Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hand Piecing

I find myself in that awkward stage between projects, where one quilt which took what seemed forever to hand piece/applique/bind is actually mailed off to its first show, and another is waiting to be started.  In all honesty, I have been busy with plenty of client quilts, samples and preparations to teach at MQX too.  But another problem is creeping in that makes my days frustrating and miserable. I am sleeping horribly.  It's been a combination of everything from general discontent, to kids stressing me out, to just wanting to run away and live somewhere warmer.  At night, I get my kids into bed, and proceed to fall asleep in my chair.  I awaken at 10, and go up to bed, only to lay there for hours trying to fall asleep again.  By dawn I am ragged.  I believe part of this problem is because I fall asleep between 8 and 10pm, so...it is time to dream up a hand stitching project.  I am not sure that this will matriculate into a show quilt, but as I am plagued with issues of perimenopause, it will hopefully address the sleeping prematurely issue.

Last year I did the elongated hexagon blocks, and actually enjoyed the process and portability of these.  I decided this year to dig out some of the large-scale floral and mostly modern prints that I have been hoarding for 3-5 years, not knowing what to do with.  As I migrated into show quilts, these bold and colorful prints became harder and harder to use.  I learned with my last quilt (which I will fully reveal in 2 weeks just before MQX) that they can be successfully used on a show quilt.

I have a plastic template for a 1" hexie block.  I stake no claim to being so crazy as to make 1/2" hexagons.  That would take my lifetime to complete, and it would be torturous to quilt.  I still have to consider that this needs to showcase machine quilting, so it will have sufficient background space for that when it is done.  

Here are a few of the first blocks I cut out...I am using predominantly orange, pink, green and aqua prints.  Something about these colors just sings.
More mess...I mean "blocks.
The first one I hand pieced is here.  Let me show you how I do these, because it is different from the typical English Paper Piecing that most folks do, that requires those annoying cardboard papers and basting.  That, in my opinion, is for the birds.  My way is easier.
Here's the template I happen to have.  Like most quilters, we hoard things and then wonder why on earth we bought it (that was 2 yrs ago).  Low and behold, I actually found it in my studio last week! It makes a finished 1" hexagon.  Below it is an actual 1" hexagon, in template plastic.
 I use the large template to place where each fussy-cut block will be cut out of the fabric.  The actual size template is used to draw a pencil line on the backside of the fabric hexagon.  This is my hand-stitching line.  It takes a lot longer to baste a hexagon than to draw a line.
My primary motivation for using this method is this...I hate the papers; I'd rather handle bare fabric. AND I really dislike the look of whip-stitched hexagon blocks.  I do not want the stitching to show, whatsoever.  Below is what I do.  Using pins, I align 2 hexagons.  I then do a small running stitch only where the line is (do not go into the seam allowance).  I stitch 2-3 stitches (aka 3/16") in the opposite direction at the start and stop of each seam, before knotting.  My seams are very secure, and invisible, my word of today.
The piece is a little messy looking as the hexagons are being added, but that is fine.  I dont press as I go, as it is not needed.  It is actually easier to work with the angled seams if you don't.
 Here's the first block.  It took about 4-1/2 hrs to hand stitch, and maybe 45 minutes to cut out.
 The back is pressed nice and neat also...
 Seams are not pressed open as they would be with using the papers.  It is a better alternative for quilting.
 This one will be a bit bold.  I have a little travel coming up next month, so having something small to work on is handy.
Lunch break is over...now I must get back to the chores at hand!

9 comments:

QuiltRx said...

I piece hexagons without paper or basting too. I have a 30-odd by 50-odd inch piece done during forced boredom (waiting for phone calls) for a month at work last year. It'll be the center of a medallion quilt eventually. But I couldn't press at work, so mine's lumpy and folded up until I get back to it!

Shirley Hemmings said...

These are some of the fussy cut prettiest hexes !! You just have to have a look-see at Linda Franz's hand piecing technique using her INKLINGO methods !!! She has a Facebook page, tutorials on YouTube, a blog... You will FLY thru these hexes (and many other shapes) using this no template necessary technique. Try it, you'll like it. There is a free 'try before you buy' download offer using the triangle, diamond and square shapes. I always have a portable project using this method; you will be delighted and so happy how fast a quilt can be finished and by hand no less !! A real stress buster ������. PS-your longarm work is awe inspiring, don't burn out yet ��

Mary said...

check out Inklingo You can print the sewing and stitching lines on the back or your fabric

Mary said...

Hi Margaret, I understand what you're going through, been there, done that. I'd recommend drinking a couple glasses of Cabernet, but I don't stay asleep all night when I do that. Perhaps some Melatonin a half hour before bed? I hope you can get your sleeping sorted out soon. In the meantime, your EPP projects are beautiful.

Becky (My Fabric Obsession) said...

Those are really cool! Thanks for sharing your technique. I hope your sleep issues resolve soon. Nothing worse than not sleeping well....

dq said...

I really like your method, Margaret! I love Hexi quilts but can't seem to get mine done because I don't like the look of the whip stitch either. It is also way too slow. I will try this out. Basically it looks like you are doing Y-seams with hand stitching instead of on the machine.

Diane E W said...

A friend of mine designed and had made a set of rubber stamps that she sells in her shop. When you stamp onto the fabric it has the cutting line and sewing line. Saves a lot of time and very accurate.

Carol Selepec said...

I must say I am impressed with this method. I hated the whip stitch thing - just couldn't get into the look. The seams look great on the back when pressed. I like it! This is less insane than I thought - lol. Good luck. Happy stitching. I see another awesome quilt in your future and hope that I get to see some of your quilts in person one day.

Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

your method is still pretty old school :) Linda Franz's Inklingo does all the lines for you in just a few seconds.