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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I agree with rogue. I'm sure there will always be hand quilters. Odd as it may sound I think art quilts may actually help promote hand quilting. It seems to me more people are once again incorporating hand techniques into the smaller art and wall quilts... more doable than a bed size hand quilted piece.

As an "oldster" who's been hand quilting since 1967 and a longarm machine quilter of 14 years and a collector of antique quilts some of which have been machine pieced and quilted, I can't help but chime in. 


Yes, there's a difference between hand quilting and machine quilting. I was a die-hard wholecloth hand quilter and I pretty much turned my nose up at machine quilted quilts until I saw a machine quilted wholecloth quilt that didn't look like a "mattress pad" as I knew it would.

I don't believe either skill will disappear. Sure, we don't grow the cotton or cut our precious pieces of fabric with scissors and cardboard templates. We don't piece our tops with foot-powered sewing machines or hand-quilt our county fair prize-winning quilts by candle-light at night after the chores are done and the kids are in bed.

My opinion of quilters who used those new computerized machines wasn't too high until I saw what skilled quilters could do with them! Once again, I had to change my way of thinking!  The world has changed: fabric can be purchased by a few clicks on a keyboard, rotary cutters, plastic templates, computerized sewing machines can be on our doorstep the next day. Quilters can click a switch on the wall and quilt by hand or machine after the kids (if we choose to have them) are tucked into bed!

I've learned from experience that it's easy to stay stuck in one way of thinking about how to quilt quilts. And while I don't know what will happen next in our world I don't think quilters are going to stop quilting by hand.

National Star Hand Quilted

National Star Machine Quilted

ps: I'm sorry my text is so large and I don't know how to fix it. I quilt, I don't compute!

your text doesn't show large here. it may be the settings on your pc.

always enjoy reading your comments on a subject. i didn't know of the controversy between hand vs machine quilting until i was asked to give a demonstration on the "new" machine quilting thing starting in late 80's. i had taught myself out of a book, as usual w my needle passions. i did simple motifs. traditional. the comments that were made by some were not only rude but indicative of very tightly closed minds, while a few other comments were kind and positive and open to learning this new thing in quilting. new to them...i too have seen antique quilts both machine pieced & quilted. the earliest was known to have been machine quilted on a treadle in 1840's after having been hand pieced as the maker traveled west via wagon train to california.

i read that there is currently a researgence of interest in older forms of hand needlework pf all kinds, not just quilting. life flows & ebbs in cycles - so does interest & use of hand quilting. the art will never be lost.
after spending a couple years here reading your comments, i am embarresed to confess that i had never visited you web site before. i am leaving it open on my ipad for now, too much to see and read by just skimming. i will delightedly look forward to todays break times now, as i anticipate a wonderful wander thru your blog & gallery. thank you so much for posting those two links!

Wilma, Nicely said and beautiful work!

I do completely understand where you're coming from, but as a fairly new quilter with arthritic hands, if I had to hand quilt it would take me forever and really wouldn't be much fun.  I've only made a few quilts that I quilted myself on my machine, and they weren't prize winners for sure...but they made me and the recipients happy. :) Recently, after joining a quilt guild, I've pieced some beautiful tops and I've sent out a couple of these to a long-armer for quilting. They are amazing...but SO expensive. I decided that if I don't practice and learn to perfect my own machine quilting skills I won't have many finished quilts. 

I have only been to one large quilt show, but there were categories so that machine quilted and hand quilted items were judged separately...and I must say, those who hand quilt these amazing projects have my complete admiration.  The time and talent it takes to hand quilt (and for some even hand-piece) such intricate works of art is nothing short of amazing.  On the flip side, the same goes to those who produce gorgeous machine work...bottom line, quilting is an art and is beautiful no matter how its done.

I think that if they have separate categories then maybe that's ok. I'm no brilliant hand quilter by any means, I quite like folk art/rustic personally, but I did stay until the end of a quilt show here in the UK with a friend who had to stay to collect a quilt in the show. The ladies in the winners section seemed to me quite a well off section of society and obviously could afford the high end computerised Quilting machines that produced their winning quilts. Some of these machines now cost hundreds of dollars/pounds/euros etc and can only get better and better as technology improves. Gosh this seems as if I'm getting political and I'm really not at all. Maybe I'm just a bit old fashioned
hundreds of dollars?? hmmm ...maybe machine quilters all ought to immigrate to the UK :)) sounds like quilting machines a whole lot cheaper there than US! other than a basic domestic machine w quilting capabilities, i know of no make of quilting machine available for under a thousand & usually many times a thousand in purchase price new or used.

Hi rogue quilter, When Linda said the machines cost hundreds of dollars, I think she is mistaken. Those quilting machines cost tens of thousands of dollars. My girlfriend  bought one from a local longarm quilter's family after the longarmer had passed away. She paid ten thousand dollars for the machine. She opened a small shop and found very quickly that many people were bringing her their quilts, but they weren't paying the bills. She finally had to quit and close up shop. Like all longarmers, she charged per square inch. She put her machine in a Denver newspaper and overnight a woman offered her thirty thousand dollars for it. It is a machine that is computerized and will do edge to edge pantographs or can disengage for custom work. The last quilt I had done by a longarmer a few months ago was only in a simple computerized all-over pattern and it cost me nearly two hundred dollars for a double. Stuff like that is causing people like me to quit quilting or to turn to the new Big Stitch style. I just bought a book online by Billie Lauder called "Quilting in the Big Stitch Style" and I feel completely LIBERATED!!! This book is fabulous and she shows you how to make your own templates from several full sized patterns in her book. You use those templates as patterns to keep your big stitches straight. It's sort of like Sashiko, but she says it is a combination of Sashiko and the Depression era stitch. I'm working on a quilt top right now and I am definitely going to use this style. Can't wait.

hi victoria...i was trying to be funny.

sometimes i don't achieve that goal :(


and i am sorry to hear that you and your friend have had such negative quilting experiences. i did a few commission quilts years ago, after i had done commission knitting for a while. i was very lucky in those years that i was always paid, & in one case, paid more than the agreed to price. for your friend...i can't think of any way to avoid the situation that she found herself in. and i am truely sorry that she had to close and sell. when hubs first started pushing me to look for a long arm machine...there were very few long armers...and the machines weren't computerized. it is now almost an oversaturated market. sad. but there are some outstanding long arm quilters out there that do beautiful work for moderate prices. i think if i were you i would try one more time. but i would do some research. check different websites, check their work, ask for references...

i am not familiar w big stitch style, i am very familiar w sashiko and have a couple books. i am not a do it quick and finish it quilter. i don't care how long it takes to finish ...by hand or by machine. i enjoy every step of the quilt making/creating process. even hand finishing the binding :)).

hi again, Rogue,

Thanks for your comeback. Sorry, I guess I didn't recognize your humor. Will try harder next time. You're right about the longarm machines being in an oversaturated market. The quilting craze has just gone bonkers and doesn't look like it will stop anytime soon. A gal who was working at the quilt shop locally got a job as a fabric sales person for a Seattle company. She calls on shops all over Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. She is very busy. Happy 4th of July!

definitely become a major income generator for all things quilt industry --from mom & pop to major fabric & notions companies. read in recent couple years it is like a multiple of billions income generating industry. books, fabrics, lessons, tools, patterns etcetcetc.

of course another of my "jokes" is that the national & international ---heck!! the WORLD economy ...it would all collapse if it depended on me as a consumer
!! lollol


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