Thursday, 26 May 2016

Hand quilting my la passacaglia quilt

This week I started hand quilting my la passacaglia quilt.  Of course there are many different methods to hand quilt, but this is what I've decided to do.  Some people have machine quilted their la passacaglia quilts, but I always knew I would hand quilt mine.  After all that hand work piecing it together, it seemed right to follow through with hand quilting.


The batting.  I chose to use wool batting.  It's very soft and light, and drapes beautifully. I don't know the brand because I buy it off a huge reel at my local quilt shop.


The backing. For the backing I've used the remainder of the fabric I had to buy to get the right length of border fabric. It's dark and highly patterned so the quilting won't show up on the back, but I'm fine with that.  I think this backing complements the front of the quilt perfectly. It's Effervescence by Amelia Caruso for Robert Kaufman.


The basting.  I used to baste my own quilts, but then I had a few close calls where the top moved and the back was no longer aligned with the top.  I then found out that long arm quilters can machine baste quilts on their machines for a small fee.  I've taken my last two quilts to be machine basted and I'm very pleased with the outcome.  The long armer sews rows 3" apart, with a stitch length of 1".  It means the basting is very firm and secure.  You can see some of the lines in this photo below.


The thread.  My favourite style of hand quilting used to be big stitch hand quilting with DMC Perle 8.  However, I knew that that wouldn't suit this quilt, with all the tiny pieces in it.  In January I started to experiment with Aurifil 12wt and 28wt.  I love the softness of the 12 wt and it has replaced DMC Perle 8 as my preferred thread now.  However, the 28wt is even finer, and I've decided to use it for my la passacaglia. I don't have a huge range of colours, but I'm slowly building up a little collection in the colours I will need. I now belong to a thread club at The Country Yard in Maungatapere and they post me out my own choice of threads each month.  I like the Aurifil because it is smooth and silky, unlike some of the coarser hand quilting threads on the market.


Hoop, needle and thimble.  Yes, I use a good quality hand quilting hoop.  Yes, I use a thimble on the middle finger of my right hand (I'm right handed). I use a Clover open sided thimble, which is adjustable, and save my finger getting too hot.  I always used Chenille needles with Perle 8, and still like them, but I'm using a small size now with the Aurifil 28wt.



Quilting design.  I've decided to keep the quilting quite simple.  I want the design of the rosettes to be the major feature of this quilt.  The quilting will really just serve to secure the layers together. Therefore, I'm going to match my thread to the fabrics where ever practical.  I don't intend to change thread for every little pentagon, so in some cases I'll quilt through them with the thread used on the diamonds. The star points will not be quilted..  They are too small, and there are too many seam allowances in behind them.


I've devised my own quilting pattern, based on what I've seen others doing, and what I think will work for my quilt. We have a folder of hand quilting examples in the photo albums of the facebook group - Millefiori / la passacaglia.  Just ask to join and I'll let you in!


As for the quilting on the borders - I'll think about that while I'm quilting the centre.

Marking the quilting line. I've used every method available over the years - masking tape, blue washout pen, regular pencil, etc.  I've recently bought a Clover hera marker and I'm finding that the best yet.  No marks to wash out, and no sticky needle from the masking tape. I might do parts of the quilt free hand without lines, but to get started I'm marking lines with the hera marker and a ruler.


Overall impressions.  Hand quilting a hand pieced quilt is different to quilting a machine pieced quilt. There are many bumps and lumps where the seams meet.  I did press the quilt before I took it in for basting, but there's always going to be lumps when that many seam allowanced meet up.  I'm not worried about it - it just feels different when you run you hands across it.


A hand pieced quilt is not as securely pieced as a machine pieced quilt.  I've now quilted the very first rosette I made, and I'm grateful that my English Paper Piecing techniques improved through out the course of the quilt. Hand quilting does give you the opportunity to study each seam again, and secure down and pieces which might be in danger of coming loose.  Remember - the purpose of quilting is to secure the three layers together - top, batting and backing.


How to hand quilt.  If you've read all this and think "if only I could hand quilt" then I suggest you watch this video by Sarah Fielke.  She explains it in a very simple manner.  I've watched this video multiple times, and I recommend it to everyone starting out.  Just accept that your stitches won't be perfect at first.  It's like cake decorating - you need to practice before you attempt to decorate your own wedding cake.

You can read find all my other posts about my la passacaglia quilt here on the la passacaglia page.

28 comments:

allthingzsewn said...

This finished beautifully. You were about half way done when I first saw it. Perfect border and backing.

Melody said...

I'm feel breathless with admiration for you. What a wonderful quilt...you star.

Pip said...

I think you're right to keep the quilting fairly simple, you want the focus to be on the beautiful rosettes. I'm a fan of Aurifil threads too, I much prefer the 12wt to perle cotton. May I ask how much it cost for your quilt to be basted?

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

great job - I think it is great to hand quilt this quilt even though I'm sure there are plenty making it that think there are too many seams - keep it simple well help you -

Julie said...

This is going to be amazing. I have just purchased some Aurifil 28wt to handquilt my Liberty Bloomsbury. I was very interested to read your thoughts on the Hera marker, I think I will need to invest in one - where did you get yours?

margaret said...

how wonderful this is going to be and so interesting reading all about how you go about quilting it. Wish I knew someone who would tack the layer together ready for quilting I find that the hardest part and my very large ones have not dared tackle have not the floor space to do them here. I love the hera marker but have heard sometimes the line left stays noticeable but so far not had that problem.Not tried using a hoop when I have hand quilted so off to watch the video now. his is going to be one amazing quilt when completed I am in awe

Jenny said...

