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Machine Quilting

by Jess

What is machine quilting used for?


Machine quilting produces the stitches that hold your quilt's layers together.

A little history...

Before the introduction of a reliable, affordable sewing machine in the mid-1800s, quilts were put together by hand: the piecing, any applique and the quilting. What's more, all of a family's clothing was also stitched by the housewife.

Can you even imagine what it must have been like if you didn't find some enjoyment in sewing?

I shudder to think!

When the sewing machine was introduced it was a big decision to make, for the manufacturer and families, alike.

First of all, there was some concern amongst the male population that women were just too fragile to handle a machine. That they would get into trouble with all that free time on their hands.

Even Issac Singer, the builder of the first commercially successful model, expressed the concern that offering women a working, affordable sewing machine would take away the only thing that kept them quiet...yep!...their sewing!

Men! Sheesh!

In comparison, it was as expensive a purchase then as a car is today. (Hmmm...come to think of it, long arm machines are about as expensive as a car...maybe we've come full circle?!)

In 1856, the Singer Company offered the very first installment plan, making the machines more affordable for the masses.

Ownership of a sewing machine was viewed as a status symbol among families. Piecing and quilting were now stitched by machine, to show off machine ownership...and reduce the time it took to complete these jobs.

Faster is better?

Not necessarily.

There is nothing as peaceful as stitching by hand and admiring each stitch, each finished seam.

Today, we have the luxury of choosing whether to quilt by hand or by machine. Some even do both.

Anita Shackelford, author and an extraordinary hand quilter, advocates in this time of too little time and too many ideas to use both within the same quilt.

If you love to hand quilt and don't have the time for all your projects, then use machine quilting for the stitching that won't ditch quilting in the well of the seams. Save your hand quilting time and efforts for those places in your quilt where your fine stitches WILL show. For more information, check out her book, "A Modern Mix: Machine and Hand Quilting".

One of the primary reasons to quilt by machine is that it is 'faster' than quilting by hand.

OK. Sounds great. Except...

The quilting goes's quicker to stitch a line of quilting by machine than by hand. Well, that's not a bad thing. But wait, it's just so-o-o tempting to add more quilting to your quilt.

Simply because you can!

Now, if you like to machine quilt, particularly free motion quilting, that's not a bad thing. But it does happen. Ask me. I know.

I hope this has answered your question.


Julie Baird

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