Big Stitch

I’m having a lot of fun hand quilting small quilts using the big stitch method and since I’m getting a lot of questions, I decided to write down all the information I have in one place. I highly encourage those of you interested to piece a small quilt or grab a UFO and give it a try if it intrigues you like it did me. I only wish I hadn’t waited several years before trying it. 

First, if you google Big Stitch quilting tutorials you will find lots of information so I’m not going to tell you how to do it here but I’ll share a few links to get you started.  I looked at these before I did my first quilt and found they all had useful information. I quilt these small ones without a hoop and the first link talks about that. 


This one’s a video
Here’s my first quilt in progress. I started out outlining the seams on both sides, eyeballing my 1/4 inch without marking it. 
When it came time to mark a quilting line down the middle of those blocks, I chose to use a blue Mark B Gone pen (make sure you carefully follow directions to remove the marks) in the lighter blocks and a CharcoLiner in the darker blocks. The chalk wipes off eventually so I only marked a couple lines at a time before quilting them. 
Questions I get most frequently are


What size/type of needle to use? Most of what I’ve read suggests a chenille or embroidery needle. I have both but decided to try the embroidery needle first. I’m using a size 5. It’s a little longer than the size 22 chenille needle which I think is helpful. I’ve also tried a couple of the needles in the Big Stitch Needle pack but went back to the embroidery needle, it seems to work best for me. 

What thread?
Again, most of the reading I did suggests size 8 or 12 perle cotton (size 12 is thinner) one or two places also mentioned crochet cotton and since I’ve used a lot of crochet cotton in size 10 to tie quilts, I thought I’d try that. KnitPicks has crochet cotton in lots of colors and I decided to try theirs in a gray … Love the thread, love the color!! I also love that I don’t have to guess how many smaller balls of perle cotton a quilt might take. I don’t have to over order or worry about running out. 

Hoop or no hoop?
I brought my 14 inch hoop to FL but in the end I decided to try it without the hoop. I just felt that I would be moving the hoop too frequently. I now have a lap hoop from Mom that I will try eventually but for now, I’m stitching to not using a hoop. 

Rocking stitch vs running stitch?

I’ve used both and don’t really have a preference – running stitch works well when I’m going side to side, rocking stitch seems to work best when I’m quilting top to bottom. I don’t notice a lot of difference in my stitching so I’m doing whatever seems easiest. 

Here’s my Pinwheels and Rails finished

I did mark this one using the blue Mark B Gone pen


One thought on “Big Stitch

  1. Jackson Watkins

    Hi there,
    Many years ago, my first beginner class was, “Hand Quilting & Machine Piecing”. As the class went along, I realized that the more I did of each, the more I was drawn to the machine. So, I gave up hand quilting after several small projects and concentrated on machine piecing and quilting, but you have inspired me to give Big Stitch Quilting a try.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

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