The Art of Machine-quilted Quilts

Now, I must confess, I was a purist! I have always thought machine quilting was the easy way out and if you truly wanted to be a quilter, every stitch needed to be hand applied. Not anymore! Machine quilting is an art to its self! Last Saturday I went to the IMQA quilt show and expo (  ); there was not a quilt in this show that I would not gladly have called my own. I took lots of pictures, but I’m sorry that I did not take the time to note the names of the quilts of because I don’t feel I can share them without the quilter’s permission unless I find references online.

I went to this show with a purpose; I wanted to Janet Stone’s quilts. My friend Vicki had talked about these quilts and I knew I had seen another one once before (it was featured in a quilting magazine.) Vicki is Janet’s friend and has first hand knowledge about these quilts and so I was fun to have her tell me what she knew about them. The other people around us were happy to have Vicki there too; she was a one man insight into her friend’s quilts.

I probably would not have seen the alphabet in two of Janet’s quilts without Vicki. I would have seen the blocks in Red Letter Daze first probably missed the alphabet. This quilt was inspired by a cross stitch sampler which I thought was very interesting. See we can be inspiration to each other, no matter what our choice of media.

And “Nouveau Quattro Alfabetico” I might have recognized by the name but the first thing I saw were the design elements made by the letters before I saw the alphabet.

“Mutton But Letters” was just too cute for words. I could have stood and looked at this quilt forever and found something new every time.


You can read about Red Letter Daze and Janet here too:

I think I remember reading somewhere about quilts that a young girl was suppose to make 12 quilts (maybe it was just the tops)  and then when she got engaged the women of the community got together and helped her make a 13th wedding quilt. Well Janet has loftier ideals; she wants to complete 26 alphabet quilts. I think she should name one for each letter of the alphabet and produce a book…“A-Z of Quilts.”  I’ve seen 4 of the 8 she has completed and can hardly wait to see the rest.

Vicki and I walked every isle of the quilts displayed and they were all beautiful. I saw quilts that were traditional to modern, plain to embellished; everyone was lovely in its own right. I was amazed at the hand stitching used as embellishment on many of these quilts as well as the use of beads and other embellishments.

The special display of six hand painted pieces that were quilted to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of Domestic Abuse Intervention Program inDuluthMinnesota. These quilt piece were painted by Lee Zimmerman and quilted by Karen McTavish ( You really felt the impact of these pieces as you looked at them.   

Another display that I thought was interesting and I am mulling over in my mind how to adapt to needlework were the sunflowers. The Fabric Chicks fromDuluth,Minnesotadid a sunflower project that was “to think outside the box.” A group of four teamed up to make a quilt block of an appliquéd sunflower. The block was stitched, quilted and embellished but no binding. Then the block was cut into fourths and each member of the team stitched her four different blocks together and finished the piece into a wall hanging. There were three completed sets of four the four sunflowers, each different yet the common factors were the same. It reminded my of a friendship sampler…quilt style.

Visiting the quilt show was learning experience; I always thought machine quilting was done using one of those free arm or long-arm big quilting machines and to find out that some quilters use regular sewing machines (Janet included) about blew me away. I also thought machine quilting was pretty plain too, but were my eyes opened Saturday.  I remember a docent at the SpencerGalleryof Art at KU ( ) telling a tour one time that you should always look to the back of a quilt to see how well it is quilted. If from the back you can tell what the front subject looks like the quilter has done a good job. I found this true of many of these machine quilts. And the quilt that won best of show you could not only tell what the subject of the quilt was from the back but you could also tell the colors used on the front too. The back of the quilt was a study of color using thread and stitches. I found this reference online: The quilt that won Best of show: The magical Mermaid’s Castle ( ); Claudia Pfeil;KrefeldGermany. This quilt was an eye stopper! I could still be still standing there finding new things to look at.

I went to this quilt show to see Janet’s quilts but I came away with much more. It was truly a learning experience for me.  I no longer have pre-conceived ideas about machine quilting; it is truly an art form to itself. I walked up and down every isle of this show & expo and was completely blown away. Thank you Janet, Vicki and all the people at the IMQA quilt show and expo for teaching me a new appreciation of another form of needleart.

I hope everyone has time to stitch today no matter what media you choose! ttfn…sue

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