We get it: To a beginner, maneuvering a needle up and down through all the layers of a quilt sandwich sounds a little scary. But the truth is that hand quilting isn't nearly as challenging as you might think. In fact, all you need to know are a few simple stitching techniques. Nail 'em and you'll be turning out heirloom-quality quilts in no time.
Every quilt starts (and ends) with a simple knot. To make the classic quilter's knot, wrap the thread three times around the threaded needle, then pull the loops you created down the length of the thread and pull it taut at the bottom.
After trimming the thread, you'll want to start stitching in the center of your quilt. Pull your threaded needle through the back of the quilt, bringing up the needle in the exact spot you want to start hand quilting. Give a slight tug so the knot goes through the backing fabric, but not all the way through.
Now, only you know it's there.
A basic running stitch is the workhorse of most quilts. Insert your needle through the front of the fabric and go through all the layers out to the back. Catching just a small amount of the back fabric, bring it back up through all the layers again.
Moving in a straight line, keep reinserting the needle through the layers and back up again, keeping your stitches small and even.
You may find that using a thimble and inserting your needle through several stitches before pulling the thread all the way through speeds up the process.
The fastest way to make small, even stitches in your quilt is with the rocking stitch. This requires using a thimble and keeping the needle perpendicular to the fabric most of the time as you rock it back and forth making stitches through the quilt.
Once you get into the rhythm of it, you'll be able to do it without thinking (honest!). As with any hand quilting stitch, try to keep your stitches even and use equal tension each time you pull the thread all the way through.