Inspiring Quilters, Stitch by Stitch
Have any of you tried working with either of these tools in your hand-quilting? As a newbie, I love the look and peaceful tranquility of quilting by hand, but, my underhand is crying for relief. That repetitive prick is going to make me rethink this whole hand-quilting thing. I've done two queen bed quilts and a wallhanging...but, I don't now how much more of this I can do! Do either of these tools work for you? Are they very difficult to learn to use efficiently?
I have never tried these tools as I find manipulating a needle and a quilt sandwich difficult enough without adding mechanical complications. I hated the pain of hand quilting at first until I made a discovery - practice makes calluses!
I have tried a lot of different ideas for the underhand and didn't like any of them. I really need to feel the needle when it comes through but I do use a produce called "New Skin". It's an antiseptic liquid bandage. It helps, plus it helps heal. Now that I baste my quilt really good, a grid about every 3 to 4 inches, and do not use a hoop or frame but just wad it up on my lap, and make very small running stitches my manipulating the fabric with both hands, my under fingers do not get as sore.
I got curious about Aunt Becky's Finger Protector after watching Jean Brown demonstrate her use of it on a YouTube video ( http://bit.ly/xk7XyD ) and since it was under $5 online, I thought I'd give it a shot. As a newbie, I was really having a problem, not so much with the rocking motion, but I'm naturally heavy-handed and controlling the amount of pressure on the needle is a big problem for me. When I stab myself, I stab HARD! Anyhow, the gizmo arrived yesterday, so I set up my hoop stand - so that I wouldn't have to focus on balancing the hoop - and I layered a piece of 1/4 gridded gingham and gave it a shot. Jean's method of holding the finger protector put too much pressure on my nail beds, so I tried it on only my underhand middle finger and that was a little better. THEN I read the package instructions.....duh....and laid it along my underhand index finger. Bingo! I am amazed at how quickly I'm getting the hang of this. This has probably been the best gadget I've purchased yet! I'm sure the metal-to-metal contact is going to dull needles quickly, but, needles are cheap....blood is not! :)
I've been using the Aunt Becky's for several years now....I can't quilt without it anymore. It took a few stitches to get the hang of it, but..........wow once you do and yes it does dull (and bend) needles..but....
When I started quilting, I found something, not sure what they are called, but they are like small oval stickers. They are sort of a thick vinyl. You stick it on your finger tip, and poke it with the needle. It protects your fingers but you can still feel the pressure of the needle. Also use a good heavy cream on your hands like Utter cream. It really helps the sore fingers.
I have some of those vinyl thingys. They won't stick to my fingers very well. Maybe, too much oil....I don't know.
Hmmm... maybe try a leather thimble on that underside finger.
I have also bought a aunt becky's, had trouble getting started with it. So I gave up, will give it another try when I start a new quilt. I found the stitch length changed from my regular length. I am getting quite the calluses so it is not so painful. I have found that glycern works well on the calluses if you rub it in the finger tips at night.
I tried the spoon thing and hated it. I want to feel the needle as it emerges. It just took me practice--about one quilt's worth--to get good at controlling the pressure of the pushing hand, and develop a bit of a callous on my underside hand.
You might notice a difference with different fabrics and battings too. Play with different combinations. Some batiks require more "umph" from the top/pushing hand, and some cotton and thinner battings might let the needle just fly through the layers and into the bottom hand.
I'm developing quite the respectable callous and that does help some. My latest discover on this journey is that the needle, brand and size, makes quite a difference!
My daughter gave me some "Friction Block" by Band-Aid to prevent blisters when wearing new shoes. I thought it might work on my finger on the underside and still allow me to feel the pressure of the needle. It worked! I have been using it for several weeks now and have not had any problems. If you press too hard, you will prick your finger, but normally it protects the finger. It is similar to stick deodorant and waxy in consistency and does have to be reapplied from time-to-time but it has worked for me.