I know. I know. I’m just noticing this now. Well that would be unobservant, wouldn’t it?
Pat Winter and I are opposites in a lot of ways. She works strictly by hand. I work by machine. She has a busy family. I live with cats and dogs. She stays at home. I wander all over the place. But she’s a dear friend and an amazing artist. We delight in each other’s work and world.
Pat is a majorly inventive crazy quilter with a gift for teaching and sheltering beginners. That’s lately been expressed in her Crazy Quilt Magazine. I’m writing a column for her on machine techniques that crazy quilters will find fast, fun and cool.
The world of crazy quilting is largely a hand stitched world. But there are a lot of reasons for adding in the amazing things your machine can do for you. I’m strictly a machine quilter for one simple reason: my hands don’t work for hand stitching. Don’t feel sorry for me. This is who I physically am. This is who I’ve been all my life. It’s not a limit. It’s a feature. Instead, it formed me as a machinist. I can do things with my machine you may not be able to replicate by hand, no matter how long you have to work on it. And visa versa. Machine and hand quilting are both incredible tools, neither of them better or worse. But they do have their advantages. Pick and choose your techniques to make your life and art work for you. And never let anyone tell you one technique or another is right or wrong.
We’ve been working to make all quilting an art form for around 40 years. That’s demanded a lot of redefinition. One of those definitions is about whether things are good or bad technique. Instead of that bold and, in my humble opinion, limited judgment we need to look at the work it self and say, “Is this cool? Does it open new doors? Does it make us all stronger? More able? More capable? How does it expand who we are and what we can do?
There are differing advantages between hand and machine work. I’ll state some of them, but remember that they’re not global. A hand technique may give you exactly the stitch you want for a piece, but not for another. Look at each work and decide for yourself. Use what works for you. Ignore anyone who has to make comments from the peanut gallery
Hand stitching: Pluses
- It’s quiet
- Can be done anywhere you can bring it (Car, in front of TV, sewing group,etc.)
- Inexpensive for set up: all you need is needle and thread
- Slow: most techniques take a fair amount of time
- Can hurt your hands (Carpal tunnel, tightened shoulder muscles)
- Needs high skill level: much of hand stitching improves greatly with practice.
Machine Stitching: Pluses
- Fast: what you can accomplish is amazingly faster
- Most techniques are easily learned and take less skill
- Put’s you and your work in the protected environment of your sewing room: do you want someone in the room asking where the orange juice is?
- Protects hands and shoulders from repeated action stress
- Allows people with hand disabilities to do amazing work
- Takes a machine and the cost of a machine. But not necessarily an expensive machine
- Has to be in your sewing space. It’s not easy to move it into another room
- Most people don’t consider it relaxing, although I do
I’ll be providing some machine techniques for Pat’s Crazy Quilting Magazine. The world is wide and we want to you all kinds of ways to accomplish the things you want to do most. Pick freely, try everything, and choose wisely for yourself.
Next issue , we’ll talk about machine beading.
Check out these earlier posts about Pat Winter