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After participating in Barbara Graham's blog about her machine quilting frustrations, I began thinking about machine quilting in general.  I have noticed a general trend with machine quilting lately that the goal seems to be to cover the entire quilt with thread!  Some of the art work is very beautiful, granted, but the quilts are so stiff they could stand alone at the Quilt Show.  If they don't drape well over beds, have they stopped being quilts?  I still love hand-quilting, although my increasingly arthritic fingers don't, but hand-quilters hardly ever "over-quilt" their quilts.  I can understand heavier quilting on wall-hangings, placemats or table runners, since soft and unstructured isn't necessarily good in that case, but on a bed or crib quilt?  Thoughts, anyone?

Carol Ann/CA

 

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Comment by Barbara Graham on February 10, 2011 at 8:27am

I'm going to sit firmly on the fence. Ignoring my own abilities here and trying to be objective--it's like my dad felt about chili--there's none that's bad but some are much better than others. I have seen horrible examples of both methods of quilting. I am a bit disturbed by some of the over-machined quilts--gorgeous but for walls only--they are not to touch and snuggle with. On the other extreme are the $29.95 king sized hand quilted offerings imported from China. You can read through the whole quilt the fabric is so thin and the "hand quilting" is a twelve inch grid of basting stitiches.

I am insulted if I give someone a quilt I've made (yes handquilted) and the person says "it's too pretty to use" I say "give it back". The last thing I want to have happen to a quilt that I have sewn with love and hand quilted with love is to have it jammed in a plastic bag and stuffed in the top of the closet. I believe (okay here's the crazy lady again) quilts have feelings, need love and the happiest of them are those dragged around, hugged, loved and worn to shreds.

Last night I saw a video of a blind quilter. OMG, she's amazing--attitude, enthusiasm, productivity--so I don't get to whine any more. I'm off to a three day retreat and will bind my crib quilt there and love it.

Comment by Debbie Snyder/WA on February 10, 2011 at 6:58am

CarolAnn...My family (of men) still prefer tied quilts.  They like lots of batting and a light fluffy quilt.  I am way beyond the tied  quilt but agree with the "heavy" quilts.  I've done the heavy quilting thang and then can't sleep under the darn things cuz its too heavy and hurts my feet.  So, I support the hand quilted quilts although I too don't have the time or hand strength to do my own anymore.  When I do send my quilts out, I ask for a lighter quilting.  It's important to let your quilter know EXACTLY what you want as they don't read minds any better than the rest of us.  I've even done a penicl and paper drawing as an example of what I like in the quilting density.  The longarmer liked that idea and gave her a good place to start.  TMI???  Sorry...just one of those  days, I guess. 

Comment by Mary Boyd/MT on February 9, 2011 at 5:27pm
I enjoy a simple stipple on most quilts...then I like to was them and dry them for that scuncy feeling!  I'm not really into the tying, but to each their own!  I think all quilts are beautiful in there own way!
Comment by Marnie/NH on February 9, 2011 at 5:20pm
I have seen some beautiful machine quilted quilts. I have had one quilt I sent out to be machine quilted. I was very sad when I got it back.  You see it was a utility quilt for my DGD but to me it was a piece of art I created for her . It made me sad to see that big fairy in the middle of her quilt with leaves stitched randomly over her.  My first lesson was a hard one,  all over quilting that quilt was not an improvement to me.  To each their own style but I wasn't sure what it would look like and wasn't happy with the results. 
Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on February 9, 2011 at 4:44pm
PS:  I consider tied or tacked patchwork "quilts".  I guess they may technically be called comforters, but they are still in the quilt family to me.  :)
Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on February 9, 2011 at 4:29pm
I haven't read the other responses, Carol Ann, so I don't know how unpopular my opinion will be.  Granted, it is just that - an opinion.  Of course, I'm admittedly biased toward hand quilted quilts, so take my opinion in that context.  I have some long-arm quilted quilts - they are beautifully stitched, but when I put them on my bed, my husband calls them the "cardboard quilts."  Maybe with washing and time, they will soften up, but I agree that I've noticed a stiffness to many of the over quilted LA quilts.  My mother has one of mine - again it is very beautifully quilted, but she says it is not very warm - this even with a flannel back on it.  (She hated to admit that to me, but she still uses the quilt anyway.)  LA quilting has become such an art form in and of itself.  I admire the skill of the LA quilters, so I'm not trying to step on toes or criticize.    (I have often wished I had my own LA machine.)  The last couple of quilts I sent out, I asked the long-armer to not quilt them as densely and she was glad to comply.  They are not as stiff and still drape nicely on the bed. 
Comment by Janet/MO on February 9, 2011 at 4:13pm

