I have been puzzled about quilting …..

I don’t want to put the cat among the pigeons (as it were), but I must admit to having being puzzled for quite some time about quilting.  Not the actual art of quilting, I know that I am not a very accurate worker who has never really mastered the use of the rotary cutter, which means I have spent quite a lot of time searching online for hints and tips to help me improve my not very good techniques.

Even so, aware as I am of my quilting limitations, I would love some day, when I have enough time (not entirely certain when this is going to be), to make an English paper pieced hexagon quilt.  This dream quilt would contain all of my favourite fabrics, and many of the hexagons would be embroidered with English wildflowers and animals.  Hopefully this, my perfect make, won’t remain a dream forever as I know it would be a very slow, long-term project that I would really enjoy.

This brings me to my puzzlement about quilting, which is that almost every quilting tip I seem to see during my searching is about saving time, doing things quickly, easy to make, cut lots of pieces at once etc etc etc.  Why is this I wonder?

Although I love all kinds of sewing, my very-most favourite kind is hand embroidery.  And not just any hand embroidery, but the sort where I can consider the placement of each stitch carefully, taking plenty of time – it’s almost a meditative experience.  Indeed I’ve been known to delay finishing a piece (rather like the Sleepy Foxes above from this month’s Bustle & Sew Magazine) as I’m enjoying the stitching experience so much and am reluctant to admit that my project is finally complete. Of course there are times when you want or need a quick and easy project for various reasons, and it’s true that these can be, in their own way, just as much fun as the more complex designs.

My little Alpaca was completed in just an evening – but still huge fun to make!  Perhaps I’ve just been looking in the wrong places for quilting tips, but I remain puzzled about the emphasis I seem to see regarding speed in quilting – can anybody help enlighten me?


I found most quilts on the internet, people want to start and finish in a day. I have started my planned English paper piece quilt, which I planned in my mind with graduating shapes, It is now on paper and is working well, and I am enjoying the slow quilting, with embroidered hexagons, that I can work on in the evenings or when I have any spare time.

Julie xxxxxxxx


I’m also puzzled by the need for speed in quilting. Quilting is very Zen for me. I enjoy every step of the process and find it soothes me as much as meditation. I have attended quilting retreats where the other quilters talk about how many quilts they can make in a short time. I don’t know if you have watched any of the YouTube videos for the “jelly roll race” quilts, but it absolutely boggles my mind. I have seen people rush through making these quilts and the end result isn’t even appealing. I don’t make many quilts, but I enjoy the process as much as the finished product of every one I have made.
I have an embroidery machine that makes quick work of all kinds of patterns that are built-in or can be downloaded from the internet. Although I can use it to make all kinds of lovely things, I prefer to take needle in hand and quietly bond with my project.


I understand your confusion about the “hurry up” direction that quilting seems to be taking. I’m of the old school. I trace and cut each piece by hand, not rotary cutter. I don’t do any of those “more efficient” techniques where you sew things together and then recut and resew them. I do all my piecing and quilting by hand. I guess it’s not important to me to get more done. I just want to enjoy what I’m doing while I’m doing it. Of course I don’t get many quilts done, but I have lots of good memories of what was happening while I was making each one.


There is a place in the quilting world for ‘make it fast’ designs … but take a look at the Slow Stitching and Slow Quilting movements to see people enjoying the _process_ of making.

🙂 Linda


Making a quilt is already a very long term process. I appreciate any tips that can save time, especially things that are less enjoyable. I love to chain piece, for example. I like cutting more than one piece at a time. It’s not so I can finish in a day, it’s so I can get more than one quilt finished in a year, as I only have time one day a week. I still love hand piecing too. I can’t wait to see your glorious EPP quilt!

Glenna Denman

I agree with your puzzlement(Is that even a word?) There are some things I do more efficiently, but I enjoy the entire process. I do think much of what we are seeing is marketing ploy. Buy this kit, or that pre-fused kit, hurry, hurry, hurry so you can buy, buy, buy! That is part of the reason I did not renew my hurry-up quilt magazines and now subscribe to Quiltmania instead, which celebrates talented artisans and fine works that are not based on speed. Quilting is almost a meditation to me and I am in no hurry.


Thanks everyone for all your comments, I’m pleased I’m not alone in enjoying some slow stitching! I will definitely check out the recommended sites, and though my quilt is at present just a dream, perhaps one day I’ll be able to begin. xx


I agree totally, if I’m put in a deadline I tend to quit sewing because the joy has gone out of the project. Once I’ve missed my deadline I can pick it up again and proceed at my own pace. Sewing is my time of peace and inner reflection. I like to take time to enjoy all aspects of the process, sometimes it takes time to figure out what the quilt should become. Needless to say, I never follow a pattern completely, just use it as design inspiration. Sew at your own pace and enjoy.


People have so little time anymore, but want to make things, so they pick something they think they can finish. I think the quick/easy things are a good intro for newbies as well. Usually they have easier construction methods and simpler pieces.

I find I like both. Sometimes one needs a baby gift right NOW! Or you want to sew up charity quilts for a sew-in. Those just aren’t going to be heirlooms, and they need about 50 of them, so quick/easy it is.

On the flip side – I love applique, and art quilts, and embroidery, so I usually have a few long term projects going too. Sometimes though, after months of one thing, I just want to have something to snuggle under in a seasonal fabric, so I throw in a quick and easy.

All sewing is good sewing. 🙂


I have found that the pressure of “get it done quilting” can, not always, stem from being in a group setting, where Quilt Shows are a regular part of the gathering; where deadlines are critical and quantity is focused on to fill a venue.

Deadlines can also be imposed for Compassion Quilts, Quilts of Valour, New Years Baby Quilts etc. and before you know it, you find yourself rushing thru projects instead of taking the time to enjoy the process. I think it simply becomes a habit.

I originally started quilting because of the hand sewn/quilted aspect as I have always been a stitcher of some kind. I love the “take my time, yes I have 8 things on the go” strategy myself. That way I am never bored and always have a variety to pick up and work on for every given mood. There’s always something in some stage of “doneness” that fits a call for a quilt somewhere lol.


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