Maverick Big Stitch Quilting with Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

maverick big stitch quilting

By Patricia Belyea

WAUCONDA WA  There are many things I love about lap quilting. I find the stitching pace calming as opposed to frenetic freemotion quilting where my sewing machine often moves faster than my brain and hands. I truly appreciate the turtle speed of working with a needle and thread on my lap.

Also, there are no limits to lap quilting—like the ring of a hoop or the throat size of a longarm machine. 

Lap quilting offers lots of freedom for innovation. Stitching ideas can extend in all sorts of directions as there’s no advantage to continuous line designs. 

To follow is my approach for Maverick Big Stitching on X Quilt:

To start, I prepped my project for hand stitching. I pin basted my quilt sandwich with Clover Wonder Pins to secure all the layers.

(Check out Clover Wonder Pins. These pins are a little finer than other basting pins. They slide easily through the fabric and pop out smartly with the bend in their spears.)

Clover magic pins for basting a quilt sandwichA comparison of Clover Magic Pins with other basting pins

With all three layers fastened together, I tailor basted the quilt sandwich and removed the Wonder Pins. This gave me a smooth surface to apply my stitching design.

Tailor basting the quilt sandwich together

My stitching concept was inspired by the paisley-style pattern—swoops and teardrop forms—in the teal yukata cotton.

Paisley-style pattern in vintage Japanese yukata cottonStitch pattern for quilt by Patricia Belyea

I added codes to the shapes of the original pattern design. Then I scaled up the design onto freezer paper—adding the matching codes to the full-size shapes. I cut out the pattern pieces and dry-pressed them onto the front of the quilt.

Add codes to a Maverick Big Stitch design by Patricia BelyeaPattern for Maverick Big Stitch quilting by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

Using a Clover Water Soluble Marker, I traced around the paper shapes to transfer the stitch design. 

Maverick Big Stitch design by Patricia Belyea, transferred onto the X Quilt

On to Maverick Big Stitching! With a thimble on my middle finger, white No. 8 perle cotton in a sashiko needle, and thread snips nearby, I began stitching from the center of the quilt.

First I needed to drop my knot into the quilt sandwich. I made a two-loop knot at the end of the thread. I angled the needle into the layers, about 3/4" away from where I wanted to start. The tip of the needle dipped below the batting and emerged at my desired starting point. Then I tugged on the thread until the knot popped into the quilt top.

To stitch, I pushed the needle straight down. Then I gently folded the fabric and pushed the needle with my thimble until the tip re-emerged, coming straight up out of the fabric. When there were no bulky seams, I took two or three stitches at a time. 

Once I got near the end of a thread, I again needed to sink my knot. I made a looped knot and positioned it close to the quilt top—about the length of a stitch away. I buried the knot by angling the needle into the quilt sandwich and re-emerging about an inch away, without going through the quilt back. More tugging was needed to pop the end knot into the middle of the quilt. Then the thread was trimmed.

I stitched around all the pattern shapes and then added a few more circles and teardrops. The white perle cotton scintillated like tiny pearls all over the quilt top!

Maverick Big Stitch quilting with Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

Once the fun of stitching was over, I dunked the quilt sandwich into a bath of tepid water. Then I laid out the wet project on a clean sheet atop wall-to-wall carpeting. I tugged a little here and there and used sturdy pins to hold the squared-up quilt in place while it dried.

Blocking the X Quilt by Patricia Belyea of Okan ArtsBlocking the X Quilt by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

With all four sides trimmed, I finished the comfort-sized quilt with a soft-blue designer facing made with squares of contrast colors on the corners.

Although the fabric is gorgeous and the curved piecing is intriguing, it’s the Maverick Big Stitching that makes me excited. This project spawns non-stop ideas of more ways to play with freezer paper patterns for my hand quilting.

X Quilt by Patricia Belyea of Okan ArtsDesigner facing on X Quilt by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.