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Thread: Is a quilt that's machine pieced/quilted any less hand-made?

  1. #1
    Super Member Flying_V_Goddess's Avatar
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    There’s some people (none on here that I know of) who firmly believe that quilts that were sewn on a sewing machine are somehow inferior because they weren’t made entirely by hand. I believe they are wrong. So the actual stitches were made by a machine. However everything else was done by hand.

    *The pattern was selected by a human quilter who thought it looked pretty. I doubt a machine would have good taste in patterns.
    *A quilter either went into a quilt shop or searched online and chose what looked best before buying it. A machine didn’t decide what looked best.
    *If the quilter pre-washed…well, maybe that wasn’t all hand done either, but somebody had to put the fabrics in the washer, dump in the detergent, and put it in the dryer or hang it up on the clothesline. If it bled horribly she set the dye herself with Retayne and 140 degree water.
    *A quilter takes a rotary cutter or scissors---in hand---and cuts the pieces out. If an AccuCut was used she still had to hand pick out the correct die(s) and feed the fabric through.
    *If templates are used a quilter has to trace them onto fabric if they cant be cut with a rotary cutter. Heck, sometimes the templates were hand drawn by the quilter herself.
    *A machine didn’t pin the pieces or blocks together. A quilter might have prick marks to prove it.
    *She also might have burn marks to prove she pressed the seams to the dark side herself.
    *I don’t think anybody makes a machine that automatically sandwiches the top, batting, and backing together and bastes or pins the layers together. Though I bet such a machine would make things easier for quilters who have sandwiched quilts on the kitchen floor or even on the bedroom wall!
    *The actual stitches weren’t done by hand, but a quilter still had to pick out the thread, wind a bobbin, thread the machine, and feed the fabric through while making sure the stitches were even, the tension was just right, and the seams were ¼” wide.

    So is a quilt that was pieced/quilted on a machine any less hand-made?

  2. #2
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    IMHO, NO, but you can't get some of my friends to agree. We just agree to disagree.

  3. #3
    Power Poster debcavan's Avatar
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    There are purists. I'm not one of them. A non factory made anything is hand made to me. It was made using my hands and a tool, my machine. I have just used a tool that is different than the purists. After all, they also used a tool, a needle.

    I am a longarmer. One lady in a strange compliment, told me she didn't like machine quilting but mine looked beautiful.

    To me, we should use the medium we enjoy. I admire great handquilting but I wouldn't enjoy doing it. Give me a machine and there is joy in my heart.

  4. #4
    MelodyWB's Avatar
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    I sincerely admire hand quilters work and am respectable about it..but I know how much work I put into one of mine from graph paper to binding..it's handmade to me..lol..I teach classes at a LQS every once in awhile and did one on the history of quilts..I firmly believe if my Great Grandmother had my machines.. she'd used them !!

  5. #5
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    Nope. I can't see well enuf to do by hand! They are beautiful both ways tho! To each their own as they say!!

  6. #6
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyWB
    .I firmly believe if my Great Grandmother had my machines.. she'd used them !!
    I agree. I think it's a "no brainer". :)

  7. #7
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    I suppose if one were "really" into "made from scratch" quilting -

    - one should grow one's own cotton
    - spin the thread
    -weave the threads into cloth

    - maybe build a spinning wheel and loom in here someplace

    - forge a needle

    - create a scissors

    - spin some thread for sewing

    - totally avoid any man-made fibers for batting/wadding

    Guess one could go on and on from here.


    Maybe the term should/could be "custom made" or "one of a kind made" ???

  8. #8
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Our church raffle quilt had hand embroderied blocks with print blocks all done in the snowball pattern. It was pieced by machine. (our ladies did all that) and then BEAUTIFULLY quilted by a long arm artist. More than one person told me how pretty it was.

    When we had the drawing, one of the guys in the audience made the remark that a hand made quilt was always more valuable than a machine made quilt.

    I was terribly tempered to tell him the quality of the work determined the value, not the method.

    I may tell him yet! @@

  9. #9
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    I suppose if one were "really" into "made from scratch" quilting -

    - one should grow one's own cotton
    - spin the thread
    -weave the threads into cloth

    - maybe build a spinning wheel and loom in here someplace

    - forge a needle

    - create a scissors

    - spin some thread for sewing

    - totally avoid any man-made fibers for batting/wadding

    Guess one could go on and on from here.


