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How to Hand Quilt – video

Cover image for a post about how to hand quilt. Shows two short rows of traditional running stitch hand quilting on a muslin background fabric. Text reads: Hand Quilting Basics

Learn how to hand quilt. It’s easy, relaxing, and goes faster than you think it will.

In this video you’ll learn all the basics of hand quilting – from the tools you need to the mechanics of how to do the stitch. There are two methods you’ll see people use – stabbing and rocking. I’m a rocker – gathering up several stitches with each pass of the needle.

Some people are very concerned with the number of stitches per inch. As I mentioned in the video – I am not. 🙂

If you want to get smaller stitches, work towards it gradually. This stitch feels awkward the first time you try it – and it’s even more awkward if you’re using a very tiny needle. I recommend starting with a pack of needles that includes several sizes. Start with the largest and work with that until you feel comfortable, then start moving to smaller and smaller needles – sticking with each size until you feel comfortable with it. When you’re happy with the length of your stitches – stay with that needle size.

Here are all my posts about layering and basting your quilt, and the final round of quilting.

Here are all my posts about hand quilting and Big Stitch quilting. I don’t use these techniques with fusible applique or Quilt As You Go, but I LOVE using Big Stitch Quilting with my cheater fabric.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about binding and finishing your quilt.

Happy stitching!


  1. Donelle SAYS...

    I have been wanting to give hand quilting a try especially big stitch quilting. Can’t wait to see all three. You tutorials are always super helpful.

  2. Dixie Shoup SAYS...

    Thank you so much. I’ve wanted to hand quilt and did not know any of this. Can’t wait for next video.

  3. Lynda W SAYS...

    Thanks very much for this video and the second one on hand quilting without drawing on the quilt – they’re both extremely helpful. Would it work to combine hand quilting with quilt as you go? I’ve never done hand quilting before and it appealed to me to work on the smaller blocks and quilt each as I went along before joining the front together. Then to add the backing (probably cuddle fleece as I’ve seen you suggest elsewhere) in one piece and machine quilt in the ditch. Would this work? Will my quilting all come undone when I trim the blocks to size for joining together if my thread has gone past the 1/4″ seam allowance? Any advice would be much appreciated – thanks.

    • That will absolutely work! Your stitching shouldn’t come undone before joining the blocks unless you throw the individual blocks in the washing machine or some other high use situation. 🙂

      • Lynda W SAYS...

        Thanks very much Wendi. I finished quilting the first block last night! I’m using embroidery thread as I already have a wide range of colours that my Nan passed on to me when she stopped doing embroidery. Can’t wait for your video on big stitch quilting to see how you use the embroidery thread.

  4. edie sousa SAYS...

    Thanks so much for the lovely tutorial. So well explained and kept basic. As a beginner this really helps.

  5. Gail Smith SAYS...

    This was the first time i have seen one of your lessons and i loved it i am now hooked thank you Gail

  6. carol guite SAYS...

    Wonderful video. I always doubted myself about stitch length and not being able to hand quilt in any direction. I’m happy to hear you say that it’s ok. Thanks, and Iam looking forward to your other videos.

  7. Nadia SAYS...

    Thank you so much for these awesome videos. I have just started to quilt after sewing other projects for years. I am working on a quilt with a herringbone pattern on the front and am wondering if it would work to hand quilt in the ditch to join all the layers together as I don’t want to stitches to be very visible. Also would cuddle fleece work well as a backing if I am hand quilting?

    • Yes – you can hand quilt in the ditch. I’m never tried using cuddle fleece on the back when I’m hand quilting. I think it would be fine for the kind of stabbing stitch I use for Big Stitch quilting, but I think the thickness and fluffiness would make it impossible to do the rocking stitch of traditional hand quilting.

      • I know I would love doing this hand quilting . It’s refreshing not to do something in a rush,like machine quilting.And that’s ok too. You have a nice way about your intrusions. Thank you so much. Love it.

  8. Davie SAYS...

    Yep that is how I do it. I have not hand quilted in years. How relaxing it is-I had forgotten. I can only quilt coming toward me.
    Thank you so much for the refresher video.

  9. Jenny SAYS...

    I haven’t sewn since home ec in middle school, about 15 years ago. Want to get into quilting, but not sure I need to learn how to sew first? Is it okay to start in the realm of quilting first thing? I’m looking at hand sewing because even though I have a machine, I’m too nervous about setting it up and feel like hand sewing might be more my style. Any recommendations (besides your awesome videos)?

    • You can absolutely jump right in to quilting. In many ways it’s easier than other sewing because everything is flat and it’s a lot of straight lines. If you want to give quilting a try, I recommend my Let’s Make a Quilt workshop. It’s totally free and it takes you step by step through all the techniques I use for Quilt As You Go and applique with fusible adhesive. The class points you toward some free single block patterns so you can give it a try without committing to making an entire quilt. 🙂 Here’s the link to sign up.

  10. Sheila Spencer SAYS...

    I’m so glad you weren’t concerned about perfection. It puts me off when I think it has to be perfect. To be honest I’m afraid to even try.

  11. Maria SAYS...

    Thank you a ton. I am a quilting virgin, lol. My only question is, when you talk about not poking the needle all the way through, do you just go through the batting or just above the batting?

  12. Tana B SAYS...

    Nice tutorial. Thanks for sharing all your info!

  13. Sian SAYS...

    So simple. So clever. Diolch yn Fawr!!