Why hand quilt?

Quilting, like any art form, is a very personal thing and quilters are all different in their approach.  Many quilters get great enjoyment out of selecting fabrics and piecing intricate tops.  Many are expert at beautiful applique.  Some like to design their own quilts, some enjoy using patterns or kits.  The important thing is that it be enjoyable. There is not a right way to do it as long as you are enjoying it.

I have seen some incredibly intricate and beautiful machine quilting and I can appreciate that beauty, but for me it is not the same.  A big part of  the reward of quilting for me is not the end result but the process itself.  Hand quilting makes me a part of the quilt. Every stitch goes through my hands before it goes into the quilt.  I don’t know who this quote is attributed to but it is a good one to explain my connection to hand quilting.

My whole life is in that quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates.  I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me”.

 Everything I am thinking and feeling when I am quilting is stitched into the quilt and somehow is turned into something beautiful.  That for me can’t happen with a machine.

So that is why I hand quilt and here is the progress on the current project.

First a comparison of the before and after.  I finished up the basic quilting on this quilt a few days ago and now I am going back and adding a lot more quilting detail.





Here is the entire quilt with the basic quilting done.


Here are some pictures of what I have finished so far. Click to enlarge.

Happy Quilting


37 thoughts on “Why hand quilt?

  1. Trina Schellhammer says:

    Sometimes I wonder if only handquilters really “get it”. This wholecloth has really inspired me, and helped me to realize that even though the project I am currently working on is pre-stamped, I can still add to it to make it a quilt all of my own. Kinda like getting the OK to color outside of the lines. 😉 Thanks for all of your great posts.

    • timquilts says:

      I think that might be the case….you can need to be a hand quilter to really understand why it is worth it…..and I love the idea of coloring outside the lines!!! go for it

  2. Your quilting is just amazing – I don’t even have the words to use to convey how much I love this! I love to hand quilt, but mine is quite pathetic after seeing yours! I’m sure you’ve said before, but what is your preference in batting?

    • timquilts says:

      batting for me depends on the quilt and the look I am going for….For this one I am using Hodd’s Tuscany Wool….for a more “antique” look I like to use cotton….my favorite cotton is Pellon Natures Touch

  3. Loved this post! I actually had goosebumps when I read that quote. You are such an inspiration to the hand-quilting world. Thanks!!

  4. Sue says:

    I really love that quote, Tim. I think it is so true. It is the reason I make the whole quilt myself and don’t send it off to a quilter. I enjoy the stitches throughout the whole quilt too. Machine quilting is so beautifully done these days and I follow a couple of ladies who are extremely talented with it, but hand quilting just has the look I have always loved.
    Your quilts inspire many of us and your sentiments today are shared by many as well.
    Blessings for the new year!

  5. Kathy Roslasky says:

    I love that quote, too, and I just had to find out who said it. Here’s what I found:
    According to the Why Quilts Matter website, the quote is attributed to
    Marguerite Ickis, quoting her great-grandmother in the book, Anonymous Was a Woman, 1979, Mirra Bank, St. Martin’s Press.

    Your quilting is an inspiration! I love looking at it.

    Kathy in FL

  6. Glenn says:

    Your quilt is masterful.

    I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts regarding hand quilting. It’s my favorite part of the entire process. It’s all about the hours spent adding each stitch to create an original piece.

  7. I frequently tell new quilters that there is no right or wrong way, that they should do it the way they prefer ….. the quilt police won’t arrive at the door to tell them off!!

  8. Rita Larson says:

    I’m with you. I want to own every part of my quilts. I hand piece and hand quilt. Do I turn out a quilt every month?? No, but I enjoy every step inmaking my quits. Well, maybe not the basting so much. 😉
    I’ve been seeing your whole cloth quilt showing up on Pinterest this week and no wonder it is stunning

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks Rita, Im with you on the basting!
      I have seen it around pinterest as well…its kind of strange to see the pictures and know that many of the people who see it will never read anything about it, not sure how I fell about the whole subject

  9. AMEN!~ well said.
    Goodness, you don’t sleep much. If I lived near you, I’d bring you over some of my dinner I have cooking now… Be sure and eat and take care of yourself. I don’t know how you do all you do!~
    It is so , so beautiful!~

    So, you just go back and fill in the grids to make smaller grids? For lack of a better way of trying to figure out. I am working on a quilt now and I know it is not enough quilting, so am going to go back and do more X’s.
    I’d love to watch you and learn.
    Maybe one day you can get someone to do some videos of you. I was looking for hand quilting videos on youtube and there are not a lot of good ones.

  10. Amanda Best says:

    Your work is just so amazing! I am hand quilting for the first time and I really love it. I doubt I will ever have the patience to work on a whole cloth quilt like yours, but I love to read what you write, and see the masterpieces you create! Beautiful!

  11. Kathleen Campbell says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I do not know what to call the curved stitching around the edge but it is the perfect edge!

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks….I wanted to do something on the edge that is different from the standard I will use bias binding to follow the curves when the quilting is done so it wont be the standard square

  12. You’ve summed it up perfectly Tim – that’s why I love to hand quilt too! Your quilting is so beautiful. Thank you for showing the progress shots, it’s interesting to see how you work.

  13. audrey says:

    That quote is just incredible. It’s really hard to explain to the non-believers what hand quilting is really all about! Your whole quilt is stunning. Thanks for being so willing to share your process. I’m learning lots!

  14. Chris says:

    You have to love what you are doing to make it look so well put together and beautiful. As I do hand work I think about my Grandmother hand quilting and stitching, It is like she is sitting beside me. Quilting is tranquil and a lovely expression of your art. Chris

  15. Louise says:

    Hand quilting is my meditation and a connection to my mother and grandmothers who quilted before me. One time I saw the most beautiful quilt with the civil war fabrics, beautifully pieced and wonderful colors. It was totally destroyed by inappropriate machine quilting in swirling patterns. I was so sad. If only they had taken the time to hand quilt it would have been an amazing quilt.

  16. Kristen says:

    I think you know my opinion of machine quilting versus hand quilting. By the way, is that woman on the right in your header on a cell phone?

  17. Kristen says:

    Ahh, they did not have the technology…can you imagine if she landed at your house to quilt on your frame with you and saw all your 21st century gadgets?

  18. velialauermanhandquilter says:

    Couldn’t have said it better
    Tim, you had me on HandQuilting… you are at the TOP of inspirational


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