Sunday, September 1, 2013


Hello all.  Hope you are having a nice holiday weekend filled with family, football, baseball, tennis, cookouts, the beach, and getting ready for back to school.  Phew, that's a lot.  It's even better if you can fit in some stitching.  I am.  This one is all quilted except for the binding.
I've started hand quilting a second quilt and am moving right along on it.  I'm kind of in love with Big Stitch hand quilting for a number of reasons.  I like the look, and for me - it's very fast.  If that's a motivator for you, I can emphasize whole heartedly that it is fast.  I almost didn't want to tell you that.  The time issue has become a pet peeve with me.  Speed.  Fast.  Easy. These are buzz words in just about everything in American life and I don't necessarily think it's for the best.  It is really starting to bother me.  Sometimes it feels like I have to defend the decision to hand quilt anything (or do any sewing by hand).  It's always what I get the most questions about and the most stunned looks from.  It's as if people think I am forced to do it by hand - against my will. It's not true.  I actually like it and I prefer it.  Believe me, if I didn't like it I wouldn't do it.  

I guess what I want to say is if you enjoy handwork, don't put it off.  Do it!  Guess what, time passes anyway whether you are making something with your hands or not.  If you enjoy it - it makes the passage of time that much the better.

This is the second quilt I am hand quilting for Quilt Market in Houston.  
I'll be showing you this whole quilt in a few days when we unveil the Grant Park quilts.

This subject has been bothering me for awhile.  So much so, that I wanted to bring all hand quilted quilts to Market next month.  There are very few there, especially quilts that are used to showcase a new fabric collection.  The time frame that we are given to make the quilts almost guarantees that.  Almost.  Okay, you say..... "but I have other things to do besides just make quilts".  Well, me too.  Granted I get to use quite a bit of my time, but I do other things too.  Mostly I just quilt in the evening.  Once the kitchen is cleaned after dinner, and before I go to bed - that's my hand quilting time.  Because I made this goal of 4 hand quilted quilts at Market I have squeezed in other times too, but basically it's evenings.  No, I don't have the social life I used to have, but who does?  Evenings out are infrequent.  Here is my quilting spot with Gibby keeping me company.  My chair, the ottoman (with dog or without dog), my wagon of sewing tools, and my quilt.

I guess what I want to say is that it isn't a sacrifice on my time or my life.  I am not a slave to it.  

Earlier this year on the first episode of Project Runway (one of my faves), designer Bradon McDonald showed his work to the judges to see if he was accepted for the show.
Bradon McDonald of Season 12 of Project Runway

Bradon, bless him, uses lots of handwork on his clothing.  One of the pieces he showed the judges was hand embroidered.  He said "I put 15,000 stitches into this." I cringed. Ugh.  No Bradon! Please don't tell me you counted your stitches?!?  Sigh.  Who DOES that? And why?  The judges did all the things I am used to seeing people do when you tell them you hand stitched something.  They gasped, they exclaimed surprise, and more than a bit of pity.  "Poor Braden, slaving away" I imagined them thinking.  No, not poor Braden.  Good for Braden for doing handwork and for obviously enjoying it. (except for the counting part - lose that part Braden).

So, I am taking hand quilted quilts to Market not to show off, or to get pity, but to show that it can be done.  And it can be done joyfully.  //steps down off soapbox//

Ok, where were we......  besides showing our new quilt patterns soon - there is a Moda Blog Hop starting this week.

Here is the Blog Hop Schedule...

September 4, 2013

Laundry Basket Quilts
French General
Zen Chic

September 5, 2013

Bunny Hill
Basic Grey

September 6, 2013

September 9, 2013

September 10, 2013

September 11, 2013

Minick and Simpson

September 12, 2013

September 13, 2013

September 14, 2013

Be there or be square!



Anonymous said...

