Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thoughts on hand quilting

So, what makes a quilt top worthy of hand quilting?  :)  The Goodwill quilt top that I am currently working on,  probably never dreamed it would ever be picked up, bought, washed,  repaired, washed over and over several times, cat hairs picked, and then hand quilted, of all things!!

What makes this quilt worthy of hand quilting for me is:

The mystery of it all (who made it? why was  it never finished? why did someone give it to Goodwill? )

All the beautiful fabrics (there are few repeats in this quilt, so many pretty fabrics  and hand quilting gives me the opportunity to enjoy every single triangle.  Did this quilter have a huge stash?  Did she (or he)  exchange charm squares with others?)

As far as my own quilt tops, I have one quilt top waiting to be hand quilted.  It's the Underground Railroad Quilt that I made from Eleanor Burn's book.  I learned a lot while piecing this one and just could not dream of meandering meaningless stitches all over the top using a sewing machine.  Most quilts look better with the quilt stitches outlining the seams and I'm sure the Underground Railroad will look good this way, too.  That's not to say that a professional machine quilter couldn't make it look pretty, but that seems to take 'my' heart out of a quilt for me.

Having said that, I recently purchased a mid arm quilter and I have a quilt in the machine now.  Some quilts just need to be done quickly and simply by machine.   I'm hand quilting tonight and it made me think about how we decide what deserves our time to hand quilt.

I mentioned before that I was trying a new frame for lap quilting.  I bought this one:

It's a Q snap 11x17 size frame.  When I first started with it, everything felt too tight to quilt.  (those little snaps are tight, I promise!!)  I was able to loosen the quilt in the frame and I ended up taking one end of the 'snap' off, so that only three sides were secured into the frame.  It truly helps with making the backing stay tight and neat.

Tried and true:  My UltraThimble fingertip shield.  I've tried different thimbles and used to swear by leather ones.  (they wore out too fast).  For some time now,  I have been using this one that sticks on the tip of my finger and I love it.   I don't wear one on my underneath hand; I depend on my calloused middle finger for that side.  :)

So, what makes you decide which ones to hand quilt and which ones to machine quilt?


Debbie J said...

I can imagine your feelings when working with all the fabrics in that quilt. I love those kinds of quilts. Each fabric is a mystery.

I love the look of hand quilting and machine quilting. I hope to do more hand quilting some day. In my busy world, its nice to finish a quilt now and then, so I have to machine quilt most of the time! I also love machine quilting swirls and other quilting designs.

I felt that my Grandma's quilt top deserved hand quilting, but have wished that I had machine quilted it many times, so I could finish it and enjoy it before I die! LOL I think she would have machine quilted if she had been able to.

You are a great quilter, no matter which style you use Penny! Can't wait to see your finished Goodwill quilt and the Underground Railroad One. Maybe you will inspire me to get going with more hand quilting.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I adore the process and peace that I derive from hand quilting, it seems like the only handwork that I do anymore is whipping down bindings though; thanks for the reminder. You do lovely work, Penny!

Hilary from Professional Doctorate said...

Wow! Good job you’ve got there! I love the design and the colors too! I can’t wait to see how it looks like when you’re through. The nimble has really done a great job too! Please keep us posted on your latest project. Have a nice and blessed weekend. See ya!

Haley said...

I like to handquilt everything I make. If its worth making, it's worth hand quilting in my book. If I buy a vintage top someplace like EBay, I like it so its worth hand quilting. I can see the appeal of getting a project done quickly but it's just not important to me at this time in my life. Pretty top!

Mary said...


When I quilt, I prefer hand stitching. That is the way I was taught and guess I'm not into progress.

Quilter Kathy said...

That is a good question! I hand quilt special projects...
quilts that I want to spend a lot of time with.