I think that maybe I'm going to be a bit controversial now but I made my first quilt in the early 70's stopped to raise a family and then began again with a passion around 15 years ago. It seems to me that technology is galloping ahead and machines that quilt are getting better and better. I am English and live in the UK and I have never been to a quilt show in the USA but we have some wonderful shows in Europe and the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham has quilters visiting from all over the world. The winners of the quilts in the competitions are almost all quilted on a machine, the more expensive the machine and the more complicated the pattern all the better, but they are often computer generated and their owners can afford these expensive machines. Isn't something being lost here somewhere. I recently bought a beautiful old quilt from an Estate Auction when I was visiting West Virginia this spring. It's a little bit crooked,and worn but I absolutely love it. It has pride of place in my house. In these times when money is a little bit stretched especially for the younger generation it would be great if a quilt was judged by its actual needlework from a quilter not by a machinist. In the not too distant future it will become like painting by numbers when a quilt can be quilted while its owner cooks dinner.
What do you think?

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Linda, I am in the same boat as Leann. I love to hand quilt, knit, crochet, etc., and did it all for years until arthritis set in. I had to learn to machine quilt and embroider or give it all up. Occasionally, though, I'll hand-quilt a small piece to keep my skill level up, but it takes days for my hands to stop hurting.  I am enjoying learning new things to do with the new technology that I wouldn't have tried to do by hand. My favorite part of quilting is working with color and patterns and that doesn't change with the new technology...I can just do more in less time!  I don't mind that at all!!

I think that has been some really good points raised here and if its your own work of art is really doesn't matter a jot as long as you enjoy making it and love it. There's something for everyone. It's just the shows that get me bemused. If it was an embroidery completion would all the winners have expensive machines doing it, or an art show painting by numbers. I love going to a sewing bee and sitting quilting with a group and I don't enter competitions but I love quilt shows and often take the time to look around the quilts. The machines on sale get more amazing every year and more expensive. Thank heavens you don't have to be rich to be a quilter.

Sandra, I know what you mean by arthritis setting in. I am hand quilting a large quilt and it is taking forever, but I promised myself I'd have at least one entire piece done by hand. It's taking forever since I simply can't put hours and hours into it like I could at one time. Still, I like to keep up my skill level. I learned Sashiko a couple of years ago and I like it very much. Also,  I enjoy paper piecing too and what I enjoy most about quilting are the many new techniques there are to learn. Quilters are problem solvers, and that gives us a rich supply of new brain cells whenever we quilt.

OK, I'm a MALE quilter, but I have been making quilts now since 1995.  I was taught to quilt by a quilt goddess in our (Mennonite) church. As a church we made a quilt together--every member (male, female, child, elder) hand-stitched some of the quilting, and the blocks were made by the families in the church.  That quilt is a treasure.  It's where I learned to hand quilt and hand piece.  That was 1995.  The first quilt I made for myself was a wall hanging made from fabric I received in an online fabric swap.  I machine pieced it, and hand quilted it.  I think there is room for all variations and combinations.  The woman who taught me ranted about people who used machines for any part of a a quilt--"it's not REALLY a quilt" she would say.  I am still part of a quilt guild with her, and she makes all her quilts by machine now--she has too many to get done, and no way she'll do them all before she dies if she doesn't machine quilt.  Lately, I've noticed, she machine pieces tops, and sends them to Iowa to a group of Amish women who she pays to hand quilt her work. 

I love hand quilting.  I don't enjoy machine quilting as much, but do most of my quilting by machine.  But I ALWAYS have one or more projects in the hoop or frame, so I can hand quilt while watching T.V. or in those times I just want to relax and feel peaceful.  There are many reasons to machine quilt, and many to hand quilt.  AS long as you're quilting, you are a friend of mine!!!


well said, kevin! i have been following here, saw your post when you made it. admired it. now catching up on most recent comments and had to stop in and say ..kudos to you & your wise words. a little bit a'this & a little bit a'that..that's how i quilt too. i do what ever fits the project & it's intended recipient.

one of the most amazing quilts i ever had the good fortune to see and admire in person was in the traveling exhibit "Ho! To California!" in late 90's. i had just moved to california and this traveling exhibit had come to the small coastal town i had moved to. this quilt would be bigger than todays' "california king". hand pieced as the young maker traveled across the country in a conestoga wagon. few years later, this busy young mother with farm and children to manage, acquired her first sewing machine. and proceeded to machine quilt her blue & white hand pieced beauty. this was in late 1880's. machine quilted quilts have been around since the advent of the sewing machine.

Linda, In part I must agree with you; however, as I grow older, my hands are not what they used to be. Several years ago, I promised myself that I would hand quilt one quilt. I'm still working on it, so not much would get done if we depended on hand quilting I'm afraid. But it is so soft unlike what comes off a longarm. I don't have room for a quilting frame in my house so I use a hoop which allows me to take my work with me when I go to get togethers. Still and all, I so admire the hand work of a quilt that has been hand quilted. Our county fair has one category strictly for hand quilted items. Lots of oohs and ahhhhs there as many of those ladies have some fabulous hand stitching and patterns. I think that's the trick in national competition. There should be a specific category for hand quilted stuff.  

I would agree with you, Victoria...a separate category would bring fairness to the competition and highlight the different skills needed to do each category.  Like you, I still enjoy an occasional project with hand-quilting, but  I am enjoying learning new techniques to do with my machine as well. Happy quilting!

I'm late to this post but have enjoyed reading the replies. I used to be a purist - only hand piecing, applique, and quilting. Now my work/play is primarily done on the machine. My hands are still okay but I am able to get much more done using the machine and I have a thousand years worth of ideas! Now I'm teaching a seven year old to sew. He has almost completed a small infant quilt by machine but I started him on hand sewing and told him "A lot can be done on the machine but somethings can only be done by hand and so you will learn that first."

I agree with Kevin Key especially when he wrote "I think there is room for all variations and combinations." Are we unhappy that apples and oranges are being compared or are we fearful that hand quilting may be a dying skill? I think the best we may be able to do is to embrace progress, share all that we can about this wonderful hobby, pastime, and in some cases livelihood and hope it rubs off!

Well said!

agreed!! and a few hours on the WWW will convince anyone who takes the time, that there is still a whole lot of hand quilting being done. quality hand quilting.

So true

Linda i agree 100% with what you are saying.  I think if the machine does all the work then a person may as well just got to the store and buy one already made.  What has happened to the true art of needlework ?   To me there is nothing more satisfying than sitting in my comfy chair and doing hand stitching.  Then at the end i can truly say its something that i made and not a machine.   I know the embroidery machines that are so popular right now can do some amazing things but  as you said all a person has to do is set the programme then go make beds and clean house,  the embroidery is all done for them.  Oh well .......... must be the English in us,  yes i am also English.   I live in Ohio now and have been to many awesome quilt shows in my area,  every Fall we have a huge Amish quilt festival,  those quilts are breathtaking,  and mostly all done by hand.  Those ladies are very talented.   Thank you for your comment, i really popped on here to find some table runner and placemat patterns for Christmas,  but just had to stop and reply to your post.    Dawn  


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