Sister Ruth Mattingly’s Tips for Hand Quilting

Sister Ruth Mattingly says quilting is very relaxing for her.

“No one is pressuring you to hurry up,” she said.

Another quilt Sister Ruth has quilted

As she shows me a quilt she’s currently working on, she gives me some basic tips for hand quilting:


Tip one: Use a size 5 needle. You don’t want the needle size too big. Small needles help you make very small stitches which look better. She uses “Between Quilting” brand for hand quilting.


Tip two: She uses 100th white thread from Coats and Clark. You need to make sure you have quilting thread instead of sewing thread. Quilting thread is thicker than sewing thread and more durable. She says there are lots of different colors.


Tip three: Do real small stitches because they look prettier!



Tip four: Make two or three stitches before you pull the needle through.


Tip five: Go all the way across, then pull it back through so it doesn’t show.


Tip six: Be sure to start your stitches in the middle and then work your way out (figure out why).


She said even though she doesn’t feel rushed, her current quilt does have a deadline though. It’s for a baby that’s due in March!


  1. Jan (Mills) Gish

    Thank you for the tips. Although I’ve machine quilted, I’m just getting ready to try to hand quilt my first one. This is helpful. Beautiful work!

  2. Terry Pike Risley

    i would like to exchange texts from Sister Mattingly! My twin brother and I (girl) were given up at birth to catholic charities in 1958 louisville, Ky. I found my biological family in 2007 and my birth mother was a Mattingly! I want to know if we are kin folk ❤️

  3. Joyce Alexander

    I know Sr. Ruth personally ! The last time I visited her she was working on a quilt !! A lovely lovely lady and I miss her ! I need to visit more often ! Fantastic quilting Sr. Ruth !!

  4. David Osborne

    Lovely quilts. Greetings from Flagstaff, AZ! My father’s cousin Vestina Kullman Mattingly was married to Bill Mattingly. Is Sister Ruth related to Bill? As a child growing up in Louisville, we visited Vestina, Bill, and their daughter Mary Jean often. A lovely family. My father was Joseph Roscoe Osborne and my mother was Marguerite Montgomery.

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