Hey there, I am sooooo glad you said that !!! You see I learned to quilt in the mid 80s when I was in my early 20s. Yup, Im 50 now but time moves on. I grew up quilting in an era when the rotary cutter had just come out and not for private use yet. Also you could not even think about entering a contest if you machine quilted your quilt ! So everything was done by hand mostly. Some of us went on to machine piece but as always hand quilt..Things have really changed from then as to what is acceptable it seems.
It bothers me too Laurie , because there is something about this art form that really inspire us when it is done by hand made in America!
Anyhow , Im applauding you big time. One question I have had for some time now.
I waas taught to make little tiny stitches or else ! 6-9 to an inch . So for so many yrs I disciplined myself to this regimen. Now I dont understand how to make BIG stitches. Could help us and give us a clue , a tutorial anything ?? Thank you so much..Izzy NJ. Your quilts are truly an American art! Here is a link to a new website trying to make it hand made in America. It is Levis Jeans co.

Shannon said...

I admire you, and the many others out there that hand quilt! Your work is beautiful, and I am inspired to someday give it a try. Thank you for sharing your passion!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on a finish!! Hand-quilted to boot. I am still not sure about big stitch quilting, but agree with you. It is much faster!!! I have always preferred hand quilting vs. machine quilting, because I believe that hand quilted ones are not as stiff as machine quilted. Just my thoughts.
blessings, jill

klk said...

Thank you. You said what I've been feeling for quite awhile now.

Anonymous said...

Love your quilts and you are so right. The last quilt show I went to I didn't see one hand quilted quilt! I am interested in learning more about the big stitch. What size needle and what type of thread do you use?

sue said...

I too, thank you for saying that. I just went to the state fair today and almost all of the quilts were machine quilted. Is it going to be a lost art? ( I also saw some fantastic and beautiful tatting and hardanger). I can't really afford machine quilting, so I tend to hand quilt, but it doesn't look as nice as machine quilting. Oh, well, I've decided I'm just going to do what I like to do, as much or as little as I can.

Spice said...

I totally agree. The world is moving at an alarming rate, and the process of quilting through handwork allows me to decompress. I find it calming and meditative, and less apt to injure me than yoga. ;)

Mary said...

I am so with you. I love to,hand quilt BUT I love to make quilts and I can't do both and think anything is ever going to be finished. PLEASE show us the big stitch method. I have quilt tops that I know could be beautifully done with this method if I knew how to approach it. There is common ground in our madness I know there is! Love the new quilt! Really, really love it! I have mastered machine quilting well enough but there are some tops I just can't bear to do it and want to hand quilt. HELP!


Kristen King said...

Thank you thank you thank you for saying this. I'm SO tired of huge pieced quilts with no handwork. People gasp when I make hexagon quilts by hand...seriously? I find it so relaxing and most of the quilts I've finished are hand quilted. I have to say I've been trying to machine quilt too, but there is something so special about hand quilted quilts...and hand embroidery, cross stitch, applique. I think if people would sit down, slow down and do something by hand they would be much more relaxed and happy! Good for you for showing market that hand quilting is beautiful, important, and can be done! (I also do all my bindings by hand...which is becoming somewhat of a lost art also!)

Anonymous said...

As an old-school hand-quilter, I loved reading your post. Quilting by hand is a meditative process for me and I need to do it consistently. I missed quilting during this outrageously hot summer and did a lot of curved piecing which was so enjoyable. Due to time constraints and the hot weather, I just finished a lap quilt by machine. While I liked the end product, I do not feel as connected to it as my hand-quilted pieces and this was a bit of a revelation. One more thing: transitioning from small to big stitch quilting is not as easy I thought it would be, but it's still a lot of fun! Take care, Byrd

kshackabq said...

Thank you, Laurie, for "sounding off" about hand quilting. Your quilts are marvelous, and look like quilts--something you'd like to curl up with. The longarm "art" quilting is, in my not-so-humble opinion, becoming overdone. You can hardly see the piecing because the quilt stitching is so "loud" and dense. Not that it's not beautiful and demonstrates amazing skill, but to me it doesn't look like a cuddly quilt. Looking forward to seeing your Grant Park quilts!

augustus' mom said...

