Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Actual Thoughts On Hand-Quilting

Hand-quilting can be refreshingly quiet if you let it. In the absence of noisy machines and fast-moving needles, thoughts - actual thoughts - have a chance to spring to life, take a breath, grow, and fully develop in the mind as you stitch away.

In fact just the other day, I was hand-quilting my hexagon quilt and thinking how it is nothing short of impressive the time and effort it takes to a quilt a piece by hand. Whenever I'm lucky enough to behold someone's hand-quilted work, I take a closer look. Every little stitch stands by itself yet is connected to the rest. Every little stitch represents a breath in the life of its maker. And the completed quilt, when you stand back and really look, tells a personal story of perseverance and triumph over time, materials, distraction, inertia.

This may sound a little kooky, but when I'm hand-quilting, I feel like I'm communing with the souls of all those women who've ever worked to make their homes pleasant and their lives richer using only the simplest of tools and materials. I'm in awe of their industriousness and talent. Even today, women the world over do not have the luxury of powerful tools like I do, nor the wealth of fabrics available. They rely on ingenuity and the hard work of their own hands. They work with what they've got. Yet they make works of timeless beauty. That reminds me to be grateful for what I've been given. It inspires me to work simply. To see the potential in the materials that come to me freely. And craft with them as best I can.

And sometimes it's an escape, pure and simple, from the relentless dish-washing, craft-blogging, clothes-laundering, email-reading, kid-rearing that is my life. Do you know what I mean? The naturally measured pace of hand-quilting is my personal rebellion against efficiency. There are times when the urgent notion that says: "You must get this done NOW", can be folded up and tucked away for a bit. Deadlines are man-made fabrications after all. And I know that my world will not come to an end if I don't mop the floor, shoo away the dust bunnies or even (gasp!) respond to email this very moment. So I choose to savour the easy rhythm of hand-quilting, watch the up and down motion of the tiny needle, and infuse into every stitch of my quilt a little Michele-love.


Previous posts about this quilt: hereherehereherehere, here and here!


  1. What a lovely post! I think as we enter this rather busy time of year it is nice to have a bit of handwork to create a bit of calm.

  2. Beautifully written. And so so true. I think you do a great job of using what you have been given to create beautiful things. You are an inspiration to us all!

  3. Yes I know what you mean! Hand quilting is like meditation or yoga! And if you do it in a group, it's like very friendly! Silence is allowed! Beautiful work by the way!

  4. Beautiful post and hand quilting. I love to read your words, always, but even more when it comes from profound thinking! Hand quilting, hand piecing and applique are ZEN to me!

  5. I think you are 100% wonderful. That is all. :-)

  6. I totally agree with you....I love the "manual" set in our life, more relaxing and the flowing of time is more natural...
    have a good day and enjoy every little moment of your handmade quilting...
    xxx Ale

  7. Every stitch a breath...fantastic thought, I will remember that for the rest of my life, Michele.

  8. I think your blog is one of the best one on the net. I love the things you do and that quilt is awesome!
    The fact that the hexagons are so small and all is done by hand. Kudos to you.

    And what you're writing about hand quilting: so true.
    Thank you
    and thank you for this blog

  9. Wow. Michele, this is such a beautiful and touching post. I really love to hear the space you've created to do hand quilting and how it makes you feel so opened and connected. I don't quilt, but I can see how that can be that way. I've created some big things by hand sewing for a few days and it is much like you described above. It is so peaceful and pleasant. I don't mind that it takes longer than it would with a machine.

  10. In my younger years, I would work on a quilt while I watched Oprah. I was always amazed how quickly it went at just one hour a day. As I've grown older, I find it hard to sit and always just have my thoughts. I've had their company for soooo many years now, so books on tape keep me company while getting quilts finished. I think I miss that quilting was a group activity for much of the past.


  11. Thank you Michele for your warm haert post: this is pure love flowing in your hand quilting this is the splendor thing in quilting
    Cristina from italy

  12. I have hand quilted over ten quilts. Some of the bedsize quilts took a year to finish. It was very meditative and peaceful. I would quilt my own way as well, one stitch at a time. It reminds me of hiking and when I look back on the long windy steps I have taken, one step at a time. It is quite a feeling of accomplishment.

    When I stopped quilting (I took up rug hooking for a time) it felt really strange to not have something in my hands and on my lap while sitting in the living room. I went through withdrawals.

  13. Oh, I don't think I will EVER finish hand quilting the quilt I've had around for years. Every once in a while I pull it out and swear I will finish it this season. It is still unfinished. It's practically vintage by now. Sigh.

  14. I hesitated to post a comment, as it is more "homework" and electronic clutter for you to rebel against. But it looks like that gives you proper incentive to get away and do more lovely hand quilting! (;
    I sent you an email yesterday (finally) with some foundation-piecing method I had told you I was going to send you. As it is a quite detailed step by step explanation, it definitely classifies as more escape incentive!

  15. That is exactly how I feel about crocheting and knitting. Whenver I've had a rough day, I am able to let my mind relax as I feel the yarn flow between my fingers and feel the smoothness of the needles (or hook) in my hands. I've always said that my crafting is my therapy.

  16. Amazing again! I'm so impressed. First I was impressed with your patience of putting this together to begin with. Now you're quilting it by hand??? You have sooooo much more patience than I do! Amazing!

  17. More and more I am loving hand work for this very reason. Sometimes it's nice to get something done... But sometimes it's nice to just sit.:)


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