Quilters and Machine Embroiderers - Their Common Threads

Savannah's QuiltI've been invited to Blog about quilting for ATG. I’ve used LaRueSews as a nickname because I do all kinds of sewing. But maybe sometime it will change or morph into something more "quilty."*
My name is LaRue Jones. (LaRue is spelled with a big "R"). I was born in Idaho. I have been watching and learning to quilt since I was a child. My mother and my aunts made quilts on a homemade frame of skinny boards held together at the corners with C-clamps. The frame was propped on the backs of chairs, as is the custom out west. Many quilters sit at the sides and work their way to the middle. Quilts were put together, layered and attached to the frame with thumb tacks. I have since learned that it’s done other ways, as in the South, the quilt frame is hung from the ceiling and can be raised on pulleys to get the frame out of the way when not in use.

My mother and I made my first quilt shortly after I was married. Being one of the last of many grandchildren, my grandmother was no longer able to make quilts as she had for all the older grandchildren. I guess I felt left out with no wedding quilt. We attacked a simple pattern, the bow-tie, as I remember, and sewed the scrap pieces together in my first little apartment kitchen. My aunts helped us quilt it. The backing fabric was new yardage but we used an old polyester pillow for the batting. Inside, the pillow, the filling was rolled up like a quilt bat. It was cheap, but it worked.

I still have this quilt which been altered, covering the badly worn, pieced top with printed cotton flannel. Rather than hand quilting it again, I tied* the quilt to make it a great quilt to just throw anywhere, use as a padding under a sleeping bag, or just wrap up in.  It's really warm!

I made three quilts before my first daughter was born. Two of them were hand applique’, and the other was a "cheater" quilt* top that I machine quilted. I made several more quilts in the coming years. One of them was a challenge to my mother-1000 Year Quiltin-law and her sister to prove that you could indeed make a "handmade" quilt on the sewing machine. It was, however, hand quilted. I began quilting in earnest in the 1990's. I have made many. Some were simple and some more complicated, including my daughter’s wedding quilts (two of them) and one for each of my six grand children. My current project is an intricate applique’ quilt that I have been working at for more than six years. I finally finished the top and began the quilting this past winter. I called it my "1,000 year quilt" when I first started it.

This quilt you see on the right is unfinished.  I will finish quilting it and attach a dark blue binding.

Since I'm new to Machine Embroidery, I thought I'd spend a bit of time drawing some parallels between quilters and machine embroiders. Many of our tools are the same or similar. We love beautiful things. We are all givers, i.e. making and giving beautiful things as gifts, and sharing ideas. We all use fabrics. To me, one of the most interesting things is that so many fabric designs are repeated again and again in embroidery designs. While surfing through ME designs, I see motifs that I recognize from fabrics in my own stash or those I’ve seen in quilt shops. That’s really cool to me because I see the beautiful things I’ve always loved, and lots more that are new to me and "I wanna try ‘em out for myself." Surely there are many other things. Last, but definitely not least, we love to share, the things we've made, the things we collect, such as patterns and designs, and ourselves and our friends. One thing I often hear is, "Oh, my Grandma, (Nana, Gram, or aunt) makes quilts. They are so beautiful. Maybe she’ll give me one someday," or "I have some of her quilts and I love them." Embroidered items, made today, are tomorrow’s heirlooms, just as yesterday’s quilts are the heirlooms we cherish today. The two crafts are natural partners.

We Quilters and ME’s love to share the things we've made. How fun it is to go to a place where other "stitchers" gather such as a Quilt Guild, a Quilting Bee, a fabric shop, a sewing group, an MR’s group (what's that called?) or any other place where sewing lovers gather. We love any place where someone else will admire the beautiful things we've created.

What greater joy is there for a Grandmother, than to see a bright-eyed child cuddle up in a hand made quilt or a throw with an embroidered design. How fun for a Mom to see a pretty little girl twirl in the Flip Flop Quiltmachine-embroidered new dress created by her very own Mommy. Also, I think of a daughter presenting a handmade, personalized photo album to her parents, created in stitchery for their 50th anniversary. I think of the warm glow she feels as she watches them admire the old photos she has secretly reproduced. We all experience similar feelings of warmth and love as we remember these tender moments we experience because of the craft that lays at our fingertips.

