Christa’s Soap Box – Why I Quilt My Own Quilts

I’ve come a long way since I began my quilting journey so many years ago. My style has changed over the years, but my passion has not. In fact, it’s gotten stronger, the more quilts that I make! I was recently reflecting about why I do what I do and what drives me to do it! A large part of my personal quilting style is that I choose to quilt my own quilts. The reasons for it have changed over the years, and I feel like I’ve come a long way since I began.

hst_textureWIP sneak peek #1 – gotta love all that texture! I used Aurifil 50 wt cotton – my favorite!

I first started off quilting my own quilts because I didn’t know any better. I just thought that’s what you did. Of course, my first couple of finished quilts were actually tied but I loved them just the same.

When I began quilting in earnest around 1994-95, most award winning quilts were still hand quilted and longarms were just coming onto the scene in a big way. I knew people who owned one and came so close to purchasing one. A friend was selling hers cheap and I thought about buying it. When I mentioned it to my mom, she agreed to loan me the money, but by the time I got back to my friend, she had already sold it to someone else.

hst_spiral_backWIP sneak peak #2 – I free-motion quilted the spiral with the help of a stencil.

So I just continued to quilt my quilts because that was my only option. I will admit that I did go through a period of quilt snobbery where I thought it was cheating if you didn’t quilt your own quilt. But then I was enlightened when I realized not everyone enjoyed that process. Just as I don’t like to sew clothing or accessories and will gladly pay someone for those services,Β  I’ve realized that many quilters are perfectly content to do the piecing while others are perfectly happy to just quilt. What a great match!

At one time I took orders for custom quilts and even gave professional quilting a try on my domestic machine, but that was really way too stressful. I am still a recovering perfectionist so I’m much happier to make mistakes on my own quilts rather than the quilts of others. Over the years I’ve tried longarm quilting, but it’s just not for me, and I’m totally cool with that.

hst_straightlinesWIP sneak peek #3. I enjoy quilting straight lines, and my machingers gloves are a must!

After making quite a few quilts in a short period of time last year, I finally realized that the reason I quilt my own quilts is for the sheer pleasure of it. Instead of feeling stressed and overwhelmed that I had to a tight deadline to meet, I enjoyed every minute of it!Β  In fact, I had a little bit of a letdown when I had finished my quilting obligations!


Wip sneak peek #4 –Β  the pieced back is as much fun as the front! The final reveal will be shown in a future issue of Make Modern magazine. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

For now, I will continue to enjoy the journey I’m on and share my methods with others if they want to learn. And if they decide it’s not their thing, at least they tried, right? (I can’t tell you how many things I have tried that are not for me… but that’s another post for another day!)

19 thoughts on “Christa’s Soap Box – Why I Quilt My Own Quilts

  1. Marlyn says:

    I make mostly art quilts and have always done all my own quilting using my domestic machine. I’ve never even considered sending my quilts to a LA person. I want my quilts to be totally made by me. I’ve played around with FMQ but like using my walking foot too. I’m slowly coming around to liking these modern quilts. I still don’t care for so much white in quilts as I tend to lean toward black instead. Medium gray (the new neutral) is growing on me, ever since my son wanted a duvet I pieced, to have medium gray in it. I so enjoy reading about what you do Christa, it’s encouraging!

  2. Gloria Borrero says:

    My quilt piecing began in 1997. For years I paid someone else to do the quilting. The finished quilts were all beautiful, but I felt like a cheater when I told anyone ‘I made the quilt’. I didn’t do it all, I just pieced it and sewed on the binding. Somewhere around 2005, my anniversary gift was a fairly inexpensive quilting frame. Loved it, but then Fibromyalgia got in the way, so I could not even set up my quilts on the frame. Then, for financial reasons, I had to learn how to quilt my own projects. I love that I can say “I made the quilt”! I’m am just learning, and I am very hard on myself, because I compare my FMQ to professional machine quilting. It’s taking a while for me to realize that this is not a fair comparison. When I feel as if my work is not perfect, I just look online at so many FMQs and realize that I have not seen a perfect one yet! Although finances forced me to quilt my own, the feeling of accomplishment is what makes me love to FMQ.

  3. Ashley says:

    That matchstick quilting in the squares is so inspiring! I love all these sneak peeks of it. I’m so glad you do quilt your own quilts, and that I found your blog early on! You have been such an inspiration for me as I learned to love the quilting stage πŸ™‚

  4. Dolores Good says:

    I envy your love of machine quilting I CAN’T SAY I DO but I do it because I hate to pay someone else and there is just something about doing my own so it feels like I made the quilt. If I don’t it doesn’t seem like I made my quilt since quilting is such a big part of the quilt. Does that make sense. Dolores Good

  5. Hedy Hahn says:

    I don’t enjoy the quilting part as much as the other parts of putting a quilt together. I make quite a few quilts and most of them are queen size so moving them around my machine was never fun for me. I finally decided to buy a long arm and now I like the process. I will never make feathers or do all that fancy stuff, that’s just not me. But I do like what I am doing and the quilts look great. And the quilt is done completely by me, that is very satisfying.

