Quilting Untied

For several days I’ve been working on my Untied project. (Do see the link for a photo of the top, as well as discussion of my process.) Last week I pin basted it, at least as far as I could with so few pins. I intended to try big-stitch quilting with perle cotton. However, local shops don’t seem to carry size 8 perle cotton, only size 5. It is FAT, too fat for big-stitch quilting, though it might work perfectly well for tying a quilt. Since Untied will hang on the wall rather than take heavy use as a cover, I decided that embroidery thread will work fine.

I’m enjoying the process so far. The progress is deceiving, though. I can feel like I’m working quickly, covering a lot of ground, while in truth there is so far to go!

Here are a couple of photos to show my work in process:

20160517_181629 20160517_181926

I had to decide pretty quickly not to worry about what the back looks like. After all, it will hang on the wall, and it isn’t a contest quilt.

Do you do big-stitch quilting? What’s your favorite part of that? Least favorite?


20 thoughts on “Quilting Untied

  1. zippyquilts

    I interviewed one of the original Big Stitch quilters a couple of years ago, but my wrists don’t want me to hand quilt any more. Yours looks good!

  2. Thread crazy

    I applaud you Melanie for doing the big stitch. I used to hand stitch but stopped a while back. I remember the same…after working for awhile I was so disappointed at the small progress I’d made. Hand stitching, big stitch, etc, is an art in itself. Your stitching looks great.

  3. snarkyquilter

    Yes, size 5 perle cotton is way too thick for even big stitch hand quilting. I’ve had best luck with size 12, which you can get in Finca and Valdani brands. I’ve also used 12 weight cotton thread (Sulky) which works well. Embroidery floss has the advantage of low cost and a wide color range. I just hate separating the strands and worry about its strength. If you’re interested in avoiding some of the knots on the back, start in the middle with a really long strand of thread, leave about half the length just hanging, and stitch in one direction. Then, come back to the hanging thread and stitch in the other direction. This kind of hand stitching is great for long car trips.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for the tips. I’ll guess the 12 weight threads are most easily available online. I certainly haven’t seen anything like that around here.

  4. KerryCan

    I haven’t done big stitch but I do like the look of it! There’s something about hand quilting that, to me, adds great warmth to the look of a quilt. I am unabashedly biased on this subject and actually quite relish the long time it takes to quilt by hand. That’s “me” time.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      In general I don’t have a preference for the look of either hand- or machine-quilting. It depends on the project and what is suitable, as well as execution, of course. However as much as I tried, I couldn’t think of a way to machine-quilt this project in a way I’d be happy. So far the hand-stitching is working as I’d hoped.

  5. TextileRanger

    Big stitch, small stitch, I love hand quilting but it seems both take equally long to me. Getting the large thread through the eye of a needle takes 10 minutes in itself. The process holds my interest the whole time I am doing it, but at the end of an evening, I look at it and go, “Is that all I got done?!!”

  6. jmn111

    A more ambitious woman than I am! You’d never catch me attempting to hand stitch a quilt, even a small one. The tedium would overwhelm me. Best of luck with this.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t mind the “tedium,” I guess. If any of it bothers me (other than the physical aspects,) it’s just that it is slow — as in, if it were faster, I’d be doing something else by now. Not sure if that difference is clear… Thanks.

  7. katechiconi

    I think what you’ve achieved so far looks very good. Why beat yourself up about type of thread or how the back looks if, as you say, it will not be subjected to use or inspection. I like the look of Big Stitch, I use it a lot myself, but I’m currently working on my Medium Stitch in the hope of shrinking it down to Proper Small Stitch. It’ll take a while…:-)

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh, not beating myself up at all. It’s just all new to me, so all I know is what I read on the internet. 🙂 So if everyone says use perle 8, that seems like a thing. If other people’s stitch lines are straight, with even spacing, with blah blah blah… Well, I don’t have anything to compare to but that. OTOH, I actually like what I’m doing very well, so it’s all good. 🙂


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