If you’re new to hand piecing but not new to quilting you may have never considered making your patchwork by hand or consider making patchwork by hand as a crazy endeavour!
Before sewing machines were invented (in the 1830’s!) how do you think vintage quilts were created… by hand.
Would you like to try hand piecing?
Put your details below and you’ll be emailed the Wheely Fun quilt block pdf. The pdf includes the block, templates and instructions on how to piece the block together, including the seam setting for the block so you have nice, flat blocks. There’s also a colouring sheet a coloured mockup so you can make your own Wheely Fun quilt. Get scrappy, dig out as many prints as you can and have fun!
By putting your details below you’ll receive the PDF and you’ll also sign up to my Scrappy Digest. The Scrappy Digest is sent out fairly irregularly and you can unsubscribe at any time. It’s a fun quilty digest.
Why hand piece?
Well, I have a few reasons for hand piecing patchwork. The biggest one is the freedom you have. Yes freedom. Partial seams, Y seams and curved seams are a breeze when you’re hand piecing. I also don’t love spending a lot of time at a sewing machine. I love my sewing machine, I just don’t want to spend hours at her. I’d rather stitch by hand.
Stitching by hand will give you nice flat blocks. By not sewing into the seam allowance when piecing by hand your seams and seam intersections can be swivelled to sit nice and flat.
There’s also the process of making A WHOLE QUILT TOP by hand. Yes, it’s satisfying. It’s not always the fastest, no, but that can also depend on the blocks you’re piecing and how organised you are.
Did you know hand piecing is social?
What do I mean by that? Well I can sit with my partner in the evenings and on weekends and stitch away, giving Netflix and chill a whole other meaning… If I’m on a quilt deadline I can take a block or two with me and stitch if I’m going to be waiting somewhere. All I need are my block pieces, needle and thread.
I will often hand piece all the blocks for a quilt and then machine piece the quilt top together. I’ll also attach quilt binding by machine and then flip it over and hand stitch it down.
Preparation is key, get organised baby!
Firstly print the templates and make sure you print them at 100% and check the 1” measurement once you’ve printed them, you can then trace them on to template plastic. Some quilts have with laser cut acrylic templates available, the templates you see me using in the videos below I've had printed on to heavy board and laminate for some test blocks. You want a template that will keep its shape when you’re tracing it over and over. So when making your templates consider this.
The biggest thing I’ve learnt with hand piecing quilt blocks is preparation is key. Once I’ve chosen my fabrics, I'll always grab more fabrics than I think I'll need from my stash and then I'll work out which prints are going with which blocks (I’m a scrappy quilter so the more prints the better) and then I’ll get to tracing all the pattern pieces on the relevant fabrics and adding seam allowances. For the WHOLE quilt. Well, wait. I often make a test block. Making sure I’m happy with how the block is coming together and looking and then I get to getting all my bits organised together. Pattern, templates, tools and fabric etc!
Marking seam allowances, what are you talking about?
Well as I’m not sewing by machine and sewing by hand I need to have my seam allowance marked on to my fabrics. Some quilters can eyeball a quarter inch seam and not mark, I am not one of them! I also prefer to use quilt templates that don’t have seam allowances as I like to trace the shape as accurately as possible and then add the seam allowances.
How do you add seam allowances to curved seams?
If tracing an acrylic template that has the seam allowance included then I’ll trace the shape, mark any seam points and then using the template markings add the 1/4” seam allowances. To add curved seams, find the opposite template to your curved seam and you’ll be able to use that to trace your allowance, probably in two halves.
If tracing a template without seam allowance I’ll use a small seam wheel to add the seam.
Below are some short how-to video's on the basics of hand piecing patchwork. I have captioned these videos, I'm an Aussie that speak's fast and even though I did try to slow down my speech, it will probably be difficult to catch some of my articulation, so captions should be helpful.
If you have any questions about hand piecing your patchwork and quilts, drop me a comment below. I truly love making quilts by hand and yes I have more than one WIP on the go... don't we all?!
EDIT: I have a post about tools I love and use. LINK