Getting Started with Hand Quilting: Essential Supplies and Tips


Welcome to the wonderful world of hand quilting. This time-honored craft is not only a practical skill but also a creative outlet that allows you to produce beautiful, heirloom-quality items. Whether you’re looking to fashion a cozy blanket for winter nights, create a personalized gift for a loved one, or simply find a rewarding pastime, hand quilting could be the perfect hobby for you. In this guide, we’ll explore the essential supplies you’ll need to get started, along with a few crucial tips to set you on the path to quilting success.

What Do I Need To Get Started?

woman marking fabric for a quilt

To embark on your hand quilting journey, you’ll need a few key tools. Don’t worry, getting started is quite affordable. The basic supplies include a quilting needle, thread, a cutting tool, quilting frames or hoops, and of course, fabric. These supplies can generally be found at local craft stores or online at a reasonable price. Acquiring these essential tools forms the first step in your hand quilting adventure, setting the foundation for the creation of beautiful, hand-crafted quilts.

Quilting Needle

quilting needles

The quilting needle is the cornerstone of hand quilting. The ideal size for a beginner is between 7 and 9, with an extremely sharp point and eye that’s just big enough to accommodate your thread.

Types of Needles

  • Betweens: These are the most commonly used needles in hand quilting. They’re short, stout, and designed to make fine, even stitches in thick fabric layers.
  • Sharps: Sharps are longer than betweens and are versatile enough to be used for both quilting and general sewing. They’re the go-to needle for applique work.
  • Milliners: These are long, thin needles ideal for making small, delicate stitches and are perfect for detailed work.
  • Embroidery or Crewel Needles: These needles have a larger eye that can accommodate thicker thread or multiple strands. They’re primarily used for embroidery work but can also play a role in decorative hand quilting.
  • Chenille Needles: These have a larger eye and a sharp point and are ideal for heavier threads, making them a good choice for tying quilts.


spools of thread

Thread is another important component of hand quilting. While there are many types of thread available on the market, the best thread for hand quilting is usually 100% cotton, which is strong and reliable. You’ll want to choose a color that contrasts with your fabric – this will allow you to easily admire the stitches. Click here to see a list of our favorite hand quilting threads.

Cutting Tool

sewing kit

A cutting tool is used to cut the fabric into manageable pieces. A rotary cutter with a sharp blade should suffice, although some quilters prefer to use a pair of scissors. If you’re using a rotary cutter, be sure to wear protective eyewear and always cut away from yourself.

Quilting Frames or Hoops

Quilting frames are an invaluable tool for hand quilters. They provide an even surface on which you can create your masterpiece, as well as a secure way of keeping the quilt fabric in place while you work. You can opt for a frame that’s adjustable, allowing the quilter to adjust the tension on the fabric. This is particularly useful when working with smaller pieces or thinner fabrics.


quilting fabric

The type of fabric you choose will depend largely on your project. Generally speaking, quilters look for fabrics that are 100% cotton and tightly woven. Quilting requires precision, which can be difficult to achieve with fabric that isn’t suited for the task.


Angel Crafts & Sewing Cotton Batting for Quilts - 100% Natural All Season Quilt Batting by the Roll

Batting is an essential layer of material used in hand quilting. It’s responsible for giving your project its shape and texture – you want to choose a batting that is of good quality and will hold up over time. Polyester battings are popular among quilters, as they come in a variety of weights and sizes.

Marking Tool

A Marking Tool is a key instrument in the hand quilting process. It is used to create temporary lines or marks on the fabric, guiding the quilter in stitching patterns or designs accurately. Typically, these marking tools can be pencils, chalk, or specialized markers that wash out once the quilt is complete. It is essential to ensure that whatever marking tool you use, it doesn’t permanently stain or damage the fabric. Testing on a scrap piece of fabric before marking the actual quilt is always a good practice.

Hand Quilting Tips

  1. Patience is Key: Quilting is an art that requires time and patience. Don’t rush the process; enjoy the journey.
  2. Choose Quality Materials: Invest in high-quality cotton fabrics and durable threads to ensure your quilt stands the test of time.
  3. Test Your Marking Tools: Always test your marking tool on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure it does not stain or damage your quilt.
  4. Maintain Your Tools: Keep your needles sharp and your scissors clean. Proper tool maintenance contributes to more precise and easier quilting.
  5. Take Breaks: Hand quilting can be tough on your hands and eyes. Take regular breaks to rest and prevent strain.
  6. Perfect Your Technique: Practice makes perfect. Experiment on scrap fabric pieces until you’re comfortable with your technique.
  7. Join a Quilting Group: Sharing experiences and learning from others can be very beneficial. Consider joining a local quilting group or an online community.
  8. Finish with a Binding: Don’t forget to finish your quilt with a binding. This will give your quilt a finished look and ensure that it doesn’t fray over time.


Quilting, a cherished craft passed down through generations, combines practical necessity with creative expression. With patience, practice, and the right materials, it can be a rewarding endeavor that produces beautiful works of functional art. By implementing these tips, you can navigate your quilting journey with greater confidence and enjoyment. Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience, there is always something new to learn in the quilting world. So embrace the process, connect with a community, and let your creativity shine through your quilts. Happy Quilting!

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