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Truly Hand-made Quilts

Updated on August 3, 2017

For the love of the old fashioned quilts!

Over the years I've dabbled in most types of art-forms from watercolor painting to pottery to silver-smithing. I'm the kind who has a project on the go for all occasions. While watching TV downstairs I'm just finishing a knitted sweater, upstairs in my work room beside the audio books shelf a crochet throw is only half done. But I find that none of my handy-work seems to be as versatile as quilting. You see, while traveling, you can hand-piece quilt patches by the dozens with only a spool of thread, a couple of needles, a thimble and a small pair of snips as equipment. The whole shah-bang fits into a small tote bag that even on a crowded train is not bulky and won't skewer anyone like my knitting needles could and have done. On my last two hour train trips to my daughters I started to hand-piece crazy quilt 8X8 patches for a queen size quilt that I'm naming symphony in blue. If the pieces are cut and pinned onto the background base the hand sewing goes really easy and fast. Once the squares are sewn you can then work on the embroidery along each seam. I like to only use one type of embroidery stitch per seam, per square.That makes for a nice variety on each quilt.




1)These blocks will be a full sized quilt, still needs embroidery (customer wants no beading)
1)These blocks will be a full sized quilt, still needs embroidery (customer wants no beading)
2)Still needs beading and embellishments
2)Still needs beading and embellishments
3)Almost finished, small evening clutch purse
3)Almost finished, small evening clutch purse

Let's get down to making an old-fashioned truly hand made quilt. To do that we need to determine what type of quilt we want to build. There are just so many patterns and methods.

Some quilters design and make their quilts the easy flowy way... Using their imagination to bring out free-form movement from pieces of flat fabric and sometimes let the texture of the fabric do most of the talking. Example: crazy quilting in three of the above pictures.

1) ... the blue crazy quilt is hand pieced from a big slew of fabrics that the customer collected from different occasions and phases in her life.

2) ... the crazy quilted close up in green is a table cover that the customer has asked to incorporate embroidered and crochet embellishments and ivory colored seed beads.

3) ... is an evening bag in a monochromatic black where all the individual chunks of fabrics have interesting texture. (that is by far my favorite way of crazy quilting)


4)This pattern is most commonly called Lone star design
4)This pattern is most commonly called Lone star design
5) Just look at how perfectly the points match up
5) Just look at how perfectly the points match up

Then there are the quilts that need to be accurate in their design, their cutting and their sewing...exact to the fraction of a millimeter to bring out their beauty.

You could call it an exact science.

Every piece has to fit in just so, one way, one position only. (sounds like a jigsaw puzzle doesn't it)

When making this type of quilt there is no room for playful disregard of the rules. Accuracy rules. Example:  Lone Star.

There is an exhibition in the planning every year at the end of May in Toronto, Ontario that only accepts 'One-of-a-kind-truly-hand-made-articles'. All items submitted have to be made using pre-machine methodology.

Quilts are always one of the heavier attended categories. Every year some of the top names in quilt-making are in attendance.

Some of the most amazing and breath taking quilts are always displayed at this show. I should correct this statement because I'm coming across as a biased to quilts person here... Everything is always exquisite at these shows from wood working, to weaving, to painting and naturally quilting etc.

some pictures compliments of sxc.hu 

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    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 5 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Elizabeth Roberts, unless you want to ship your quilt tops to me here in Canada to finish I really can't help you.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Elizabeth Roberts 5 years ago

      i need someone to finish my 3 quilts for my Grandsons ive already done the tops now i need them put together can u help or do u know someone in my area Hamilton Alabama that can

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      cindyvine, how are you? 'self-taughter-crafter' isn't that just a perfect word. I love it. Just a quick TRUE story here which would justify the 'self-laughter-crafter'. Many years ago I had a fantastic seamstress working for me at my tailor shop in my hometown. A Gentleman who had lost an arm in an accident brought in a brand new leather jacket. The stiffness of the new leather of the empty sleeve bothered him so he asked if it could be removed and the armhole closed. Could it be done within a couple of hours because they were from out of town and had to catch their train to go home. I'm sure you can guess what happened. The wife handed the jacket to my friend holding one of the sleeves... Yvonne thought nothing more of it but started pulling out the sleeve right away telling the couple to come back in an hour, it would be done by then.

