Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Teaching hand quilting

The other day I was trying to teach hand quilting. Actually two of my friends had made their quilt flimsies and I'd sent them home with instructions to do the quilting. Obviously that wasn't enough instruction. I'm pretty sure I demonstrated before giving the homework but one student had a lot of trouble (for various reasons... the backing puckered. We re-basted).

I have never had problems hand quilting. My first few quilts might not have been great but I have a feeling I developed my stitch fairly easily after buying a thimble. (Before that I was only getting back-stabbed right hand fingers! OUCH!) I felt like I was a real quilter with a thimble on my finger!

Then someone handed me a quilting hoop and I had to learn the technique all over, but by the next quilt I was doing pretty well again.

A few months later someone demonstrated using a thimble on the left hand index finger as well as on the right hand and I was impressed with their small stitches. I spent another quilt learning the double thimble technique but I got pretty good at that too!

And this last year, Erika recommended an Aunt Becky, and Liz sent me one! I've now developed my hand quilting technique using the Aunt Becky and I am very happy with it. I really enjoy the relaxation of hand quilting.

So, maybe hand quilting comes easily to me. I realize that some people really don't like using the hoops and thimbles but I always say,

"Keep trying. It really does make the quilting look nice and remember, you are aiming for small stitches (aiming!)"

Even so, many people give up using that bottom thimble. Oh, well, there are many ways to do it!

I had sent my two students home with homework. But one student came back with a "punctured" quilt stitch. Not a running quilt stitch. Poke the needle down. Pull thread to the back. Poke the needle back up blindly, hoping for a spot near the down-poke. Pull the thread up. This did not make for a line of stitches and on the back side the stitches were basically back stitches.

"Oh dear. This is going to take you forever and probably won't look so good! You really must master a running stitch!"

Poor woman! We took out many of her stitches and I tried teaching a running stitch (with hoop, with thimbles). AARGH!!! It certainly didn't come easily for her! My student was dropping thimbles, bending needles to breaking point, pulling up gobs of fabric and only getting one stitch done at a time (well, that's twice as fast as the punctured stitch technique). And on top of all that, she is left handed so my demonstrating was very difficult for her to follow!

My feeble teaching admonition was

"Strive for two stitches at a time. Don't expect to be able to put 6 stitches on a needle at first. Consider it a success if you can do two stitches. The more you do the better you'll get." (I sure hope!!!)

The other student was having fun with two rather long stitches on her needle.

"Now try to get three stitches on the needle. Try to make the stitches smaller."

But what it boils down to is I know HOW to quilt but I don't know how to TEACH quilting. Any advice besides,

"Keep practicing!"

So far my students are NOT finding hand quilting "Relaxing".

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