Hand Quilters Survey Results

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Thank you to the 1800 quilters who responded to last week’s survey about hand quilting. Hand quilting is always a passionate and popular subject.

Back in 2018, we did a survey about what hand quilting means to you as a quilter. You can find the results here, but to summarize, hand quilting is a beloved craft that is alive and thriving in the quilting community.

This time around, we decided to focus on tools and techniques.

Question #1

What types of hand quilting have you tried?

  • 87% of quilters have tried the traditional method, which is also called a rocking stitch.
  • 80% have quilted using a hoop.
  • 51% have tried floor frames for quilting.
  • 36% have played with using the big stitch method to quilt.
  • 29% have quilted with a group of quilters stitching along.
  • 27% have taken a stab at the stab stitch method of quilting.
  • 24% have added hand quilting stitches to a machine quilted quilt.

If one of these methods or techniques is new to you, give it a try! Several quilters wrote in that they also enjoyed quilting without a hoop or frame. They baste tight and start quilting. Some pooled the quilt in their lap, others draped it, one even mentioned using a pillow. So give it a try and see what works for you.

Question #2

What type of needle do you prefer to use when hand quilting?

  • The runaway winner was a between needle with 69% of responding quilters sharing that it was their preferred needle.
  • 16% like to use a sharp
  • 5% use an embroidery needle
  • 4% use a milliner (straw) needle

The overwhelming write in response was a handy needle, a strong needle, and one with a big eye.

Question #3

What type of thimble(s) do you use when hand quilting?

  • 34% of hand quilters responding use a ridged (standard) quilting thimble.
  • 22% use a specialty thimble designed for hand quilting.
  • 18% use a leather thimble.
  • 16% don’t use a thimble.
  • 12% use a finger pad protector.
  • 9% use a rounded top sewing thimble.
  • 8% use a plastic thimble.

Several quilters mentioned using multiple thimbles, tapes, and finger cots to protect their fingers.

Question #4

What types of quilting design tools do you use for hand quilting?

  • 76% Stencils
  • 57% Rulers
  • 56% Freehand
  • 49% Templates
  • 19% Trace with a light box or transfer paper
  • 11% Only quilt in the ditch (in the seams)

Write in answers included masking, painters, and quarter inch tape, Hera tool, tracing items like cookie cutters, cups, plates, and quilting the design of the backing fabric.

Question #5

What is your favorite thing about hand quilting?

Practically speaking…

  • A good needle
  • Needle puller

Certainly a hand quilter’s trusty companions!

When mentioning the advantages and preferences of hand quilting the list is longer…

  • Planning
  • Fun threads
  • Embellishment
  • Portability
  • Precision
  • Appearance
  • Planning the designs
  • Control
  • Drape
  • Relationship of the fabric, color, and stitches
  • Making the stitches by hand
  • Texture
  • Tactile
  • Rhythm
  • Soft finish
  • Creating secondary designs
  • Intricate details
  • Imperfections
  • Affordable
  • Expedient
  • Personalize
  • Pace
  • Simple
  • Durability
  • Repetition
  • Heirloom
  • Value
  • Flexibility
  • Forgiving
  • Variety
  • Freedom
  • Organic
  • Suppleness
  • The feel of the needle and thread going through batting
  • Unique
  • Creative
  • Artistic
  • The way the stitches bring the quilt to life

Some hand quilters expressed the benefits beyond fabric, the reasons hand quilting has grown from a hobby to a passion…

  • Connection between quilt and quilter
  • Intimacy
  • Relaxing
  • Calming
  • Serene
  • Grounding
  • Refreshing
  • Cathartic
  • No Pressure
  • Contemplative
  • Therapeutic
  • Peaceful
  • Soothing
  • Restful
  • Rewarding
  • Meditative
  • Prayerful
  • Zen
  • Gratifying
  • Connected to history/ancestors/women
  • Continuity
  • Satisfaction
  • Accomplishment
  • Pride
  • Restful
  • Centering
  • Tradition
  • Heritage
  • Family
  • Quiet
  • Comforting
  • Settling
  • Focus
  • Decompressing
  • Perfect counterpart to a busy day

Several respondents mentioned physical benefits they experience from hand quilting…

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Quiets anxiety
  • Relieves stress
  • Can sit comfortably

One quilter summed it up perfectly…

“It’s incredibly gratifying, forces me to “settle down” and relax. It’s a wonderful way to slow down the pace of my life, and reduces my blood pressure as a result. It gives me time to think about a variety of things, and I can dream about others (such as planning an RV trip with my husband, how to spend our holidays, or what I want to do next in quilting … a new pattern? a new-to-me technique? an unusual color palette?). It’s also a great way to keep traditional crafting alive. I’m a great proponent of knowing the old, traditional ways so that I can appreciate the newer methods, and hand quilting allows me to do that. There is so much to LOVE about hand quilting, it’s hard to select just one thing as my favorite!”

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Barbara R Markel

Thanks for sharing the results of the Hand Quilting Survey., it’s nice to see the tradition is alive and well. Even though I’ve been hand quilting for over 40 years, I recently took a Beginner Hand Quilting class to see what was “new”. I was glad to see six other attendees in the class.

Cally

Interesting that the number of respondants is so much smaller than in the 2018 survey.
I can remember the reaction to the first big winner at Paducah that was machine quilted !
Times have certainly changed.