I remember when my first Granddaughter (now age 17) proudly proclaimed "My Grandma made it" whenever she was complimented on the new dress she wore. Then, the Flip Flop wall hanging I made for her 13th birthday. My other five grandchildren also love anything that "Grandma made". One of the sweetest moments was giving my newly adopted granddaughter a special little-girl quilt that I made just for her. As I laid with her on the floor, she touched the bright fabrics and said "For ME?" (I cry easily, but that was a topper). It’s great to feel the love that shines in their faces when a gift is presented and later, the feeling returns when they send the hand scrawled "thank you" note.

In further blogs, I'd like to share my thoughts on topics such as fabric selection and preparation, quilting tools, rotary cutting, machine piecing, etc. There's a load of subjects to delve into. Can any of you suggest a subject for me to address? Let me hear from you!

Stitches to you,




Definitions according to LaRue:

"quilty" slang for anything quilt related.

"cheater quilt" is a preprinted quilt pattern that can be quilted or just used as fabric.

"tied quilt" usually a utility or quick quilt that has the layers tied together with yarn or string instead of hand quilting.

Comments (19) -

What great stories!  You have made them so personal and alive for me.

I have no ideas on quilting but love the fact you mentioned that they are 'natural partners.'  What a great and accurate thought.

That jargon is all news to me.  I guess I never was around quilters enough to learn what they meant.  Thanks for that info.  I will bet there are more terms to come.

Great new blog!


oliveprocyshyn 7/19/2008 3:33:10 PM

May I just say how much I enjoyed reading all that you have written.  As you know it is more blessed to give than to receive and that is so true when we make our quilts for others.

Keep up the good work.

Olive (U.K)


Your blog just sent me back in time! I'm also the daughter (& granddaugher) of a die-hard quilter! Mom always had a quilt in the frame in the dining room. Dad & I rarely saw the dining room table since is was hidden under the quilt that was stretched on the frame, filling the room!

There was no internet to share designs & patterns when mom was quilting. We would go to church quilt bingo's. I played her bingo cards while she sketched the quilt pattern! When we returned home, I would cut the patterns from cardboard for her. A week later the quilt would be in the frame and her friends would be gathered around it, quilting & gossiping untill late in the evening!

Mom taught me to hand embroider when I was about 7-8 yrs old. We started with cross-stitch on gingham. The squares of the gingham helped make  the X's perfect. Most of her quilts included embroidered quilt blocks.

I could go on & on about mom & her sewing / quilting. One of my sisters used to quilt, the other is not "crafty" at all. I, on the other hand, am so much like mom! I rarely have idle hands and love to look at fabrics & imagine what I can make! Funny how siblings can be so different.

My most precious possessions are 2 quilts.....1 was hand pieced by my grandmother & hand quilted by my mother.  The 2nd quilt , the top was one of the last that mom pieced together & marked before she died suddenly. My sister hand quilted it for me as my wedding gift.

Quilting & embroidery definitely go hand-in-hand.  I'm new to the machine aspect of it, but love to see how it all comes together! I look forward to more of your blogs as you continue to educate us on the quilting side of "sewing".


beckeagle89 7/19/2008 5:08:41 PM

I am a quilter and I mostly make things for my 6 grandkids and now on my great nieces and nephews.  Words can not express how I feel when I am making them something that comes from the heart even if you know it has its flaws and what nots. But a quilt never has flaws so I am told!! I am now working on a machine applique frog quilt for my soon to be great newphew.  I am not totally satisfied with it, but my family assures me that the mom, will love it. So I will give it to them after all. I love your stories, keep them coming please.  It is so nice to talk to another quilter. Although I profess to be a want to be quilter for I do everything machine and turn things to make more since to myself.  take care

I loved your article on quilting and the similiarities of embroidery and quilting.  My anunt sewed and quilted all her life into her 80's.  I am blessed to have 3 quilts from her - she was also my sewing inspiration. I started sewing on a treadle machine when was 9 years old and  love to sew for my children and  11 grands and hope to make them some quilts.  Look forward to more or your  blogs on quilting. Pickypeg - July 19, 2008

I love this blog. Your stories make it enjoyable. I'm an old quilter and a new embroiderier with a new machine to boot. I'm excited and jumping in with both feet. I will definitely visit your blog often.

