We usually do Big Stitch quilting today because we like the visual effect of the larger stitches. But in the past, when making a quilt from very heavy materials, Big Stitch was likely the only way to hold thick layers together. Recently I bought this old wool scrap quilt on ebay--talk about thick! If this quilt was on your bed, you might have trouble turning over.
This must have been a bear to work on--notice how super-frugal she was--she even pieced the taupe center square--twice!
The quilt is all very rough wools, a few bright colors, and even some old army blankets. The top features string-pieced long hexagons between the squares. Most of the squares have this simple four-leaf shape stitched in them and then additional quilting between the squares--certainly enough to hold the piece together. The thread used was heavy perle cotton in multiple colors. She likely used what she had on hand.
But Big Stitch can also be embellishment and this summer, I finished a quilt top that needed just that touch--a line of black Big Stitching around the border. You know you have a lot of fabric when you can make an all- green charm quilt and never have to ask your friends for donations! While a wild bias-stripe in olive-and-black seemed just the right frame for the piece, I'm happier now with Big Stitching that helps define the outside wavy edges of the Apple Core shapes appliqued onto the border strips.
Here's the whole quilt against the back fence as my friend Fran and Mary try to hold it down so I can take the picture.
And here are my supplies for a session of Big Stitch quilting on a heavy quilt. The right needles-check. A ball of #8 perle cotton-check. On my middle finger my heaviest thimble (a silver Roxanne) and to better grasp the needle, two little dots of Needle Grip-Its are stuck to my thumb and forefinger. I can stitch through steel now!