Hand quilting is alive and well all around the world! Join with fellow hand quilters to share techniques, tips,
and the BEAUTIFUL quilts being made by others who share your passion for quilting... by HAND!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What happens to all those quilts?

By Joy Rusonis

 Wow, I was just to the Lancaster, Pennslyvania AQS show yesterday. What a  treat. I went with my sisters and we really enjoyed seeing the wide variety of quilts and hangings. I enjoyed the antique quilts and the hand quilted pieces the most.

        The question came up--what happens to all these beautiful pieces once they are no longer entered in shows? Do any of the full-sized quilts actually end up on beds, or are they too special to use? In fact, what happens to most of the quilts we make?

        I am in the process of quilting my first full sized quilt. It was a top made by my grandmother. I know there are some really fragile fabrics in it, so I will display it, rather than use it. When I am done, I want to make a queen size for my bed.

        Do you use your quilts? Collect them? Give them away?

        At quilt guild, one of the members shared her collection of quilts. Some were samples from shows that she bought "so she wouldn't have to make them." Some were quilts she'd made for others, but hadn't actually given them to the intended recipients. I was a little baffled by that train of thoughts but to each his own.

Val's farewell gift
Tony's quilt
Rei getting comfy

        I've given away a lot of the small pieces I've made. Some of the happiest gifts were baby quilts. I made this quilt for my son to take to college. It never made it there--he preferred a comforter, but he now uses it as a throw when he is watching tv so that makes me happy. I sometimes make gifts for people who are leaving at work.

        I work at a college, and have student help in the department. Some of the them are with us for four years and I get pretty attached to them. I started making them quilted objects when they graduate. I usually do a small throw or pillows. 

        One of my students sent me this picture of his beloved dog, enjoying his pillows.

Kiri's throw

I really didn't mind. I expect my gifts to be used; they are quick projects and I enjoy making them. However, I know that a lot of people have real horror stories about giving a quilt that took a lot of time and effort and seeing the quilts abused and ruined.

        I don't know if I will ever have enough time (and be a fast enough quilter) to make anyone a bed-sized quilt. If I do, I think I would make sure that they want a quilt, and then make sure that the quilt fits their taste. A bedroom is a really personal place and I wouldn't want someone else deciding what to make for my bed. And then I hope that I'd be strong enough to give the quilt and never worry about it again! Pretty tough to do!


  1. my quilts are meant to be used and I do not enter quilts into show even though I have been told I should - I like quilts to be scattered through out my house, and both of my daughters as well, I am visiting my daughter at this time and counted 6 quilts in the living room alone being loved and used and more upstairs in the bedrooms - all made by yours truly :)

  2. I've made 590-something quilts already in my lifetime! I piece and quilt them all myself on my sewing machine, not long-arm.They are UTILITY quilts, meant to be used and washed and worn out. I have about 100 here, used to decorate my home on a rotation basis. My kiddos and other family members have in excess of another 100. Scattered through these two categories are more than three dozen queen-size ones plus various smaller ones. Close to 300 donated to guild and community charities, crib and lap size. The rest have just wandered away, a few sold but mostly just gone on to good homes. I DO NOT make show quilts! :)

  3. When I started making quilts, I decided I'd make one for each of my siblings (4), then my husband's siblings (4). That turned into a quest to make one of each of my siblings children (9). And my mom has 2 with a 3rd in progress. In reality, my husbands sibs ended up with pillows to make up for unfinished quilts. 2 of my siblings who have been most gracious about the gift and appreciate quilts have received more than 1. I am down to the last 3 niece/nephew quilts...1 delayed for unappreciation, and 2 because I want them to be amazing.

  4. I know this is a very touchy subject. I grew up with a Mama and Grandmother that have beautiful things...all in a hutch,a display case, a cedar chest or high on shelf to never be touched because fear of "messing them up." I have always been a person who needs to create . I paint ,craft, take photography and now I am a quilter. I hand pieced and hand quilted a lap quilt for my mother. She did not know I was making it. Upon presenting the gift and before she opened it I said this is to be used. I want it to need repairs. I want it to have coffee stains. I want it to fade. I want it to show wear . I want to see these things because I made it to be enjoyed and to remind you that I love you and want you to have it and know its purpose was to comfort you. She was ecstatic with the quilt. It lays on a chair in her bedroom, neatly folded and looking "pretty." You know what they say about teaching an ole dog new tricks ;)

  5. I've given away every quilt I've made save one or two. Like Karen, my quilts are built for use. They don't have to go on a bed to be loved, appreciated, and used!

  6. All of my quilts have been hand quilted except for one twin sized one which I tried machine quilting. I didn't enjoy that at all and it is the only one that I have had problems with! Maybe I didn't do the machine quilting correctly but the thread has broken in several places. My quilts get used on beds, on couches for naps and TV watching. They get dirty, are a little faded and I wouldn't have it any other way!

  7. I am one who also has unfinished quilts intended specifically for someone, that are packed away among the stacks. I actually pulled one out, took out all the quilting, and re-quilted it two years ago for Christmas. It finished beautifully. I have too many that aren't finished so my goal for the year is *closure*! That includes finishing some of these UFOs. Thanks for all you do to share excellence in hand quilting with the world!

  8. I don't make a lot of quilts mainly because I have little display room. My 2nd place quilt is currently on my bed. It replaced one I made 20 years ago that is starting to fray. That one is stored. I have another queen-sized quilt top made to eventually be quilted for my son. I am hoping my daughter will pick out a pattern soon so I can start one for her also. I plan to have both of these machine quilted by someone other than me.


We love to read your comments. Please make sure you have your email enabled so we can write you back! All comments must have approval before they appear on this site.