Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Hand Quilting Journey

   Long arm quilting, machine quilting- these are the trends of today. Many quilters and consumers firmly stand by the machine movement..they have their reasons. Some say the machine work is much stronger and gives durability and long life to their projects. Others believe it is faster and more efficient making hand made quilts more available to the consumer. Me? Well. Machine work is fine and I am working through a class to improve my machine quilting skills, but it isn't my favorite method. I have my reasons.
   Years ago when I started my quilting journey my heart longed to connect with the women of my past..those strong, sturdy women who's creativity and love of family was translated to and preserved in their beautiful hand made quilts. My heart yearned for the same lack of idleness..the same flowing creativity to preserve and pass on to my friends, family and loved ones.
    My journey began with small simple 'sandwiches' printed with random designs..a Noah's ark, for example. Hoop and needle, thimble and tread became my 'down time' friend. On a bench by the playground or the table during lessons..even while my husband and I watched the news my hands worked busily at this new task giving purpose to my time and a pace to my whirling thoughts.
     I started with the basics: hand positions, the rocking motion. My stitches were long and wide spaced, but as each little project came to completion my technique became second nature..like breathing. From the motions to the meanderings my next focus was stitch length. Careful to concentrate my attention to loading the needle with tight concise stitches with as little spacing as possible. Piece by piece it came to be  more consistent and routine. The familiar rhythm brought relaxation and contentment.
     Several years of simply stitching random fabric sandwiches were the basis for my work. I bought cheater cloths preprinted with designs and taught my children the skill of hand quilting. We made several and gave them as gifts to loved ones and friends. It wasn't until much later..only about five years ago that I found my way to actually piecing quilt tops. That journey took much the same path..simple and slow gradually finding my way to more complicated designs.

     The urging of my husband and a few dear friends gave me the courage to take my work online, creating a shop stocked with hand made things...all representative of my love for those skills so quickly fading in our hurried world. Every so often I still question that decision..hand quilting is not in high demand it seems.
     Admittedly, I do list machine quilted items..I am even taking a class to improve my skills. Why? I can. The reality is, I love to learn and explore new things. Will my shop change? No, because my passion lies in hand quilting...that will not change. It is a journey I have enjoyed traveled and will continue to connect with as the years press on.

     Have you dabbled in the hand quilting journey? Would you like to? Currently I am pondering a series of tutorials and possibly videos to teach the beautiful art of hand quilting. Let me know if you are interested in working a project with me.

3 comments:

Heidi- The White Wolf Summit FarmGirl said...

Hi Michele,
I am interested in learning how to hand quilt. I took up machine quilting after a few poor failed attempts at hand quilting left me feeling down. I would love to work a project with you anytime.

Heidi

Simply Scaife Family said...

I remember those frustrated feelings..that is how my knitting attempts ended. Sadly, I didn't persevere at that, but am working some posts and maybe videos (if I can get my nerve up) for some simple step by step hand quilting projects. Look forward to working together:)

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I've never hand quilted before, and just have started trying to do it on my machine- I've pieced on the machine, just very little quilting. I think it's so special getting a hand made quilt but I don't have the time for it yet.