Its all looking great - and you seem to be well on the way with your hand quilting. A big job, of course, and what a thrill when you complete it, doing it "your way".

Patchwork and Play said...

What a beauty this is Wendy!! I totally agree with wanting to hand quilt a hand pieced quilt! I look forward to seeing this progress and ultimately being finished!

Unknown said...

Thank you for all the info and inspiration. Your work is awesome. ScrappyKathy

Sandi said...

Already your quilting is looking amazing Wendy. I can't imagine how wonderful it will be when you are finished!

I'm working on Sarah's current BOM and will check out her video later. I'm reminded of a friend's quote of how Gwen Marston has embraced the pucker when hand quilting.

I'm amazed how much you already quilted. I love Aurifil threads but have not yet been able to see or try the 12 weight. I do have some 28 weight but not tried it for hand quilting. Thanks for all the lovely tips. Continue to enjoy your process!

Alison said...

As a hand quilter from way back, it thrills my heart to see it making a comeback. The best of show winner at the recent Great New Zealand Quilt show held here in Rotorua was hand quilted. My friends almost had to hold me down - I was so excited. When photos appear of the huge quilt shows in the USA the winners are invariably long arm quilted "to within an inch of their lives" It often puts the quilt design into the background which doesn't seem right to me. Great job you are doing. Thanks for the heads up on Aurifil which I am now getting from Kerryn.

LadySchep said...

Gorgeous! I love the idea of someone else basting a quilt for me--I'll definitely have to look into it. I am currently working on a millefiore quilt myself and was debating how big of a task hand quilting would be, so this is an inspiration. Thanks!

Kat said...

Gorgeous! I'm so impressed with all of you who hand sew! Your backing fabric is perfect and I love the hand quilting!

Charlotte Scott said...

So, so beautiful!
I showed my daughter (aged 8) says,"Oh my gosh! You should enter it in a competition!"

Tawa said...

Wow. Maybe next year you could travel up to PNth, and show this off at Tote and Gloat? Its an amazing quilt, and the backing fabric is perfect.

Sue said...

Your quilting is fa ulous Wendy, and I can't wait to do some big stitch quilting on the next suitable quilt I have in the offing. As you know it was my quilt that won Best of Show in the Great NZ Quilt Show, and I had that quilt basted by Judi Schon in Auckland, on her long arm machine. With so may seams I thought it would be near impossible to baste easily. It cost me $50. which I was happy with. The quilt measures approx. 90" square.
Keep up the great blogging....a great source of info. :-)

JanineMarie said...

Your choice to hand quilt this one, just seems right. It is already lovely, and will be gorgeous when finished. I love looking at the close-up views. I still do some hand quilting of small projects, but haven't done a large quilt that way in quite awhile. Basting with thread was not enjoyable, so I'm glad to know now that it can be done by a long armer.

grapes and hearts said...

Wow! What a great piece of art and a labour of love. I am impressed by your skills and your perseverance.

Granny Maud's Girl said...

The backing looks as great as the borders and works brillinatly with the main quilt. I wish I had thought to have my DJ machine basted.

Ruth said...

It never occurred to me to machine baste - brilliant idea - thanks for the describing your process - really helps a lot!

Gurpreet Kalsi said...

Hello Wendy..your quilt is stunning. I'm planning on starting this quilt soon...I requested to join the group on Facebook yesterday but today the group has vanished from my search. Can you shed any light to what happened to it?

Chantal Thibodeau said...

Thanks for all your precise informations. I'm doing the book cover of the 2nd book. I was first thinking of machine quilting it but I changed my mind. I'm only half way to finish it but I'm already thinking about the quilting. Based on your work, I'm might try the Aurifil 28wt. My quilt have rosettes of 10 petals, imagine the bulk in the middle of that. I might invent a new way of hand quilting to secure those intersections. Your work is very inspiring.

Helen L said...

Wow!! It is amazing: the piecing, your fabric selections, and your quilting! Even your border is just perfect for this quilt! Wonderful post: thanks for all the info and all the wonderful pics! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

Cathy Melancon said...

Dearest Wendy! WOW and WOW!!! I just found your blog and what eye candy you have! Your quilts are nothing short of AMAZING!!! Just superior work and exquisite detail! I have never thought about EPP until last week when Alyce (Blossom Heart Quilts) posted her beginnings of EPP using Liberty of London fabrics! I told her she has created a monster! I have been researching this fun handwork ever since and this La Passacaglia caught my eye!!! This is the most amazing quilt I have ever seen! I'm smitten to say the least! I appreciate your blog posts on this and someday, this quilt will be in my future!!! I just had to comment and say WOW! I will be following your blog to see all the future fun work coming from you!!! Thank you!!!

Quilter Kathy said...

I loved seeing all these hand quilting photos... totally fabulous!

Nena said...

Thanks for posting all your beautiful pictures of your amazing La Passacaglia!
Would be willing to let me in your Millefiroi/la passacaglia Facebook group?

Wendy @ Wendysquiltsandmore said...

Yes Nena - you can certainly join. Just send me a friend request on facebook and then I can admit you to the group - or apply directly. This is my account https://www.facebook.com/wendy.welsh.180

Patricia said...

I couldn't imagine how I would hand quilt La Pass but now seeing the way you have quilted yours I can see that it is possible! I love the colour and fabrics in your quilt.