I've recently taken on a minor research project for my current guild and discovered to my amazement that machine quilting has been going on in the USA since sewing machines became readily and affordably available.  Ladies have machine quilted since the 1800s.  I find, though, that many quilters feel machine quilting is "cheating" and is not traditional.  How do you folks come down on this issue?

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I used to believe "real" quilting did not incorporate a sewing machine.  Then one day, my oldest daughter said to me, "Mom, if those women who lived a hundred and fifty years ago had a sewing machine, don't you think they would use it to make their job easier?"  I thought about that for a long time and decided she was right.  How many of us get out a mixing bowl and "beat" up a cake - we use our electric mixers.  It doesn't mean the cake is any less tasty (I'm a believer that mixing in a mixer for the proper time makes the best and lightest cakes), it means we are able to do more things.  Look at what we are doing right now - communicating with folks we have never met and might never meet using an electronic device.  It's not wrong to use the gifts given to us, it just gives us more time to make more quilts - or buy more stash!

I think there is plenty of room for both machine and hand quilting -- it depends on what you are working on! I've even done hand embroidery with perle cotton to quilt some projects! The sky's the limit. But, if you are doing something traditional, like an Amish-style quilt, I'd say it's time to break out the thimble!

the amish use & have used for many many years...treadle machines for piecing, tho not for quilting that i have ever read. became interested beyond the level of just curious re: lifestyle etc while living in se pa for few yrs. chat friend in holland has cousin or something in indiana...sounds like they are very modern compared to the gentle people my son and i got to know in pa. also, in one of my books on history of amish quilts/quilting by the pellmans, ..early amish quilts of wool were often quilted using worsted wool. son & i frequented one goodwill store in blue ball (i am a thrift shop shopper, even while traveling) and encountered groups of amish women going thru bins of clothing, was told by clerk that for the quilts for themselves, as opposed to the quilts they made to sell to the english, they frequently recycled old wool clothing & that that was what this particular group of women came in to shop for. this was of course a number of years ago, so...

Very interesting! I have 2 treadle machines. Neither one works right now. Need new belts and other work probably. I don't use a machine at all for my quilts, ( mostly because I am not good at using my machine and it causes me stress) but I would love to try piecing one on one of my treadles. 

go to the fw group here and read. i have two also, but don't sew with, never even thought to. but it sounds like it is a new "thing to do". i have in my bookmarks a site to a quilter that uses her treadles exclusively for her quilt business.

in my quilt stuff i have picked up here and there as we wandered the usa on jobs, i got pretty good at recognizing items stiched on treadle machines, & when opportunity arose to inquire some historical background fr fam or others present, i found i was right each time. basically, treadle machine stitching is very short stitches. even my grammas. i don't know if this was because they didn't know how to adjust the stitch length or there is a difference between makes of machines. i have read comments here at mqp that have been made ... like - "and my machine makes a beautiful stitch". so?..dunno an elderly freind for whom i got one of the three old berninas we had running, said she was so happy because bernina has a slow speed switch. that is the only speed she uses ..sewing or quilting, like you, she does't like the stress - accuracy is more important to her than speed to finish. also, on the stitch length issue, in my reading over the years i have read freq..that the piecing stitch length should be ~8 inches to the inch. w cotton, it will vary w other fabs of course, & dimension..i use shorter for mini..don't do micro mini..dh would have to put on hs glases then to ooh & ahhh properly :).i bring this up because, at a group meet recently, i was working w another member on a project, and when it came time to remove a seam line we decided we didn't like, i offered to use what i call my "zipper" method..was so surprised to take my snips and looked at the stitches...they were so short i could not get the snip beneath to cut the thread. looked just like, tho not quite as short, as treadle stitching.

if you decide to try your machines for sewing, ck the web..parts, needles, bobbins (shuttles) etc. there is a great site, guy named david ?mc callum? who has several books he wrote. i have his maintenance manual for the fw, he also has one for repair & maintenance of treadle machines.

