A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
MY OPINION….. others might have a different opinion.
I was told I was wrong about how cross stitched quilts are supposed to be made…. because the directions on the package say to do the stitching first. My grandmother Bessie Jewell Hill (1888-1978) taught me to make cross stitched quilts when I was about 6 years old. She might have been right about how they were made OR she might have been just teaching me in the only way she knew to do it. Here’s how I came up my idea on how cross stitched quilts should be made.
I thought that originally crossed stitched quilts were a way of teaching young children to both embroidery and quilt at the same time. A sort of quilt sampler using cross stitching; which is the simplest embroidery. We didn’t use fancy floss, we used crochet thread, yarn, or butcher string. I remember other young girls my age doing these quilts too. We made them for our dolls. I also remember doing cross stitched designs (chalk or pencil drawn) on family utility quilts. Our quilt frame hung from the ceiling. A grown up would draw a line design which we stitched. Sometimes it was a fill in design and sometimes it was just lines. We did quilting with decorative stitching for our special occasion quilts. (like you see on crazy quilts) On our regular utility quilts we did simple running stitches and cross stitching more often than decorative. All our quilts were done by first layering the quilt before stitching started. I can’t remember a single quilt my grandmother made that was made from brand new fabrics. My grandmother would have thought that way too frivolous. She would be horrified at how much fabric is sold exclusively for quilts these days. Even the backs of our quilts were made from old sheets or other scraps. Hmm… sheets were made from thin unbleached muslin in our home. When these sheets became so thin the rips and tears could no longer be repaired, these sheets became patched up quilt backings.
I never learned to do the tiny, almost invisible, hand stitches you see on quilts today. I was taught with thick threads, on utility quilts, which didn’t give me much practice for tiny stitching. If you look at the quilts from back during the turn of the century (1900) you will see very few quilts with perfect almost invisible stitching. Or at least the ones I’ve been close enough to see. I’ve not studied any museum quilts so I don’t know about those.
Well, that’s how I learned to do cross stitched quilts. After thinking about it; I don’t think there really is a right or wrong way. We each make quilts in our own style. From now on I won’t say any cross stitched quilts are done wrong.
Here’s something to think about……
Have you ever read the directions for a quilt pattern in a magazine or book and found them to be all wrong? Imagine someone 50 or 100 years from now trying to follow the directions of some magazine or book with the wrong directions. Now imagine someone in the far future trying to follow a quilt pattern written wrong and without any pictures to go by either.
Isn’t that what we do today? We try to make quilts designed back in the days when there were no written directions or pictures. (50 or 100 years ago) We make them in whatever way has been passed down to us or come up with our own directions. Right? So who is wrong… our ancestors or us?