Monday, February 6, 2012

Me and Hand-quilting

I often get asked why I prefer to hand quilt over quilting on a machine. Which has resulted in me thinking about this a lot.

In fact I probably think about this too much.

Okay, I know I do.

However, for years I have attributed my preference to a combination of me being a control-freak (I only have to control one thread and not two -- dealing with tension issues sets me off faster than a horrible call by a referee) and that hand-quilting truly does relieve/ease my anxiety levels.

You see, I am naturally a person that is always on the go. It's almost a compulsion really. I have to be so careful with my fidgeting because it can get so bad the longer I have to stay in one place.

So you can imagine, sitting isn't always a pleasant experience for me --unless I can at least keep my hands moving. As long as my hands move, I can remain collected and calm. This wasn't something I learned over night, it took years to realize just how beneficial hand-work is for me. At some point, I acquired my momma's habit of always taking handwork with me. Typically it's something that fits in my hand-bag -- crochet, hand piecing, needlework, crocheting; though there are times I'm able to bring my larger quilting projects with me.

Recently though, I was asked about how I liked machine quilting after quilting the Jack In The Box Quilt on my momma's long-arm and I realized that there was a much more important reason for why I like to hand-quilt:

I want to be able to socialize when I work since the work helps me sit still. I want to spend time with other people when I'm calm and collected and not focused on moving.

That is something I find that I can't do when I work on a machine. I become so focused on the machine, the pattern, the quilt sandwich, the thread, the tension, et cetera that I can barely hold a conversation with another person. And that's not even the noise factor with the machine. Or the aggravation that builds when I'm interrupted because I just want to get finish on the machine and get back to the living room where everyone else.

With hand-quilting, I'm in the living room with my friends and family. I can comfortably sit calm, collected, relaxed, and happy. I can actively participate in conversations. I can easily set my work aside to read an impromptu story to my niece. I can spend time with the people I love.

In the end, I would rather spend months hand-quilting an object, then days on a machine, if it means being a part of all those moments and enjoying every minute of them.


  1. Thank you for this perspective on hand quilting. I've done a couple quilts on my machine and you're right, it's lonely work. I just might have to try my hand at hand quilting . . . what a lovely idea. I'm going to think about this one a whole lot more.

    Just don't tell my husband. He bought me the Juki so I could machine quilt!

  2. Wow, never really thought of it that way! Got me thinking too!!


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