Hand Quilting

Every time I post about my hand quilting on instagram, I get a lot of questions. I thought it would be easier to make a permanent place for those answers to be stored here on my blog. Nothing in this post is sponsored. It is just my opinions on things I want to share to hopefully make someone’s life a bit easier in the hand quilting sense.

Last year, my husband’s aunt asked if I would like her Grace Company EZ2 hand quilting frames. I immediately jumped at the offer. Thankfully we have an unfinished basement and an easy way to store the frames when they are not in use. Because the set up does take a few minutes, I usually wait until I have 2-3 quilts that I would like to hand quilt before we get the frames out again. Every 6 months, the church that I belong to (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has a general conference for the entire worldwide membership. It spans 2 days and many hours of listening to inspiring messages from our leaders. I find it extremely helpful to have a handwork project to do during those hours of listening to help me focus and stay awake. 🙂 This Saturday and Sunday happen to be general conference and I am so excited to get my hand quilting going while listening.

I find the hand quilting frames extremely helpful to my overall process. I have tried hoops, pin basting, spray and pin basting, basically every method I could try for hand quilting. I have even done it with a very different hand quilting frame set up that my mom has. This is by far the best set up. It takes about an hour for me to get my quilt loaded and ready to go. There are several helpful youtube videos that Grace Company has produced that I reference every time, just to make sure I am doing it correctly.

As far as supplies go, I do find that batting type matters quite a bit. If it’s a cheap batting, there is lots of bearding that happens as you pull the thread through. It just requires some trial and error before you can decide on a batting that works best.

I use #8 Perle Cotton as my thread. I LOVE the chunky look of this thread. I feel like hand quilting takes so much time and effort that I really like to see the stitches. This is probably an abomination to a lot of quilters, but I love the added character it gives. JoAnn’s does stock some Perle Cotton, but they do not have a huge range of colors. If you are looking for something specific, I recommend Herrschner’s online. They have sooooo many colors. I do find that their shipping is slow and expensive. If you sign up for their emails, you can wait until there is a shipping deal if you are not in a hurry. I also buy 2 skiens at a time of every color I choose. For most quilts I use 1-1.5 skiens and you just never know when you’ll need more than 1. It is such a pain to get most of the way done to have to wait on more Perle Cotton to arrive.

I never mark my lines. This is usually an adventure, but I just am not particular enough to care that things are perfect. If this is something that matters to you, I suggest you mark your lines before you load your quilt (or pin baste it or whatever your preferred method is if you don’t have hand quilting frames).

I use embroidery needles instead of a smaller needle. The heads are large enough to fit the Perle cotton easily without much fuss. I also could not do this without my Clover Leather Thimble. I use this for quilting and binding and it is LIFE CHANGING. If you do a lot of handwork and you don’t have one of these, I promise it is worth the expense. I do a lot of hand work and I find that I usually need to replace it once a year because it stretches quite a bit with use. I order a small and after I use it two or three times, it is the perfect size.

If hand quilting is something you are interested in trying, there are tons of tutorials and resources available from other bloggers. The best advice I can give is to go for it. Start with a mini or a pillow cover and go from there. If you enjoy hand work at all, hand quilting is something that is so fun to add to your repertoire!

Range Backpack

The Range Backpack. It was love at first sight and I knew I had to make one. I had been carrying around a backpack style diaper bag for awhile and it was just something I saw everywhere and I wanted something with more personality. Fast forward a year and I was still scared to make it. This week I finally decided it was taking up enough of my brain energy (intermittently at least) and it was time. My main hold up for waiting was that I wanted to resize it a bit so it wasn’t a huge backpack, but something I could use as an every day purse/diaper bag.

For my supplies:

Outer canvas is Wildwood by Rifle Paper Co. in Garden Party (you can easily find it on Etsy from different suppliers)

The cork is from Stitch Supply Co. I bought it a year and a half ago for a different project and I am not sure if they carry it any more, but once again if you search “cork fabric” in Etsy, you’ll find a whole bunch of options and colors and metallic and non-metallic, etc.

