How to Hand Quilt Without a Hoop

Quilting using a hoop is a hands-free approach to reduce the quilt’s stress on your hands during those intensive quilting sessions by using a hoop as extra hands to carry the weight of the quilts.

But, if you are only going to design something small or something big block by block, using a hoop can be unnecessary; and may cause extra stress. In that case, you may fare well quilting without a hoop. Here is how to do it.

Hand Quilting Without a Hoop

Quilting without a hoop may sound intimidating, but it is quite easy once you get the hang of it. It is a way of quilting that makes use of the hands only. All you need is to master the basic steps.

  • Lay two layers of the fabric against each other
  • Keep the fabric firm when stitching using one hand under the quilt to guide the needle.
  • Place your other hand on top.
  • While stitching, pull the knot through the fabric towards the back of the quilt

What Materials Will be Needed?

Hand quilting without a hoop doesn’t need so many materials. Just like the professionals did in the olden days, without a stellar supply of expensive tools, you too can produce beautiful art with just a few supplies.


Use a thimble to avoid pricking yourself. You can use a metallic, ceramic, or leather thimble. Always test it out before settling for one. The more comfortable and fitting it is, the more you will enjoy quilting.


Rulers help achieve accuracy when cutting angle lines and edges. Any hand quilting ruler will just do fine, but an acrylic ruler is recommended because it allows you to see through and make accurate cuts. You won’t go wrong with a 24 inch long ruler that’s 6 to 8 inches wide and with a 45 degree angle line.


Traditional quilting is better done using 100 percent cotton thread. The coat on the thread makes it soft, so it passes through layers smoothly. The coat also keeps the thread from getting tangled.


Choose a needle that is comfortable for you and suitable for the fabric. Thick, long modern hand quilting needles work just fine.

Marking tools

Quilts should be neat for a beautiful design. Use marking tools and washable markers or pencil to draw a thread path; that way, your quilts will come out looking professional.


For cutting scissors, go with a small, light pair that is easy to move around and cut threads and awkward fabric parts.

The Quilting Process

Cut the thread about 18-24 inches long and put it through the needle; on the other end of the thread, tie a knot. 18 to 24 inches is the recommended thread length to avoid tangles or having to switch frequently.

Pull the needle and thread through the quilt’s back to the spot you’d like the quilt to start. Tug the knot through the supporting fabric, ensuring it doesn’t show up through the top material.

Start stitching. Small, even stitches are the best for a beautiful quilt, but for beginners, big stitches will just do until you’ve mastered the skill, and you can then scale down the stitches per inch. Experts advise six stitches every inch for beginners; then later, you can scale to 12 of them per inch. Use your underneath hand to push the loose fabric onto the needle.

Remember to load your stitches. Loading stitches keeps you from pulling all the thread way up when stitching. You can load up to three stitches on the needle before pulling up. While at it, maintain an even tension throughout the thread.

Hand Quilting How to. No Hoop. No Thimble

Does Hand Quilting Without a Hoop Take Long?

The period depends on several factors, including the size of the fabric and the patterns you wish to make. If you are going to use bigger fabric and intricate patterns, it may take you quite a while to finish. A small quilt may take up to 12 hours, while a massive quilt may last for months.

Which Type of Stitches are Suitable for Hoopless’ Hand Quilting?

Quilting is a fun, creative activity. There are several patterns to explore when hand quilting. Beginners can start with easy patterns but once you master the skill, get creative with intricate stitches. Here are the stitches that hand quilting enthusiasts across the world are using.

1.   Quilter’s Knot

You can use a Quilter’s Knot at the start or end of your stitch pattern. Just wrap the thread around the needle three times, then pull the three hoops down over your yarn to create a knot. Clip excess thread, and begin stitching at the center of the quilt. Pull the knot through the fabric towards the back of the quilt.

2.   Running Stitch

To make a running stitch, insert the needle through the front of the fabric and pinching a small piece of the fabric at the back (wrong side of the fabric). Next, stitch through several times in a firm pattern.

3.   Tunneling Stitch

To tunnel stitch, you just have to hold your needle parallel to the material for even stitches.

4.   Rocking Stitch

Place one hand under the bottom layer of the fabric and use the other to stitch from the top. Use the hand at the bottom to bring the needle back to the top layer in a rocking motion.

Make the pattern about 4 to 5 times before pulling your thread out. A rocking stitch is best done using a thick needle without looping or crossing thread.

Sharon Schamber - Hoopless Hand Quilting

Wrapping Up

Quilting is a fun activity to help one relax and explore their talent. There are a few different ways you can do it. Using a hoop is the best approach to maintain accuracy, but if you won’t be quilting for long, the hoop is going to make things cumbersome.

The good news is you can learn to quilt without a hoop, just like professionals did it back then. It is quite easy once you get the hang of it. Practice on old dresses or T-shirts before graduating to brand new fabrics. Next, you may want to check out popular techniques and style for quilting.