Why Hand Piecing?

I made my first quilt thirteen years ago. It was the first time that I had ever sewed, and I pieced the quilt top completely by hand. I was a college student at the time, and I had recently fallen in love with a friend’s handmade quilt. I just had to make one for myself! Being the poor college student that I was, having no funds to buy a machine, I decided to hand piece my quilt. After borrowing several quilt books from the local library, I settled on a sampler quilt. I figured that if I was going to learn to quilt, I should make all sorts of blocks. It took me the entire summer, but I finished my first quilt top, and fell in love with hand piecing in the process.

hand piecing
Hand pieced mini quilt by Karyn Valino

It seems as if the art of sewing by hand has become lost in recent years. Why would a person want to sew by hand rather than with a sewing machine in this day and age? In today’s fast paced society, we tend to move quickly and prefer instant gratification. Oftentimes quilters are trying make quilts quickly, using simpler patterns on a sewing machine. I enjoy sewing by both machine and by hand, and I think there is a time and place for both. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of hand piecing.

1. Hand piecing is simple and inexpensive. There is no need to buy an expensive sewing machine! Templates are used repeatedly and can be made out of household items, like freezer paper and cereal boxes. The only items that are truly needed for hand piecing? Fabric, scissors, templates, pins, needles, thread, and thimbles.
2. Portability. You can hand piece anywhere! Pack up your hand work and bring it along with you. You can sew in the car, waiting rooms, hotels, sporting events, or in your backyard.
3. Precision. Hand piecing is highly controlled and very forgiving. Matching seams and perfect points are easily attained! Complicated blocks with tricky seams and plenty of pieces are finished accurately with hand piecing.
4. Relaxation. There is something therapeutic about working quietly with your hands. Many people like to sit on their couch and hand sew while watching TV. It is also a nice time to socialize. It is a quiet craft, so it makes for a nice project to work on when talking with friends.

hand pieced quilt
Hand pieced Farmer’s Wife sampler blocks by Karyn Valino

I hope that you give hand piecing a try! There are many great resources that can help you learn. My personal favorite is Jinny Beyer’s book, Quiltmaking by Hand. It is an extremely thorough book for both beginner and advanced quilters that has hundreds of illustrations and beautiful pictures. She also has a spot on her website for tips and tutorials. You might also enjoy the Bluprint online quilting classes: Hand-Stitched Collage Quilts and Hand Quilting Heirloom Design & Technique.

Which do you prefer: sewing by hand or by machine?

In case you missed it yesterday, check out these inspirational wedding ring quilt patterns and variations. Come back to the Bluprint blog on Tuesday to learn all about the Dear Jane Quilt.

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