Quilting a new way. Mostly.

A Friendship Braid table runner in process

I was taught to quilt by an expert (a professional, actually) years ago. She trained me in quilting the “right” way, which meant cutting every single piece by hand, then hand-sewing each piece together with another, and finally quilting the whole thing—by hand, of course. I still have a few unfinished quilts from those days. That kind of sewing is soothing to do, and produces heirloom-quality quilts. It also takes just a few days less than forever to complete.

These days there are all kinds of classes and fabrics designed to enable one to make a quilt much more quickly, using a sewing machine and often sending your completed quilt top off for a couple of weeks while someone else does the quilting for you. Also by machine.

Of course there would be all these faster ways—this is 2012, after all, and most of us either seek out or fall into new ways to save time and get more done. I’m not so sure this is a good thing, especially for a chronic workaholic looking to slow down and simplify. (I’m just saying.)

On the other hand, the satisfaction one feels as amazing quilt blocks appear under your needle is hard to argue with. I love it, anyway. I realize these won’t be “valuable” pieces years from now, but in the meantime someone will have been a bit warmer and will know they were well loved by the effort that was put into this work—designing, choosing fabrics and patterns, working with a sewing machine as almost an extension of one’s arms and hands and feet (or knee) …

I am thoroughly enjoying this kind of quilting, and love that a little time and care spent produces a beautiful counterpane, bed quilt, tote bag, pillow, table runner, Christmas tree skirt, or whatever else one can dream up. Mostly I use a 70+ year old sewing machine to do it, because it sews so well and so quietly. I’m not ready to give up all my old ways.

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