Friday, 7 April 2017

Celebrate Hand Quilting

I belong to a large Facebook group called Celebrate Hand Quilting.  In fact I've recently become an administrator of the group.  That doesn't mean I'm an expert at hand quilting, it just means I know my way around Facebook and can admit new members if they demonstrate an interest in quilting.  There are almost 15,000 members of the group, and they are all interested in hand quilting.

DMC Perle 8

There have been some interesting discussions lately about how to keep hand quilting alive in a quilting scene increasingly dominated by long arm quilting.

Some of the issues our members have raised include include:
- local quilt shops no longer stocking hand quilting supplies (hoops, needles and the right kind of thimbles)
- quilt shows no longer having separate categories for hand quilted quilts
- quilting magazines that have stopped even mentioning hand quilting

DMC Perle 8

My thoughts on these issues are as follows:

1. Hand quilting supplies. If your local shop won't get a product in for you, get online and order it yourself.  If you can use Facebook, you can track down a supplier.  If you're uncomfortable entering your credit card details online, make a quick phone call and order the product over the phone. (I'm not going to mention any companies here because I've used the same frame for years and am perfectly happy with it.)

Within Celebrate Hand Quilting we have Shameless Self Promotion Day on the last day of every month.  Members are permitted to advertise their quilting businesses and products on that day.  We have hoop manufacturers, whole cloth manufacturers, hand quilting teachers etc.  If you're after something it's worth becoming a member and watching out for those adverts on the last day of the month.

Aurifil 12wt

2. Quilt Shows. I personally don't think quilt shows need to have separate categories for hand quilted quilts, unless they are also offering categories for long arm quilting and domestic machine quilting.  I prefer to look at the quilt as a whole - the fabrics, design, piecing and quilting.  They all have to work together.  Examining the hand quilting in isolation means the judges are only looking at the hand quilting and ignoring the rest of the quilt. Maybe I feel this way because I'm not striving for perfection in my hand quilting,but rather using it as a way to enhance my quilt.  I know some of you will disagree with me here.

Aurifil 28wt

3. Magazines. I highly recommend QuiltMania.  I think it's the best quilting magazine available.  I know it's expensive, and it takes months to get to New Zealand, but the types of quilts they feature are truly of the highest class.  See if your library has a copy and take a look.  Or check out their website or facebook page to get a taste of the types of things they cover. They also produce Simply Moderne now, which is a different magazine with more of a modern quilting feel to it.


McCall's Quilting is very popular in USA and recently one of their editors reached out to the Celebrate Hand Quilting group and asked what kind of hand quilting articles we would like to see in their magazines.  I sent a reply and explained the modern approach to hand quilting which uses big stitches and coloured threads.  Hopefully you'll see an article on modern hand quilting one day.

Aurifil 12wt (red spools) and 28wt (grey spools)

How do I think we can keep hand quilting alive? Here are my thoughts:

 - talk about it. Tell your friends and family you're a hand quilter.  Become known at your guild as a hand quilter. Show your hand quilted quilts during Show and Tell at your guild. Be proud of being a hand quilter even if you're work isn't quite as good as some others yet.  Not all machine quilting is perfect either!

- support other hand quilters.  Follow blogs of other hand quilters and get to know those people online. Ask questions about how they hand quilts and learn from them. I've made some great hand quilting friends on Instagram and through my blog.

- post photos of your hand quilting on social media - your blog, facebook instagram, pinterest etc. Get the message out there that hand quilting is still alive and as well as honoring our ancestors, it can be fun, modern, and relevant.

- enter your hand quilted quilts into shows, even if there isn't a category for hand quilting.  Be sure to include in your description that you hand quilted it yourself.


I entered my hand quilted la passacaglia in the Online Bloggers' Quilt Show last year and it won Viewers' Choice! Yes, a hand quilted quilt won over all those fancy machine quilted quilts. Do I think people voted for it because it was hand quilted? No, not especially. I think they voted for it because it was an intricate design pieced in beautiful colours. But I was still proud to say it was hand quilted.

Wonderfil Razzle (Perle 8 thickness)

If you've got any more suggestions on how to keep hand quilting alive, just leave a comment below.  I'll write another post in a few weeks incorporating all the suggestions.

The photos in this post are all examples of quilts I've hand quilted myself.  I love using coloured threads and big stitches that let the threads shine through.

