Hand Quilting: Sewing by Hand

Why I enjoy Hand Quilting.

Today’s trend is fast and easy. And that’s good for a lot of projects – a quick gift or home decor, our need to finish something and have that feeling of accomplishment.

But sometimes we need to slow down and relax. A bit of hand sewing can be just the thing – especially during the cooler months. I like to gather everything I’ll need, fix a cup of tea and put my favorite movie on. Sometimes the gathering everything can take up my whole time, so I like to put some hand sewing projects into a gallon Ziploc bag. I call them my kits. I can just grab one, the cup of tea and head for a comfy – but supportive – chair and turn on my movie.

Sewing by hand can include, but is not limited to, needle turn applique, piecing, hand quilting, English paper piecing, or embellishing on an existing quilt top.

Sometimes we tend to shy away from things like this because we are unfamiliar with their secrets. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn these techniques. Perhaps some dedication and practice time is about all you’ll need to spend. The majority of hand sewing is a matter of muscle memory. Training your hands – and the muscles inside – how to make these new movements is the main thing. Repetition of the movements refines your work and before you know it – you’re sewing by hand without giving it a second thought. Yay!

How to enjoy Hand Quilting

There are a few things to keep in mind, for a truly pleasurable experience.

  • Start slow. Doing too much the first day is like overdoing it at the gym on your first day. You’ll be using new muscles to do new things and if you overdo it – you’ll be sore in places you didn’t know you had places.
  • Do a little bit everyday, increasing your time by 5-10 minutes every other day.
  • Use good quality tools. Most important here is your needle. Don’t try to do lovely hand stitching with that little pack you got at the grocery store 5 years ago. Splurge on some quality needles. Why? Cheap needles can easily develop burrs at the tip and eye. This makes it hard to push the needle through the fabric and the thread will break often from the burrs around the eye of the needle. This is just frustrating and no fun!
  • Use good quality thread and a thimble.
  • Make or buy a pretty pincushion just for hand sewing.
  • Use a pretty box for your hand sewing supplies. I use a box that had stationary in it.
  • Start with a small project.

The important thing is to enjoy the process. The feel of the fabrics, seeing the colors and patterns come together in your own unique way, and admiring the beautiful seam you’ve sewn. Pamper yourself and start a hand piecing quilting project!

Hand Quilting | Project in bag Hand Quilting Hand Quilting My sewing box


About Karen

Karen has been a seamstress since the age of 9, and a quilter for the past 25 years. She's enjoyed all sorts of quilt adventures including quilt making, hand quilting, quilt design, quilt magazine publication (Cotton Spice) and now she's the editor of The Quilt Pattern Magazine.  She wrote a book - Log Cabin Quilts: A Brand New Story by Karen Murphy (I've since remarried) with Martingale and Company in 2004. Karen also enjoys knitting, writing and editing, and hunting treasure in thrift stores and estate sales. She has 14 grandchildren and one on the way. You can read her blog on writing and editing at http://livinginserendipity.com  Or visit her Etsy shop where she sells her primitive stitchery designs https://www.etsy.com/shop/karne


  1. montessoriquiltr@gmail.com' Dee Gordon says:

    I love hand work too and always have a hand sewing project in a zip lock bag, ready to be packed for trips away or just to be brought out to enjoy in a quiet time. What a wonderful idea for a “hand sewing” work box..I am going to build one this afternoon! Thanks for the inspiration

  2. Hi Dee! Have fun with your sewing box, it’s a great place to do some fun embellishments and ‘fancy stuff’ 🙂

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