Thursday, June 4, 2015

Quilt National 7 -- hand stitching

Another "trend" that was quite apparent at Quilt National has been building for a while, the spectacular use of hand stitching, both as quilting and as design.

I'll start with the winner of the Lynn Goodwin Borgman Award for Surface Design.  This award has always gone to some fabulous dye job, and I was a little taken aback to find it given this year to a quilt where almost the entire design was made by hand stitching.  But after some thought I decided that stitching can be surface design too (I guess...).

Barbara Watler, Red Sun at Night (detail below)

The red sun is a piece of fabric laid over the background fabric, under the stitching; everything else is perle cotton!  I particularly liked the not-immediately-apparent motif of the three sails and the water reflecting the sunset: simple and elegant.

Olga Norris, Crowded (detail below)

Tiny hand quilting stitches outline the printed figures and add texture to a loosely sketched motif.

Susann Heymann, One Way or Another  (detail below)

Quilting stitches in different sizes add design lines as well as texture.

Helen Geglio, Femoral Fracture: A Fall (detail below)

This started with a pair of pants, taken apart, then embellished with dense hand embroidery.

Judy Langille, Nocturnus IV (detail below)

A change from the screenprinted quilts that Langille made for many years, this one is a fabric collage in which tiny white french knots hold the layers together.  I love the minimalism -- even the knots are small and unassuming instead of fat and assertive.

Rosalie Dace, Here and Now (detail below)

Probably the most exuberant and spontaneous hand stitching was done by one of the jurors; Dace's quilt features a wild variety of stitches and threads holding down and enhancing her pieced and appliqued fabrics,  It made me want to jump around and dance!


  1. I personally love the hand stitching as it adds an intimacy to a piece. Several times while I walked around opening weekend of Quilt National I overhead people comment something like "Thank goodness we are moving away from all that dense machine quilting". I heard these comments more than once and I wished I had asked them why they did not care for dense quilting. The comments were made with significant negativity attached that it really took me aback. Dense quilting can be very effective on the right piece.

  2. Thank you for providing the visual journey of Quilt National! I've always been a hand stitcher, favoring beading as my favorite it was interesting to hear your take on this years quilts. I esp. love your candid commentary and agree with you so very much on most subjects!

  3. Thank you for sharing these pieces. The handwork is amazing.

  4. I am having a resurgence of hand stitching so these are timely. The Dace piece reminds me of my current STAT quilt showing now. In a larger version and of course in QN of course! Still relatable. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

  5. There are so many facets to surface design! It makes me happy to see the appreciation for the hand stitching. The more variety in technique the better in the quilt world.

  6. Glad to see this! And this is a wonderful journey for those of us who can't get to these far off events so thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. Wonderful pieces, thanks for sharing!