    Maybe the term should/could be "custom made" or "one of a kind made" ???
    I'll go for the "custom made"!

    Besides the whittling of the oak to make the spinning wheel is going to get some of us down Where's Martha Stewart when we need her?

    Oh, one more question? Can hubby cut the oak tree for me?
    With the buck saw he made in high school shop class?

  10. #10
    Junior Member myfrenchawakening's Avatar
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    Quilters do what they can at the time they are doing them! regardless of technique, we thread needles and sew for the same purpose- to enhance our lives and the lives of those around us. Who are we to judge another's work? I've seen both techniques done wonderfully across the world. We sew with love. Isn't that all that matters? Have a good day all, Therese

  11. #11
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    If you make it then it is made by your hand. If you use a machine to help get it done it is still made by your hand. A rose by any other name.....

    I have a friend that is 85 years of age that insists her applesauce must be done by using the old hand crank food mill. Years ago I made mine that way and I had to wait until my husband could help with it. (I am 57 years old now.) When I learned that Kitchen Aid had an attachment to the mixer which does the same thing, I can make 18 quarts of applesauce in 3 hours instead of 6, not to mention I can do it by myself in that time, it was a no brainer.

    We have these machines for a reason. I love hand sewing. In fact I do both, I hand quilt and machine quilt. It depends what I am making and how soon I need it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrannieAnnie
    I'll go for the "custom made"!

    Besides the whittling of the oak to make the spinning wheel is going to get some of us down Where's Martha Stewart when we need her?

    Oh, one more question? Can hubby cut the oak tree for me?
    With the buck saw he made in high school shop class?
    No need to cut down any oak trees!

    A handspinner experienced with a supported spindle can beat a spinning wheel when spinning cotton. All you need for a supported spindle is a piece of wire and a bead to help store rotational energy. A little ceramic or glass dish can help support the spindle but many handspinners working with cotton sit on the ground and just use the ground to support the spindle.

    I'm not that skilled with a takli (supported spindle), so I resort to a charkha. Those are the little book to briefcase sized spinning wheels that Ghandi popularised. Again, no need to make one out of an oak tree, a perfectly serviceable one can be made of a cardboard cigar box, a few wheels made of laminated cardboard, wire and string.

    Really, though, a charkha is just a crutch for those who don't spin enough cotton to gain true fluency in the skills involved. The takli (wire with a bead) is fastest.

    Leave your oak tree to provide a pleasant place to sit while you spin the cotton, mind the children, supervise the teenagers and gossip with your friends.

    The cotton thread needs no big loom to be woven. A backtrap loom requires a couple pieces of wood that can be carved down from sticks and a place to tie the end of the warp. The other end of the warp is tied to or around your own waist. It's very portable and can produce intricately woven pieces up to about 15 inches wide.

    If the backstrap loom isn't producing wide enough yardage, then a warp weighted loom will do the trick. A warp weighted loom can be made of sticks and stones (I'm not joking) and produce yardage about 36 inches wide with one weaver or 60 inches wide with two or 96 inches wide with three.

    Needles need not be forged of steel, they can also be made from bone (careful not to inhale any bone dust while making it, though).

  13. #13
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    singer started making machines in something like 1851---
    people who could afford them made quilts with them- they were a time saver-
    there are always going to be (traditionalists-however miss informed) who like to spout their beliefs/feelings about everything-and believe their way should be the only way--
    the quilt shows have catagories for hand work- and for machine work- it is all appreciated and accepted-

    if it is not manufactured/production line produced in quantity-- it is hand made

  14. #14
    Junior Member Alexandra's Avatar
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    The only place I see where machine quilted quilts and hand quilted quilts should have different emphasis put on them is for best in show at any quilt show. Hand-quilted quilts should be a completely separate category. Some of the major shows have recognized this and have separated the two, but not all. The time alone in handquilting deserves special recognition.

