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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Hand-tied quilts

For the past two or three weeks I've been hand quilting seven textured strips that will form part of my Chinese Coins quilt, which has been loosely inspired by the groins and shingle beach along the Swale in Kent. Since it's so lovely, I decided to let the fabric speak for itself rather than over embellish it with complicated quilting. Besides, I wanted to preserve the rustic feel of woven cloth with similarly simple quilting, which is why I've hand-tied the strips. Now, I'm just waiting for my French linen metis sheet to arrive so I can make the rest of the quilt. I've only recently discovered hand-tied quilts, and, the majority of those I've seen use this technique on quilts for babies or toddlers, or, on very simple, large square patch quilts.

Why hand-tying isn't used more extensively is a mystery to me–perhaps it is because such a blissfully easy technique is viewed as too unsophisticated for grown-up quilts? If that is the case, I think it's a rather snobbish view which fails to recognise that simple yet functional design often requires great skill, and an expert eye for balance and composition, not to end up with a result that looks amatuerish or shoddy. I certainly don't think the hand-tied quilts shown here and here could be sneeringly referred to as 'homespun', and I will be thrilled if my quilt, when finished, is anywhere near as successful as these examples.

My one slight gripe (I seem to be doing that a lot today!) when I went to the Festival of Quilts was that I didn't see any hand-tied quilts (although there was lots of freestyle embroidery). Of course, I can't claim to have studied every single quilt in great detail since there were quite a few of them on display! However, I did get the impression (maybe falsely) that the less a quilt looked like it had been touched by human hand, and the more expertise the quilter showed with a fancy machine, the more highly regarded was the end product. Perhaps I'm being a grumpy old luddite by not embracing current sewing machine technology, it's just that I want my sewing machine (a lovely 1960s Bernina) to sound like a sewing machine and not a computer.

Maybe one day, when I'm a more accomplished quilter, I'll change my mind, and want my quilts to have a professional look. For now though, I'm happy to be homespun!


PS: If you're a fan of hand-tied quilts, I'd love to receive links to projects you think are interesting.

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