April 2016 Newsletter
In previous newsletters I have been writing about things of the past. In keeping with that theme I got to thinking about quilting; is it becoming a lost art, or perhaps it already is? My sister-in-law Mary, who is in the quilt business, says absolutely not, and as long as she’s alive she will keep the hand-quilting business alive and well. Mary, along with her daughters, has a team of hand stitchers working for her. She gets quilts from many different states, then delegates them to her team to be quilted. Sometimes Mary will finish piecing the tops together before sending them out to be quilted. Quite a few of the quilts she gets are older ones that were pieced by her client’s mothers or even grandmothers that just never got finished. What a blessing, to be able to have a quilt designed by previous generations that you now get to use and cherish and hand down to the next generations! I inherited all of my Grandma Arnold's quilt tops and patches from my mother and four aunts. It is quite the assortment. When grandma moved from the farm to town her health was failing, but being the hard working woman she had been all her life, she stayed busy making tops and quilt patches by hand. Some are a bit puckered and the seams don’t always line up nicely the way they do nowadays with the use of sewing machines, but I had them quilted just as they were, it makes them all the more unique. They might not mean much to other people, but I cherish every stitch, hand-sewn with love! I am passing them on to my son and grandchildren with the same thought, these are full of love and memories, cherish them! I don’t have the time to quilt anymore and I don’t mind paying someone else to do it for me. The time and talent that it requires makes it justifiable in my mind. I remember the first quilt I had someone quilt for me was by the ladies at the Walnut Creek Mennonite Church about 48 years ago. The going rate at that time was 20 cents a yard. And if you’re not sure what that means, it’s referring to the amount of thread that’s used for that quilt. Today, it can be 70 cents a yard, plus marking and binding. So, quilting a lost art? Mary doesn’t think so, but I talked to several ladies that still go to church sewings and they say it’s slowly dying out. There aren’t enough of the younger generation of women learning the craft and with so many working away from home there simply isn’t enough time to commit for such a project. I know of 5 different churches that have quit quilting for people because they can’t get enough people to show up.
So, what is taking the place of hand quilting? Machine quilting. Recently, at the local Mennonite Relief Sale, some of the machine quilted wall hangers and quilts went for a very good price. I talked to Ellen Lauvray who owns the Golden Thimble in Canal Lewisville near Coshocton, Ohio; and she feels that machine quilting is definitely taking over hand quilting. Her rate for machine quilting is 1 ½ cents per square inch. The average cost to have a queen size quilt done, 84 x 92, is $115.92, and she can usually finish it in one day versus 2 weeks or more if quilting by hand, and about $450 at 70 cents a yard. So with the cost and time it is a good way to go with today’s working women. I guess it comes down to your individual preference, speed and convenience versus carrying on the old traditions, you make the choice.