Monday, October 14, 2013

A couple of things that have been on my mind

Today it is glorious outside. The sky is a rich azure blue, the temperature is mild and the trees are starting to change into their Autumn colours. And it is Canadian Thanksgiving!

There are a couple of things that have been on my mind lately. They are quilting (hand vs. machine) and pressing seam allowances.

Do you press your seam allowances open or closed. More and more I am thinking that open is the way to go and this is why. Pressing to one side results in very bulky seam intersections which are difficult to quilt through. When seam allowances are pressed open the intersections are less bulky. Lately I've begun pressing seam allowances open. I like to machine quilt and since I tend to quilt rather densely those seam allowances are well secured. With Lazy Punk I didn't press my seam allowances open and so the quilting is more challenging in those areas, especially around the cornerstones, and therefore it is less fun. This means I dread quilting those areas and so I put off the quilting which is why it isn't finished!

Quilting the cornerstones in Lazy Punk

And speaking of quilting there appear to be different points of view and some hand quilters look down on machine quilters. I've quilted many quilts by hand and by machine but my poor hands find the hand quilting makes the joints hurt.
Hand quilting from the back (I made this in the mid-1980s)
Hand quilting from the front

I want to protect my hands so I've shifted to machine quilting. Like hand quilting the basic method is straight forward and also like hand quilting it is a skill that takes a lot of practice to master. My machine quilting is not there yet but I'm working on it!

Lazy Punk quilting today

Hand quilting is beautiful and amazing but I can say the same of machine quilting. Just take a look at the quilts made by the likes of Harriet Hargrave and Diane Gaudynski. It is definitely heirloom quilting.

Diane Gaudynski's book - one of my two favourite books on machine quilting

Harriet Hargrave's book - my other favourite book on machine quilting

Close-up of Harriet's machine quilting

Close-up of Diane's machine quilting

My lovely Grandma, pictured below, homesteaded in northern Alberta, Canada.

 In addition to clothing, she made quilts and comforters. When she had a machine she sewed by machine and when she didn't have a machine, she used her hands. I once asked her about quilts and hand quilting and she told me this: when she sewed by hand because she had no other option but if she had a machine it would all have been done by machine. Her quilts and clothing were made to be used. Those that we consider heirlooms are heirlooms because she made them. The fact that some stitches are hand done and others machine done doesn't our appreciation of her quilts and comforters.

What is most important to me is to find happiness, joy and satisfaction in whatever I do and that means a little hand quilting when I can but lots of machine quilting. And the other thing that is important to me is to share knowledge, ideas, methods and techniques with others and to inspire them to create. My blog is the vehicle I use to fulfill that objective and machine quilting allows me to make more quilts so that I can give them to the people who are important to me.

On this Canadian Thanksgiving Monday I am thankful that you read my blog and I my hope is that I inspire you to do your own thing in your own way. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks - just find the joy and happiness in every stitch you take whether it is by hand or by machine!

Until I post again, happy sewing!


  1. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
    I love the photo you showed of grandma, how lovely that you have the things she made. I am lucky enough to have a crochet afghan that my Grandma made, but that is all.
    I would say your blog is meeting it's objective perfectly, it inspires and excites, instructs and delights (ooh a little poem there LOL). Please keep on doing what you do, I for one appreciate it greatly. My day would not be complete without a visit here!

    1. Thanks Kath! As long as my computer and fingers both work I'll keep on keeping on!

  2. We did have a beautiful day yesterday, Sunday was beautiful too, even with the rain.
    Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.
    In addition to all the things I'm thankful for is you Karen, your blog and the fact that you love to share your knowledge. I learn a lot from you. THANK YOU.

  3. Very well said, Karen, and I agree completely! Our quilting forebears were far too busy to waste time unnecessarily. These days, quilting is pure luxury, so enjoyment should ;) take precedence.

  4. I know this was long ago, Karen, but I wanted to say I feel the same way as you between hand and machine quilting. I was quilting a queen size quilt when I happened across Diane Gaudinski's book. When I saw her work (and on a domestic machine) I knew I had found the way to quilt my quilts. I'm not there yet even after 6 years, but I think I'm getting there. And very happy for it as there was no way I can afford to send them out.