Don't kid yourself:  Machine quilting "aint' all THAT easy" - There is a learning curve that is somewhat long. Using a domestic machine in free motion mode and achieving respectable results takes skill, artistry, and lots of practice.  I still have a quilt on my frame for hand quilting but I enjoy the creativity that machine quilting permits.  Am just kicking myself that I didn't get started on this skill years ago................Machine quilting is definitely not "cheating."  Hand quilting is not a project for me - it is a "career" and takes me a long time to turn out a king-size quilt.  Again, I love the creativity that machine quilting affords. 

You're right about the skill and practice needed to machine quilt. Even stitching in the ditch isn't that easy. Fortunately there are several good books on learning how!

I think there is room for both hand and machine quilting.  I think that you can achieve beautiful results with both methods.  For those of us who are impatient machine quilting works better.  I want to learn to machine quilt so that I can say that I did the whole quilt. 

I do all hand piecing and quilting. I love doing it and I have several quilts that my great grandmother hand pieced and quilted. I feel like it brings me closer to a woman who I never got to meet.  However, I have a lot of respect for those who can machine quilt. I really struggle with my machine. I have never done real well with machines. I think it is me, not my machine. 

I personally don't hand quilt......yet! That is an art in itself! But..... I think it depends what you are working on and what you are comfortable with! With the machines of today, quilting has evolved into a modern art so to speak!!! When I have a large bed quilt.....it goes to one of my favorite long-armers!


I don't feel like machine quilting is cheating.  Beautifully machine quilted pieces are art.  I am more of a utility quilter,  by the time I get the top pieced I just want to get it done.  I do not enter my pieces into shows they are mostly made for myself and family and an occasional gift for a friend.  Large bed sized quilts I usually have professionally quilted by a long arm quilter in my area.  I do have a large quilting frame from when I used to do hand quilting , and have thought about getting it dusted off for my next quilt,  but not having hand quilted for several years now,  I am sorely out of practice.  We'll see what this next piece turns out like, and if it calls for hand quilting then I will drag out the frame...

this got wordy, i tend to do that, but i read your posts early this a.m., taking a break to read and answer mail, and decided to comment. and as my son frequently teases me...mom, there is comment...& there is, well...what you do...
sheri, nancy linda et al...you all make such excellent points for the pros and cons of machine qilting. another of my first books i acquired when i first learned to quilt was "heirloom machine quilting" by harriot hargraves, few yrs ago i bought her updated version. she and her daughter now have what appear to be an excellent series of books on the subject, from what i have skimmed in them. i thought about getting the set but thought, life is changing rapidly for me, & and as stated here...machine quilting takes time, practice to develope the skill, but for anyone wanting to learn, it would be an excellent acquisition. goes into so much detail for technique & as in all harriots books that i have seen or bought..lots of great illustrations.

i started out hand quilting...tried machine quilting..tried freestyle..haven't used my walking foot for so many years! it is so old it looks like a dinosaur nxt to the new ones....&...i am told ..they are quiet now :)). i mostly hand quilt now, because i don't have a lot of time & when i do i like to sit, quilt, listen to music, birds, quiet...snuggle my fuzzies. i machine piece. have my grammas quilt tops, quilt off my bed when i lived w her as child...they are a combination of hand & machine piecing on (same quilt) ..as if she did what she was in the mood to do...as the individualist that she was..followed her own rules. in my collections of antique blocks, i start to finish hand stitching them & then going thru the accompanying fab that was being used to cut block pieces..come across blocks also machine pieced. ?more than one stitcher? ?only one machine..so other(s) do hand piecing? hard to say...

basically, i believe that the fact that we are keeping this needlework form alive is a tribute to ourselves, our ancestors & and the young needleworkers to follow. whether we machine or hand to piece or quilt, whatever method we use, it has been used from the beginning of quilting in the u.s.a.. and the sewing machine was readily adopted to use in all forms of sewing/quilting from the moment mr. singer started selling it door to door & made it available to farm women, not just city dwellers. just as it has become addopted by the amish, tho still treadle as they still shun electrcity & most other forms of 21 cent tech. i am enamored of all things historical, esp the "home arts", and in this age when so many traditional needlework forms around the globe are struggling to survive fast paced modernity...well i guess we should all be proud that we are doing what we love & and continuing to take along to the future something that our grammas and aunties moms and more loved also.


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