Single Girl Quilt Along – Week 5

by Nova on March 14, 2011

So, your Single Girl is all basted and ready to quilt. Yay! Are you hand quilting yours too? I’m going to chat about how I transferred the quilting design provided in the pattern  onto the quilt top, my threads & needles of choice & some thimble love.

I have to admit when I made my first Single Girl Quilt I did ponder about how to transfer the hand quilting design onto the quilt top.  So as usual I turned to my old friends Google and flickr and did a few searches & asked some questions. The online quilting community really are a friendly bunch and you’ll often find if you ask a question you’ll have an answer in no time ;).

I found this via this lovely flickr quilter and after a quick email convo I was away!

I’ll try and explain without too much waffling  how I approached the hand quilting of the Single Girl. We’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and suggestions in the support group too though :)

After basting the quilt I worked on a ‘circle’ of quilting at a time starting at the centre of the quilt and working my way out as usual. The series of pictures below show how I marked the quilting design but of course as this time I am only doing a single block for a cushion I’ll be working on a circle block rather than a circle of quilting but the same applies.

What you’ll need::

  • fabric marking pen/chalk/ Hera marker/ Pencil/ of your choice.
  • card/plastic for template ( I used a manila folder)
  • craft knife
  • thread & needle
  • thimble
  • Single Girl pattern for ref & to transfer the quilting design.

First I traced the quilting design provided in the pattern. I only traced a full 1/4 section but you might like to have the whole thing or a 1/2.

I transferred the tracing onto a manila folder by laying the traced design on top of the card and scoring along the lines so they marked the card beneath. Next I used my craft knife to cut out the lines, kind of like a stencil.  It was a bit floppy so I taped a section up to help stabilize it.

Next select your marking weapon of choice. As I am using a light coloured background I opted for a blue water erasable fabric pen. When I quilted the dark grey background Single Girl,  I used a clover white marking pen that disappears when you iron it or wash it (brilliant!). I avoided regular chalk as I was marking a large section at a time and didn’t want it rubbing off. You could also use a Hera marker but again I wanted a more permanent option.

Place your template onto your quilt. When I quilted the whole quilt I removed the pins from the section I was working on and only marked one circle of quilting design at a time before moving to the next section.  For the cushion, I marked the whole design first, then pinned.

Use your marking pen of choice to mark the lines through your stencil template

You can join the gaps where the tape was if you like.

Continue to mark your full circle joining the lines.

When you come to the bit  where 4 circles meet there is no template included in the pattern to fill this ’empty’ section.  It’s a large area to leave un~quilted and if  you look at the quilting on the cover of the pattern you’ll see it’s filled with a double diamond design that echoes the circles. I drew it on by marking a few dots 1 1/4 ” out from all the circle edges…

..and then joined the dots to echo the arcs of the circles. (By all means make a template in the same way as before if you like :))

Repeat for the inner diamond.

It’s tricky to know where to begin quilting as you want to follow the rules of quilting from the centre towards the outside edges and with whole circles to quilt you have to think outside the square (or circle) a bit to avoid leaving too many spaces & creating crinkles .  I handled this by quilting the circles in 1/4 sections, beginning at the top centre of an arc and working outwards, then complete the other side of the arc and so on. You begin to get a feel as you quilt along about which sections you need to work  on next.

My favourite threads to quilt with at the moment are Perle 8 and hand quilting cotton thread. My favourite needles to quilt with are the John James big eye quilting needles (size 10 or 11). LOVE them & all their itty bitty teeny tiny-ness.  However, the big eye isn’t big enough for Perle 8 so if I’m quilting with Perle I use Chenille no 24 needles. I don’t find it as nice to quilt with as regular quilting thread with the short needle but I LOVE the look of the Perle 8 so I’m happy to go with it :)

For my Single Girl cushion I couldn’t get the colour I wanted in Perle 8 so like an impatient silly billy I grabbed some Perle 5. While I’m lovin’ the look, all chunky and yum, it really isn’t pleasant to quilt with or very kind to your wrists so I wouldn’t recommend it ;)

Thimbles are an important piece of hand quilting equipment  and you need to find one that is comfortable for you. I have never got on with metal thimbles and my all time favourite is the leather nimble thimble  ( the mangy looking black one in the picture below, well worn and much loved ;) ) I also really like the little sticky ones, though I find them a bit large and cut them in half. You can re-use them a couple of  times too.  I am also just auditioning the metal tipped silicone one by Clover, so far so good :)

I’m pretty relaxed about hand quilting and I really love the process as well as the look. I never worry too much about being even or if I ‘catch’ the fabric at the back on every stitch. So if you are going the hand quilting route, enjoy it & don’t stress too much about trying to be perfect.

My favourite hand quilting tutorial to date is a recent one by Kate Conklin and as I know a few of you are contemplating using Perle 8 it’s perfect!  Kate includes lots of pictures and explains it in a way that  it’s like she’s sitting right next to you showing you how :)  YouTube also has a wealth of hand quilting video tutes & there is a wonderful tutorial in issue 4 of Fat Quarterly by Ruth Eglinton on how to hand quilt.

