Hand piecing - encouragement/advice needed

lola99May 24, 2011

IâÂÂm going to try hand piecing and IâÂÂm a little nervous! I need a take-along project for lots of travel this summer and I decided to try the wheel of mystery/winding ways pattern. I really like how it looks and I figure if IâÂÂm going to go to the effort of hand piecing, I would like to do something that has curves.

I have my pattern drawn on paper, and tonight or tomorrow IâÂÂm going to make my templates. I was going to ask you all about whether you make your templates on the sewing line or include the seam allowance. Then I found this old post about hand piecing and I see petalpatsyâÂÂs post (4th one down) that I should make the template including the seam allowance. It makes sense to me that would allow me to cut more fabric at once, but the idea of not having a line to sew on makes me really nervous.

I think I need to just relax, and go for it. IâÂÂm sure it will not be perfect, or even close to perfect, but I suppose this is how I will learn. If you have any additional tips, please let me know!



Here is a link that might be useful: hand piecing post from 2009

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I just did a small (4") 8 point star block with set in corners & sides. I tried it on the machine and it really came out a mess. So then I did it hand-pieced. With that one, I marked on the seam and then cut approximately 1/4 inch around it. That worked VERY well, because I could put a pin through the seam exactly on the points and knew where to start & stop. If I'd marked the outside including seam allowance, I'd have lost my reference points.

Once I did that, I found I really enjoyed it, rather than having a "tear my hair out" experience. I never would have thought I'd like hand-piecing, even though I do enjoy applique. So, live & learn.. horizons expanded and one more pleasure experienced!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 7:01PM
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I always have at least one hand pieced quilt on hand for travel.
My advice is to relax. Make a copy of your directions so you can tuck them in the bag you carry your quilting in just incase you need a reminder of what comes next.
Having all your pieces precut makes things alot easier and storing them in a ziploc assures they stay together and clean.
I keep my needles, thimble, pins and thread in a separate ziploc. Blocks that have been pieced together go in yet another ziploc. Makes it easier to remember where I'm at.
You will develop your own way of doing it over time.
As for getting exactly the right seam allowance.It's one of those things I think you develop and eye for BUT until you do carrying a small retractable tape measure to check your work helps. And don't for get to bring the stitch ripper.
No matter how hard ya try mistakes happen. I sewed one part of a quilt when traveling to my jeans.....I was talking and sewing and some how it happened.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 9:16PM
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Kay, thank you for your comments. Maybe I will cut out my templates with the seam allowance, and then mark the sewing line. At least in the begining until I get a feel for it.

Carol, thanks for your ideas of the organization in various bags, the retractable tape measure and the ripper! I wouldn't have thought to bring those, but I can see it's a great tip. Too funny that you sewed your quilt to your jeans. I can see doing that!

Here is a picture of some fabric that I pulled for this quilt. I tried to sort it by light and dark. What I found is that I don't have a lot of "light" fabric.

I see in the black and white picture that the third from left on the bottom probably is not light enough. Other than that I think they will work.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 10:21PM
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I have found that if you can make templates, you can English Paper Piece with them. I am not very good at hand piecing, but I can EPP, so that is now my preferred method of hand piecing. I use my junk mail and those annoying cards found in all magazines to make my pieces, then baste the fabric to them and sew away.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 11:18PM
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Lola, another "tool" I found helpful is a divided zip-lock leftover dish. I was having a problem finding something to carry my applique, since I have my applique pins on a magnetic pin holder. When everything was in one box or bag, the scissors latched onto the magnet and then the pins to the scissors.. a frustrating mess.

I looked through all the craft and quilting stores and found NOTHING that had a section the right size for my pin magnet and yet also had adequate room for the applique pieces, thread, scissors etc in the other. Then I happened to be looking for plastic wrap and spotted these divided lunch-type containers. The narrow side holds the magnet perfectly (small rectangle), and the larger, square (sandwich) side has plenty of room for everything else.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 6:16AM
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Beverly - I have not tried EPP yet, but I've read about it and I'd like to try it.

Kay - great idea. My scissors always make a hole in my plastic bags. A divided zip-lock dish would help that and keep me organized.

I'm starting to have second thoughts about my fabric choice. I have been looking at a lot of Winding Ways quilts on line and I realized that almost none of them have fabrics that have as many different colors in each fabric as the fabrics that I choose. I was so focused on "light" and "dark" but maybe the variety of colors will be distracting? I found this one quilt (linked below) that has a lot of different patterned fabric, and I'm not crazy about it because I can't see the circle secondary pattern very well. Do you think mine is likely to look this way?

This is the feel that I'm shooting for and the look that I really like: http://www.sundaybestquiltworks.com/Winding%20Ways.JPG

Please let me know if you think my fabric choices will work, or if I should pick fabric that reads more as a solid.


Here is a link that might be useful: Winding Ways with patterned fabric

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 10:26AM
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Here is another thought. What if I keep the dark fabric with the prints (on the top row) and then for the light fabric I only use fabric that reads as solid, such as the light green on the far left of the bottom row, the yellow in the middle, and the light pink and blue on the far right of the bottom row? Do you think that would work?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 10:32AM
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I have to say - I didn't like the Winding Ways with the prints at all! Much too busy, and not enough contrast in the blocks. Most of the fabrics looked to be medium scale prints, so it all looked like a jumbled mess.

I loved the other one.

Keeping at least one group of fabrics as "read as solid" would certainly improve the look.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 12:40PM
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