Taking the Beauty Out of Quilting



A Silver Lining, the quilt pictured above, was a computer aided quilt.  Perhaps you’re asking ” What does that mean?”  For different quilts it could mean different things.  The main motifs of this project were created a while ago, so they were my own design.  I did, however, use the computer to stitch out those and then the rest was freehand.  Why do I bring this up?

Some people think that using a computer means just pressing a button and letting the machine take over.  In essence, the work done by the quilter isn’t as imperative.  Believe it or not some give my “Silver Lining” a raised eyebrow and the “OMG how beautiful” thoughts are immediately dismissed once the fact that this piece was created with the aid of a computer.   Seriously?  Is it really any less beautiful because it was computer aided? I think critics quickly overlook the fact that I spent hours determining where to place the designs or days doing the delicate hand beading that went into the binding.

I recall when the stitch regulators were new to the quilting arena, and we heard the same kerfuffle stuff about them.  Funny how they have since become the norm.  Some folks need to come to reality and realize that there definitely skill required when producing a computer aided design.

Now that I’m on a roll let’s take note of a few more “aides”.

The electronic cutting machines.  Should we consider that cheating, or less than when observing a quilt that has utilized that tool?  There is skill involved in cutting fabric.

Lastly how about the amazing embroidery machines?  I would love to see a show of hands of artists that willingly would love to go back to hand embroidery.  My hand will not be raised!

I would love for quilters to embrace ALL types of quilting.  Especially as we witness the craft of quilting moving into the future.  There is room for all of us, those that love traditional techniques of quilting, those that are comfortable with present tools, and machines and finally those whose minds are filled with curiosity as they experiment with ground breaking products.  No one should be judged for how they achieved their goals and success.  If the design is considered “OMG look how beautiful”, let’s just leave it at that…”OMG it’s beautiful”.




24 thoughts on “Taking the Beauty Out of Quilting

  1. I agree — this quilt (and machine embroidered quilts) are amazing! I just hope the people who operate quilt shows create separate categories for these items because those of us who don’t have that technology can never compete. That doesn’t diminish the effort that goes into creating machine-supported quilts.

  2. I think you are perfectly correct, that all aspects of quilting, whether by hand, by longarm, embroidery machine, or any other device that may be available in the future, is an art form, we should use all those that we have in our arsenal, and just dismiss off our shoulders those that might disagree. AND where would all us quilters be today if the ROTARY CUTTER had not been invented???

  3. Not to mention the hours spent in unpicking when the design isn’t exactly in the right spot and you can’t modify the design mid seam.

  4. There is nothing in life that technology has not enhanced, why should quilts be left out of the advances open to us? I love quilts of all venues, the traditional pieced, the modern – even when I don’t understand the message in it, the embroideries and all of these computer generated designs in a whole cloth quilt are awesome. To sit and hand quilt is more of a luxury every day, time is passing swiftly for all so enjoy the creativity – in ANY form we can produce it. Thank you Lisa Calle for such beautiful work and encouragement!!! We can strive to be “Little Lisa’s” in my book.

  5. Lisa, you forgot the big to-do when machine quilting was introduced…handquilters were staunch in their stand that they were NOT really proper quilts! I have a hand-guided machine but I have done quilting on a friend’s LA that had IQ…unlike you I did not create the designs I used (that is a whole different level of WOW), but I did spend 12 hours a day for 7 days placing each little design in place, stretching or squishing it to fit my triangles that were NEVER the same size!! Then I took the quilt home and spent another 100+ hours on the hand-guided quilting. They are totally different skill sets, from digitizing a design you created, using a computerized machine, hand-guided LA quilting, quilting with a DSM, hand quilting and hand sewing the “bling” into just the right place to enhance the overall beauty of the quilt. Only those who have not tried to quilt using a specific method will be critical of it…the rest of us who have tried them all recognize the skills required to successfully utilize each method and create a masterpiece like your Silver Lining.

  6. I sort of had to laugh at this. I have run into all kinds of opinions on this. I quilt old linens. I HATE piecing. I don’t think anyone quite knows what to think when they encounter a quilted linen. Is it a wholecloth? What is it? And some never recognize that it used to be something else. I have had my longarm for 10 years and I am not computerized. I just can’t afford it. But I sure look at your quilts and have so much admiration for them and the beauty they show. To me they are yummy!

  7. Just want to add…those who criticize Silver Lining do so only because they know they will never be able to create a quilt so lovely and they are JEALOUS!

  8. I actually had this discussion about one of your quilts at a show. The other person was certain that you just pressed a button and out it popped…so I spent three minutes explaining the process to her. Hopefully that helped her understand that it still really is artistry, just with dfferent tools.

  9. I have to agree with you I wish everyone would understand that a beautiful quilt such as your silver lining is incredible and especially for the skill involved in the technology you used. Plus computer aided design and quilting takes alot of time and planning and since I use both free motion quilting and computer aided design and quilting I can honestly say that it still takes a lot of time it, really does not do all the work for you, if only it were that simple.
    By the way your quilt is beautiful !!!

  10. OMG, that’s beautiful, and you’re commentary is beautiful too…like the person you are. Quilting is an expression of who YOU are, whoever you are !

  11. HI Lisa: loved the quilt and all the comments. I only have a hand guided long arm machine. I would love to computerize but it is costly. So, I do agree that there are skills in both phases in execution and there should be separate categories in quilt shows to reflect the same. A hand guided motif cannot compete with a computerized one…(almost!) lol thanks. L

  12. Thanks for your comments – I totally agree Lisa- I also sometimes hear oh you did not really do that it was done on a machine. Believe me the machine does not drive itself. Ha ha-Joanna

  13. You go Lisa. I have an idea of what you mean about the computer aided aspect because I do have an embroidery machine. I don’t care how you made it, it’s your design, your work, and it’s stunning!!

  14. You are correct in that using ‘tools’ to create often causes the audience to say ‘no fair’ or ‘not right’. But I think the biggest problem with using the new tools is that they are often judged alongside items utilizing the old tools or the nomenclature does not evolve as the tools are introduced, so it increases the confusion and unfair comparisons. I have witnessed equally horrendous machine piecing and hand piecing, and the same with quilting by hand or machine. I do think that ‘computer aided’ does remove the human from the equation by a much larger degree ‘of hands on quilting’, not much margin for human error. However, in any endeavor it takes a certain amount of personal pride to take the time to do it right with any tool!!!

  15. That is gorgeous!! and I know what you mean by just “pushing a button” .. I used to think that a little.. but now that I have had my computerized machine, it sometimes takes longer and certainly a lot of skill in “tweakng” the designs to fit where the perfect pieced squares etc are!! if you know what I mean.. there is NO perfect pieced quilt… I Love my machine and also like doing hand guided so a combination of both are a lot of work and skill!!

  16. I fired the quilt police a long time ago. I make what I want, quilt it how I want it, and enjoy it. If someone else likes it too then that’s a bonus. However – I do appreciate your blog and calling out the quilt police! Talent is talent, doesn’t matter what tool you use, it’s still your design and your art. It’s a big quilting world and there is room enough for everyone – from recycling fabric, quilt shop fabric, hand dyed fabric to cutting with scissors and cardboard templates, rotary cutting or laser cut and cutting machines to paperpiecing, applique, fusible, machine sewn seams to whatever else goes into making a quilt! Whew! Bottom line is enjoy what you do, don’t be critical of others and when something is beautiful say it is so instead of picking it apart (she didn’t match that point!) The sad part really is those so called quilt police are trying to bring others down to their level. Rise above my friend – continue soaring with the eagles!

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