Lining fabric is Add it Up in lipstick by Alexia for old Cotton + Steel. You can also still find this around.

The straps are 1 1/2″ cotton webbing that I ordered in Fuschia from AGraffSupplies on Etsy. I ordered a 2.5 yard increment and it was plenty.

The lobster clasp came from CraftOnTheCouch on etsy. I chose the antique brass finish. It did come from China and it took awhile, so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to be quick about things.

All of the rest of the hardware came straight from Anna Graham’s shop. She has a set for the Range Backpack. The finish I chose was “antique brass”.

The zipper came from ZipIt on Etsy. They are my go-to for ALL zippers. She ships quickly and her zippers are just the best YKK quality. Never, ever buy one from JoAnn’s again. These are far superior.

I could not have done this without my Violet Craft Seam Roller, my Clover seam ruler that you can iron on top of, my seam ripper (HA!), and honestly my lint roller. I used it to pick up the small threads left over from seam ripping.

Modifications made: 

I decided since this was going to be a diaper bag that I wanted it to be a little more water proof than just normal quilting cotton. One stray squirt from an applesauce squeeze and I would probably cry. I bought heat ‘n bond vinyl in matte. Honestly, this made it really hard to sew the interior and every time I had to flip it right side out, it left crazy crinkles in the vinyl. I don’t know that it will be very durable to be honest. I like it from the functionality stand point, but it is not as beautiful as I had hoped it would be.

I also changed the dimensions quite a bit on the pattern. I won’t share any of the publicly, but suffice it to say, if you decide to change the dimensions, it IS possible! I did not mess with the width and I would not recommend messing with the width. Much smaller and it wouldn’t really be useable.

I did add a second slip pocket in the interior and I would definitely recommend that. It was really easy to do and having more pockets is never, ever a bad idea.

I think those are the highlights. I do think I will make another one without a vinyl interior and see how I like it. I also would think about adding a layer of Annie’s soft & stable (or the Pellon equivalent) to the canvas instead of the 44″ thicker interfacing. I wouldn’t quilt it, but I think it would add a nice finishing touch.

Please let me know here or on instagram if you have any questions. I had some major help in suggestions from Erika @hello.erikabea and even though she says she didn’t do a lot, honestly her tips were so so so so so helpful in giving me confidence to go forward.

Dutchman’s Dilemma Pattern Release

I am beyond excited to finally release the pattern for my Dutchman’s Dilemma quilt. This has been a long time coming. My husband and I have worked really hard to take something that could have been REALLY confusing and made it consumable. One of the things I heard over and over from my pattern testers was how easy it was to follow, which was music to my ears. There are lots of diagrams for cutting, for piecing, for assembly, basically anything for which we could make a diagram. This quilt has an interesting background story and I think it’s fun to read about these from other designers so I thought I’d share mine here.

This is my original Dutchman’s Dilemma quilt. I doodled the idea out on a piece of graph paper when Moda announced their Bella Solids Challenge in 2017. I wasn’t sure how to make the construction a reality, but I bought the fabric and started trying to make it work. I had SO much fun making this quilt. It was unlike any quilt I had ever made before. It came together in a really different and fun way. I ended up being one of the finalists for the challenge, but I did not win. When this quilt came home from its trip to Dallas for judging, I had my husband put it in the basement in the box. I couldn’t look at it. I called it the quilt of shame. It took me several months to get over my sadness and to start working on different versions for my pattern. This quilt is now one of my most prized quilts, not because it was a finalist in the competition, but because I learned so much about myself through the process. It is on display at the very top of my quilt ladder today and will stay there.

When I remade this quilt for my pattern, I knew I wanted to make one with a darker background and one with a white background. Both look so strikingly different and work so well. I’ve said it several times on instagram, but this quilt pattern is so so so versatile. Any fabric works. The dark background is Robert Kauffman Neon Neppy in charcoal paired with some prints from Alison Glass Sunprints 2018. The white background quilt is Moda Bella 97 white paired with V and Co. Simply Colorful.

You can find this pattern for immediate PDF download in my etsy shop. I have included the fabric requirements below as well as on the Etsy listing for easy access.