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Monday, January 20, 2014

Hand Quilting vs. Machine Quilting


The choice of quilting by hand or quilting by machine is an individual decision.  Neither choice is right or wrong.  It is simply a preference that a person makes based on what makes them happy.  To turn up your nose and snub someone for quilting in a manner that is different than what you prefer is just inappropriate.  To tell them they are “doing it wrong” is just plain rude. 

Many hand quilters will also machine quilt.  They may prefer hand quilting, but sometimes when making a utility quilt, a baby quilt, or a king size quilt it  just doesn’t seem right to put that amount of time into the hand quilting.  And that is okay.

Many machine quilters have hand quilted before.  Perhaps they have reasons for not hand quilting more than they do.  It could be a matter of having a lack of time.  It might be that they are not comfortable hand quilting, or that they just don’t want the project to take that long.  And that is okay.

Why do I bring this up?  We recently had a discussion on our Facebook group.  Someone commented that they “recently had a machine quilter snub her nose at her for being a hand quilter. It made her wonder if machine quilters had something *against* hand quilters?” 

Someone else said that she had been in two different quilt shops that  shunned hand quilting.  “At the second quilt shop when the woman found out I was a hand quilter, she paused (after being very chatty), her voice got real low and she said, “Oh. You're a hand quilter. If I were you I'd take my tops to someone with a long arm and have them do it.”

I myself have been in quilt shops and been told that “No one hand quilts anymore!” 

Let’s set the record straight right here and right now.  It is perfectly okay to machine quilt.  It is perfectly okay to hand quilt.  Period.  And if you think nobody hand quilts anymore, take a look at these statistics, below, and think again.

The Celebrate Hand Quilting Facebook Group: 

Look at the number of members in the group.  This group grows by about one hundred members every month to six weeks now.  And it is a VERY active group!


This is our group map.  Every pin represents a hand quilter who has pinned where he or she lives on our map.


Here is a close-up of the hand quilters represented in the United States alone.


Keep in mind that these are only the hand quilters who have a) access to technology,  b) like technology, c) found us on Facebook d) clicked to join our group.

We also have this blog that you are reading.  The Celebrate Hand Quilting blog was started on November 16, 2011.  Since that time,  look at our statistics:


In 2011, there were 42 articles written, 184 in 2012, and 60 in 2013.  Articles are written by hand quilters who also enjoy writing.  Many have their own blogs, as well as this one.  Some only blog on this site. 

It is a shame to discourage any quilter from quilting using the method that make HIM or HER happy.  Period. What ever their favorite method is, it is just that – a method.  They are still quilting.  They will still need fabric, thread, batting, needles, etc.  Some will need thimbles.  Some will not.  Some will need specialty products for their preferred method, some will need different products for another method.   



I am a hand quilter.  I have a quilt on a frame downstairs that holds a mid-arm Pfaff Hobby Grand Quilter.   I have a Pinterest folder for beautiful machine quilting, as I have seen some that makes me drool.  My frame will soon be advertised for sale.  It’s just not me.  And that is perfectly fine.  I am much better at hand quilting than I am at machine quilting. The quit shown below was just completed yesterday. You can learn about  “Fleur de Caron II” on my blog, Michigan Quilts!



I don’t ask that everyone hand quilt.  It works for me.  I enjoy it, and I am good at it.

Quilt in the way that makes YOU happy. 

It really doesn’t matter, just as long as you quilt!


  1. Very well said Caron! My sentiments exactly... if I could do on machine what some can I might prefer that... but I can't ... however I make lovely intricate hand quilted designs and LOVE IT! Kathi

  2. totally agree - I am surprised though that someone told someone else that they shouldn't hand quilt - most in my area while they are not hand quilters have nothing but admiration for those that do - I guess you just never can tell what will come out of peoples mouths! Maybe she wanted more business for herself?

  3. Totally agree....I primarily hand quilt but I also machine quilt. I primarily piece patchwork but sometimes hand applique. I hand bind and I machine bind. I use a kit sometimes or I use a pattern. I sometimes do improvisational piecing and sometimes I precision piece. I have drafted my own pattern and I mix current fabrics with vintage fabrics. I enjoy quilting and my desire is that we not judge others but rather share our knowledge and love of a passion that goes beyond making a bed cover but rather something that provides our love. Sometimes I want to make a dragger.....something that I see someone wear out and other times I want it to be my best. We are so lucky that we have options.

  4. Beautifully said Caron! I will recommend people read this blog posting if the subject of "us vs them" comes up. I cannot add anything of substance except the following: if I hear anyone say in a smartypants voice, "Hand is a four-letter word!" I won't be responsible for my actions...

    1. I find that a little obnoxious, too. I wish people were more tolerant about quilters' choices and didn't try to impose their choices on others. If all quilts looked alike and were made the same, we might as well as start a factory!

