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Hi Everyone,

To all you hand quilters out there, I was wondering what needle size/brand you like; your favorite thread and wax or no wax?

I mostly do machine work but I would like to be able to hand quilt well. I have a practice piece, a little wholecloth that came pre-marked with a design. I am trying to master the rocking stitch. I can't seem to get comfortable with it, I've been using betweens size 12; one really short and one that seems too tall.

I thought you may have some suggestions?

Lisa in New England

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Comment by Beverly Hicks Burch on February 10, 2009 at 6:57pm

I also use John James (I like the large eye needles) and I prefer a # 8 or 9. If I can't find a John James then another good English quilting needle.
Comment by Lisa M./MA on February 9, 2009 at 9:43am
Hi Caroquilts and Cat Lady,
Thank you for the information this will help.
I never thought about the ergonomics of the rocking stitch. I just thought it was the most efficient way to quilt and I like the idea of the soothing rhythm.
Comment by Cat Lady--MO on February 9, 2009 at 5:50am
John James makes a "large eye" quilting needle. Try a #10. It is smaller and thinner than a nine.
If you use a good hand quilting thread you should not have to was it. If you cut your thread no longer than 18" you may not even need to wax regular cotton thread.
No one ever said the rocking stitch was the only way to hand quilt. Matter of fact, some of the more ergonomically concerned doctors do not recommend it.
Comment by caroquilts on February 8, 2009 at 7:46pm
oops! sorry, forgot to answer the rest of your question. I started on a hoop that you just hold in your lap, but graduated to a lap hoop with a stand, that has the hoop that you can rotate in all directions, which keeps your hands free. I used a 12" hoop then went up to a 14" hoop, which I liked better because I could do more quilting before changing it to another area. I have never waxed my thread, but started out with coats and clark 100% cotton thread, but found it to have a lot of lint, so I have just started to use the essential egyptian thread from connecting threads, which I like a lot better. Also try using the little thimble tips for the finger underneath, so that you are not always poking yourself with the needle. The larger needle gives you more control over what you are doing, but it's not so big, and not so thin, If your needle starts to look bent, throw it away and start with a new one. I agree with Edith, that a size 12 is a really short, thin needle, and can be a little hard to keep between your fingers at first, so I wouldn't start with that size. like I said a 9 is a good place to start. Hope you find this helpful!
Comment by caroquilts on February 8, 2009 at 7:28pm
when I first started hand quilting, I started with a size 9 john james needle, and have worked my way down to a ten. It's more important for the stitches to be even, than small at this time. Try to do 2 to 3 stitches at a time, and don't try to do it fast until you get the hang of it and get the feel for it. It does require concentration at first, but when you master it, it is really good feeling. I love to do it, but haven't for awhile, because of eyes not seeing to well, and hands that don't seem to want to work to well. (arthur gave me his itis), and my hands work slower now. But overall I find it very relaxing, and a wholecloth is just the right place to start. Please post a picture of it, if you can.
Comment by Lisa M./MA on February 8, 2009 at 5:21pm
Thank you Lynne!
Edith, yes the whole thing is about 18" square and I use a small lap hoop that has two sizes of hoops on it. I tried it with the tension pretty loose today which helped some.
Comment by Lynne on February 8, 2009 at 4:37pm
Lisa, I use a size 10 between and usually YLI quilting thread. YLI is a prewaxed thread, but sometimes I may pick up some wax and use it on it. I have never been able to master the rocking stitch, and I have been quilting for about 33 years. I do the stab stitch, or as I like to call it Pokeanjab. Doing it this way, I tend to have my quilt in the frame as tight as I can get it. For the rocking stitch you need it loose. Hope this helps. Lynne
Comment by Edith Lean/Ont. on February 8, 2009 at 4:20pm
Sorry, regarding to wax or not, I use wax if the thread I am using is not especially made for quilting. At the moment I am using a varigated thread on my current project so I am waxing it.
Comment by Edith Lean/Ont. on February 8, 2009 at 4:18pm
Size 12 seems too small to me, especially for a novice to hand quilting. I use a size 9/10 on most projects and a size 12 on whole cloth type quilts (ones where I have few if any seams to go over). Are you using a frame to quilt?

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