Invisible Hand Quilting?

Back to some hand quilting.   I got the Fantasy Garden quilt top basted


As always I used safety pins.

For this I used white backing and Hobb’s Tuscany Wool batting.

This top is very busy.   The fabrics have so much going on that no matter what I do the stitches are not going to show much.

Lately I have been doing a lot with contrasting thread.  when the fabric has a subtle print stitching will show.


For the new one the actual stitches aren’t going to show because of all the pattern.

Sometimes this situation leads to what is called “quilting for god”   which means that you are investing a lot of time quilting but the only one who really knows it is there is god because no one can see it.

So how to quilt it?

This brings me back to the batting choice.    The batting I used is quite thick , it has a higher “loft” than cotton.  Even though it is thicker it is lighter and easier to quilt than cotton, it has to do with the fibers, there is more air space between them in wool.

I selected a lofty batting because the stitches wont show much (not at all from even a short a distance) but the texture will show.

the quilting stitches indent the batting and create a textured surface.

here is one block


one large square and lots of half square triangles.

for the triangles I am quilting it by the piece.  Simply stitch inside the seams on each triangle.


I am using white 40 wt hand quilting thread and a size 10 Bohin sharp needle.   Why white thread?  Because when there is not a predominant matching color I always use white or off white. I could have also used black.

The stitches in the tiny triangles do not show much but the texture does.   It is very hard to get a true view of that in a picture, particularly when I have just a few stitches done, but it does show on the back.


On the squares in the center of the blocks I will hand quilt around the flowers and leaves in the fabric.   I will post detail pictures of that when I get some more quilting finished.

I am just about ready to do some more piecing with this fabric.


Here I have divided it up into 2 rows 1 light and 1 dark.  Sometimes we only see color and value becomes obscured.   Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. To sort by Value, or light and dark, it helps to ignore color.

If you are not sure you have your fabrics divided by value try eliminating color by taking a picture in black and white.

DSCN5435 (2)

Can you see how some of the fabrics actually have less contrast than we can see in color. I will rearrange them to improve contrast before I start piecing.

Teddy (freshly back from the groomer) has a new trick.   When I get up from my quilting chair he jumps on.


He wants to be sure I don’t forget to take his picture.


Now back to more of that invisible quilting

Happy Quilting



29 thoughts on “Invisible Hand Quilting?

  1. Kristen says:

    Goodness Teddy is amping up the charm today! I know he doesn’t like to go out much these cold days, but that’s also good because he would draw the paparazzi with his movie-star stylings.

  2. I really like the b & w photographic preview of the solids to determine each fabric’s value. What a good tip! Thanks, Tim! Adding that idea to my bag of tricks.

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks…..with digital cameras these days it is so easy to do a picture preview…I also take a picture of quilt block layouts, somehow I see them better in a picture

  3. Martyne says:

    What a wonderful, as usual, quilting lesson today Tim. I especially love the use of black and white photo for hues. Thank you,

  4. helen says:

    What a great idea to let show texture by some “higher loft” when quilting is absorbed by the business of the fabric! Thanks for that! 🙂
    Teddy is irresistibly handsome!
    Best wishes!

  5. annette jacob says:

    Tim, what kind of doggie is Teddy? He looks smashing after his
    grooming session!

  6. Chris says:

    Beautiful as always!! A question: you produce so much quilts, don’t youre arms/elbow/shoulder hurt?? Excuse my not so good english, I am from the Netherlands. Keep up youre nice work! Love to Teddy!

    • timquilts says:

      When I was a new quilter I did get tired hands and arms and a very sore back, I think that doing it so much has strengthened those muscles and I have learned to sit up strait rather then hunched over and also I now use a hoop on a stand so that I don’t have to support the weight of the quilt with my hands.

  7. Teddy is positively smiling! He has figured out that all the attention you are getting is because of quilting, so he wants to be in the same position! And he looks as if he knows that he is amazingly handsome!

  8. katechiconi says:

    Over the years, I’ve adopted a policy of doing an overall pattern when ‘quilting for God’. In cases where the quilt front is very busy, you’re simply doing it to hold the layers together. My favourite is a clamshell or single crosshatch, but I like a wavy line too. Teddy really does have the most intelligent expression and I often wonder what he’d have to say if he could talk….

    • timquilts says:

      I do like overall designs for some of my quilts, but I don’t like to had quilt over as many seams as this one has….and not such busy fabric is very hard to see the markings. I too have wondered what Teddy might say if he could. he does often really look like he is thinking about something.

  9. Matthew says:

    I love your hand quilting especially the perle cotton. I am working on a quilt now that I want to quilt with perle cotton, similarly to outline each piece about 1/4 th inch in from the seam. Because it is also very colorful I thought about using a different color of perle cotton thread for each color. Have you ever done that? I wonder if it would make it too busy? And then I thought maybe if the thread matched the dominant color of that piece of fabric I would avoid that problem but then maybe you would not see the quilting much at all. I am still pondering the options and laying out various balls of perle cotton. Thanks.

  10. Angela says:

    Isn’t Teddy the handsomest? Don’t be jealous, Tim, you are the quilterest.

    • timquilts says:

      he does clean up nicely 🙂 he even tries to not mess himself up for a few hours after he is back from the groomer, then he gets over it and resumes his normal routine

  11. You must have a time machine that doubles the hours in your days. Amazing work – amazing amount of work!

  12. Rebecca Loader says:

    So. I was engrossed in reading your description about the hand quilting and the texture, and then the next picture shows Teddy’s darling little face. Forget quilting. I had to go pet my dog!! 😉

  13. Becky in VA says:

    Teddy is totally adorable – as always.

  14. […] fabrics a bit.   In a previous post I talked about separating the fabrics into dark and light (   using a black and white photo.    I decided to mix a few lights into my darks and a few […]

  15. Carin says:

    Oh my … I just LOVE the picture of Teddy with this ongue out of his mouth, its adorable.


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