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Quilting by Hand

How to hand quilt

This technique guide is written by Little Miss Fancy Frocks, the dynamic mother and daughter duo who lovingly create handcrafted clothing for adults and children. Visit their Facebook page here.

 The articles is sponsored by Minerva Crafts, suppliers of all your embroidery requirements.


Hand quilting skills

Quilting is a traditional craft enjoyed by individuals and quilting groups all over the country.

Quilting is the process of sewing together three layers of fabric – the bottom layer, the sandwich filling of wadding and a top layer. The three layers can be stitched together by hand, machine or free machine embroidery. The stitching can be functional and/or decorative.


You will need…

Hand quilting supplies
  • Top fabric – light to medium weight, approximately ½ metre of 112cm wide fabric for samples
  • Wadding – approximately 1 metre x 1 metre for samples
  • Bottom fabric – light to medium weight, approximately ½ metre of 112cm wide fabric for samples
  • Tacking or basting thread
  • Threads – for hand quilting (we used Gutermann Sulky)
  • Hand sewing needle for the cotton and for the tacking thread
  • A fabric pen to transfer designs
  • Embroidery hoop


Marking designs for hand quilting

Hand quilting is a lovely relaxing form of embroidery. Choose a simple design for your first sample – we have used interlocking squares. Transfer the design onto the top fabric.


Tacking layers for hand quilting

Tack the three layers together and this will prevent the fabrics from slipping.

Tie a knot for quilting

Make a single knot at the end of the thread. Insert your needle into the fabric about 6cm away from where you intend to start quilting. Bring your needle onto the surface to commence quilting and gently pull the knot into the wadding. The intention is to lose the knot in the layers. 

Take a hand quilting stitch

Place your needle in the fabric and resurface about half a centimetre away. The stitches and the spaces between them should be the same length. You will naturally bend the fabric to make sure the needle resurfaces. You can usually make two or three stitches in the same movement with a rocking motion as you pick up the fabric, so practice to get into a rhythm.

Quilting techniques

Try and follow a logical approach when quilting to minimise the number of thread joins.

Hand quilting tips

It’s a simple design but very effective for a first sample.

Ideas for hand quilting

We used our sample piece to make a small cosmetic bag.

Echo hand quilting

Alternatively, if you have a fabric with a large design you can quilt along the outline of the design.