A Blast From the Past: Why I Hand Quilt

Jan Hatchett   Georgia,  USA

A short time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a little red headed blogger got in WAY over her head with a self hosted blog and one day–POOF–it refused to publish or save any more posts.  Even her techno savvy friends and family members (hi, Dad!) couldn’t save her beloved blog.  Sadly, the girl (who loves to write, but is only minimally techno savvy, by the way) restarted her blog on WordPress (but not the self hosted kind).  But, hating to lose her previous 800+ posts that wouldn’t be seen, she came up with a brilliant idea (!) to institute a feature to bring back some of her older posts that she wanted to keep or thought were good.  Hence the new feature:  Blast From The Past!

So, if you have followed my blog in that other, sadder blogosphere, you have probably already seen this one.  But, you might like it even more now…  Hey, you never know!

So, from July 21st, 2013….

Another Hatchett Job blog, hand quilted, hand quilting, quilting, quilts, homemade
Quilt in the frame
Photo by Jan Hatchett

There is something about a hand quilted quilt, a certain softness or drape.  It just looks and feels a little different–a but more snuggly, perhaps.  And there is something about that old fashioned, slightly crinkled look and feel that appeals to me greatly.

Now, that being said, I do NOT hand quilt everything.  Lots of my charity quilts and gift quilts and quilts that will be loved on really hard by toddlers are machine quilted for speed and durability.  Some are even tied (usually my Mom takes on that job) in that quick, age old Appalachian, winter’s a’coming…right NOW (!) kind of way.

You see, being a quilt snob really just isn’t in my DNA.  All of the quilts that I grew up with were tied quilts, really comforters more than quilts.  They were also amazingly scratchy, never gonna die in no land fill double knit polyester with flannel backings!  And, thank the good Lord above for those flannel backings that, when rolled down and snuggled up against, saved many a poor child’s chin from being scratched up in the night!  And there were NEVER any bindings applied.  Nope, the flannel just wrapped itsself around the tops and was secured by hand onto the top with no mitered corners.  Why?  Because you might have to replace the flannel one day (and/or the batting) because it wears faster than the polyester and you want to keep that job simple.

For the uninitiated, that admission of my family quilt history puts me smack dab in the poor, Appalachian, white trash category!  No fancy heirlooms for us.  But lots of Sunbonnet Sue blocks made from a child’s dresses and loads of scraps used for every purpose.  No time to make fancy quilt stitches except rarely, so you made do with what you had and made your world beautiful and warm, even if riotously scrappy!  Where the heck is Waldo has nothing

Another Hatchett Job blog, quilt, hand quilting, baby quilt, homemade, hand quilted
Hand quilted baby gift
Photo by Eddie Hatchett

on a family quilt where everyone has memories from each little scrap of fabric.  “Look, this was my shirt!”  “Hey, I had curtains in my room like this!”  “Mom, I didn’t know you kept this!”  Other folks had family registries, but we could hold our history in our hands.  So, I can’t claim to make quilts like my ancestors.  Theirs were utilitarian and necessary to stave off Ohio winters.  We won’t freeze if I don’t finish a quilt by the first frost.  We might not be as comfortable as we could be (I have an aversion to store bought comforters that fall apart), but we’d be fine.  When I first started quilting, I made tied quilts.  That is what I knew.  Then I started hearing more about machine quilting.  That sounded good to me.  No hand work.   It also is terribly difficult to quilt a large bed quilt on a small, undersized, cheap-o sewing machine, which was what I could afford at the time.  And, of course, I didn’t want to make placemats, hot pads, normal projects.  Bigger is better and bed quilts were where it was at.  I still fight this urge.  A LOT!

Then I learned about longarm quilting.  That sounded fantastic.  Then I priced it.  Good grief!  I was a young married woman, waiting for kids and sewing with any scraps I could lay my hands on and struggling to buy muslin and quilt fabric when it was $3.50 per yard!  If I had to rely on either buying my own long arm system or paying someone to do it for me, I just wouldn’t be able to quilt.

