Are Quilting and Embroidery Mutually Exclusive?

I love quilting and embroidery. Ok, and serging, and Sashiko stitching and… the list goes on! Anything that I can put a needle and thread through or into is probably going to make it on to my favorites list at some point, you’ve got a true sewing geek over here!

Sometimes, my multi faceted creative style causes little confusions or conflicts. For example, I will not hand stitch a binding on a quilt. I did it once when I made a quilt for my Grandmother for Christmas; I wasn’t quite done with the quilt when I left for her house, so I figured hand stitching the binding would make the quilt extra special and give me something to do on the airplane and during down time. Boy, was I wrong! By the time I finished that binding I was So. Over. It. My stitches were nearly an inch apart! Just kidding, they weren’t, but the beginning of the binding definitely looked a little better than the end.

Here is where the conflict comes in… I host two quilting shows; one, Love of Quilting, runs a bit on the traditional side and many of our viewers feel a hand binding is the only suitable way to finish a quilt. I have nothing but the utmost respect for our craft. I respect the heck out of our hand stitching sisters in quilting! However, it is not for me. I can honestly say I tried and, for that reason, I sleep just fine at night. My feeling is this: With all of the beautiful decorative stitches on our machines and fun threads out there, why would I want to hide my binding stitches? Why not use it as a decorative element? To those of you who say, “It’s just not right.” Or, “Machine stitched bindings are cheating!” Here is my one question response… Do you still wash your clothes on a wash board? I’m guessing no… Using new technology and techniques in creative ways is not cheating, I like to call it innovation, and it is also the form of creativity that I “specialize” in. That said, I know a quilt with a machine binding isn’t going to take home the prize in Paducah, but I make functional quilts to be used and love. If you are a hand stitcher, let’s still be quilting friends!

I recently completed a quilt that I used the IQ Designer in my Baby Lock Destiny 2 to create filled in embroidery designs as the blocks. When I say recently, let me clarify… I finished the quilt top several months ago, but it didn’t get quilted until a couple of weeks ago. Everyone in my quilt shop was afraid to quilt this quilt – it is embroidered, after all! How do we quilt around the embroideries and still have enough quilting to keep the layers together? My buddy Denise Schober, who quilts many of my quilts, said to quilt right over the embroideries with a thread the same color as the background. This sounded crazy to some of the ladies in the shop, but one of the gals finally did it and the quilt looks incredible! When you look close up, you see the quilting but it doesn’t take away from the embroidery, from afar, all you see is the texture. The embroideries are stitched with a new thread from Madeira called Frosted Matte. It has a matte finish and is super fine so you really see the definition of the embroidery designs. This thread also has a ceramic core, literally, the core of the thread is ceramic – how cool is that? It’s super durable, holds up to high speed embroidery and is even color fast so perfect for outdoor pillows and signs. You should give it a try!

So quilting and machine embroidery came together just like quilting and deco stitches are a wonderful combination. Nothing makes me happier than finding creative and innovative ways to combine the specialty features of my sewing machines. I love all types of sewing, I don’t stick to one genre and I encourage all of you to step outside of your box and try a new technique from time to time. I love that Denise challenged us to try a new quilting concept. In the end, the pay off was huge! If it hadn’t been, it’s ok. Sometimes a project gets sacrificed in the sake of learning new things. It’s all a part of the process. What new thing have you tried lately?


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