29 comments:

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I was one of the original contributors when it was "just" a blog - I tried it when it became a facebook group but there are just too many people on it for me - only a few seemed to contribute and at that time there were too many that wanted to preach how to do it and encouraged counting your stitches and wanted everyone to be perfect - I dropped out and joined a smaller off shoot of the group which stays under 100 people - we are all hand quilters and some of us do machine quilting also - but the group is about hand quilting.
Like you though I encourage hand quilting - never know if you will like it until you try it - but I would like articles on regular hand quilting not just the modern approach of big stitches - but I do encourage fun and not stress yourself out over perfection

Katie said...

Do tell what threads you are using in the photos please. :-)

Julie said...

Thank you for such and interesting an informative, not to mention beautiful post Wendy. I've just requested to join the group. Can't wait to see what other people are hand quilting.
Hope your weekend is going well and it's drying out down there.

Patchwork and Play said...

I love to hand quilt my quilts, even it takes much longer. But at least they get finished that way! I'm interested in the designs you choose to hand quilt on your quilts.... any secrets you'd like to share?

margaret said...

I both hand and machine quilt I do love to hand quilt usually using perle threads. Yesterday at our library we started making a hand quilt as you go quilt, we had to take something to do with our city and make a 10" block, will b interesting to see what happens. I do not do facbook was a follower but got so confused have left must check out pinterest and see if they have a hand quilting board

Kunzfrau said...

Wunderschön ist dein La Passacaglia. Ganz besonders gut gefaäält mir das Bild mit der Garnbox. So wunderschön bunt! Und trotzdem passt alles so wunderschön zusammen!

Lieben Gruß Marion

Linda said...

I love hand quilting, especially using Perle threads and bigger stitches. I think it adds a lot to the interest in the quilt. Your lovely quilts are excellent examples of this. Like you, I don't feel it's necessary to have a separate category for hand quilted quilts. An interesting post, thank you, Wendy.

Serena @ Sewgiving said...

I'm a big fan of Quilt Mania too and your cleve hand quilting!

Betty said...

This is such a great post, Wendy! For so long I was a "send it out for quilting" gal, but a couple of years ago discovered the joy of handquilting and fell in love. You've hit on many of my key thoughts on the topic - thanks for sharing!

Sheila said...

I'm a new to quilting and want to learn the hand quilting. I enjoyed your blog post and will look into your Facebook page.

sam said...

Thank you for this post. I am interested in hand quilting with the big stitches. seems like something I can accomplish. Tried to hand quilt once but the instructor was so insistent upon so many stitches to the inch I became frustrated and gave up. Hope we see more from you on hand quilting. :)

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I am making my first quilt. Since I was recuperating from foot surgery, I decided to hand quilt it. What I am doing is probably not considered hand quilting..I stitched a large cupcake on each block. I love the handwork and am sure I will hand quilt a lot more of my future projects. I am also interested to know what thread you are showing in the picture. I wanted my stitching to really show so I chose DMC #5 perle cotton after auditioning other weight thread and floss.

Thanks so much for this post.
xx, CCarol

Sewing Up A Storm said...

I started quilting in 1984 and at that time EVERY part of the process was done by hand. I worked hard to make my quilting stitches small and I also went with the dense quilted look. Finally I embraced machine quilting because it just took so long. Now I have a longarm machine and quilt the living daylights out of quilts. BUT I recently finished my oldest UFO a handquilted wall hanging and it is densely quilted. I should enter it in a show as you have suggested. I really love handwork and do lots of hand needle turn applique and still hand piece sometimes. I really love the look of the big stitch with the colored threads and should try that.......it will not take as long and will add a really nice design element.

Sandi said...

Thanks for a great post Wendy. I find I do a mod of both but my roots are handwork. Be it quilting or appliqué. I have been interested in trying a mix of hand and machine quilting but haven't found the right project to try it out on yet.

I think I'll have to ask you to approve my membership in this Facebook group and see what it is all about.

Pepper Cory said...

What a wonderful blog posting! A longtime hand quilter here who also appreciates the other kinds of quilting (domestic machine and professional longarm). Your lovely colorful quilts appeal to everyone--you're a great ambassador for hand quilting!

Alison said...

Thank you Wendy for this great post. As a hand quilter from way back I have felt disappointment over recent years to see photos that showed the focus had shifted to the quilting being the feature and not the whole quilt with the quilting complementing the design etc. It seemed to spark a frenzy of long arm "quilting to within an inch" etc.

With the more modern hand quilting of thicker thread and bigger stitches, I feel liberated from the "must have 14 stitches to the inch" syndrome that dominated us all in the very early days.

