Big Stitch!

When I travel, quilters remark on my quilting stitch.  I do LOVE to hand quilt a quilt.  To feel the rhythm of the needle and pulling the thread through the quilt is heaven to me!  You can’t become a great hand quilter by just looking at my quilts, you have to QUILT SOMETHING!  🙂

The easiest way to begin is with BIG STITCH.  It was introduced back in the 1800’s as “utility quilting”.  Women needed to finish a quilt and it was easy, fast, and decorative.

In my book, Tiny Stitches 2, I describe this technique in detail.  But I’m going to encourage all of you to give it a try in your next small project.

Start by practicing on a block layered with Quilter’s Dream cotton batting.

Use cotton batting for Big Stitch.

Use cotton batting for Big Stitch.


Baste your quilt as you normally would with thread.  (A good hint is to use a printed back, so your first stitches will blend in.)

Choose a valdani perle cotton #12 that will coordinate with the top and back.  I use a Clover Chenille needle size 24 for the stitching.  (Both supplies I also use for embroidery.)

Clover Chenille Needles and Valdani Perle Cotton #12

Clover Chenille Needles and Valdani Perle Cotton #12


Next I draw my design onto the top with a chalkoliner or white wash out pencil.  It is best to choose designs that are continual with not that many starts and stops.  (Here I just chose radiating designs from the points and a circular design in the center.)

Thread about 18″ of perle cotton into your needle and make a very small knot.  Pull the knot about 1″ from the center into the center point of your design.  Be careful not to “run” your fabric.  If the not is not going in easy, try inserting it in the nearest seam.

Now, just make LARGE stitches!  Up and down, up and down, at least 1/4″ long, but they can be irregular, too!  That is the classic look of Big Stitch!

Close up of the stitches.

Close up of the stitches.


I DO use a “no slip” hoop to keep my stitches regular.  Using a hoop will train you to keep your hands where they need to be.  (I have great hand shots in my Tiny Stitches 2 book.)

Finish off your stitching row by making a small knot and burying it or just go out to the edge of the quilt and leave it hang.  (It will be secured with the binding.)

Detail of completed stitch.

Detail of completed stitch.


Big stitch is the best way to train yourself for making smaller stitches. Try it today and begin to enjoy the stitching rhythm!



Big Stitch! — 7 Comments

  1. I have a small wall hanging I am hand piecing that will include some wool applique. I am inspired to try the hand quilting. I think it is very important that you are encouraging this. Melody

  2. I live in maryville tn, and I am still working , love to read your e-mails, would like to know if you know some place that has afternoon or weekend classes for beginners in hand quilting thank you. Debbie

    • Debbie, At this time I am not booking any more teaching trips. I am teaching locally at Pigeon Forge Mountain Quiltfest this March, but I think all my classes are full. You can see if there is a cancellation or put yourself on a waiting list.

    • Debbie, check with area quilt shops. They frequently schedule classes and may be able to put you in touch with an instructor. Good luck! Diane

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