So, when a LQS (that is long since closed) did a class on hand quilting, I jumped at the chance to try it.  In fact, Mom and I went together and had a blast!  Once I knew how the quilting was done and got some pointers, I discovered something very important:  that this is not a difficult skill to learn or master.  It just takes some time and practice and a sense of humor to make a quilt!  It’s not rocket science and it’s not scary once you give it a try.

Another Hatchett Job blog, log cabin quilt, Pat Wys, White Chocolate quilt pattern, Silver Thimble Quilts, brown and cream quilt, baptist fans, hand quilting
Log cabin quilt in the log cabin!
Photo by John Purdy

Funny, I am not even very proficient in hand sewing at all.  In fact, I kind of eased into hand quilting to see if I could pull it off with my clumsy fingers.  And, in the process, I learned that it is very soothing, relaxing, and simple to do.  I also discovered that I could do it.  Maybe not perfectly (and I do have a bit of stitch envy from time to time), but passably and well enough that I can be proud of the time and effort that I took to complete a large project in a “right now, hurry, hurry” kind of world. I will never have my mother’s sewing, hand sewing, or embroidery skills or dexterity, but I have found a nice little niche where I can shine a little bit.  A place where my efforts are not useless or forgotten.  A simpler place.  I can afford it and I can take great pride in taking a major project from beginning to end!  And, in this world, that is no small thing.

Edited to add:  This post is being linked up with the Celebrate Hand Quilting Fall Blog Hop.

Do YOU handquilt?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

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12 thoughts on “A Blast From the Past: Why I Hand Quilt

  1. Enjoyed your “blast from the past” 🙂 Love your quilting style. I really enjoy hand quilting and would love to learn hand piecing… piecing and I just don’t seem to get along except it is necessary to have the top to make the quilt! lol Thanks for a great read and eye candy too! Kathi

    1. Hi Kathi! I am glad you stopped by. EPP was a simple way to allow me to gain some skill and confidence doing something very, very simple. I am still not piecing any non EPP quilts yet, but I suspect I will get there. It is just so very convenient to carry along with me. If I remember correctly, there is a great tutorial on Bonnie Hunter’s http://www.quiltville.com site on EPP hexagons, but watch out! Those little hexies are seriously addictive!

  2. I have done a little bit of hand quilting and enjoy it. It is so relaxing to do and I lose all track of time in the process. I just found your blog at Celebrate Hand Quilting and will be following your blog. I’m sorry about what happened to your other blog but glad you have a new one now.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lea! I am glad you found the site. See, now that you are here, this one is even better. But, I will keep slowly moving content over with more quilt pics!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jill! I love machine quilting and if it was in my budget, I would definitely be hiring out some of my quilts, but honestly, I can’t fit it in my budget. Someday, maybe I will win one of those “win a longarm” contests and then I can do both!

    1. Thank you! I am always worried that I am not a very good photographer. I am glad you like the photos! There is something about just a needle and thread that can be so captivating.

    1. Hi Chris! Thanks for stopping by. I would think that keeping it simple would be a good bet for a first quilt. It’s easier to learn the stitch and the process with simpler forms. I would think that simple straight lines, like cross hatching would be simple to mark and stitch. I went to a quilt show (years and years ago) and found a lady doing a hand quilting demonstration. She explained that it is easier to get the needle through the quilt if you are quilting on the bias of the fabric as opposed to the straight of grain. So, she recommended circular designs and lines that make grids on the diagonal. I have found that advice quite helpful as I have quilted. Personally, I am in love with the Baptist (or Methodist) fans style of quilitng. It is made up of simple curves and can look wonky at first. I think it might drive a beginner batty! But, when it is completed, the overall effect is lovely and full of motion. I would love to see what you come up with! Good luck!

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