Hand piecing–some history (Part 1)

I have been a hand quilter from the beginning of my quilting passion but I had never considered hand PIECING until 2008 when my friend Carol was piecing a batik hexagon quilt using a modified version of EPP.  She got me interested and showed me her freezer paper/glue stick method.  See her tutorial and then follow her whole journey at Carol’s batik hexagons.

Early on, I knew that method did not float my boat and I switched to this construction method I found online at Quilter’s Cache.  Here are early photos:

You can see that very early in the process I started thinking about how my joiner pieces needed to be attached to each flower to make final construction easier.  Many months later, it was all together.  In the photo below right, I had attached temporary borders so that I could pin the top to an area rug for pressing my seams (to aid my quilting plan) and squaring the quilt before adding borders.

As this quilt developed, I knew I wanted to enter it into our local quilt show.  And although they don’t have a category for “completely” hand made, I have seen that category in information about other shows.  So I reluctantly decided to attach my borders by hand rather than machine in case I may want to enter this quilt in another show down the road.  It was a tedious process but I liked how this method allowed the many seam allowances to float like they do within the quilt body.  I quilted in the ditch around the center, inner and outer circles of each flower.  Then (I hate to admit this) I had to make my first ever label.  But I’ll save that long story for another day.  Having a quilt in the show for the first time made the three-day event infinitely more fun.

When I first started this project, I had no idea how addictive hand piecing can be.  It is not only relaxing, but if I do a little bit each evening while watching TV, a project builds fairly quickly.  So before the Grandmother’s Flower Garden was completed, I was already searching for my next project.  I found it on Tilde’s blog.   She had found this one-patch diamond quilt in Jinny Beyer’s Quiltmaking by Hand.  I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in hand piecing.  It has very detailed, illustrated instructions.  I got a bit tired of my color scheme on this one so it languished for a while.  But then I got it finished, got the borders attached (by hand again) and was sandwiching the layers when I decided I hated that border.

I dreaded undoing  all that work but I knew I would be more upset if I put more hours into it and still hated it.  My friend Carol suggested a pieced border.  I had never done one but I searched google images and came up with a plan–trimming some left-over diamonds to create a kind of ribbon effect.  I took some photos of the plan before proceeding and liked the look.  But after I got all four borders completed and attached, I took a photo of the whole quilt and my agonized reaction was “Where’s the border?  It’s just an extension of the quilt!”  So hand sewn border #2 was headed for the trash.  Another two weeks wasted.

My current plan is the reason I am teaching myself to applique.  I am waiting to proceed until I attend an actual class with Mary Sorensen in January.

This last border idea is not attached yet and the star applique idea is still evolving.  But I’m really hoping that border #3 is border #last for this project!


About quiltfever

I retired in 2004 and have never missed the 8-5 grind even for a minute. Now I spend my time reading, traveling, quilting and trying to learn new things like Spanish and blogging.
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3 Responses to Hand piecing–some history (Part 1)

  1. Janet says:

    Your quilts are gorgeous! They tempt me to give handpiecing another try. :0) It’s so interesting so see in pictures your process with borders for the diamond quilt. I really like your applique so far. You have a lot of perserverance!

  2. booksnquilts says:

    I see what you mean about working out the border. I knew that with the colors in mine, I needed a good solid border to frame it, but I wanted to echo the colors as well. I used rectangular pieces in the colored part of the border precisely so it wouldn’t look like just an extension of the quilt. My daughter questioned my use of the primary-colored variegated thread to quilt, but loves the finished result.

    I work almost completely by hand and love the control it gives me. But it means I’m rather slow to get things done.

    I love your fan quilt in your most recent post! I am a sucker for color.

  3. Liz says:

    I like the method you used for the hexagons. Personally, I don’t see the joy in the paper piecing method. I always get some problem with my wrist afterwards too. Maybe I’ll give your version a go. I suspect that once you copmmit to either method you have to stick with it until the bitter end.

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