Machine VS Hand Quilting

Making quilts have been here for so many years and quilters have been doing the quilting by hand, but as technology brings sewing machines with new features, quilters have found the way to create the most amazing designs on their quilts made with their domestic sewing machines at home, so let’s take a look to Machine VS Hand Quilting

What is A Quilt?

A quilt is a traditional way to make a cover with three layers of fabric, the top made simple with a piece of fabric big enough for the size of the quilt or made by piecing together many different pieces of fabric to reach the size of the quilt, the middle layer that is from batting, and the lower layer or the back of the quilt. The three layers should be sewn together to make a quilt.

Machine VS Hand Quilting, Which One Is Best?

Machine VS Hand Quilting - QuiltThe most important point to look at is if the quilting work compliments the piecing work. Each quilt is designed and worked with a purpose in mind, whether it is too just to be used to cover a person during a cold night or to add some designs and work as a piece to add some decorative touch to any room.

For some quilters it is important that the quilting work add some value to the quilt, this though was used for the hand quilting quilts, as you might know there are some rules to follow while working on the hand quilting.

  • Number of stitches per inch
  • How accurate the stitches are – Stitches should be same size or almost same size.
  • Quality of the stitching work
  • Quality of the materials

There was a time when every quilt was made by hand quilting, and there are quilts where the quilting work was made simple and done in short time, but there are some hand quilting quilts, where quilters worked on the hand quilting for weeks, months and even years to make of it a piece of art.

After having been working for a few years making quilts, I’ve seen how the quilt’s making has changed and how more and more quilters join the club to work on their quilts by making the quilting with their sewing machines.

One thing I can say, I love to see the great work they do on their quilts, being a hand quilting fan, doesn’t stop me to see the great work some quilters do with their sewing machines.

I must admit I’m still a fan of the hand quilting and I will continue to work on it, but I will try once more to do the quilting with my sewing machine, to try to get better results on it.

Today I want to share some of the difference of the hand quilting VS the quilting with your domestic sewing machine.

What Is Hand Quilting

Hand quilting is the traditional method to make a quilt, which consist on the top of the upper layer made by piecing different fabrics to create a patchwork design, the middle layer made with the battin fabric and the lower layer or the back of the quilt, which can be made with a one piece fabric large enough or it can be made by sewing on some pieces of fabric to be large enough as the quilt top or even larger.

Hand quilting has been made since the beginning of this sewing technique made mostly by women. It’s made by making small stitches from the top to the bottom of the three layers of fabrics to stitch them together.

Making a quilt with the hand quilting technique can take a quilter to finish a quilt a few days, weeks, months or even years, it will depend of the size of the quilt and the work the quilter put on the hand quilting.

There’s no doubt at all hand quilting has been the favorite quilting method for many quilters around the globe for years, and today many quilters are willing to keep working this way when they make their quilts.


  • It’s a traditional quilting technique and it adds that special touch to any quilt.
  • Less expensive – You don’t need a special sewing machine to work on it, hand quilting is still made with the same tools that the first quilters used: a quilting needle and thread, a pair of scissors and a thimble.
  • Artistic – Each quilter can add their own personal style at the time of work on the hand quilting making of every quilt a piece of art.


  • It’s not fast – It takes time to finish a quilt.
  • It requires motivation – When a quilter works on a big quilt, it requires to work on it almost every day and depending on the hand quilting work, it might look that you don’t do anything on the quilt for days, finishing a quilt can take weeks, months and even years to finish it.

Machine Quilting

More and more quilters are switching from hand quilting to machine quilting, and there are many reasons to do that, but the question here might be if a quilt made with this quilting technique is as valuable as one made with the hand quilting technique?

I must say it will depend on the work the quilter do, I have no doubt at all some quilters have done such a great work to their quilts that these quilters are a piece of art.

The machine quilting should be made to add value to each quilt, you can start making some easy design on a quilt as a start, but as you keep working on it, you’ll get more skilled and soon you’ll be creating some quilting designs of your own, making of your quilts a unique and beautiful quilts.


  • It’s faster – Working on the quilting with your sewing machine at home will help you to work to finish it faster.
  • More durable – No doubt at all that making the quilting on a quilt with your sewing machine will last longer and in better conditions.
  • Easier on different types of fabrics – When I work on a quilt made with denim or other thicker fabrics, I won’t use the hand quilting technique as I could hurt badly my hands and fingers, but when I thing about working with the sewing machine on a quilt made with thicker fabrics, I thing it will go good and I can finish that quilt in a couple of days!


  • Can be expensive – When you start working with your sewing machine on the machine quilting, you might notice soon that you need an upgraded machine with better features to work on it. I started to give it a try with my old sewing machine and I noticed I couldn’t get beautiful results as other quilters, today I got a second sewing machine with better features to work on my quilts, I’m happy to see how easy it is to work on it with a better sewing machine.
  • You can’t take your quilts with you when you travel or to quilting retreats.

You can read The Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting

Machine VS Hand Quilting – Closing Thoughts

Machine VS Hand Quilting - QuiltBoth quilting methods are here to help quilters to work on their quilts, both can be used to get amazing designs on your quilts, the decision whether to use the hand or machine quilting will be a personal decision, but you can get some help to know which method will be used on a particular quilt is by taking a look to the fabrics you use to make it and the time you need to spend on the quilting.

With this I can say, hand quilting when using soft and delicate fabrics like cotton or other similar and when you’re not in a hurry to finish that quilt.

Machine quilting will be the right method to use when you use thick fabrics to make the top and when you’re in a hurry to finish a quilt, as some quilts are made to give them as a gift to someone on a special date as Christmas, birthdays, weddings or graduations.

The most important point here is to know both quilting methods are here to help quilters to get amazing results on their quilting, both are good and both methods will help you to create your next piece of art!

1 thought on “Machine VS Hand Quilting”

  1. Hello! I love quilts and I love to sew. Personally, I have never made a quilt, but I have a few that my grandmother made for me. I remember she started out making them by hand and then switched to her sewing machine. Both turned out beautiful. I agree that the heavier fabrics would be easier done with a machine as that would be hard on the fingers. For the most part, when I am ready to start one, I think I will be using my sewing machine so I can finish it faster. Thank you for sharing this information and I look forward to future articles on this and will be looking for more pointers.

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