Hand quilting or machine quilting is a choice which faces many quilters. I don't think there is any one answer, I just think it all depends. Depends on what, come one, spill Ms. Blogger! It depends on you, the quilt and what is available to you, oh curious quilter. Let's examine why I choose whether hand quilting or machine quilting is best for me!
I adore hand quilting. It is basically all I did for the first twenty years I quilted, I learned that way and so I did it that way. It is truly a gift of time, it is soft and it looks fabulous. It is portable and really cheap - you need some good quilting thread, a really sharp needle and some kind of frame. I hand quilted from 1983 to 2010 and loved it. The lilac and willow heart quilt was hand quilted for my oldest daughter Emily before she went to college. It was the fastest quilt I had ever done by hand and it took the whole summer. But I didn't mind because it was like my meditation and I scurried to my chair every night after dinner so I could quilt while my husband and I watched TV. Here's a picture of me hand quilting my last major project, my daughter's king sized wedding quilt, given before their three year anniversary. And therein lies part of the problem, it took me three years to hand quilt a king sized quilt. 3 years is a long time, my daughter was getting anxious for her quilt and I didn't blame her. When I first started hand quilting I could do 2 a year but I slowed down as the years went on. Why is that? Because all that small repetitive moving of my wrist has taken its toll and although I promised a hand quilted king sized quilt for my younger daughter's wedding, thank goodness she is not even engaged yet. Maybe she will forget the promise?
Recap -hand quilting: low on money, high on time. Heirloom quilts. Hard on your wrist. Gorgeous soft results.
I also love machine quilting but I came to it slowly. I only machine quilted table runners on my domestic machine. (That is fancy quilt speak for your regular sewing machine, I didn't know that until recently.) I did a couple of flannel lap quilts on my domestic and all that fabric made me crazy. I started choosing which ones do I really want to hand quilt and which ones will I have machine quilted up at my local quilt shop? The problem with having them machine quilted for me was that I didn't feel like I had done the whole project, and indeed I had not. I was just getting border to border all over quilting done but some of the very talented machine quilters, who really was the artist? The piecer or the quilter? So for my retirement gift to myself, I got a Gammill Vision and it has taken me almost three years to feel competent on it. In this picture, I am working on one of many "practice" pieces. The first quilt I bought already pieced in PA and donated to the Linus Project. It was also frightfully expensive. I guess I will have to quilt over a hundred quilts on it to recoup the money I would have spent sending them out. I do NOT plan on quilting for others, I have enough to quilt just for me. Here's a poppy quilt I made and then machine quilted for my oldest daughter. I am very pleased with it. I think machine quilting is gorgeous also but I don't over quilt them - I still want some of the softness that you have when you hand quilt.
Recap - machine quilting - can be very high on money but boy is it fast!
So which is best, hand quilting or machine quilting? That's up to you. Do you have more time or more money? Is there a deadline? Will this be an heirloom quilt? Or washed and used like crazy? No matter which you choose it will be fabulous!
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