  15. #15
    k3n
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    I have been questioned about this from time to time, particularly with regard to FMQ. I compare it to writing a novel with pen and paper or on a computer - does one have less worth than the other? Of course not! I can hand quilt and greatly admire the work of those who do but much prefer to machine quilt these days. FMQ either on DSM or LA (I mean freehand, not panto) has just as much artistic merit. Piecing by hand, I have done EPP, in fact that's how I started quilting and can hand embroider etc. But I don't see the point of hand piecing for the sake of it when my machine does it more quickly and efficiently! Anymore than I sweep my carpets rather than using the Hoover! Our craft is wide and varied and that's partly why I love it so much.

  16. #16
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    Why do non-quilters put themselves in a position of quilt-judge? To be a true purist of the old-fashioned, do-it-all- by-hand, have-no-machine-tool-help-at-all they should not be driving a new-fangled horseless carriage, i.e. automobile. If they use an automobile, they should insist on cranking it by hand to start, not using an automatic starter. Their windshield wiper should work by a knob on the dashboard which they turn back and forth,etc . Why is a sewing machine tool not acceptable but their modern tools are? We should tell them that all quilts are made by hand! Hurray for the variety of modern tools at our command.

  17. #17

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    In todays world most people are to busy to be able to hand quilt it takes a long time to quilt a quilt sewing machines give us the power to actually complete our works of art in less time so we can actually enjoy it.I love to mix my quilts up most have hand work and machine work and as long as I enjoy doing it I will keep on quilting my way

  18. #18
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    Each to their own, however, if we went on their logic, then we all should be sewing by hand by an oil lamp only.

    I would probably never get a quilt made if I had to do it by hand and work fulltime.

  19. #19
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    I suppose if one were "really" into "made from scratch" quilting -

    - one should grow one's own cotton
    - spin the thread
    -weave the threads into cloth

    - maybe build a spinning wheel and loom in here someplace

    - forge a needle

    - create a scissors

    - spin some thread for sewing

    - totally avoid any man-made fibers for batting/wadding

    Guess one could go on and on from here.


    Maybe the term should/could be "custom made" or "one of a kind made" ???
    exactly!!!!

    its a slippery slope that the purist live on that can very easily be pointed out that technology has always been involved in quilt making.


    from the day of the cave man we have been forging tools to make coverings for the human form.

  20. #20
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    My only quilting relative was a great-aunt. Who says the best day was when she got her treadle. Auntie did beautiful quilts. I can only imagine how many more she would have gotten done with our machines and tools. Not too mention how much more time she would have had for creativity.

  21. #21
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    I only do hand quilting. When I started out I met a quilter (a man!) who did everything by hand - even piecing. So no matter what you do there is someone who may look down on you for it, don't let it bother you.

    I have seen some really beautiful machine quilting, very artistic. However I have to say when I see a regular quilt with ordinary machine quilting on it, sometimes it makes me think of a bedspread from Sears.

    Of course now that all the cr*p from China is coming in handquilted, someone could say the same thing about my handquilted quilts.

    I think the main thing is, does your quilt make you happy? And if you are giving it to someone does it make them happy.

    The people who want to criticize it, I would say "You may be right about that - I would love to see the quilts you have made, I bet they are fantastic." Chances are they have never made any.

    And one of the previous posters hit it right on the head - when sewing machines first came out, women got down on their knees in gratitude that they would finally be spared the long tedious hours of hand sewing.

  22. #22
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    I look at it this way - if I had to hand sew each piece to get a top done, or hand quilt, I would never make quilts ever. I simply do not have the patience or desire to hand sew.

  23. #23
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    Definitely NOT in my opinion. The next time these "people" say something to that effect, then tell them, let's see you make a quilt, ALL by hand, and give them a time limit, say a year, and let's see what they say after that.

    I admire anyone who strictly does the whole quilting process by hand, but I simply would never get it done, but kudos to those who have the patience.

  24. #24
    Senior Member SparkMonkey's Avatar
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    Personally, I enjoy handwork, so that's what I do. But I am blown away by some of the amazing machine quilting I've seen on here. I'm not interested in participating in it, but I don't view it as any less of an art form. It requires a different kind of skill, and just because it's different doesn't mean it's wrong.

    I do piece by machine. The quilting is my favorite part anyway, so the piecing is a step I have to get out of the way. ;)

  25. #25
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    Hmmm... I tend to think just the opposite. Machine quilted and stitched quilts are just as beautiful, and more durable, so I personally believe them to be the superior product. :)~~~

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