Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why do people piece quilts by hand anymore?

The reason I sew by hand is because you can sew much more intricate shapes easily. Machine piecing is great for simpler quilts but when your pieces are small and join at all kinds of angles, it's just as fast, if not faster to do it by hand. Using your hands on small pieces gives you added accuracy that you loose when you, whoops, accidentally sew a little to far on your machine. Inset Y seams are dreaded on the machine because it requires very accurate starting and stopping. It's only a headache on the machine. Hand piecing inset seams is no different than  sewing any regular seam.

If I am going to quilt a standard nine-patch, I would naturally use my machine. Lots of straight lines, just zip right along. After quilting for about 7 years I started to feel limited to the types of quilts I could make with those easy straight lines. It wasn't until I started hand sewing (Houses from scraps) that I broke through the straight line barrier and realized how liberating hand sewing was. YES! I SAID HAND SEWING WAS LIBERATING! Any shape, any angle, any size is just as easily sewn. Did I mention I could sew anywhere too?

For me, sewing started to get stressful. I was always looking for the most efficient method to get through it as quick as possible. Blimey, my shoulders were tense as I hunkered over my machine alone in my room. I felt guilty about separating myself from the family. My focus was speed....how fast...could I get it done? Sure I got tops finished in a few days. I quickly started a project, quickly sewed it and almost just as quickly got sick of the quilt. I liked it for a while.  "Quickly" is a relative term. Even very ugly quilts take time to make. Any quilter knows you invest enough time in quilt that you should love it when you are done, not just sort of like it for a while. That is at least how I feel.  I have a stack of quilts knee high that I have folded away because I don't like them anymore. It represents a lot of time spent quilting. The cat sleeps on one in her basket. Bless her heart. The dog has one in her car cage..etc.. I was experimenting with techniques, colors, styles. Trying to find myself in quilting. Now I have a slightly different approach to quilting. I don't make a quilt unless I LOVE it, love it enough that I think generations to come will seriously appreciate it. Future generations won't give my knee-high stack of quick quilts a second look before binning them. I can't blame them. Dump them. Go ahead. I don't really mind.

And like I said before....Even ugly quilts take a looooong time to make. Quilts shouldn't be disposable. When I contemplate starting a quilt I think long term...starting when my children are grown. Will they want to hang on to it? or chuck it? If it passes the long term quilt
test I don't mind investing a lot of time making a quality, intricate, hand pieced quilt.

These days...I am making hexagon quilts, specifically fussy cut ones. Fussy cutting 'busy' fabric recreates it's own flower geometry that disguises the hexagon shape. (I'm not particularly fond of grandmother's garden quilts) but I am addicted to making these hexie blossoms.

Come back again, because I will be adding my YouTube tutorial demonstrating how I align and stack my fabrics when I cut out these fussy persnickety hexies.

Spring comes late to Norway...but she peaked out her head this weekend and I captured this while out on a hike with the family.


  1. I also enjoy the ease of hand piecing and it also has an added advantage of being portable and I always take hand piecing on my travels. Take care.

    1. And I don't mind long car trips either with a lap full of patches to work on:)

  2. I totally agree with you. Life is too short to make quilts you don;t love and epp opens up many more possibilities, not to mention the wonderful portability and relaxation it can bring.

  3. Love these blocks, hope you update us on your progress.

  4. I am also an English paper piecing freak! I love your fussy cut hexagons!

  5. Your EPP are just beautiful. I have just started doing some to do something different for a change. I have made the quilts and table runners, etc and just wanted a different challenge. I love doing it. So relaxing. I want to attempt some fussy cuts one like yours. So amazing! Love the pics of Norway. It looks like a beautiful country!!