YooHoo!!!!!! I love seeing quilts that have been hand-quilted and the big-stitch looks very fun. I can hardly wait to see the remaining quilts from the new collection. I can hardly wait to try to big stitch method. Thanks. I love your stuff!

the girlfriend gap said...

Love what you do by hand. Your quilts are always stunning. I want to learn more. Trying to teach myself.... wish I could just watch you quilt. What ever you want to share about hand quilting.... I'm all ears. janita

Karen said...

I say YOU GO GIRL!!!

I piece quilts, and then embroidery and or applique on them. My quilting friends ask if I am nuts. No, I enjoy this. I am entertained when they look over my projects and ooh and aah.

I say do what gives you a smile. Its legal, moral, and makes us smile.

Janet said...

I loved your soapbox speech :0) I think it's wonderful that you are planning 4 hand quilted quilts for market - I only wish I could see them in person!! I love hand stitching and hand quilting and know very well those "looks". Your quilts never fail to inspire me. I can't wait to see all the Grant Park quilts!

Cynthia@aquilterbynight said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the comments. I love utilitarian machine quilting - it's fun to just whip out a quilt - but there is just nothing like a hand quilted quilt, and nothing like the relaxation and simplicity of creating one. Lately I have enjoyed using sashiko, which I suppose is a kind of "big stitch" quilting. The sneak peak of your quilt is wonderful - can't wait to see it unfurled!!

Jacqueline said...

I too prefer to hand quilt. I am the only one in our quilt group of 13. They think I am nuts. And I know they prefer the heavy look of dense machine quilting that they pay a long arm quilter to do for them. Not me... my hand work relaxes me and gives me time to appreciate the blessings in my life. How blessed am I that I have the luxury of sitting down each day for a few minutes and do what I enjoy.

QuilterPattiO said...

Laurie, well said, I wish more could here it. I love hand work. I don't hand quilt but I appliqué, knit, needlepoint and... My favorite time of day is when I sit down in the evenings to work with my hands. Some many folks think I'm an old grandma leading a boring life. I just wish I had known earlier in my life what joy hand work can bring instead of chasing after something that was a waste of time. Now I look at the young and smile realizing I'm having more satisfaction in my life. Besides during the day we are out climbing mountains on an ATV or boating on the lake. No old grandma lives here. Just a woman who knows how to enjoy life. PattiO

Me and My Stitches said...

I think it is awesome that you are taking hand quilted quilts to market. I love hand quilting, and always have a quilt that I'm stitching on. I have never tried the big stitch, but would like to one of these days. Can't wait to see all of your new designs!

Dawn Heese said...

I too hand applique and hand quilt. For deadline reasons I do a lot of big stitch. Also I love it. It is a sad thing here in the states that so many are concerned with "get it done" rather than enjoying the creative process. The finished quilt is only one part of the journey.

Anonymous said...

Big stitch quilting - that gives me hope that I can knock some quilting out of the park on my 100+ quilts waiting to be quilted. I'm going to try it and come to Houston with my questions. I was waiting for someone to say big-stitch was OK. It looks very creative on your quilts. Love it, I am coming to Houston to check it out! Stephani in N. TX (

moosecraft said...

Bravo! We all have the same amount of time, we just all use it differently... I enjoy handwork... VERY much... so, I make time for it. My hubby enjoys antique radio restoration... so... he makes time for it. Some folks use too much time for facebook, tv, video games... that's why they don't have time for handwork... lol! ;-)

Also, thanks for letting us all know that BIG stitches are OK! :-) It certainly makes quilting all that more enjoyable for me!

Carrie said...

Woot woot woot! Go Laurie! Go Laurie! (Imagine that in a singing-cheering sort of manner.)

We've had this conversation and thank you - bless you - for writing about it. Now can you see about doing something to buck the trend for machine-stitched bindings?

Anonymous said...