Locely photos too.

Aliceart said...

Wendy, thank you so much for this article. I have failed again and again at hand quilting. I think it's because I'm just not able to conquer the traditional hand quilting. I'm just starting to try big stitch, and I do so likethe look of the various colored threads. I'm joining right up and hope this will help me expand my skills.

otbanjo pat said...

If quilt a show has separate categories for different types of machine quilting, there should be a hand quilting category too in my opinion. I love big stitches and colored thread to make the hand quilting the star of some quilts. Each quilt speaks to me determining what type of stitching and tread I use. I love the process of hand quilting and piecing and say so whenever my machine quilting friends tell me (with love) I'm nuts. That said they accept that I love it.

I love the color and your big stitches on this quilt.

Jim and Judy said...

I am going to learn this. I remember my first quilt, I hand quilted it. Now I just bought a new Bernina foot and expensive rulers to learn machine quilting. Today I discovered your blog and now I want to go back to hand quilting. Why? Because of the stitches. My other hand quilting was supposed to be so tiny I gave up. Now with this longer stitch length it looks just wonderful to try. Maybe you could share the threads you use for the beginners following your blog. I know some use Pearl 8 cotton but you are using a different thread and I really like it. It is a pretty pink. And your needle recommendation. I know some use the John James needle or the DNC. Thank you so very much. I am very excited to try this. We begin full time rving in May and this will be perfect if I don't have electricity or if I do!!

Granny Maud's Girl said...

I am entering my first all-my-own-work quilt in a show next month and it will be hand quilted - well, it will be when I finish. I have stretched my creativity beyond my abilities and hit a speed bump, but I have a deadline. I hope you will be proud if I finish in time!

Julie Beard said...

Hi Wendy, I am beginning to be interested in hand quilting after doing a running stab stitch echo around a dresdan plate applique on a 24" cream block to be made into a cushion eventually!!!! It did take forever and I made some design errors that needed correction. So ripping out stitches was not my kind of fun but I must stay it does look fantastic now. I am very interested in learning more about hand quilting and would welcome a blog about your threads that you use so I could investigate getting some of it to add to my stash. Julie Beard

Julia T said...

What a great interesting and useful article Wendy! Plus you always have the nicest photos of your handquilting! You surely taught me a lot thru such pictures, you have no idea how much!
Thanks for being (for me) the voice of handquilting in this modern and speedy world :)

Kris said...

I see hand quilting long stitch style cropping up in my modern guild all the time. It is something that many strive for as a surface design in art and as a continuation in the machine freemotion quilting for the modern quilters. I love seeing the bright colors. We just had a national quilting day celebration and aurifil supplied 12 wt for us to give away and we had one of our modern quilters demonstrate. I think it is firmly out there but I think the awareness of the variety of hand quilting is still not caught on every where.

pennylanequilts said...

Great post! Hand quilting is my favorite way to finish a quilt, too. Love the hashtag over on IG. I'll definitely post some photos there and I've already found some fellow hand quilters to follow.

Sue said...

Great post Wendy. I machine and hand quilt but as yet have only 'big stitched' one quilt. I entered it into a show where the judge said in her critique that my stitching detracted from the quilt. I don't care what she thinks as I still love the quilt and it was only her opinion. If I can find a photo I'll share. Keep up the good work Wendy.

Jocelyn Thurston said...

What a great post! Informative and I read every word with great interest. Wendy, your hand work is immaculate. Sadly mine is not but I absolutely love the process so don't feel discouraged, just inspired.

Quilter Kathy said...

If I have Facebook I would join you.
I am trying to encourage hand quilting by posting a link up on my blog, continuing to hand quilt many of my projects, entering my quilts in shows, and encouraging the fall fairs to have categories specifically for hand stitched items.
I love seeing your hand quilting... totally yum!

Every Stitch said...

What a great read Wendy! Since I moved from machine to hand quilting on my quilts I've not looked back- absolutely love the finish and the process. Now I find a quilt is spoiled for me if it is machine quilted. More promotion and appreciation of hand quilting is always good. So - very well done!

Susie said...

I love this post. The other day I attended the australiasian quilt convention - I shamelessly say the first thing I look at is the notice saying if it was hand pieced one hand quilted. I just adore the hand quilted quilts. There was one on show that was truly incredible. The stitches were so tiny. I stood at that quilt admiring it for such a long time. I find the whole process so relaxing. I've only ever used perle thread no. 8 and 12 but willing to explore.