Posted on 16 Comments

Hand vs. Machine – There’s Room for Both

titleCardWe are approaching the third month in the Craftsy 2015 Block of the Month. This is a project I have been working on for almost a year. It has been exciting to see the level of enthusiasm and how prolific the students are. I developed the design to cover a wide variety of quilting techniques. These include both hand and machine piecing, foundation piecing, two different methods of applique, working with border prints, mitering corners and so much more. It has been interesting to hear some of the comments.

Craftsy block 1 (1)In the first month, I introduced hand piecing. Some were confused, thinking the quilt is made all by hand. We just hadn’t gotten to some of the machine techniques. Those who gave hand piecing a try, though, seemed pleasantly surprised. One student, Tracy, seemed so thrilled with her completed block that she posted this photo of it on my Facebook page with the note, “My first ever hand pieced block; this is going to be a great challenge. Thanks Jinny!” You’re welcome, Tracy. This is just the reaction a teacher loves to see.

The second month, some people were surprised that I was introducing machine techniques. Since I do all my piecing by hand, some wondered if I have “sold out” to the machine sewers.  No, no, no. Not to worry. I still hand piece and hand quilt all of my quilts. That does not mean that I can’t sew by machine. I learned to sew on my mother’s treadle machine when I was five. I have pieced by machine but find that it takes a block of time at home to do that. I never seem to have that time. I have time when I am in a doctor’s office, on a plane, in a hotel room, on a long car ride…..or watching a baseball game with my family.

Jinny piecing1I have always found handwork relaxing, and that is why I love quilting by hand. I think my very first quilt is still the one I enjoyed making the most and it was all by hand.

flower garden quiltPeople have also wondered about the durability of machine piecing versus hand piecing. I personally think hand piecing can be more durable. Machine stitching is very “tight”. If the quilt gets stretched it is possible for a stitch to break and then several stitches either side of the break unravel as well. Hand stitching is a “softer” line and the thread is less apt to break when the fabric is stretched. Just look at all of the hand pieced antique quilts around us which have survived a few generations of use.

But you know, where quilting is concerned there is no “this” or “that”, but what each individual wants or likes to do. It is still nice to be introduced to different techniques because you never know if you might find something new that you will enjoy!

If you have not signed up for this free program you can still do so. Just follow this link from our home page. You can access all of the past lessons and replay them whenever you want. New lessons will come at the beginning of each month.

First 3 blocks

16 thoughts on “Hand vs. Machine – There’s Room for Both

  1. Jinny, thank you so much for all you share with the quilting community. I have admired your work since my early quilting days. I do both hand and machine piecing and hand and machine quilting. For me, they both have a spot in my quilting toolbox. I am following your classes on Craftsy. Thank you again, Rebecca in TN

  2. Help, please. I printed all of the Shanandoah Baskets Blocks when it was offered as part of the “block of the month”. I seem to have missplaced the first two blocks’ templates. I have all the others. Is there any chance that you could provide those for me again? I only sew by machine as I have arthritis in my hands so I can cut out some of the pieces with the measurements provided. But, some of the fussy-cut templates are necessary for the border fabric layout. I joined Craftsy to follow Jinny’s instructions and am on your mailing list. Thank you for any asssistance.

    1. Please contact us at and we will see what we can do to help you get the templates you need. Thanks!

  3. Jinny,
    I have been hand piecing and hand quilting for over 30 years. I agree with you that hand made quilts are more sturdy. I am always working on several quilts at a time. The downside is that I only finish 3 or 4 quilts a year. I love all your fabric (and own a ton of it). I also have all your books and the quilters journal that you inscribed for me. I live in Seattle and wish I was closer to your store. Thank you for so many inspirations!
    Molly Brady

  4. I love hand piecing. Jinny’s hand quiltmaking class was fabulous, and I am enjoying the refresher with this videos. Thank you! (The quilt is spectacular!)

  5. Hi Jenny, I made a Grandmother’s Flower Garden all by hand and enjoyed it so much. And I could work on it any where I was, like you said. It is so relaxing to do and you never run out of bobbin thread and have to stop to rewind it. I’m never in a hurry when I’m quilting, I just seem to enjoy the process so much. Thank you for all you’ve done over the years in your beautiful designs, books and so many lesson you taught us all.


  6. Dear Jinny,
    I follow your lessons on craftsy. As I am from the Netherlands the online classes are a perfect solution. I also bought the kit at Craftsy. Just working with the colors and fabrics makes me happy.
    My biggest wish is ones meeting you and follow a lesson in person. A person needs to have wishes. Don’t they?
    Hope you will visit the Netherlands again. At that time I hope to have 2 quilts to show. This first quilt ever for me is the sunburst. Now I am working on the BOM. So don’t come this year, because they will not be finished yet. Hihi. All hand made both.
    Thank you for sharing the ins and outs of your techniques.
    Can’t wait for the March lesson.. ….
    Regards Ingrid

  7. Hooray! Someone else piecing on a plane! People sitting nearby don’t seem to mind at all (they don’t seem impressed either haha), and I’m usually left to my business. The flight passes very quickly! I prefer to piece and quilt by hand for the relaxation also. I love all of your posts and hints, and appreciate that you are inclusive of all methods. This is art, after all!

    1. cross country flights are a great place for hand work; it is too noisy to more than mundane work done and nobody from outside can interrupt! One year while I was travelling a lot I finished needlepoint seat covers for my dining room chairs; even the stewardesses check on each flight what progress I had made. sew on!

  8. Jenny I love your stripped prints.I have used them many times.
    I really would like to know where I can find some of the older colors .Can you help me with this?
    Sincerely, an avid van
    Deborah Barnes

  9. have loved making the Craftsy BOM quilt, but am desperately sort on time to finish before our upcoming quilt guild show; have pieced, appliqued, pressed, framed, trimmed, pressed….
    and am ready for final assembly. the setting is the same as Jinny’s garden except for the block size; have/will you adjust the width of the sashing as well as the length?? Have done similar setting and also framed multiple quilts including corsica with borders so am ready to proceed. please advise as to width of sashing and cornerstone pieces. Barb

    1. We are so glad to hear that you are enjoying the Craftsy BOM- we would love to see pictures once you are all done! Unfortunately the next lesson will not be available until October 1st, it is not the same as Jinny’s Garden.

      1. with overwhelming time constraints I sorted out the size black strips to trim thenarrow border and make the sashing and cornerstones, tested on scraps and proceeded; finished the wide border this morning and sat with my usual big grin at seeing all the lovely fabrics and pieces come together; will send a picture after it is pressed; I now may have time to finish quilting it is time for our show.

        loved the pattern and fabrics but do not like the constraints of block of the month.
        loved seeing your videos on my own schedule however. thanks for the lovely quilt Barb

  10. When there is ONE quilt in a show that is all hand pieced, appliqued, and hand quilted, they never seem to be in their own categories anymore, but hang alongside all the “industrial” created quilts. They seem like different species. Is this a national trend?

    I heard a judge say they don’t like the hand quilted quilts because they are puckery, and gave the award to the unwashed machine quilted competitor.
    You are encouraging to still be hand piecing and quilting – thank you, Jinny Beyer. And for all the books of info you have shared with us on museum quilts over the years.

  11. I’ve only just now found you, thanks to a Google search on hand- vs machine-piecing, but am so glad I did! I’m just starting my very first quilt and have wrestled with the idea of being confined to my sewing machine when I could be enjoying a movie with my husband on the couch. I was afraid hand-piecing might be less secure than the machine, but now know otherwise. Thank you so much for the advice… I plan to visit your blog often!

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