Hand quilters?

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geniebird wrote
on 21 May 2009 4:35 PM | Locked

I was reading the thread about what sewing machines people use and was wondering if there is anyone else who does all or most of their quilting by hand.  I always have -- never did any of the fancy "traditional stuff"  i.e. fans, feathers, etc. but just kind of do my own thing.  I have my own special "filler" stitch that looks kind of like machine stippling.  Absolutely love working with metallic threads and beads.

I do own a sewing machine.  It is a very basic Janome, nothing fancy.  But I use it only for clothing and home dec items.  Most of the time it stays in the closet because I just don't have room to leave it set up.

Anyone else?

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geniebird wrote
on 25 May 2009 4:42 AM

Anybody?  Don't be afraid to answer.  This isn't a "trick" question -- no hidden agenda here. 

I know it's not "trendy" but I just love hand quilting and consider it a wonderful tool for art quilting.   Anyone else?

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okieLinda wrote
on 25 May 2009 5:34 AM

Hi , well you found one hand quilter at least :) I will use a sewing machine if it has to be sewed and cut and sewed again to do it but otherwise its hand work all the way with me, I have about 20 up one the gallery all hand done, to me its almost a Zen thing just sitting and stiching,I dont understand why more dont ever even try ,it I'm very interested in your filler  I had to teach myself a stippling on one quilt Mimosa because no one did it even on the net, Linda

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geniebird wrote
on 25 May 2009 8:33 AM | Locked

I agree about it being a Zen thing.  I consider it a part of my spiritual practice -- like a "walking meditation" or prayer.  Hand quilting is also very relaxing, but it won't be rushed.  I think a lot of people today are in a hurry to get things done.  And there may be people who think it is "old fashioned" and don't realize it can be used in "modern" ways.

I call my "filler" my "popcorn stitch" because when I first started it had lots of texture.  I have this tendency to pull the thread too tight.  But now that I've been doing it for probably 7 or 8 years it's not so bumpy.  I'll see if I can find a detail shot of somthing that shows it up close.

I started doing it because I was doing landscapes and other things with lots of background that needed "something."

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on 25 May 2009 9:08 AM

I do some of the surface design by hand but I cannot do the whole thing or most of it by hand. I have osteo arthritis and cannot spend long periods of time sewing.  I have a basic machine as well.  I have mine on a portable table that I tote around from room to room and sew depending on where I am watching TV with my family or watching movies.

Belinda aka crazyartgirl

Blog:  http://alteredbelly.blogspot.com/

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Muppin wrote
on 25 May 2009 5:49 PM

Hi geniebird-

I don't do much hand quilting, but I find I do like to take hand quilting projects on the road with me when I travel.  I'm sure you'll find a quilter or two on here with your love for hand quilting, never fear!

Cheryl

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Linnet wrote
on 25 May 2009 9:54 PM

Hi geniebird, I also love to hand quilt.  I learned to hand stitch when I was really little and taught to use my grandmother's little Featherweight Singer, which I retired only two years ago and bought a simple new machine that has a few utility stitches.  When it comes to quilting though, I hand quilt.  It is one of the most comforting, peaceful things I know of.  In fact, there have been times I had to force myself to STOP quilting and consider a piece finished.  I could just keep quilting forever.  I think I do "zone-out" while hand stitching.  I listen to music, even "watch-listen" to movies in my sewing room and never miss a stitch except for once, when my daughter loaned me Lord of the Rings and I got a good look at Aragorn!  I stitched through my jeans, because I lap-quilt, do not use a frame, had to get the seam ripper out when I got a look at Aragorn!  I DO wish I could learn machine quilting, to a degree, so I could finish projects sooner, or produce more, but nothing is as pleasing to me as the feeling of stitching fabrics together, something about it is timeless, a musing of memory and flashes of the future.  I think its good for me!