To all of you, too many to name here. ALREADY!  Thank you for your kind words.  It's been fun thinking of things to tell you.  I thought it was a neat idea to try to bring the quilting and ME communities together this way.  I'm glad I can help.

Pat, glad you liked the "jargon".  Maybe you could add some ME jargon to your Blog to educate me as well as some of us new and old ME's who haven't heard them before.


I was just thinking the other day I needed to write you -it's been ages,  And now I can read your blog!  Lov ed your stories about quilting and growing up with quilters.  Same here. And I see we both are now doing ME as well!  Love your 1000 yr quilt-have given up on that one.  Will write more to you off the blog.

Diana in TX

travelbug1237 7/20/2008 12:20:28 AM

HH LaRue & WELCOME to Ann's site as a blogger!!!

You have ALREADY added so much by sharing your stories.

I just LOVE your 1,000 year quilt. The blues are SO beautiful!!!

 I'm so glad you decided to join the team!


Cathy in Oregon

Actually, I have changed the name of my 1,000 quilt.  Since it has turned out so well, I called it "Indigo Sunset".  It may still take me a hundred years to finish the quilting.

I'm happy to see that many are enjoying my words.


What a beautiful name, Indigo Sunset for a beautiful quilt.  The name actually beckons the viewer to look at it more closely.  


Thank you, Pat for that comment.

Maybe I should have said why I called the quilt "Indigo Sunset".  If it's not obvious to the viewer, it is Indigo for the blue shades, many of which are Indigo.  Sunset is for the shades of yellow in the background, behind the urns and pots.  I never counted, but there are many different yellows from very light to dark yellow and gold.

Color in quilts is one of the biggest problems for new quilters.  It is difficult to find confidence in your choice of color.  It can be a disaster in the finished quilts if the color choices are not carefully planned.  I'm still not confident about color, mostly, it's just what makes me feel good.


I have knitted, sewed and crocheted (Mostly Irish lace work) and made bobbin lace for most of my life, I'm quite new to ME and newer still to quilts, What a pleasure they are to make.

I now have 5 quilts under my belt with 2 more promised, but nothing gave me greater pleasure than the reaction of my grandchildren when they received their quilts from me.

I cry easily too.



I have quilted for years.  I remember when I first married,

my mother-in-law helped me to put the quilts in old frames.

I make mostly, wallhangings and lap quilts.  I, am currently

learning to machine quilt.  It is not as easy as it looks, getting

hands to do as they are suppose to.  I made, both my girls

quilts from their father`s shirts.  I, also made small quilts

from Mom`s clothes.  Memories, Memories(remember

when they wore this and that).

More next time,

Hi Mom!

Great Blog!!  Keep up the good work!



Great job on your first post, LaRue! Lots of heartfelt comments - you've obviously made an impression. Your daughter is clearly impressed that her Mom is in the blogosphere - I'll bet your grandkids will be too!

jalcumbrack 7/22/2008 7:24:53 AM

Welcome LaRue!

I have been a bit out of touch with the site lately,I have been busy with the Central Florida Group,and some other events,so wanted to take this time now and welcome you to the ATG site! I will be watching the blog myself,being a quilter from back a few years myself,I can see so many similarities with the direction we have taken in our lives. I made my first quilt,with Grandma's help at age 9.That was it,I was hooked!

Again Welcome,I am very much looking forward to more.

I too just love doing quilts.  I am on my 6th one now and have learned a lot.  I do ME and then machine quilt, usually in the ditch.

I have been very interested in the Cotton Theory of quilting and think this would be wonderful for embroidery projects.

I have uploaded a couple of quilts that I made for my GGreatson and GNeice to the photo section.

Hope you like them.


Marge-I did see those in the 'Media' area.  They are so lovely.  I know these will become keepsakes which will allow your love to live on and on.


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