      Yup, it was the wrong sleeve... The gentleman was a really good sport and just laughed. Having to reverse the procedure quickly because of the time limitation Yvonne didn't have a moment to fall apart and be upset in. Once the works was fixed and the couple sent off with still a few minutes to spare that's when the tears came. She was an experienced sewer of decades. This silly oversight could have been disastrous. Yvonne will never live this one down, not in a million years. She is the first to laugh about it now and when the word 'self-laughter-crafter' could come into play really well.

      hope you're well

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      MotherHubber, I just had a friend stay over for three weeks from California and we decided to do the "pilgrimage" up north to our home town. We took the scenic route along lake Erie that usually takes about 8.5hours driving time. Well with us stopping at every quilt, craft, fabric and pottery place it took us two days. I bought about 12 meters of super fantastic fabrics that I can hardly wait to work with. I'm telling you this long litany because I want you to realize that the bug will never leave so you might as well sit back and enjoy the ride while you're stitching.

      I have many great sewing hubs in the works hope they will be of some use to you.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 7 years ago from Cape Town

      Motherhubber, I am getting old! I first read your comment as a self-laughter crafter and was wondering what the hell that was. On re-reading it, I saw that it is actually self-taughter crafter. My eyes are definitely going fast!

    • MotherHubber profile image

      MotherHubber 7 years ago from Southern California

      So happy I stumbled upon this series of hubs! I am a self-taughter crafter, and pretty new to sewing (only been at it a couple of years). I just tested positive for "The Quilting Bug" that you mentioned earlier. I am totally afflicted. Fabric has become an obsession, and I love the whole process. I will be coming back to your articles time and again in the future. Thanks!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      brsmom so glad you came for a visit. I firmly believe that quilting is a sickness, a sickness from which I hope I never recover. I've owned and operated tailor-shops for more then 30 years and raised my three children as a single parent, so I can vouch that sewing and handy-work of any type is not an easy way to make a living.

      Thanks you for taking a look and for commenting

      regards Zsuzsy

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I love quilting! I have made several quilts for friends and family, and have sold some of my creations as well. I also machine quilted tops made by other people. I have many UFO's (UnFinished Objects) around as well...with full intentions of finishing every one of them. Some are hand sewn, others are being done by machine. It seems there isn't enough time to do them all either. I am trying to work for a living, but would be quite happy staying home and sewing all day...if only it would pay the bills.

      Your quilts are very nice, and I have enjoyed reading your other hubs as well...you are a very talented person. Good luck with your writing, quilting, cooking, sewing, crocheting, etc.!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Clara thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Clara Ghomes profile image

      Clara Ghomes 8 years ago

      Really beautiful work it is! Thanks for sharing :-)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Rich! Glad you came by. Quilting is a time consuming hobby but sooooo much fun and well worth the effort as far as I'm concerned.

      Thanks for taking a look and for commenting

      regards Zsuzsy

    • richsim profile image

      richsim 8 years ago

      Gosh, I had no idea that quilting could be so creative and, to my eyes, painstakingly involved. Your Hubs are so interesting and the number of thm you have created is awesome. Congratulations, Zsuzsy Bee. Your fan, Richard Rich Simpson, newbie Hubber.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Sally, how are you? A full size quilt does take a bit of time. But have you heard of miniature quilt? They can be used as wall hangings or you can make a table runner... I always suggested to my student to start with a smaller project because the feeling of accomplishment usually is enough to get the quilting bug to grab on good. Maybe a smaller project is the right way for you too. And please write about all of your quilts, I'll be looking for them.

      Always glad when you come over for a visit, kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Your Hub brought back memories for me too, Zsuzsy. My grandmother taught me how to quilt by hand starting when I was about 6 or 7. She also gave me quilts that her grandmother had made, and I have them carefully stored away.

