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Quilting Questions

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?


hand quilting class


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.


Hand Quilting Thread

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.


Thread on Quilt

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.

8 thoughts on “Quilting Questions

  1. I have a big problem, I quilt with my thumb away from me..I cant seem to go sideways , and circles are a challenge..Any suggestions will help, thank you.

    1. Teach yourself to quilt with both hands. That way one hand can go one direction and the other can go the opposite. It takes a lot of practice but you can learn. Or just keep practicing going other directions. Definitely check out my “Quiltmaking by Hand” book.

  2. Thank you for the information. Now what is your favorite type of hoop – lap, stand, round, square , size? Thank you

    1. I prefer quilting on a free standing standard quilt frame. See page 176 to 197 of my book “Quiltmaking by Hand”. For very small projects I use a 16″ round hoop. You can turn it to get the best sewing angle.

  3. Your 1999 pattern Jaipur says “cut strips that are 2 7/16″ wide and at an angle of 45 degrees”. Please simplify the 2 7/16″. Is it 2 1/2; 2 3/4 or what. I am a beginner, I do not understand the measurement.


    1. If the pattern says 2 7/16th, that is what you will have to cut. You will need a ruler with 16th measurements, or put tape on your ruler for that measurement.

  4. The pattern I am using states the finished square measures 15 inches. Does that include the 1/4 inch seam around the edges or should the square measure 15 1/2 inches?

    1. What pattern are you working with?

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