When asked to review the Gutermann creativ Hand Quilting thread I needed to layer up a mini project as I hadn’t anything ready to quilt. I’ve not done a whole cloth quilt so why not? A small cushion front, wholecloth and inspired by traditional Welsh quilting designs. Rather than the usual plain fabric, I choose a light batik which also gave me the chance to use several of the colours that come in this pack of ten. (Batiks, being a tighter woven fabric, can be tricky so perhaps not recommended for beginners. Washing the batik prior to using removed the ‘finish’ that is usual and left it much softer.)
Ten reels of mercerised 100% cotton in a range of colours: White, Black, light and dark brown, beige, navy, red, light green, pale blue and pink. (The mercerising process, I discovered, improves thread strength and dye take up, reduces shrinkage and leaves a lustre finish.) As this thread is designed for hand sewing it has a wax coating which ensures the smooth running of the thread and reduces twisting. These are smaller spools of 80 meters but ideal for smaller projects.
I loved sewing with this thread. Smooth stitches and also the wax coating made it easy to thread my needle. I used Bohin size 10 big eye needles, which probably also helped. I used three of the colours; the white, pink and blue which were consistent in hand. The colours appeared quite strong on the reel but once sewn into the fabric, the colours appeared delicate and suited the project more than I expected. The thread didn’t twist up or knot whilst sewing and was a pleasure to use. I also tried using longer lengths than normal and found it to be fabulous, no tangles at all.
Gutermann Threads have all ways been one of my ‘go to’ manufacturers but now I can thoroughly recommend their hand quilting thread.
If you’d like to have a go at a small, wholecloth project then here’s how.
Take your design and your top fabric. You should pre-wash, especially if trying a batik as they have a finish that can be a little ‘hard in hand’. By this, I mean you may struggle to get the needle through, especially if trying to rock your needle, one of the traditional stitches.
Using a light box trace the design onto your fabric. You can tape the design to a window, tape the fabric over the design and trace. I used a Sewline Fabric Pencil which works wonderfully and can be removed by dabbing with a damp cloth or washing.
Next, layer up your quilt top with a layer of wadding and a backing fabric. I used a lighter piece of white cotton for the backing as this will be a cushion, hence the backing is going to be hidden. (In fact, I used a piece of white from an old shirt. Reuse whenever possible!) You can baste the layers together how you choose but I used 505 spray. I normally hand baste when hand quilting but 505 was perfect.
Then quilt away! Always start from the centre, working outwards. Most important when quilting a larger quilt, I find you can get away with not being so strict with smaller projects but the idea is that you smooth excess fabric out towards the edge as you quilt, ensuring you do not end up with little tucks on the reverse. I use a large quilter’s hoop, similar to an embroidery hoop which is thicker and more robust but many people find they prefer to quilt by hand without.
If new to quilting the best thing to do? Just have a go and see how you get on. Consistency of stitch is more important than actual size. The ‘urban legend’ is that we aim for nine stitches to the inch but have a look at many antique quilts and you’ll see plenty of differences in stitch length so my opinion is not to worry and just do it. Better to learn a new skill or develop your own style than never do it because of fear that your stitches are too large or not neat enough. It’s quite a forgiving medium as, once it’s finished, minor differences get lost in the whole.
Carolyn Gibbs has a lovely blog series on hand quilting, the first of which you can check out here.