle comes through.  There are little "sticky dot" devices that are supposed to shield your fingers--I've tried them, and usually find that, oh, yeah, it prevents me from pricking my middle finger, I'm using the third finger.  And of course, pricking it instead.  There are also what was called a "thumble", which has a little slot for the needle to fit into and you could use that instead of a conventional thimble.  I've also got a thing--called itself a thimble--for the "off" hand that has a pointy top and a flange, supposedly you can use this device to push the fabric up from the underside to make a "dimple" for the stitch.  I can't make it work, but then, I find if you've learned and practiced a certain technique for 50 years, it's really hard to try a new one.  I also use a hoop or a frame, because I find that having the fabric stretched (but not too tightly) makes the rocking easier.  And definitely a thimble!  Classes.  I've never taken a class, wanted to one time at a regional meeting of the Nebraska State Quilt Guild, but it was the only class offered that I was interested in, and at $250 for the entire meeting, plus travel expenses and a motel room that would accept my husband and dog--wasn't worth it.  But then, when I was growing up, there was nearly always a quilting frame set up in the house in the winter.  I guess you could say I absorbed quilting through my skin. 

I thought of a way you might get to know about other quilters in your area--depending on whether or not you live in a state with an organized state quilt guild.  In Nebraska at least, you can lot onto the state quilt guild's web site and look up local guilds--you might be able to find one nearby that way. 

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