  5. Amen. I prefer hand quilting, but I agree that they both have their place.

  6. There are many hand quilters in Canada , a hand quilted quilt sells for three times the amount of a machine quilted one .Myself I love to hand quilt but for the last couple of weeks I've dabbled in free motion quilting ,there is no right or wrong ,do what pleases you . Personally I think that was very rude of the quilt store owner I would have taken my business else where .

  7. Hear, hear! I prefer hand quilting and have, IMHO, good reasons why. But that does not mean that those who machine quilt are any better ... or any worse ... just different. One of the things I love best about quilting is that there are many different ways to accomplish the same thing ... contrary to what the self-appointed quilt police like to think, there is no best way ... rarely even any better ways ... there are just different ways. ;-)

  8. Well said. All the quilt shops I go into are not blatant about disapproving hand quilting but they do not encourage it either. And some kind of lose interest in talking to you. Maybe it is because they all sell high dollar machines and needles do not bring in the revenue. The lady who taught me piecing told me from the start. There is sewing and quilting, two different things. To me anyone who makes the top and sends it out to have it quilted is not a quilter but a sewer. I have seen beautiful quilting both hand and machine. For me machine stresses me. Hand quilting relaxes. To each his or her own. OK down from the soap box.

  9. That's a very thoughtful and well written post Caron. Anybody that makes quilts by hand or machine gets the thumbs up from me.

  10. Caron . . . I so enjoyed your "voice" on the subject of "Hand Quilting vs. Machine Quilting". I have used both hand and machine, but I, personally, much prefer hand quilting and hand stitching. I find many advantages: I have better control with my hand quilting, I can quietly enjoy it with my family as I watch television, visit, etc. Also, many of my projects, especially my love for hand quilting of miniature quilts and tiny doll clothes is so very portable! I'm able to take it all along in a tin to work on while waiting for an appointment or while traveling. I'm thrilled to see the Celebrate Hand Quilting Facebook Group and I have requested to join. Thanks for helping to keep hand-quilting a vibrant option by sharing your work.

  11. I think that we are drawn toward techniques that we like how they look AND that we can do (or pay someone to do for us). It's easy to forget that while they share the title "quilting" longarming, FMQ on a domestic machine and hand quilting are all separate skill sets.

  12. Hand quilting is my favorite, but if everyone hand quilted there would be less quilts to view at the quilt shows, less fabrics to choose from, etc. I have also machine quilted. I may be doing more machine quilting due to the onset of arthritis. Do you suppose in the late 1800s, when the sewing machines become available, that some were snobbish to others and perhaps tsk'd, "you used a machine to sew your material together?" Quilters are suppose to play nice especially to one another. Thanks, Caron, for bringing this to our attention and hopefully, we will all be more thoughtful with our remarks.

  13. If I had a Facebook account the number would be up by 1 more, but since I don't I get snubbed for that too. Guess I'm a dinosaur, I'm a happy hand quilting one though. All very well said Caron.

  14. I think what exhausted me on hand quilting was a king sized quilt that I hand quilted over a long, hot summer. It was only my third quilt, and the largest I'd made to that point. I've been a machine quilter for hire for 13 years, and I now find myself longing to hand quilt again-but I can guarantee they will be small to middle sized projects! lol

  15. Well said! I enjoy hand quilting, and love the way it looks on a quilt, but am very slow. I also love piecing fabric together, playing with shapes and colors, and at the speed I hand quilt I couldn't keep up with the tops I want to make, so I also quilt some quilts by machine. I set aside a few special projects to hand quilt, so I always have relaxing hand work when I want and need it, and machine quilt the rest. There's a place for both skills.

  16. I am a newbie to both worlds both hand and machine quilting, I started machine quilting when I went off on disability it was something I always wanted to do but didn't have the time to commit to it. Thanks to both Facebook and Pinterest I've seen many beautiful quilts being done both ways and thought why not take a class in hand quilting I've always done something creative with my hands. Going years back to liquid embroidery, Creative Circle parties, cross stitching and embroidery and doing ceramics so I've always done something by hand. Thankfully our LQS actually offers classes in both machine and hand quilting and applique classes. Currently that's what I'm working on are two different applique styles and I love it. It's something to do while hubby is watching his sports on TV or if we're traveling I have something I can do with my hands. I still machine sew I'm working on a baby quilt for my new grand daughter. I can't see why anyone would snub their nose at anything related to quilting, I don't understand why someone would be so critical. For me if I hand known about the applique classes I might not have taken the machine class as it's costly starting up - buying all the equipment, rulers, rotary cutters, etc it was a big cost to start up on the machine quilting side. Thankfully our local long arm person is ok doing work on both machine and hand quilted projects the only thing she has issues with is anything with embellishments on it she finds it's very hard to quilt.


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