Hand Quilting- How to Select the Right Design

Hand quilting is an old tradition. This tradition has been going for centuries. People in the past created their quilts without the help of machines. It is a tedious process for sure.

Unlike 400;”>Machine quilting<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, hand quilting is somewhat different. In machine quilting, we can do many things in terms of design and pattern. But in hand quilting, we have some restrictions in terms of pattern.

As hand quilting requires a hand, we cannot easily make complex structures and patterns. Intricate patterns are not impossible but challenging as they require more time and perseverance.

Many people love hand quilting as it is relaxing. They want to create something on their own, and it provides them with great pleasure. But we have some rules regarding hand quilting too.

Today, we will learn about different hand quilting designs and how to choose among them. We should keep this in mind while selecting the hand quilt design.

So let’s start. Prepare your needle; it’s time to create something new. 

What is Hand Quilting?

Hand Quilting is a traditional method to sew the quilt layers (top, batting, and back)together. For this purpose, you use needles and thread. The quilter holds the quilt at their lap or secures it on the frame.

The quilt design can be a decoration or a straight line. The quilters use the running stitch for basic quilting. You need to push the needle in and out of all three layers in running a stitch. It should be even stitching.

The best part about hand quilting is that it is mobile. You can carry your quilt and work on it anywhere you want. You can either make a quilt at home or take it to your friend’s house. 

Hand quilting dates back to the 17th century. There are many styles in hand quilting. The more traditional style is many stitches per inch. Or you can do the big stitch method in which you use fewer stitches per inch. 

How is Hand Quilting Different from Machine Quilting?

The hand quilting method is quite different from the machine quilting method. Hand quilting is a time-consuming process, whereas machine quilting is fast. We use machines like a long arm sewing machine to quilting.

In the hand quilting method, we cannot work on a much bigger quilt. There is a limit to the hand quilting method. To create a large quilt, we need to use the machine. Quilt for bed sheets requires machine quilting.

A hand quilt is best when you want to make something traditional. You can always follow the old ways of the quilting process. If you’re going to enjoy the quilting process, go for hand quilting.

Hand quilting has its advantages too. You don’t need any machine to perform hand quilting. All you need is just a needle and threads, and you are good to go. 

Five Simple Ideas for Hand Quilting Design

It’s time to learn about five simple ideas for hand quilting. These five new methods can increase your hand quilt look and appearance. 

The most common technique in hand quilting is the” stitch-in-the-ditch” quilting technique. In this, we follow seam linen in a pieced quilt top. It’s a pretty simple way.

Let’s have a look, on the other hand, quilting design-

i. Crosshatch

In this, we mark lines diagonally across the quilt top, using the corners of the square to guide you. A pattern like this will help blend the different prints as one piece of fabric.

This method can either be done instead of stitch-in-the-ditch or combined with a denser texture.

ii. Echo quilting

We mark lines in parallel to seams by using a ruler. It should be ¼” to an inch away. These lines can overlap or outline the shape of each block.

You can use special minor rulers with a slight ridge ¼” away from the edge.  This method will emphasize the individual squares and prints of your quilt.

iii. Motifs

In this method, you mark motifs at the centre of the alternate square. This will become a vital feature of the quilt.

You can always buy pre-cut templates from quilt shops. Or you can create your template if required.

iv. Vertical lines

Using this method will create a brilliant and contemporary finish to your quilt. It is also known as matchstick and Kantha quilting. 

You can omit the horizontal stitch-in-the-ditch line method and go for this vertical line method if you like to.

v. Simple blossom

To follow this technique, you will need your old-school compass. Now draw a circle on a piece of card. The radius should be half the height of quilt blocks. They mark a line through the centre.

After marking all circles on your quilt, you can stitch wavy lines to complete your design.

Factors to Keep in Mind While Selecting Design

There are a few factors which you should keep in mind. Before making any quilt, you should decide certain things based on a few parameters. So we have divided designs into four parts.

We will discuss all of these designs here. We need to make sure which kind of design we will make on the quilt.

Let’s have a look at these designs.

i. Overall Design

In these designs, we don’t pay attention to the piecing. These designs are great for utility, bed, and comfort quilts.

These designs are easiest, to begin with. But they can be complex too. Not all of them are that easy. Examples can vary from horses, bears, and flower designs.

ii. Block and piecing design

These designs are based on quilt piecing. Designs for blocks, squares, and triangles are its example.

This design also includes the famous stitch-in-the-ditch method. Block and piecing design can enhance the piecing of the quilt. 

iii. Fills

These designs are used to fill space between other types of quilting while adding texture along the way. Sometimes we use them for large design elements in the quilting.

This category has smaller stipples, pebbles, and even closed space line stitching.  Due to their small size, these designs are great for free motion quilting. It can be done quickly using hand quilting.

Use this design to fill up the space between bigger quilting designs. It will make them look great.

iv. Motif designs

These are the designs that we love to see on quilts. This design includes feather, floral, and scroll motifs.

Traditional whole cloth quilts are examples of motifs design. Some motifs are suitable for piecing and block design too. 


So far, we have observed different types of designs which we can make in hand quilts. There are lots of designs which we can make in a hand quilt. We need to remember the limitation of hand quilting too.

Hand quilting can be a joy if performed correctly. We need to make sure that we are doing it correctly. We cannot work on big quilts using hand quilting alone. It becomes a tedious process, and chances of error increase.

So make sure that you know what you are doing before starting the hand quilting session. There are lots of patterns and designs which you can opt for. Just make sure that you choose according to your expertise level.

I hope you like the information provided here. Happy Quilting.

Leave a Comment