Corey Yoder from Little Miss Shabby shows you how to incorporate Big Stitch quilting into your designs with today’s tutorial, which also includes this beautiful pillow top pattern featuring half-square triangles (HSTs). Corey is author of the upcoming Playful Petals, available this April. Learn more about Corey in her introduction, and head over to Little Miss Shabby for the Rainbow Row Along, Stashbuster blocks and so much more!

Hello! I’m Corey and you will usually find me blogging over at Little Miss Shabby. I’m excited to be sharing with you today a little bit about Big Stitch quilting. You may be familiar with this type of hand quilting, or you may have heard it referred to as Long Stitch quilting or Pick Stitch Quilting. In any event, it’s a great, quick method of hand quilting or a great introduction if you have never tried hand quilting before.

I grew up surrounded by hand quilters, generations of them in fact, so the world of hand quilting is not new to me. However, I had not seen Big Stitch quilting until somewhat more recently, within the last five years. And I fell in love! Big Stitch quilting is much quicker than traditional hand quilting and I get to use beautiful threads to add fantastic color and dimension to my projects. These are both bonuses in my book!

Supply List:

  • Completed pillow top (I will be sharing a great pillow top pattern to get you on your way.)
  • Batting (a low-loft 100% polyester batting is a great choice for hand quilting)
  • Pillow top backing
  • Variety of 8 wt. Perle/Pearl Cotton (12 wt. is also a wonderful weight for hand quilting)
  • Your favorite marking tool (I often use a water soluble fabric marker. Don’t use an air erasable marker as the marks won’t last long enough to complete the project.)
  • Quilting needles (I like to use embroidery needles; size 7 works well.)
  • Temporary fabric spray adhesive or safety pins for basting
  • Thimble (I know they can take a little bit of time to get used to, but your fingers will thank you!)
  • Scissors
  • Pillow backing/binding

Pillow Top
If you are anything like me, you probably have a myriad of quilt tops and pillow tops just waiting to be quilted. If not, here’s a great pillow you can whip up in no time. And, the great part is, it looks harder than it is. I always think a project should look like you spent more time on it than you actually did! For my pillow I used a variety of Liberty prints mixed with some Japanese fabrics. This pillow would be stunning in so many different fabrics.

This pillow top is made using all 2 1/2″ squares and 2 1/2″ half-square triangles (HSTs). You can see the layout below. Sew the squares/HSTs into rows and then sew the rows together to complete the pillow top. Use 3″ squares to make the HSTs and trim them to 2 1/2″.

Hand Quilting
After completing the quilt top, we are ready to begin hand quilting. First, mark the quilting lines. Note: The black lines illustrate the quilting lines, however, I used a water soluble marker for the lines I actually marked on the pillow top.

Sandwich the pillow top, batting and backing; the batting and backing should be 1-2″ larger on each side than the pillow top. Baste using your preferred method. For small projects, I love to use temporary fabric spray adhesive.

And we are ready to begin quilting. The nice thing about working on a small project is there is no need for a hoop or quilt frame, although you certainly can use one if you prefer. We will be working from one side of the project to the other, beginning in the center and working out. Choose your first thread and cut a piece long enough to reach from the end of one marked line to the other end. Knot the thread and begin working at the edge of the pillow top; the knot will be buried in your binding.

The stitch used for hand quilting is called a rocking stitch and it is the same stitch that is utilized during Big Stitch quilting. Once you get the hang of it you will be able to load several stitches onto your needle at one time. The key is to push the needle down vertically from the pillow top straight down (not at an angle).

Your other hand will be under the pillow top. Bring your needle down just so you can feel the tip has come through and then “rock the needle” using your middle finger (which should have a thimble on it) back up through the top of the quilt. Rock the needle back down just through the back and then up through the top again. Once you have a couple stitches on your needle push it through with your thimble and repeat the process. The space between the stitches should be approximately the same length as the stitches themselves.

Continue in this manner until you have quilted the marked line. Knot the thread and you are ready to begin quilting the next marked line.

Quilt all of the marked lines to complete the pillow top. At this point, you can trim the top and finish it using your favorite pillow finishing technique. I used an envelope enclosure and binding to complete my pillow.

Happy Quilting!


Today’s post is sponsored by Fabricworm, your source for modern, designer and Japanese import fabrics, perfect for crafts, quilts and home decorators.