Tradition… We all know that quilts traditionally were made by hand. Hand-piecing and hand-quilting, our great-grandmothers labored over every stitch. Though we enjoy the speed and convenience of our sewing machines, those are luxuries our predecessors could barely imagine.
In truth, quilts have been pieced by machine as long as sewing machines have been available to home sewers. With Isaac Singer’s 1851 patent of a lock-stitch machine with presser foot, horizontal feed, and a treadle, sewing machines became useful at home. They became affordable with innovative purchase options such as payment plans and use of trade-ins.
(Singer is not the only inventor who contributed to early machine development. See the wiki entry on history of machines. If you care at all about quilting history, you’ll find it fascinating.)
Besides piecing, machine-quilting has a long history.