Some Big Stitch Quilting

I started hand quilting the top I made over the weekend.  I am using #8 Finca Perle cotton thread and a Big Stitch needle.  I used purple backing fabric and Hobbs Tuscany Cotton batting

I started in the center of the quilt and using the edge of the hoop as a guide I quilted a circle and then kept going around making a spiraling circle.


There is about an inch of space between rows but I am not measuring anything for this quilt.    The piecing is rather random and I didn’t want the quilting to be “perfect” …I want some irregularity which I think fits better with the top.

The hoop is 22 inches across so the circles are quite large.


It is hard to quilt right up to the edge of the hoop so there is a space along the outside edge.

The circles will then overlap a bit as I add more.

Here you can see how the second circle overlaps the first.


and the next overlaps the first two



I have had questions about Big Stitch quilting.   You may find some rules for big stitch quilting if do a Google search but I don’t do “rules”.  For me there is no correct stitch count or spacing to be concerned with.   If you like the way it looks it is correct.  One way to look at it is that since the thread is much larger (thicker) than normal hand quilting thread you will need to use a much larger needle to get it threaded.   Bigger thread and bigger needle naturally makes for bigger stitches but it might be better described as “Big Thread” quilting.   On some quilts I have done 8 or 9 stitches per inch and this one is more like 5.  for me the size of the stitch is determined by how I want it to look.

So back to the quilt.  Here is what I have done so far.


here is the back



(don’t worry about those wrinkles on the back….I almost never press the backing first….after it is quilted and washed and dried you wont see them)

It goes pretty fast, but don’t get hung up on speed.   Relax and make stitches that you like the look of no matter how fast or slow they happen.    If you like the look of more uniform stitching go ahead and mark the top.  for a more “relaxed” look go ahead and do it by eye.


I hope you give it a try.

Happy Quilting



28 thoughts on “Some Big Stitch Quilting

  1. cbgryhnd says:

    I love the “pattern” you created for the quilt top itself. Is it okay to use it?

  2. Pat Long says:

    Wonderful advice!

  3. Jan Smith says:

    You honestly amaze me. What a wonderful idea for the fabric you picked up, and freehand circles – genius! I’ve done freehand fans and straightish lines, but will keep this in mind for the right top. Great post!

  4. Susan Williams says:

    I love the look of the quilting — both the circles and your dark thread. What size needle are you using? I really appreciate your detailed posts on technique.

  5. says:

    You must have the fastest fingers in town. What a fantastic quilt. Cindy Nelson

  6. I love the look of the big stitches on a random scrappy top like that. They are a perfect match ‘flavors’. And the spirals bumping into each other is a great pattern too! I also enjoyed your tutorial on big stitch quilting, it was very helpful! cheers, cw

  7. Marjorie Nath says:

    One thing I couldn’t find on your blog…do you baste your quilt sandwich before you start the quilting? I haven’t done any hand quilting since around 1980 and that was pin basting and quilting on a frame. I have a 24″ round hoop plus a 10″ X 19″ oval and a 10″ round that I brought with me to Mexico and started quilting again. From your pictures and videos I don’t see any basting or pins and I wonder how you keep the layers together.

  8. Julie Porter says:

    Really like your latest quilt Tim. You have been prolifically productive lately! Teddy must be exhausted watching you. I certainly am! I have been contemplating what to do with a stash of beige, cream gold and black silk fabrics for a year. I still don’t know what to do patternwise but you have inspired me to be brave and use a thread which contrasts to the fabric , circles maybe and bigger stitches.
    Got that far!

    • timquilts says:

      sometimes the deciding part is the hardest….I have a few piles of fabric that I have yet to decide on. my thought is if I can’t decide it isn’t time to start yet…..I have about half a dozen that I started before I was sure of what I wanted and they sit unfinished…..better to wait for inspiration….I learned the hard way. that said I am glad you like the idea of contrasting thread and bigger stitches…I think you will enjoy doing it 🙂

  9. katechiconi says:

    Good tip about using the hoop to create the first circle. I shall try that on another quilt. And I totally agree about Big Stitch/Big Thread quilting – what’s right is whatever looks right.

  10. annetisell says:

    Wonderful O quilt guru!

  11. Debbie says:

    I like the term big thread quilting. Much more descriptive. Loving this quilt. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Rose in VT says:

    I hope your phrase of ‘big thread’ catches on, it’s much more descriptive! Was also surprised to see that you start out and work in to center on the circles. I wouldn’t have thought to try that, but will now.
    Certainly makes sense to use the hoop as the guide.


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