Quilt Tour: My First Big Stitch Quilt

My big stitch quilt in final form, November 2021.

I started this quilt with two ideas in mind. I wanted to do a simple, more traditional quilt pattern and I wanted to try big stitch quilting (as an embroiderer, I have a metric ton of DMC thread at my house just waiting to be added to a blanket). So I amassed some scrappy squares from various Ruby Star Society pattern collections with food and animal themes and put together some simple nine patch squares on the ancient Bernina 830. That was the easy part.

Folks don’t tell you how ridiculous it is to hand quilt an entire blanket using six strands of embroidery thread. It’s a lot! My righthand fingertips on my pointer finger and thumb peeled off when I was done. But was it worth it? Hell yeah. In the end, it has a very nice texture, drape and weight that feels different from the machine quilted blankets I made prior.

Hand quilted, big stitch quilting, before binding.

First I chose some embroidery thread colors I liked for the quilting. I went with pinks and blues and mustard yellow, and quilted an X across every square in a running stitch without worrying too much about perfection.

To me, aiming for a perfect quilt is a fool’s errand. Quilts are inherently wabi sabi and that’s one of the things that makes them so special.

Close up of pleasantly chunky big stitch binding. I always use a striped binding fabric to add a graphic element.

On the binding, I used an array of colors to whip stitch the binding to the front of the quilt, which added another bit of color to the front.

Frank has a cat radar for new quilts and installed himself by my side during the quilting and binding marathon.

About halfway through the quilting process. I started in the middle-ish and worked outward.

Hand quilting took for-EVER. I did not anticipate how much sewing this was or how much it would wreck my body. I had tiny muscles in my shoulders and hands that ached for a week. Next time I need a leather thimble.

After a wash, the fabric took on a pleasant crinkle.

Once the binding was on, I gave it a wash and took it outside for a weird little photo shoot in the front yard. Apologies to my neighbors.

OUTTAKE: It’s hilarious when feet and hands make it into quilt photos.

I’m quite pleased with this one. It’s larger than a lap quilt but not quite a twin, so I’m calling it “nap sized.”

Sharon Needles

Leave a Comment