It is my understanding that the true definition of a quilt is that it has to consist of 3 layers - 2 of fabric & 1 of batting & it has to be quilted with thread.  Therefore, regardless of whether it is done by hand, machine or a combination of both & whether it is intended to be used on a bed, wall or table, it is still a quilt.   I was told that if you tied it, then it is considered a comforter and not a quilt.  Maybe that is because it doesn't have quilting stitches?...

One of my good friends is a longarm quilter.  If I understood her correctly, the Statler Stitcher Co is the entity that first encouraged the overquilting of quilts.   I sincerely believe that even art quilts do not have to have the entire surface covered w/thread and/or fabric, but as we all know that is the current popular way of quilting.  It is like there is a contest to see who can put the most thread in to the same amt of space!  

Personally I like to have the quilting compliment the piecing and/or applique' and vice versa.  It really bothers me to see a quilt that has beautiful hand applique' on it and then it is so densely quilted that the applique' more or less disappears.    I also like the quilting to be appropriate for the design of the quilt.  There is a new quilt book entitled "Across the Wide Missouri" by Edie McGinnis & Jan Patek.  It has patterns that can easily be done as blocks of the month and the final quilt is of the primitive style. There is a pic on the back cover of one of the quilts that was so heavily longarm quilted that it looks totally wrong for that style! 

Of course, not everyone shares these opinions & that is okay.  If we all shared the same opinion, we wouldn't have some of the wonderful patterns/books/tools we do today! 

Comment by AidaCJ/NH on February 9, 2011 at 3:39pm
I agree, those that are quilted by machine seem to be quite heavy.  I could imagine how much time was spent hand quilting before quilters learned to use their machine, or rather, before sewing machines were made to enable quilting.
Comment by Trudy/WI on February 9, 2011 at 3:32pm

I agree, I thougth it was an interesting discussion as well.

I don't heavily quilt all of my quilts, just some.  And not all of my customers want that either.  Sometimes they just want a quilt finished and tell me to do the most basic quilting I can because they aren't 'in love' with the quilt or because they didn't spend a lot of time and money to make it.  If it's for a baby or child, I quilt it enough to do what it's meant to do and save the really elaborate and dense work for those quilts that are going to be wallhangings or table runners, or when my customers bring me really stunning applique quilts, because in general those quilts are handled quite differently than ones that are machine pieced.

Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on February 9, 2011 at 3:20pm

Thank you all for your well thought out comments on machine quilting.  This has been a most interesting discussion.  If I had to hand-quilt all of the projects I have started, have materials for or planned, I'd be 210 years old before they were finished!  I save my hand-quilting for certain cherished smaller quilts where hand-quilting enhances the overall look of the quilt.  Baby quilts that are going to be loved, dragged all over, and washed a hundred times are machine-quilted, but not too densely so they will scrunch up softly.  My cat even has two small flannel quilts I wash every week.  Large quilts go to the long-arm quilter with whom I have discussed the pattern and density.  I think we have all agreed that there is plenty of room in quilting for all the personal choices.

That being said, one of the most beautiful works of art I have ever seen in a quilt show was a very large, white, whole-cloth quilt, that was intricately machine quilted in pearlized thread.   It took my breath away.

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