Why I love hand work and you could too!
Hand piecing, hand quilting and applique... for some, in the quilting world, when they hear those words it's like hearing 'lions and tigers and bears, oh my'. There's also the mindset of why would you do handwork when you have a perfectly good sewing machine... and I do have a perfectly awesome sewing machine that I do use... But hand work is my first love.
My craft blog over 15-20 years ago (gosh!) was all about crafting and then over the years my crafting has definitely become all about quilting. First up, I was introduced to hand piecing through Jen Kingwell at Amitie Textiles. There was a big Aussie blog meetup that Amitie were kind enough to host and seeing Jen's quilts and her style totally capture me. I signed up for Green Tea and Sweet Beans BOM and had NO IDEA what I was in for, but didn't care.
Green Tea had curved piecing, used templates AND applique. It was a baptism of fire and at times I was horribly frustrated, but determined to persevere.
Over the years I've completed online courses, watched videos, attended some classes and slowly improved my hand work skills. I'm constantly learning and honing my skills.
Why would you hand piece a quilt?
Well, like I said above I love hand work. BUT I also love the mindfulness of hand stitching. I'm in no rush. I love that some blocks just come together amazingly well with hand piecing. I love cutting out my patchwork pieces and marking seams by hand and then stitching away. I keep block boards handy and stack them up with blocks ready to go and stitch away. I also love that I'm not hidden away in my sewing room and can spend time with my partner whilst doing hand sewing.
I'm not anti-sewing machine by any means but my machine is not my first go-to when starting a project. And, for sure, being able to zip some patchwork together for a 'quick' quilted gift is an amazing thing to be able to do.
I think also hand piecing can give you great insight into how some blocks come together as well as the dreaded Y seam (or whyyyy seam!).
Yeah, yeah, applique CAN strike fear into some quilter's hearts and turn quilter's off, being intimated by the skills involved. But choose the method of applique that you love, fusible, needle turn, freezer paper, there are so many ways you can tackle applique.
My preferred method is needle turn. Did my applique look amazing at first, hell's no, it was pretty average but over time and with practice it has improved and I love doing applique now. It used to be something I dreaded and I didn't want to do fusible, I wanted to needle turn, so I stuck at it until I started to improve. Practice isn't about perfect, but about getting the result that you are happy with in the end. So next time you come across an applique pattern you like the look of, give it a crack! Do an online class, or class in person. Or learn one-on-one, however you like to learn and then practice, practice and yep, practice.
Disclaimer goes here...
To reiterate, I am NOT anti sewing machine when it comes to quilting, not at all and when I'm under a deadline, hand work is not always my friend and so the machine comes out. However, if I have the opportunity to sew by hand I'm there in a heartbeat. So give it a crack sometime, you might be surprised at just how much you enjoy it!