  6. adaisygarden says:

    I’m just a beginner, learning as I go from people like you… your tips and ideas are wonderful for those of us who really don’t know what we’re doing yet. I’ve been sewing for decades (made my daughter’s wedding dress), but quilting is different for me. I love the process of choosing fabrics, colors, patterns, and then piecing scraps of fabric to make a new “whole” piece. I love that first photo you posted! Even though it’s “just white”, the quilting you did on it is absolutely beautiful to me. Again, I feel inspired whenever I read your blog posts. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your wisdom and knowledge.

  7. Michele Timms says:

    I hand quilt my own quilts and would not even consider anyone else doing it for me or quilting on my sewing machine… I guess that I am fussy that way, but it is my pleasure and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I must say that I love the quilting on the first photo… the texture is beautiful!!

  8. Melissa Miller says:

    I do my own quilting. I like to do things from start to finish. This topic about quilting takes me to something I think about. Who/what is a quilter or quilting? There are those that make a quilt from start to finish. There are those that only piece and bind. There are those that do quilting. I think quilts that are made where one person pieces and binds and another quilts it are really collaborative efforts and both parties involved should be given credit. So often the quilter (typically a longarmer) is not given credit or the impression or assumption is that the one who did the piecing and binding also did the quilting, when they did not. These are things I ponder.

  9. Sue Laufer says:

    Christa, thank you for always being so candid & forthcoming. As I am at a crossroad in my “quilt” journey I found this post very helpful. Thank you.

  10. Laura @ Prairie Sewn Studios says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I quilt my own quilts too, although my biggest problem is finding the time to work on them. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to send them out to a longarmer just to have a finished quilt instead of a pile of flimsies sitting around.

  11. Karen says:

    Christa, I can’t wait to see what these teases are all about! I love your quilting–and all those different designs! I’m sure you have a way to go from one block to another without stopping–otherwise. . . ! I’ve only made one tablerunner so far–but the quilting was something I enjoyed–just some straight (sort of ) lines. I think I need to get some quilting gloves for the next one!

  12. Leanne Parsons says:

    I quilt my own quilts too. I think it’s a control thing for me. This is my quilt and I want to do everything myself. My skills are still developing, but I hope they always will be so I’m content with what I am capable of doing at the moment. I like looking back and seeing the progression of my skills in my quilts.

  13. Sandy says:

    I also quilt my own quilts. It began when I lived in a very small town with no professional quilters, and I hand quilted everything. When the grandchildren came along, though, I began machine quilting so as to get them their baby quilts before they hit college age. πŸ˜‰ Now I *love* machine quilting, from feathers to lines, to fillers, to whatever I’m in the mood for at the moment. I have sent out a couple of large quilts, since I have a problem with my back at times and couldn’t always manage the sheer weight of quilting a large quilt on a domestic machine. But I prefer to do my own and hope always to do so. πŸ™‚

  14. hosersblog says:

    Making quilts has taught me I have a very impatient side. A lot of piecing is just too daunting for me, so modern is the way to go in my case. I do the quilting because it makes it my creation and I don’t have to share the credit, so I guess I am a little selfish too. I am just now realizing my creative side has some personality flaws.

  15. treadlemusic says:

    The ability to complete the quilting process (from the idea inception to the binding) truly gives the satisfaction that it’s “your/my” quilt but not everyone, even if they have the desire, will have the ability/skill to do all those steps. I know that some of my clients come to me and express preferences on stitching motifs & thread colors, etc, (or at least what they do not want) and I most certainly oblige…….it is their quilt not mine(!)…..and I’m thrilled that they chose me to complete their vision (the “trust” factor is huge here!!!). The whole quilting process intrigues me….but especially the ‘quilting’ portion of the process!!! (BTW……my machine of choice is a sit-down mid-arm. There are many different manufacturers of such machines and are a good alternative for those who don’t have the space, $$$$ or desire to stand for hours moving a machine on a frame.).

  16. Martha P. Cook says:

    As you said, I love the texture and the look. It gives an ordinary quilt the wow factor. But it does use up a lot of thread.

  17. Quilt Musings says:

    I love quilting my own quilts. Quilting can make such an impact on the quilt that I would not want to give control of the process to anyone else, even though my own skills are limited. I would love to try out a long arm machine one day, but both cost and space are prohibitive at this point. Maybe one day!

  18. Mary Ann says:

    I like to quilt my own quilts too. I will be honest and say I can’t afford the longarmers plus I am tired of seeing feathers on everyone’s quilts. I love to do the straight line quilting also. Mine are in no way perfect but I enjoy the final outcome. What an accomplishment when I am done.

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