      Somehow, although I love hand-stitching, I never mastered the patience to complete a bed-sized quilt. And so, I collected quilts, tried my hand at small pieces (also never finished), and what I've come up with is that I love the art of quilting, but it's not for me to do.

      My daughter went to school in West Virginia, a state that is a keeper of traditional home arts. A local museum there sponsored a quilting bee society. Once or twice a year, the ladies of the bee would complete a fabulous hand-stitched quilt and put it up for auction to benefit the museum. I was lucky to meet some of the ladies and hear about their art. They used only locally woven fabrics, needles made in the colonial methods, and antique quilting frames from the area.

      At the local Apple Butter festival there one year, my daughter and I went to a quilt show in the Baptist church and bought a small, beautifully made sampler. To make the exchange of quilt for money, we had to go outside the church and into the street, since the exchange of money is forbidden in the church.

      I remember all these things with great warmth, and feel sorry about my inability to carry on the tradition given to me by my grandmother and my wonderful experiences in West Virginia. Quilting just wasn't for me to do, although it is for me to admire.

      I so admire your ability and your dedication to this time-honored art. You inspire me to write about the quilts in my life. I think I will.

      Happy New Year, Zsuzsy.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Sinnersystem.com! Thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • sinnersystems.com profile image

      sinnersystems.com 8 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This Hub sure brings back some old memories Zuzsy. As a youth I didn't hang out much with the kids my own age, I was drawn by my quest for wisdom, to the elders around me. One of the things I would do is go to an elderly womens home, (I called her Aunt Bee) and she and others would spend the day making hand made quilts. I could sense the love that went in to each cut and each stitch as their old withering hands moved this way and that. Each work was a piece of art that could not be copied by another. Later in life I learned that Aunt Bee and the others had never sold a single quilt that they had labored so hard on, they were giving them all away. They gave these quilts to family, friends, close neighbors and the less fortunate, who no doubt knew no love until one of these hand made quilts full of these womens love came their way. Memories...........

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      CGull! Thanks for taking a look. And yes I was invited to be at the exhibition and I hope I will be able to make many picture which I then can share here in a hub.

      Kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Zsuzsy, wow that's nice you have so many talents. They look awesome, I hope you participate in the exhibition. Thanks.

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 8 years ago from London UK

      Thanks you!

      Greetings 2u2 from from far off cold London.

      :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Compu-Smart! I agree with you. Hand made only looks good if made well. Thanks for taking a look. I hope you're having good holidays too.

      Greeting to you from far off cold Canada.

      Kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 8 years ago from London UK

      I dont know what it is, but there is something really special with anything that's been hand made!,,,, unless there not good at making, then a machine will have to do! :D

      Happy Holidays ZsuzsyBee:)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Lissie! Just think of how fantastic you'll feel when the quilt is done. It will be filled with pure memories, how lovely to hold on to.

      Always glad when you pop in for a quick visit.

      Seasons greetings to you and your pal Zsuzsy

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 8 years ago from New Zealand

      I have a historic handsewn quilt - I have been making it for around 40 years! Its handpieced hexagons and the fabric was from my mother's and later mine sewing. I only have one side of 1/2 hexagons to go - maybe I'll finish it before it turns 50 !

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Voltsrage! Thanks for taking a look and for commenting. Unfortunately it seems my best work always has gone for customers and I haven't been able to keep them for myself. regards Zsuzsy

    • voltsrage profile image

      voltsrage 8 years ago

      Ah Zsuzsy you have excellent handywork, a job well done. Your quilts are truly awesome.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      You're on! My place is dry, too! Well... except for a little cabernet sauvignon. Enough to for a few of good pasta sauces... that's it.

      Sigh!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Unfortunatelly my house is dry at the moment. Friends were over a couple of days ago and we cleared up all the partial bottles. You know "housecleaning" the bar. It's good to get rid of bottles that only have a couple of ounces in them and start with a new set. ( The Zombies we mixed were nothing short of gross. Let's put it this way we have not found a new specialty drink amongst the twelve of us. What we did find though was a few headaches.)

