I will be teaching hand quilting at the Studio this weekend. I love teaching this class because I only hand quilt my quilts and I love passing this skill along to others. In preparing for the class, I was reminded of the questions I am frequently asked about the topic. In an earlier blog, I talked about my favorite products but there were a few other areas I didn’t address. What color quilting thread should I use? Do I change the thread color when quilting over different fabrics or do I just use one? And then there is the most frequently asked question at the Studio concerning quilting: how should I quilt my quilt?
Let’s start with the last question first. My absolute favorite way to quilt and what I use most often is outline quilting which is to quilt a little bit more than a quarter of an inch around every patch. Why “a little more” than a quarter of an inch? That’s because if I try to do exactly a quarter of an inch I would probably be hitting the bulk from the seam allowances which would make my job much more difficult. By quilting a little bit more than a quarter of an inch from the seam line, I will miss those extra layers of fabric. I eyeball the quarter-inch but, if you prefer, you can use a quarter-inch masking tape made for quilters as a guide.
When I get to the borders or in areas with large-scale prints, the design decision is easy. I let the printed design on the fabric dictate my quilting design.
Now, concerning thread color and whether or not to change thread, I would have to give the very unpopular answer of “it depends.” First of all, I don’t like to use bright colors. I like the look of more muted thread colors. Here are the colors I use most: a grey-blue or teal being my favorite plus ecru, black and rust.
I try to use the same thread throughout but I do sometimes change. An easy decision is using black on black, tan on tan, etc. When choosing a thread color, I tend to go a little darker than the fabric I will be stitching on. I pick up the darker lines in the fabric.
For more information, you can refer to my book, Quiltmaking by Hand. But above all, remember that this is your quilt. There are so many possibilities. Experiment, try new colors and products and find what works best for you.