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okieLinda wrote
on 26 May 2009 4:31 AM

I'm so glad that others see the therapudic side of hand quilting , its really close to meditation if it isnt outright, I use to say its better than prozac but was admonished that that sounded like I was off somehow but just think of how many people take medications these days for stress when hand quilting does the same thing, Lap quilting without a hoop is described as Japenese Style Quilting on the net, they have workshops on it and everything , I started doing it that way when I got to a corner and couldnt get it in the hoop so just finished off the piece without it and noticed it wasnt any differant that in a hoop , I cut the time by a good quarter without a hoop , My itajami quilt which is at least a queen ,I quilted pretty good in a week flat , most dont go that fast but in at least a month ,most quilters take that much time to get it quilted on a machine and pay to have it done on top of it, I get about 8 stitches a inch which looks pretty good now , I could get more but it would take alot longer and better eyesight or lighting , I use a size 9 millinerer needle and think john james goldens are my favorite so far , I cant use a thimble if my life depends on it and they do less damage than any others so far, Really glad to see others loving hand quilting it got a bum rap somewhere and that should be corrected,  

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geniebird wrote
on 26 May 2009 7:33 AM | Locked

I hand quilt without benefit of hoop or frame too.  Tried a hoop then a Q-snap floor frame.  Hoop didn't work at all. The floor frame was better, but I had the same problem with it I have sitting at the sewing machine very long -- I have a bad case of "seamstresses back."  But when I tried just quilting without all that I was able to get things much more smooth, without the "bunching" I was getting when I moved the hoop or the frame.  Part of why I find it so relaxing is that I can sit in a way that is most comfortable for me.  I have a lamp that hangs from the ceiling over my chair with a "daylight" bulb in it which works really well for me too.

Linnet, I've also sewn my quilt to my jeans.  One of these days I'm just going to take them off and leave them hanging from it, but then I'd have to make up a good story about how it was an intentional design detail. 

I don't use a thimble either.  The tips of my fingers have toughened up a lot -- they don't have obvious callouses but sometimes they itch like crazy.

My filler (hand stippling or I call it my "popcorn stitch") doesn't show up very well in photos.  It's not really intended to and I don't use a high contrast thread.  But I think you can see it as well here as in any of my pieces.  You can see the texture it creates.  It's not nearly as popcorny as it used to be, but I've been doing this for awhile.  The heavier batting I use now helps as well.

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okieLinda wrote
on 26 May 2009 8:09 AM

Thanks for the pic, it does help alot , When I had to figure out how to stipple I took out a old quilt and just looked at it for awhile , it seems to be alot alike yours too going this way and that inside for just a few stiches until its filled in, Not one of my favorite things to do but when a piece needs it it needs it , I hope I never have to do it enough to get really good at it :)

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geniebird wrote
on 26 May 2009 8:50 AM | Locked

It's a continuous line than doesn't cross over itself.  When I started I tried to think puzzle pieces but mine doesn't really look that way.  I just kind of wander around without crossing over where I've already stitched.  I think mine is probably smaller than it needs to be -- I've tried larger, but it seems to shrink as I go.  It's not something that gets done quickly by any means.  I wish the stitches showed up better in photos.  If you get about an inch away from the real deal you see them.  But from a distance it's just these little glimmers of sparkle which is kind of cool.

It does take awhile -- the photo was just a little snippet of a very large piece and it seemed to take forever.  But that's okay.  I've learned the hard way I can't work on a short deadline.  I have noticed recently that my work seems to be getting smaller as well.

Speaking of smaller I need to get off the computer for the day and go work on a postcard.  That I should be able to get done in one day if everything works together. 

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Linnet wrote
on 26 May 2009 9:50 AM

I like the look of the continuous hand stitching and I really like the colors in the quilt picture.  I remember my grandmother in Texas had a quilt frame that hung on the ceiling.  It was my father's chore to pull it down for her.  She always had a quilt on that frame.  She used wool or cotton (we had LOTS of cotton) that she evened out in her hands for "wadding."  She did all that quilting by hand, with lantern light, even up into the fifties, then she got electricity of a sort, I remember the light bulb hung down from a cord.  Wow, I am really getting "up there."  When I stayed with her, she pushed two big chairs together and I remember lying there quietly watching her stitch until I fell asleep.  How her back must have hurt after all the work she did all day!  Memories and more ideas, Linnet.

