Quilting By Machine Compared to Traditional Hand Quilting


When it comes down to it, quilting by machine or by traditional hand methods is up to you. For some, it might be a lack of sewing machine knowledge and training so you start out by hand.

For others, it might be the demand for size or speed that causes you to lean toward the machine.

However you find yourself quilting, let us provide you with some working knowledge regarding traditional quilting compared to machine quilting.

Size of Your Quilt

What size of quilting are you aiming for? This will determine whether you’re up for hand quilting the traditional way or machine quilting.

For many quilters, a 50” x 50” quilt is often the max size for quilting by hand. More than 50” and it’s too much time and effort. You can certainly go beyond that size, but think about how much you’re giving to that one quilt and whether you’re sacrificing starting another quilt.

So as you plan for your next quilt, remember that your size will likely dictate your quilting method—traditional or machine.

The Use of Your Quilt

The reality is a traditional handmade quilt will be more delicate than a machine quilt. Knowing that, you need to consider how your quilt will be used and how often you’re likely to wash it.

If your quilt is going on a guest bed and will only be used every so often, then a quilt by hand will likely hold up well over time. However, if your quilt is going to be on a bed that is used often or somewhere else in your home where it will be used, then you need to quilt it with a sewing machine.

Using a sewing machine will make the quilt more durable for regular use and regular washes.

So how do you plan to use your quilt?

Types of Fabrics You Select for Your Quilt

You guessed it...some fabrics are much harder to work with by traditional hand quilting. For instance, silks are slippery and batiks are tough on the fingers.

So which type of fabric are you using for your quilt?

If you’re looking for something easier to work with by hand, then pick up some cotton fabrics. You can find plenty of cotton fabric in a variety of blends, colors, and patterns. The choices are nearly endless.

Just make sure to select similar fabrics for your quilt and purchase enough fabric so you don’t run out during the process.  

Types of Quilting Patterns You Want

When it comes down to patterns, your sewing machine will always win in this category. A machine can do more than your hand on a quilt. So if you’re wanting complex patterns and designs, then jump to the sewing machine.

If your quilt is going to be more simple, then you can choose either traditional by hand or the sewing machine. That’s your call, and it typically comes down to which process you want to take for your quilt.

Which Quilting Process Do You Want?

Quilting by hand is certainly slower and more methodical. If you want to slow down and really enjoy the process of quilting, then we recommend quilting by hand. Of course, only if you have the time. But we recommend it because it is a wonderful way to relax and unwind while letting your hands do some work.

If you’re needing to get a quilt made soon for a specific use, then go ahead and hop on the sewing machine and quilt one out. There are techniques and designs available to you on a machine that you can’t achieve by hand. So if you’re wanting a quilt quicker or with more detail, then the machine is right for you.

Like everything in life, it’s all about the process. So when you think about your next quilt think about the process you want.

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Looking for more quilting tips? Take a moment to explore our 17 quilting tips for beginners blog post to learn more. 

Or if you're looking to know which quilting tools to purchase, take a second to read our 12 essential quilting tools blog post