Laurie, what kind of needle or size are you using for the hand quilting big stitch?? Also, what size perle cotton ?
I went looking at Kantha quilts again..That's what I would like to try.

Pookie said...

Bravo, bravo! Here's hoping your gorgeous work will inspire others at Market and that we'll see hand-quilting (and maybe even hand-piecing?!?) making a comeback! I really, really love your point that the time is going to pass anyway.

The other thing I really truly don't understand about the way people fly through machine piecing and machine quilting a project is why would someone want to spend so little time working with the fabulous materials available to quilters these days? As a hand-piecer (and occasional hand-quilter), I love knowing that when I sit down with a big stack of beautiful new fabrics, I'm going to spend weeks (okay, months and sometimes years) with those prints and those colors and those textures. I honestly don't see the appeal of being over and done with a project in a weekend or two. I, too, use the hours between dinner and bed for my handwork and it's so relaxing and rewarding to pick up a project that I've really gotten to know over the course of so many evenings that have come before.

Anyway, good luck finishing your quilts, and keep preaching the hand-work!

Mary said...

Thank you so much for talking about hand quilting. It's all I do and I love every minute of it. I tried machine quilting but I don't enjoy the process and I don't like the feel of the quilts afterwards so I went back to exclusively hand quilting.

I also belong to a group that does applique by hand and we all enjoy it. It's relaxing because we let it be.

karen @ badlandsquilts said...

I am so glad to hear that about the hand quilting... I am piecing a full size quilt that I would love a certain design on scaled to the patchwork and I don't know that I want to spend the money to get that done via longarm so I have been contemplating HQ after seeing your big stitch quilt this spring.

Sue said...

Like so many who have commented. I am so glad you wrote about this. I love to hand quilt and I especially love that it makes me slow down in life and enjoy it a bit. Life is too hurried and that bothers me. I am also glad that you are taking your hand quilted quilts to market. How wonderful is that? Here's to the hand stitchers out there!

lori said...

Loved your post and yippee for handwork!!! I love to hand quilt all my quilts and just let my stitches be the size I can do comfortably, which is between Big and Small...Medium! I can't just sit without my hands being busy with needle and thread. Your work is so lovely. Thanks for the inspiration & creativity.

Kristin said...

Thank you so much for this post! I have come close to giving up on reading quilting blogs, because it seems as if people are in a race to crank out as many quilts as possible rather than taking time to enjoy the process. I almost feel like a slacker because I take longer to complete a quilt, and it takes the fun out of seeing what other people are doing.

Maddie Can Fly said...

Thank you SO much for taking hand quilted quilts. I'm so tired of going to shows and seeing those cardboard machine quilted things. After the first row, they all start to look alike.

We spend so much time choosing fabrics and piecing our quilts, why rush them through a machine.

Anonymous said...

It's the re-birth of the hand quilting movement! Thanks so much for this post. I hand quilt, too, even though it takes time. I have to remind myself that it's about the process almost as much as the finished quilt.
Karen L.

Pinky's Plumbing & Heating said...
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woolwoman said...

Gosh it's wonderful you did put this topic out in the open Laurie. I saw your quilts when Polly did the workshop in our area in June - exquisite ! I have always been interested/attracted to quilts/quilting but when I mention hand piecing - there are shrieks of horror - OMG - WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO THAT !!!!! You need to get a machine and learn to use it. Well I have a machine and that is not really what I am intersted in. so I slink away in shame and still have never embarked on a hand pieced project. maybe your encouragement will help many like me who have been made to think we are idiots or rediculous for wanting to do hand piecing/hand applique/hand quilting. Cheers ! melody

MuleHill said...

My hands have always been sore so I limit my hand sewing to small projects. Dolls, their dresses, potholder quilts, applique, embroidery and the like. Sewing by hand is like meditation. I am always appalled when people are appalled by it. Oddly, I think years of weird reactions has caused me to use the machine more often. Hmm.

Thanks for the handmade hurrah!

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