The tiny stitches of conventional hand quilting are fine, but the convenience of big stitches is undeniable. And the main factors you need to take care of are the thread and needles, and the technique.
The kind of thread you use for big stitch quilting is a Pearl Cotton thread. A thickness of eight or twelve is the most commonly used for this method. Also, remember the thickness of the thread is inversely proportional to the number.
So, have you been planning to try your hand at big stitch quilting? You have reached the right place! Here’s letting you know all about the tools and techniques of big stitch quilting.
What Thread To Use For Big Stitch Quilting?
You should use Pearl Cotton thread for big stitch quilting. It is a non-divisible thread, so the strands will not get separated. Also, quilters love Pearl Cotton thread because it comes with a subtle texture and a wonderful luster. In fact, the name of the thread comes from the fact that its beautiful twists almost look like tiny pearls.
What exactly is Big Stitch Quilting?
Big stitch quilting, also known as utility quilting, is a hand quilting method to stitch together multiple quilt layers. As you can guess from the name, the large stitches make this method stand apart from the traditional ones.
Conventional hand quilting involves the use of fine thread. Also, it is all about putting in as many even, small stitches as possible to bring an intricate and detailed effect.
In big stitch quilting, large stitches and thread create definition and chunky textures that bring a lot of dimension to your quilt.
The popularity of big stitch quilting also comes from the fact it is more of a free motion project that is fun, but isn’t complicated or time consuming.
The Size Consideration for Pearl Cotton Thread
Pearl Cotton is usually stitched with the use of one complete strand for quilting and it does not have to be doubled up for making a thicker thread. The multiple sizes of the thread make up for this issue.
Pearl Cotton comes in three main size groups and the choice of size depends on the nature of the project. The heavier thread has sizes three to five and the lightweight fabric or delicate stitch-work needs sizes twelve to eight. For big stitch quilting, people usually prefer to go for lightweight options.
Two Methods Used To Open the Pearl Cotton Threads
There are two main ways to open a Pearl Cotton thread and given below are the steps for both.
Method 1: Making Approximately Nineteen Inch Lengths of Thread
1. You need to push both the labels towards the center of the thread roll.
2. Look for the end that has two loops and cut through the bottom part of both the loops
3. Afterward, you can move both the labels back in place now.
4. Finally, pick out and pull a piece of thread from the top loop.
Method 2: Making Approximately Thirty-Eight Inch Lengths of Thread
1. Remove the labels and start untwisting the skein in order to create an oval
2. Cut through each thread at one end of this oval you have created
3. Choose one strand of thread for your use as required
4. Since you want to keep your threads neat and ready for future usage, put your color number labels back on the threads and keep sliding that to the center.
5. Now, you need to fold your threads in half and keep aside.
How to Do Big Stitch Quilting Using Pearl Cotton Thread
General supplies you’ll need to start working on your quilt:
- Pearl Cotton (12 to 8)
- Needle threader (optional)
- A well-basted quilt
It is best to start working from the center of the quilt to its outer edges. So, position the hoop closer to the center of the quilt and secure it.
Cut yourself a Pearl Cotton piece that is about thirty inches in length. You would have trouble using a longer thread. It will also become fuzzy while pulling through the material multiple times.
Thread the needle and put a simple overhand knot at the end of the thread.
Start by putting your needle about half an inch away from the point where you would start quilting. Now, push the needle through the batting and the top only. Next, bring the needle at the starting point.
Give the thread a sharp tug when the knot reaches the top. This is because the knot will pop through the top and get embedded in the batting.
Begin your stitch with the needle sticking straight down through your quilt. Also, let your left hand guide the needle on the quilt back because it’s easier to stitch this way.
Tilt the needle backward away from you when the needle point comes through the back. Then, push the back finger up to create a tiny bump on the top where the needle is. Make the bump more defined to push the needle through it.
If you are done with your project or need another length of thread, tie off and get the end embedded in the batting. To do that, tie another overhand knot at the end of the Pearl Cotton thread.
Take the end of the thread and slide down the knot near the top of the quilt. Also, remember to keep the knot at the top of your quilt. Finally, insert the knot inside the batting in the same way as you did before.
The Kind of Needle You Should Use For Pearl Cotton
A heavy thread like Pearl Cotton needs a larger needle. If you are hand quilting those large stitches, go for a size six or seven hand sewing needle or choose a good embroidery needle. Also, make sure you choose a needle whose eye is big enough for a Pearl Cotton thread to easily pass through.
If you are using an embroidery needle, you need to check whether it is one of those sharp point ones. The ones that are dull on the end are made for cross stitching.
So, try out your chosen needle before actually starting your project to ensure that it is the right choice for you, the fabric and batting, and the Pearl Cotton Thread.
Can You Use A Thread That Combines Cotton And Polyester?
It is true that in the quilting world, cotton threads are used more than the polyester ones. However, you can use a thread with a cotton-polyester blend in this case. It is okay if the cotton content of the thread is a bit less than the polyester one, such as twenty-five percent cotton and the rest as polyester.
Also, you will find it easy to machine-wash, dry, and iron the quilt that you make from threads having cotton-polyester blend. But if you don’t want to take chances, stick to Pearl Cotton threads.
Why Choosing the Right Thread Is Important In Big Stitch Quilting?
Needles and thread have an important role to play in all forms of quilting. And big stitch quilting is no different. The technique helps in creating bold expressions whereby your stitches are the stars.
As such, many quilters try to get this look by means of six strands of heavyweight thread or embroidery floss. Unfortunately, it often creates a frayed or fuzzy look from the friction of the thread or floss passing through the fabrics and batting time and again.
And the end result can be deeply disappointing. When your stitches are the star, you would want a uniform and solid look to the thread that made them. Thus, you need to choose the right thread to have a great finish to your quilt.