I was thrilled when Jennie asked me if I’d like to be a part of their Season by Hand series here at Clover & Violet (love that name by the way!). I love the projects and posts from Jennie and Clara and I was more than happy to participate. Thank you for asking me!
I really enjoy handwork and try to always have something that can be worked on away from the machine.
I keep EPP (English Paper Pieced) hexies and diamonds cut and ready to go.
But I have to say my favorite thing to do is hand piece traditional quilt blocks.
And it’s probably just the quilt nerd in me, but I LOVE the way hand pieced quilt blocks look from the back.
Here are the 2 quilts I have finished so far completely sewn by hand from start to finish. The top picture is the first one that I made. The bottom picture is my “pride and joy” as far as quilts go. If you read my blog you will have seen this one a time or twenty. I got interested in hand sewing for reasons sort of similar to Jennie. We were preparing to move and I knew I would be away from my machine and I also knew that I HAD to have some sewing readily available to me. I am so glad I prepared for this because it turns out that we were with out electric for 6 weeks total last summer. Hand piecing fit the bill perfectly. We won’t discuss the rest. I’ll just say that I am not the woman I thought I was and that I love hot running water! Hand work is such a slow enjoyable process. I love that I can look at the blocks in my quilts and remember the conversations that took place while making the blocks. It’s hard to conversate over a loud machine (note, I’m not sure if conversate is an actual word that little red scribble thingy is telling me it probably isn’t.). I also love how I feel more involved with my family when working on my hand projects as opposed to the ones made by machine. I don’t have to go hide away in my sewing area to hand sew. Not that I am opposed to running and hiding once in a while.
A simple and easy way to get started in hand piecing is to cut a bunch of squares, that are the same size, from your scraps or stash. Keep these in a cute container of some sort along with a small acrylic ruler, mechanical pencil, needle and thread. I like hand quilting thread. It’s stronger and I really want the hand projects I put so much time into to last. Now you will always have some hand piecing ready to go and before you know it you’ll have a quilt. I keep a wire basket full of 2.5 inch squares with a small acrylic ruler and mechanical pencil (for it’s sharp tip) together so that when the need to keep my hands busy arises I can whip up four patches or nine patches in a jiff. You may want to include a small pair of scissors and maybe even a thimble. I don’t use a thimble. Sometimes I use a band-aid. I don’t always use scissors. Sometimes I use my teeth. (Please don’t tell my mom…..or my kids). You can also include pins in your little kit. They are helpful, when seams get bulky, to hold everything in place.
My daughter loves to hand piece nine patches too. This is her pile of scrappy nine patch blocks. Aren’t they beautiful?! She wants to make her own quilt for her bed all by hand. Love that!!! I’m showing you these 1. because I am a proud mama and 2. because I often hear people say they don’t have the patience for hand sewing. I’m saying that if a 13 year old can do it, so can you!
So the basics are this.
1. Cut your pieces ahead of time for the blocks you want to make. Organize them into labeled sandwich bags if necessary, like for blocks that aren’t just squares.
2. On the wrong side of your fabric use a small acrylic ruler (see through) to mark 1/4 inch away from the edge of the fabric (seam allowance).
3. Knot one end of your thread, begin sewing with a very small running stitch along drawn line, end your sewing by sewing your last stitch 3 times. This is generally enough for hand piecing.
I hope you give hand piecing a try. It is really rewarding. Come by and visit my blog where I have tutorials for each 6 inch block in this quilt. As well as instructions for sashing, quilting and binding. Have fun and Happy Sewing!