Friday, January 20, 2012

Fabulous Student Applique and A Quilting Dilemma

I must say that I am so thrilled that students are finishing their class projects!  It's so exciting to see the tops come alive.

You saw part of Judy D's In Baltimore Style top in a prior post.  She had it machine quilted by Sandy Branch in North Carolina and just needs to bind it!  

Here's a detail shot of some of the quilting.  On the cutwork blocks she did echo quilting.  The red border is filled with undulating feathers.  Congratulations to both Judy and Sandy!

Kathy F., a member of the Green Thumb class, made this stunning Iris block last month.  Kathy learned to applique about a year and a half ago.  It's impressive what she's accomplished in that time! 

I'll be sharing more student blocks from the Green Thumb class in upcoming posts.  The flower fabrics and backgrounds are varied and beautiful!

I've heard several comments over the years that a hand pieced or hand appliqued quilt should ONLY be hand quilted.  Being a dyed-in-the-cotton hand quilting lover, of course, I would love to see every quilt done by hand.  BUT...I am a realist and I also mix techniques myself.  I learned to machine piece long before I did any hand piecing or applique.  But I did teach myself to hand quilt right at the beginning because I loved it so much.  

Someone a few weeks ago, in one of my hand piecing classes, asked if the top had to be set by hand because the blocks were hand pieced.  My answer:  Absolutely not!  (I thought the student was going to faint with relief!)  I purposely choose blocks for hand piecing that I would not want to sew by machine--with as many set-ins, tiny pieces, Y-seams, etc., as possible!  But I can more quickly and as accurately set those blocks with sashing, cornerstones and borders by machine.  Can people do it all by hand?  Yes.  Do I do everything by hand--rarely.  And let's be serious--with over 120 unfinished projects (over 65 basted for quilting), something has to give.  

Another option?  Machine quilt down long lines and around blocks to stabilize the quilt (after proper basting, of course)--you know, the in-the-ditch stuff that won't show.  Then hand quilt details!  A great resource for this?  A Modern Mix by Anita Shackelford (  And check out the chile pepper quilt on the back cover (and it's inside too!); that's mine!  I pieced the top and Anita machine quilted it with a chile pepper design in chile pepper colors!  

I still remember the first time I told a class that I had sent out a quilt for machine quilting.  A simple machine pieced checkerboard design that would be used hard.  I struggled with myself over the decision but decided machine quilting would be best in that case.  One of the students looked me right in the eye and said "That's unacceptable from you."  At first I was taken aback.  Then I put in perspective.  At that time (many years ago), I had probably hand quilted over 300 pieces from small to large.  So machine quilting one was certainly not going to throw my percentages off by even 1 percentage point.  I could live with that.  Of the over 500 finished quilts I've done to date, less than 20 are machine quilted.  I do admire the look of fine machine quilting.  It's an art form in its own right.  

Bottom line:  Do what makes you happy.  There is no wrong answer if you are happy with your choice.  Finished and usable--isn't that the real goal?

Geez, I was thinking this would be a short post--you probably needed that second cup of coffee to get through this!  Just food for thought.  Comments, anyone?


P.S.  This is a message for the naughty prankster currently out of the country.  You know who you are.  You owe Rose big time--she didn't get her homework for class done!  She said she wouldn't throw you into an active volcano over this...but there was a certain gleam in her eyes....


  1. Hey Sharon - hope you are not freezing!!! Weather here in CA is terrible too - rain - how dare it??
    I want to see a pic of the 65 basted quilts - - yippee!!

  2. I would like to see a pic of 120 UFO's! I am beating myself up over 20! But then again, I don't have 500 finished quilts! So, our percentages may be close. You go girl -- in whatever technique floats your boat! Everything you touch turns out beautiful.

    Terri H


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