      Irish is on the shopping list, so come by next week and we'll have a latte or two then.zs

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Yes BUT, it is near Christmas and everybody knows they are not "Gremlin-ish" (just made that up!) during the holidays... Except for Saint Paddy's Day, the little bastards can't hold their Irish whiskey!

      Besides, if you've got a good bottle stashed I'm going to have to insist on some for the awesome latte I just made...

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      C.W. well who else can I blame? I forgot to go to the liquor store last time I was in town. Those "cute little darlins" as you call them have nothing better to do them play havoc... if you don't believe me, their actions are well documented in the movie called 'Gremlins' mind you the hubgremlins are more sophisticated and much more computer savvy.zs

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Zsuzsy, it's not nice to blame boozing it up at a Christmas party on those sweet, innocent Hub Gremlins.  The poor misunderstood darlings... ;-)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Storyteller as far as I'm concerned art is art. It really doesn't matter how you put your talents to use. If it's painting, drawing, quilting or creating beautiful photogaphs for books it's all artistic expression.

      Glad you had a chance to visit regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      This is so weird that there are two trains of comments going... the hub-gremlins must have been boozing it up... probably having their Christmas party

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Story, it's all a creative form of art. Your are indeed a bonafide artiste. I've always been into photography... or ANYTHING artistic, for that matter. When looking at (or listening to, or reading) the art, one can see much of the artiste.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Hey Zsuzsy! I love your quilts and admire them from afar, sadly. I have the desire to have made a quilt but not to do the work involved in actually MAKING one, haha. We have this quilt museum in Golden, Colorado that has monthly displays of unique themed quilts, from modern art quilts like the one you have above, to historic quilts like slave code quilts- which are disputed in this book, Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts & SlaverY: : 9 Projects, 20 Blocks, First-person Accounts, by Barbara Brackman. I admire anyone who takes time to play with color in fabric. Me, I play with color in photographs patched together with copy in my self published books, lol!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      foodstarage! Thanks for taking a look and for commenting. Some times a full sized quilt can feel everwhelming so I always suggest to my students to start off with a small project and by the time that that is finished, lo-and behold the quilting bug had time to really sink its teeth in. From then on in it will be more a problem to get the quilter away from the quilt then the other way around.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • foodstorage profile image

      foodstorage 8 years ago from Utah

      Your quilts are AMAZING! That is one skill I definitely haven't mastered yet :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      something weird happened here there is an extra comment capsule...Oh well better two then none I guess.

    • mdvaldosta profile image

      Joe 8 years ago from Valdosta, GA

      Reminds me of the quilt m grandma made me as a kid, I still have it around somewhere. Memories...

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 8 years ago from America

      I quilt also and go to classes but I never seem to get anything finished. Love your quilts..Went on a quilt outing in July with 10 ladies it was fun. Stayed the week-end in an old farmhouse.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 8 years ago from West By God

      I have just made the squares in quiltting. I am making a quilt for my daughter's newborn son. I am still in the process of devising it. I wanted to make quares, but then again I would like to make it a scene of a sailboat on the ocean. I am hand-embroidering his birth information and name on his quilt. This wil be the first time that I make a quilt with a scene and am kind of overwhelemd at starting it. I am making it from all the pieces that I have left over from all the flannel and non-flannel ctrib sheets and bassinette cover that I made for her at her babyshower.

    • NYLady profile image

      NYLady 8 years ago from White Plains, NY

      I learned a lot from this hub! Wish I could make a quilt. Maybe someday...I do collect them, though, and love having them on all the beds in my house. Happy holidays!

    • sukkran profile image

      Mohideen Basha 8 years ago from TRICHY, TAMIL NADU, INDIA.

      what a beautiful art works. zuzsy you are great.

      sukkran

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 8 years ago from Hell, MI

      You certainly are possessed of many talents, Zuzsy! I love your crafty spirit!