To be a hand quilter one needs:
- a hoop - my preference is one that is 14" in diametre. I am not tall. If you are, your arms are probably longer, so you could have a bigger hoop. I have two hoops. I always think I like the more solid one the most until I use the lighter one again. I like the lighter one because quilts are heavy.
- quilting needles - the only ones I have ever used are Roxanne #10 Betweens. I don't think I have ever broken a needle, but they do get bent going through quilts where many seams converge.
- quilting thread
- a thimble
The real trick with hand quilting is getting the tension in your hoop right. When it's right I can get really even stitches happening and get about five stitches on my needle before pulling it through. I tend to get eight or nine stitches per inch. I have read that expert hand quilters get about 12. I also find that an arm rest under my left arm helps because that's where the quilt rests with my left hand under the hoop.
All but two of the quilts I have made have used wool batting. Once I used a fusible poly cotton mix. Nightmare. I could only get three stitches on my needle and then had to pull the needle through. Never again. So much effort is put into finding nice cotton fabrics, I can't bring myself to use anything synthetic on the inside.
I do like hand quilting - the actual process of quilting and the result. It produces a soft and drapey quilt.