Recently a coworker brought in a treasure she'd acquired while visiting a friend in the Midwest: six vintage handmade quilt squares. Each one had been carefully pieced using the tiniest of hand stitches.
Everyone in the office gathered around and oohed and ahhed at the handiwork. These pieces were from an era when women passed down the knowledge of how to hand quilt from mother to daughter, grandmother to grandchild. A slower time, indeed.
|My inherited handmade quilts.
We started sharing stories of handmade quilts we'd had in our lives; ones we'd made, received, and given away. For me, those quilt squares reminded me of the homemade quilts passed down to me from my grandmother.
One, a log cabin quilt featuring blues and peachy pinks, was made when hand quilting was the only kind of quilting and your fabric stash came from your wardrobe of outgrown and worn-out clothing. This one is made from clothing worn by my great-grandmother and her sister. I brought them in the next day for show and tell, and the reminiscing started all over again.
I don't know many people hand piece their handmade quilts today, but I do see resurgence in embellishing quilts with careful hand quilting and stitching. Handwork is one of my favorite parts of fiber art. It invites the viewer to closely inspect the piece, and reflects the maker's artistry and craftsmanship.
Contemporary fiber artists use hand quilting to achieve several different goals:
|Hand quilting and stitchin adds texture in this
Jane LaFazio piece,
from Quilting Arts, April/May 2011.
1. To hold the fabric sandwich together, when needed.
2. To add texture to the surface.
3. To highlight an area and give it contrast or interest.
4. To add a design element, such as pattern or line.
5. To give the piece that handmade quilt look, showing the hand of the artist.
I do it for all those reasons, and because I just love to hand stitch.
I find it inspirational to look through back issues of Quilting Arts to see examples of how other artists add hand stitching to their handmade quilts. I always discover ideas I can use and interpret in my own way.
|Hand quilting and stitching helps Mary Hettmansperger highlight the metal embellishment in this quilt seen in
Quilting Arts, April/May 2011.
How about you? Do you hand quilt or even hand piece your fiber art projects?
And have you or do you plan to pass this skill on to a child or other young person in your life? Tell me about it in the comments section below.