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geniebird wrote
on 31 May 2009 5:52 AM | Locked

I'm back.  The postcard isn't finished, well actually it isn't really started yet.  Sometimes life gets in the way ;)  Had some things that needed my attention.

When I was using the Q-snap floor frame I kept it up in one end of the living room -- ususally with a quilt in it.  Whenever we had company the first thing they would talk about was how that brought back memories of playing under the quilting frame while grandma and other female family members quilted.  Actually a couple of men got downright emotional about it.  I live in the midwest and I think many people here have quilting memories from childhood.

I had a grandmother who hand quilted too.  She always had a quilt in the floor hoop beside her chair, but I don't remember ever seeing her working on one.  My other grandmother was a wonderfully imaginative seamstress -- made beautiful one of a kind clothing.  But neither of my grandmas saw sewing, quilting or other needlework as fun or a form of self expression.  They both saw it as drudgery -- "women's work" that they were obliged to do because of their gender.  And in the one grandmother's case she saw it as the only way she could make money to support her family.  They were not happy when I took up the needle as part of my work.  They never understood why I was "throwing away my education" and what they saw as a chance at "a better life."

I imagine there would be some interesting discussions if we could bring back our female ancestors to get together and talk quilting.

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okieLinda wrote
on 31 May 2009 6:53 AM

One thing I had to get over and still fight with is wasting fabric, waste not want not is my biggest 'virtue' / 'curse' , in the battle with 'work more or want less'  I choose want less. I can get more out of a dime than most get out of a dollar so my stash is I suspect the biggest in the world unless you own a shop, but I get it all over so its not that expensive, which brings me to wasting fabric, saving ever darn thing is a real problem , My grandmother would be agast at the fabric I have and may never use.To  use in the newest quiilt I just pulled out  20 pink to red and  20 green to aqua and could have done 30 each, all prints , I couldnt go to any shop and pull fabrics to use in a quilt , Ive got to have it here and then sit and look at it all together, I have a 20 ft wall 6 ft tall packed to the gills, and feel like I dont have a thing to use :) My foremothers would beat me with a stick :)

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on 31 May 2009 1:59 PM

HI  geniebird,  I'm Beth and I quilt mostly by hand.   I've been trying to learn to machine quilt, but I get a bit tongue bittien when things get out of control for me.  When I'm piecing it doesn't bother me to use the machine, but I like to piece by hand also.  I can take it with me.  I can't take my machine with me. 

 As far as threads go, I've just been really paying attention to what I use and researching it.  I guess I never really paid any attention to the different  types and how they can change the way handling the material goes.  I have time now to really sit down and read about it.  Before I was always in a rush to get something done because I only had so much time.  I now can take a breath.  Problem is I'm taking too many breathes sometimes. Ha.  I have worked with metallic threads before and if you take your time and work with the thread, it seems to go okay.  I was in a rush and had so much problems with it I would just about throw it away.  It's too expensive so I didn't.  Now, I work with things and it goes a bit easier. 

I have a couple of sewing machines, actually 3.  One is a Singer, and I've had it forever.  I think I bought it in about 1982 and I know it was used when my sister-in-law and bought it and used it for a few years.  Then I bought an Elna Quilters's Dream in the 90's and have used it constantly.  I bought a Brother SE 350 in November of last year and I haven't used it as much as I should.  I wanted it for the embroidery, but I just haven't gotten myself to quit stalling  and learn how to really use it.  I procrastinate.  I have a lot of UFO's and so many more ideas that I get overwhelmed and just  sit still thinking.  I've got to quit thinking and start doing something and finish it.  sooo I've got to stay off this monster so I can get something done. HA HA.     Smiling on a sunny day,   Beth

 

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