Monday, April 14, 2014

Big Stitch Quilting

Ah..., what a crazy, busy weekend. Late Saturday afternoon I decided to load my girls in the car and head to the city (an hour drive from where we live) so they could get Easter dresses. An old tradition around here, but one that's been neglected the last couple years due to the bad economy.
Hand quilting 'Spring Forward'
We had a great time, but I guess my little (ha!) girls are not die-hard shoppers anymore. They've lost the habit somewhere in the reorganization of life as they knew it before the forced frugal regime.*wink  As soon as they realized that finding shoes to go with their lovely, new dresses would start shaving time out of their precious day off, they bailed on me super quick and started talking about Zappos. Hey, what? I capitulated quickly once I thought it all through though. Anything that results in more quilting time for mama, I'm good. Back to my hoop and big stitch quilting adventures!
Stitching the border
So far I've used the #5 Perle Cotton thread on the flower, the narrow brown sashing and now the brown border too. I'll be straight up with you about this thread, it's not my favorite size to work with. I do love the chunky look to it, but it is much harder (initially) to pull through the fabric without making a run. I finally remembered the tip Meredithe (thank you from the bottom of my heart!) gave me about pulling the knot through the back side of the quilt when starting and then of course when finishing up too. I've forgotten the finishing up part a couple times and about put a monster hole in my quilt trying to 'pop' the knot through. Believe me, pulling the knot from the back works out MUCH better. For some reason it doesn't leave as many little tiny runs in the fabric pulling straight from the back and if/when it does, I'm not as stressed about the results. Win, win.
Stitching tulips
To my surprise, (I'm always startled when an idea presents itself out of the clear blue and I immediately implement it without weighing pros and cons for days on end) I decided to combine several different sizes of thread in this quilt. I've combined big stitch quilting with machine quilting before, but on this quilt, I'm combining #5 Perle Cotton big stitch quilting with regular hand quilting stitching too. I wanted some of the stitching to recede a little so the regular hand quilting is in areas where I don't want the stitching to compete or distract from the boldness of the #5 thread. If I'm going to the trouble of using #5 Perle Cotton, I definitely want it to shine!

I've also used the #8 Perle Cotton thread to outline the stem of the flower and on the leaves. It's a very interesting combination to me and as I'm switching back and forth from the different threads, it's extremely easy to notice (and appreciate) how much smoother it is to just 'slide' the #8 thread through the fabric than the it is with the #5 thread--lots less resistance as the thread is not nearly as thick. Then, when I switch to the regular hand quilting weight of thread, it absolutely feels like I'm flying in comparison. No kidding--huge difference!

If there's nothing else to learn from this quilt, I'm figuring out that the true meditative qualities derived from hand quilting are much more apparent with regular hand quilting thread than from big stitch type quilting. But don't worry, I am NOT giving up my Perle Cotton love anytime soon. Just commenting on the obvious!


  1. Que bueno!!!
    en mi región también estrenamos ropa en pascua
    el refrán dice(quien no estrena no tiene manos) se dice en bable el idioma del Principado de Asturias
    el acolchado precioso
    me gusta
    buena semana

  2. Jo Glover does a series of you tube videos on big stitching that show a great way to support the fabric when pulling thru the knot. Here is the link to the first one and the last one has a great little quilt show on big stitched quilts that are simple yet gorgeous. The link is:

  3. I tend to stitch my big stitch with a size 8 thread. I love the effect and how quick it comes along.

  4. It looks like the variety of thread weights will really complement the folky design of your quilt.
    When I get a little *thread run* in my fabric as a result of tugging a knot of thread through it (front or back), I just go back and pick up the pulled thread gently with my needle tip and tug it ever so lightly. Voila ~ run disappears!

  5. No matter what size you use your quilts look beautiful. Hugs

  6. I haven't tried the #5 thread and now I don't know if I want to LOL - I'm using #12 on the red/black that I am working on - I love the quilt you are working on no matter what size the thread :)

  7. It's great to hear your thoughts on quilting. I'm basting a quilt today that I'm planning to use different threads on, I've got some tapestry yarn I want to try for extra bold stitches and embroidery floss.

  8. I have not tried any big stitch quilting yet. It really looks great on your quilt! (I like the quilt too!)

  9. We've learned over the years, anything goes. It's going to look great with the different threads.

  10. So many good points (and not just in your writing either!) I think there is a huge difference between 5 and 8 and then 8 and 12, which is where my comfort zone is. You are so right about the meditative experience dwindling in correlation to the size of the thread. You've given me a lot to think about when I finally get to stitch my next piece - thanks! Take care, Pam

  11. Hello Audrey,

    Lovely quilting, great to hear what you think of different threads. Keep up the great work.

    Happy days.

  12. Lovely! I have never used #5 thread before, but probably will sometime as I love big stitch quilting. I will use your tip of pulling the knot through the back then, thanks!

  13. I've never big stitched before but definitely want to at some point ... and your comments about the various size threads is something I will remember when I do some big stitching. I can't wait to see this finished ... I'm looking forward to seeing the effects of the various sizes of threads.

  14. I joke that all my quilting is "big stitch" quilting but yours actually looks like it's supposed to! Great tip about pulling the knot through from the back! I'm going to try that one. Have a wonderful day!

  15. I haven't been able to get the rhythm or consistency of the big stitch with perle cotton. Yours looks great!

  16. It's looking really good. Glad the tip is helping you out! I love the idea of mixing threads in the quilting - I've mixed perle 8 and 12 but not thought of regular quilting thread.

  17. What a great tip about the knot on the back! The texture of your stitching is just absolutely divine... love it!


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