Do you like hand piecing? Are you interested but never gave it a try? I’m seeing more interest in it lately among quilters, especially on Instagram, so I am going to be doing a series of posts encompassing topics such as my current hand piecing projects, favorite blocks for hand piecing, using it for complicated piecing, different template methods, fun storage for projects, and why we are interested in slow stitching in such a fast paced world.
For the purpose of what I hope will become an ongoing discussion, I want to distinguish between “hand piecing” and “hand quilting” or “hand applique.” For this conversation I am referring to sewing together fabric pieces by hand to either create a quilt block or a quilt top using one piece over and over again. Below are two photos of projects I’m working on that illustrate what I mean. The top one is of 3″ Lemoyne Stars (quilt block) and the bottom one is a postage stamp top I am making by stitching together 1-1/2″ squares that will finish to 1″. That’s what I mean when I say hand piecing. It’s not a commentary on either hand quilting, which I define as joining the 3 layers of the quilts sandwich by hand, or hand applique, which is hand stitching motifs to the surface of a background fabric. They are just different things.
I love hand quilting. Remarkably, I find I am very productive doing things by hand and am even able to make more of certain kinds of blocks faster by hand than by machine. I think part of that reason and is I spend far more time away from my sewing machine than in front of it so the opportunity to make things without the machine is just greater. Makes sense, right? Now, I mentioned “certain” kinds of blocks. What I mean by that is, typically, one block quilts – like the squares – or blocks with repetitive pieces – like the stars – because you can cut efficiently.
I am going to start my discussion with the stars. Back in 2010 I discovered Lemoyne stars by hand and decided that I could do one a day and wind up with a whole bunch of stars. Well, it worked. But I didn’t do anything with the stars and others discovered stars and star-a-day and they actually made something of their stars. So, I got discouraged. But I kept making stars and I wound up with a whole bunch of stars. Makes even more sense, right?
I have a lot of these stars – the ones with a couple of fabrics for the diamonds and a neutral-ish background. Then I decided to put them into 9-patches so I made some of these:
As I said (twice already, probably), I love to piece by hand and it is super easy to pick up some scissors, thread and a few geometric pieces and start sewing. It satisfies the immediate need to relax, focus and do something that is pleasurable. Maybe it’s an indictment of my current life situation that I find the need to do it so often but I’ve accumulated a lot of hand pieced blocks. Now, I will start focusing on what I can do with them. But, I’m still going to keep doing that random piecing thing. It’s what I love to do.