Happy Quilting!  Whether you’re quilting by hand or machine or having it quilted for you, we can’t wait to see those Single Girls all quilted up!

If you’re playing catch ups here’s the Single Girl Quilt Along schedule so far ::

14 Feb – Marking and cutting fabric – Katy

21 Feb – Piecing rings – Megan

28 Feb – Sewing curves – Nova

7 March – Assembly – Katy

14 March – Marking quilting design & hand quilting – Nova

28 March – Quilt Along wrap up – Megan, Katy & Nova

Megan, Katy & I will be back in a couple of weeks to wrap up the Quilt Along, in the meantime, if you have any questions or tips to share hop over to the support group :) & keep sharing your pics in the group too!


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Angelina March 14, 2011 at 10:35 am

Absolutely amazing! You know I was this close [ ] to buying the single girl pattern the other day, all because of you! I managed to resist because I’m supposed to be saving money but you’re bad for the budget! haha I am going to have to get this pattern when my self imposed spending restriction comes to an end though. You’ve definitely convinced me I have to at least make a cushion!


Tracy March 14, 2011 at 10:49 am

I adore the quilting


Kim March 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

Awesome quilting!


Kristen @SoHappy March 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

Great idea!! I love the perle cotton look. I never bother with worrying about the stitches on the back either. That bold orange is so yummy!!


Krista - Poppyprint March 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Great post, Nova. I wonder how many people in the QAL group snorted at the first sentence! I am enjoying seeing all of my friends’ single girls come together, while I work away on my Proverbial quilt.


Mary on Lake Pulaski March 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Not ready for hand quilting yet Nova, but I read through this and will be back for a re-read when I’m ready. Thank you!


Jessica Wright March 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Oooh I just love this already – it’s going to look amazing. Now I kinda wish I’d joined the quiltalong too. Boo.


Jo March 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Thanks for the great tute! I can’t decide whether to hand quilt this one or now – it’s only a teensy quilt, but I’d kind of hoped to have it done before the baby arrived, and we’re getting a little bit close to the mark for that now! Can’t think what else I’d do, so maybe I’ll do it using hand quilting thread rather than perle (I’m much quicker with standard thread) and watch a lot of TV this week…


Leonie -Australia March 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for sharing all those tips Nova! I was trying to remember what sort of cotton you used for hand quilting, is the perle cotton a really fine crochet cotton? Anyway the cushion is looking great.


Katy March 15, 2011 at 12:00 am

You make it sound so easy, Nova!!!! How come I get all tangled up and in a mess every time I try hand quilting?
*sigh* I wish you were nearer.


amy March 15, 2011 at 3:10 am

Oh, LOVELY! You’re inspiring me — absolutely! I was thinking I’d machine mine, but really, you make it look so gorgeous that I’m melting over the hand quilting!


angela March 15, 2011 at 5:49 am

Hi. the Feb 28 link for Nova, cutting curves, doesn’t work…can you tell me where to find that post? Thank you.


Nova March 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

Hi Angela, I just checked all the links and they seem to be working but I’ll email the link direct to you too x


Eileen March 15, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I’m still happily working on my curves! :) Oh gosh, now to decide what color to use for hand stitching! Thank you for the wonderful tutorial. I would have never thought to work out ward like your photo.


ashley March 18, 2011 at 12:16 am

you make it look so easy! love, love love the orange stitching!


Dana Fisher March 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

I made templates to make marking the quilting pattern a little easier. There are pictures on my blog.
Thanks for your post.


Dana April 27, 2011 at 2:24 am

Does anyone know where you can get templates or drawings to trace for a king or queen size quilt? I’m looking for designs to mark on plain fabric, and then to copy onto the fabric, and to hand quilt? I’ve googled this and can’t find anything. Your reply would be appreciated.

Thank you,


Julia March 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Looking really good and so helpful about the template – first time to make my own, so I am now clear on what I need to do.

Loving the website.


Cindy March 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I am two years late finding this site…just ordered my single girl pattern and have never hand quilted before. Is there a pic of this quilt finished? Love the choice of thread and would like to see the quilt finished. Thanks for the great tutorial!


Deborah Bartlett August 14, 2013 at 1:54 am

Hi Nova,

I have completed my Single Girl squares (quarters) for a queen size quilt. I am in the process of squaring them up and I will start sewing them together soon. I’m wondering if I don’t hand quilt according to Denyse’s original quilt do you have any suggestions for a simple design that can be done using a long-arm machine (I will be paying someone to do this for me…)???? Thanks for any and all suggestions.
Debbe in Long Beach, CA


Karen N October 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

Thank you for this tutorial! So much information and scrumptious photos – I was debating between hand quilting and machine quilting my Single Girl quilt, and you’ve totally tipped the scales in favor of hand quilting it. Icing on the cake, it is! :)


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