Thursday, July 7, 2011

Technology leaves us in the dust

Watching our youngest quilter at the women's shelter handle the longarm quilting machine, I felt officially old. She had no idea that she should be intimadated by the giant sewing machine. She had no idea that this machine was as foreign to most of her teachers as a Starbucks espresso machine. She had no idea that she should be scared.

When I first started quilting in the eighties, there were only a few options for finishing your quilt top. You hand quilted, you tied it or you sent it to the local church to be quilted. I chose that last option and paid $125 to have my son's top quilted. But I couldn't always afford to that, so I learned to hand quilt. Finishing a quilt that way was sloooowww. It would take months to finish.

After a few years, more and more quilters machine quilted their tops on their home sewing machines and soon that became the industry standard. I struggled to learn how to machine quilt.

Then longarm machines came out. They were expensive and enormous and only a few people could afford them. People set up businesses doing quilting for hire. Quilting by checkbook we called it. Those kind of longarmers are still going strong. Many new quilters don't even consider quilting their tops. They just send them out.

The longarm machines got cheaper and smaller and our program at the Women's Shelter could afford one. These new quilters have no idea of my historical struggle to finish quilts. For them, once they piece the top, they put it on the Tin Lizzie and within a session or two, the top is finished.

No angst.

Which just doesn't seem fair. It's not that I want them to have angst. Shaking my finger and telling them how easy they have it smacks of stories of walking to school in the snow (uphill both ways) or tales my Grandmother would tell me about chewing food for my mother when she was an infant. Not really relevant.

Of course we are surrounded by new technology that leaves our old ways behind. Does anyone remember turning the TV channel by hand? Or typing carbon copies? Or even carrying a CD player on your walk in order to have some tunes.

My Grandmother always told me that the good old days weren't so great. I agree, but is there an old fashioned technology that you wished was still around?


Linda O. Johnston said...

I am truly amazed at how technology keeps changing and upgrading so fast in so many ways, Terri!

Becky Levine said...

Okay, first thought, as I sit here with the cappucino I made in about 2 minutes on my INEXPENSIVE home machine: Nope. Don't miss the old ways. Of course, some people would say I'm still holding onto those old ways, by reading paper books and not having an e-reader.

I kind of miss my EZ-bake oven. Does that count? :)

Terri Thayer said...

Speed of light, Linda. Speed of light.

Terri Thayer said...


I loved mine, too, but I don't think you can have a homemade cappucino with a cake from your EZ Bake. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Betty Hechtman said...

I love cappuccinos. What kind of machine do you guys have?

I'm afraid technology hasn't come to crochet. It's still boils down to a hook and a hand.

Becky Levine said...

Betty, we got this DeLonghi and are very happy so far.

Monica Ferris said...

I thought for awhile about some old technology I wish was still around, but really, if it's good and fun, there are hobbiests doing it. Sometimes it's fun to think that some far distant day from now, there will be people joining clubs that re-create the twentieth century.

Terri Thayer said...

Betty, I guess you can't improve on crochet!

Monica, there's a movement now called Modern Quilting. Near as I can figure it's younger quilters who don't want to be associated with old ladies!

Sandy said...

I feel the same way about long arms. I have notice a lot of quilt shops are now renting their long-arms to their customers after a class. I prefer hand piecing and quilting over machines. I love the "quiet" process of seeing a quilt come together. I do use both. Sandy

Ellen said...

There's one old technology I miss: knobs. Controlling volume with pushbuttons simply isn't as intuitive.

Terri Thayer said...

Sandy, longarms seem to be cropping up in every local quilt shop. Taking up space! I guess they're good money makers. I will struggle along quilting tops on my machine. Or not quilting them at all, more likely!

Maybe knobs will make a comeback as a "retro" look, Ellen!