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How to Hand Piece posted: 1/24/2003
by Rose Rushbrooke Printable Page
Category: Piecing Method: Hand
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Over a period of time we develop our unique ways of hand piecing. Favorite methods from personal instruction, classes, and books. Just to add to your confusion, here is my method of hand piecing.

Always make sure that all the pieces on the outside edges of the block are cut on the straight of the grain. If at all possible cut triangles so that a straight grain meets a bias edge giving less chance of stretching the piece while stitching.


Step 1

Start by pinning two pieces right sides together - push the pin straight through at each point of the triangle where the pencil marks meet. Do the same on the other point.


Step 2

Pin in between the points, leaving approximately one to one and a half inch spaces.


Step 3

Everyone uses different needles for piecing. I use a straw/milliners needle, some people use a 'sharp' and Jean Lyle recommends using a size 10 appliqué needle.

Thread your needle of choice with either 100% cotton or cotton covered polyester (I like YLI Select cotton thread). Use a colour that matches the darker fabric or a neutral shade such as medium gray. Do NOT make a knot at the end of the thread, this makes extra bulk and the less you have to quilt through later - the better!

Take one tiny stitch into the first pinhole. Split the tail with the needle, pull the thread through and tighten to lock in the first stitch.


Step 4

Backstitch a couple of times and then take about five or six running stitches onto the needle before pulling the thread through. As you take each stitch, keep an eye on the two sides to make sure you are stitching ON the pencilled line.


Step 5

Make a backstitch approximately every inch and a half. This gives strength to the seam and locks in the stitches.


Step 6

Near the end of the line make two or three backstitches leaving the last stitch lose, making a loop. To secure the thread, push the needle back through the loop and then through the loop you just made. Tug the whole mess gently to close it up and make a small knot. Snip off the thread leaving about half an inch tail.


Step 7

During the piecing of little bits of fabric you start running into seams. You may have noticed that ironing seams flat, open or otherwise has not been been mentioned so far and there's a very good reason for this.

Using the Hole in the Barn Door quilt block as an example, pin and stitch a pair of rectangles to the centre square. Make running stitches as usual right up to the seam. Just before the seam take a backstitch, push the needle through the seam and make a backstitch on the other side.

Check to make sure that the two stitches join exactly on the other side to give a continuous seam and no little gaps. Now you see why the seams are not ironed. They need to be unfettered (!) so that you can negotiate which way they will be ironed when the block is finished.


Step 8

Let's put a Hole in the Barn Door quilt block together and see what all this hard work can accomplish! Stitch all the pairs of triangles together, then do the same for the rectangles.

Piece the middle row together first. Pin and stitch a pair of rectangles to the centre square and then do the other side. Next piece the top row together by pinning and stitching the two paired triangles to either side of the paired rectangles. Now you should have three rows that look like the picture.


Step 9

Stitch the three rows together and 'voila la' - there's a beautiful Hole in the Barn Door quilt block. Do that a few times, stitch all the blocks together and make a whole quilt top.


Rose Rushbrooke
www.roserushbrooke.com

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