So You Want to Try Hand Quilting?

Back in the day, quilters didn’t have many of the luxuries we now take for granted, but they still made beautiful quilts. Now, we opt to hand quilt not out of necessity, but for the nostalgia and it’s soft look.

If you have been looking to try out hand quilting but don’t know where to start, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Not only can you learn to hand quilt, but we’ve got quilting tutorials for hand-quilted embroidery, hand-appliqué techniques, hand quilting designs, and more! Check out our hand-quilting tips below.


  • Basic Hand-Quilting Techniques
  • Hand-Quilting Techniques and Ideas
  • Beautiful Redwork Hand-Quilted Embroidery Designs
  • How to Hand Appliqué: Starch and Press
  • Log Cabin Quilt Block Patterns

  • Basic Hand Quilting Techniques

    Before you even get started hand quilting, you need to acquire the right supplies! The basic supplies you’ll need are:

    • Hand-Quilting Needles: You’ll want specialty needles called Betweens. Most hand quilters opt for size 10 or 12, which is indeed very small. The short length makes the needle easier to control, but they are sharp enough to penetrate many layers of fabric.

    • Hand-Quilting Thread: This thread is specially coated and slightly heavier than regular thread to glide through all three layers and prevent fraying.

    • Hand-Quilting Hoop: This is thicker and stronger than an embroidery hoop, and you’ll need this to hold your fabric firmly in place.

    • Thimble: Trust us, you’ll want one even if you’ve developed a quilting callous! It’ll be worth it.

    Hand Quilting Techniques and Ideas

    Besides just adding a beautiful hand-stitched thread path, you can also get creative by hand stitching different fabrics and textures onto the tops of your quilts.

    Use buttons, jewels, and anything else you’d like! By holding these artistic elements in place with an iron-on adhesive like Mistyfuse, you can keep these embellishments from slipping around. You could use a glue stick too, but it tends to be a little stiff and hard to get a needle through.

    Beautiful Redwork Hand Quilted Embroidery Designs

    An increasingly popular technique in the traditional quilt world are redwork and bluework. These are not new techniques, but they are seeing a resurgence in use.

    Redwork and bluework simply mean to embroider old-fashioned hand-quilting designs on muslin fabric with blue or red embroidery floss. The stitching is beautiful, but don’t feel restricted with the traditional color palette! You can use these beautiful stitches in many ways.

    In this video tutorial, Heather Thomas chooses a piece of black silk dupioni backed with a piece of synthetic stabilizer to stitch on. Heather then uses a straight stitch in many creative ways to create an interesting grid design for her quilt. You can create all kinds of little art pieces like this to attach to the top of your quilts!

    How to Hand Applique: Starch and Press

    So you’ve learned to hand stitch, but want to take your quilting creativity to the next level? Try your hand (pun intended) at hand appliqué!

    Our mantra for hand appliqué is: trimming, starching, and pressing. Using a starch-and-press technique used to be done with a potato, but we won’t make you do that—you can use modern liquid starch!

    Hand appliqué allows you to make many different hand-quilting designs and an overall more interesting quilt. This technique may seem fussy, but many find starch-and-press a welcoming alternative to needle turning. It’s much quicker!

    That’s it!

    We hope we’ve given you the tools to get started in hand quilting. And if you’re already a hand quilter, maybe you learned something new!

    As tedious as it may seem, hand quilting is a beautiful tradition preserved because of its ability to provide accuracy and control. Many of us also carry fond memories of hand quilting with their grandmothers or older generations of quilters.

    Do you have any great hand-quilting memories? Let us know in the comments below or connect with us on Facebook!

    Quilting tips banner

    Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

    Make a comment:
    500 characters remaining

    23 Responses to “So You Want to Try Hand Quilting?”

    1. Milly Smith

      I did hand quilt small Christmas wreath wall hanging, not as precise as it should have been, but I did finish it after it sat for years!!! May not have been perfect but I was proud that I finished it and I hang every Christmas!!! Would love any help or tips you have to share!!!! Thanks

    2. marcie weissner

      Starting first baby quilt in a few years and it will be hand quilted. Looking for recommendations on batting. Thanks!

    3. Michele Bertrand

      I subscribed to your magazine but haven't gotten it yet. is Is there a way to check the status?

    4. Paola Maria Melis

      I have tried my hand at handquilting but without any professional instruction... so I am very interested in learning to do it correctly...

    5. Patricia Frank

      Heather, in your video on starch and press appliqué, you first say that the seam allowance is 1/2" which makes it sturdier than needle turn. Throughout the remainder of the video, you say 1/4" seam allowance. Please confirm whether it is 1/2" or 1/4". Thanks for your informative videos!

    6. Mary Hogan

      Enjoy these topics

    7. Molisa Moffett

      We are looking for sites that we could put on our guilds website to keep our members active in quilting and together during this season of Covid 19. We are a guilting guild of about 20 ladies. Would we be able to have permission to do this? Thank you.

    8. Judy Priddy

      When I hand quilt I can make it perfect on the top but the back of the quilt looks horrible.I found using a Hoop is difficult when the fabric is So Taunt. How can I make the back as lovely as the top. ?? I use the correct needle, thread but the hoop seems to be my Biggest Problem. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. *

    9. Cathy Primavera

      Have always wanted to give it a try!

    10. renata

      How close to the edge do I hand quilt? I am thinking about having to square up the quilt in preparation for binding and am worried that I may have to cut through my handquilting if I get too close to the edge. In the event that I do quilt too close to the edge, how do I square up for binding preparation without jeopardizing my stitches? thank you.