I want to make this very clear: I am no Luddite. I do believe that technology is good, and I do use technology. But, I must admit that I am overwhelmed to see a lot of machine-made things described as handmade. It’s like a gourmet cookbook filled with recipes made from box mixes.
Don’t get me wrong, machine-designed quilts are intricate, amazing things. (The idea is as much the art as the art is.) Machine knitted sweaters are just as nice as ones knitted with needles. And, digital photographs are a blessing. (What would my blog be without them?)
But, things made with a machine are not truly hand-made. I know this because most of my quilts are a combination of machine piecing and hand finishing. The difference is in the variety, the skill, and the time.
Certainly there are some truly incredible pieces made with quilting, sewing, and serging machines. Just check out Pinterest. And, machines do allow you to be so much more productive. They also allow you to go from idea to final creation so quickly. Idea, program, piece, zip through machine, and…perfect creation!
Perfection seems to elude those of us hand sewing. (Or, maybe it just eludes me!) It takes years of practice and, well, repetition. Each stitch is unique, because each stitch is an entirely new thing all its own. Not so with a machine. Each stitch is new, but the machine is calibrated so that each stitch is exactly the same. No variation.
This whipstitch triptych shows the difference. All done by hand. Now, on a machine I could have whipped these three 3″ x 5″ pieces out in a few minutes. And, they would have looked perfect. But, by hand, they took hours, and they do not look anything near perfect.
The time involved was essentially a meditation, something that would have eluded me if I’d done them with a machine. The same stitch, over and over again, hundreds of times. Back and then up. Back and then up again. Back and them up once more.
Like the man who walked through Russia, repeating the name of God again and again. After all of this repetition, he finally saw God. After all of this repetition, I finally saw the beauty of a truly handmade thing.
I’m not sure what got me thinking they would be fun, but they were.
Of course, tomorrow, my machine-envy will likely throw me back to a project with my sewing machine.
For now, I just need to find a frame that will allow me to display the front and the back of each piece, so their very imperfection will be apparent to everyone who sees them. I plan on displaying them sometimes from the front, and sometimes from the back.
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