Friday, September 20, 2013

Human Hands

Do you ever wonder about why you like certain kind of quilts?

We all know we can not make every quilt that inspires us. There are certain ones that always catch our attention more than the others.

I am still reminiscing my trip to the Brooklyn Museum. Thinking about the quilts and also the exhibit of Egyptian artifacts.

I may have been in a quilting state of mind then and was 'seeing' things. 

This almost 10-12 feet tall carving of a King in the Garden on the wall looked impressive.

But then I got a little closer...

Even more amazing, right? Doesn't it look like hand stitching on a quilt? Like an overall running stitch pattern of quilts from India.

This is neither a kantha quilt as it's widely misrepresented nor a Ralli quilt. I am sure it is a leftover or rejected sample of an export order. I bought this one while I was in Rajasthan last year. Love the colors and all those stitches!

Back of that quilt is so muted, it was a surprise to me. But then how would these stitches show if it was as bright as the front? Do you see those with minds of their own going every which way?

Notice the edge of the quilt? It has no batting and it's finished with some sort of blanket stitch.

I like hand work on a quilt. Whether it is an applique or hand quilting, hand stitching for embelishing the quilt or just for fun. More time I spend on a piece, more of my life lives in it.

I saw this applique quilt at the museum and was immediately drawn to it.

These beautiful blocks with birds alone were enough to take me back home!

I stood there and smiled thinking - With mismatched corners and not so 'perfect' applique, in the eyes of today's judges this quilt may not even make it in top 10. Yet, it's in the museum! Teaching us history!

Human hands - That's what's important to me when I see a quilt. Slight imperfect and mismatched seams here and there, a trace of distracted mind in those uneven stitches and worn look of being loved to threads. I  have come to admire that in a quilt. No matter what style, colors or age they are.. They all have some personal stories behind them. 

I took pictures of  four different blocks with the circles in the center.

Each one has it's own personality!

No templates, no pre-cut plastic circles when it was made. Just two hands, a needle and thread! May be few friends by her side and lots of laughter!

I like that!

Something to think about, right?

What do you like in a quilt and why?


  1. This was such an interesting read, thank you! I'm with you: I love the texture of the history of the maker's hands in a quilt, which is why I love hand sewing so much, I think you really lose that with machine quilted quilts.

    By the way , that "some kind of blanket stitch" is herringbone stitch - you see it a lot as embellishment on crazy quilts :)


  2. Thanks Stephie,
    Now I know! Thanks for clearing about the blanket stitch. I should learn all the embroidery stitches some day. My mom used to embroider a lot. I found that process very tedious then but times have changed and in many ways I have become my mom!

  3. I have to agree--I like the look of "handmade"--my Grand'mere used to say that the old quilters used to make a mistake on purpose as---only God is perfect! Interesting, huh? I love the kantha-like stitching and am going to use it on my totally hand sewn Wonder Woman Woven Wall quilt now sitting on my dining room table ready to be basted--hopefully I'll get it done before our Thanksgiving Dinner (ROTFLOL)!! Hugs, Julierose

  4. Thank you for the thoughtful post. What always draws me to a quilt initially is the color. When I look closer, the evidence of the human hand, with all it's imperfections, always delights me. Without that, I lose interest quickly.

  5. I'm like Nifty, colour always gets my attention. Imperfections add so much character and interest to a quilt. I do admire quilters who can achieve perfect points and complicated designs. It's as though those 'accurate' quilts impress my brain but more down to earth quilts, with all their human touches, warm my heart and speak to my soul. I've wondered what is the difference between a Kantha Quilt and a Rali Quilt?

  6. You are so perceptive, Sujata. There is such thoughtful and intuitive expression in your writing. Thank you for sharing such a lovely and inspiring post. My favorite quote of the day from you, "more time I spend on a piece, more of my life lives in it." That is so true.

  7. You are so wonderful at putting your thoughts into words, Sujata! It is a great pleasure to read your post. I am so glad you are getting into the swing.
    Seeing these little quirks in quilts really brings a smile and they add lot of charm to the quilt too. Beautiful hand stitches in your Indian quilts! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Those first couple of pics are of Assyrian work, not Egyptian. The writing is cunieform, not heiroglyphics. I LOVE this stuff. I used to go visit it all the time in the Louvre - one of my favorite places to be. That is a great quilt - looks more folky and chunky, that's why i like it better than some of those fussy album quilts. looks like a great museum to visit.

  9. LOVE this post . . . I am drawn to quilts by their (in no particular order) texture, color, and overall design (not subject matter, more like composition). If things are too flat and too perfect, I tend to glance but not study. Age and condition intrigue me as well . . . how has it survived and what stories could it tell. (In other words, I relate first on an emotional level and then later, perhaps, more academically)

  10. Yes, I agree this is an interesting article. I love to make quilts from "True scraps, without a pattern or any plan" the quilt talks to it maker I believe.

  11. ..."More time I spend on a piece, more of my life lives in it"....Such a poignant fact. Quilting teaches us so much. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Aiswarya,
      If anything quilting has definitely taught me patience and perseverance. Thank you for stopping by.

  12. This post makes me feel better about my imperfect stitching! Thank you and take care, Byrd

    1. I only follow one rule when it comes to quilting. I change what I dislike and ignore what I can live with. It makes it so simple. Thanks for visiting today.

  13. Interesting post! You know I like variation in piecing, applieque and quilting. I really like a quilt to look MADE.
    I also really appreciate quirky designs.
    The stitching on that piece is unreal - great texture.

  14. Wonderful post! I am always inspired by museum visits. Human creativity knows no limits of time, place, or medium!

  15. I love how you look behind first impressions to read the story of each quilt, giving it so much more meaning and personality, for this is what matters most. If precision was the only measure of value, all quilts would be machine made in factories and have no personality.

  16. I love the colours of the Rajasthani quilt. The clothing of traditional Rajasthani women is amazing - I visited Rajasthan briefly over 20 years ago.


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