Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Doing it the Old School way.

Last week, I attended my first class in Quilt Making by Hand at Purl Patchwork. I took their Machine Piecing and Quilting Class last year while I was pregnant and I really enjoyed it. Both classes are taught by a wonderful teacher, named Cassandra.

So, why do I want to hand sew a quilt over using a sewing machine? I am finding less and less time that I can sit in front of the sewing machine. Especially now that my sweetie pie can roll over onto her tummy and raise her chest with her arms. I swear, she seems like she is going to be crawling any minute now. She claws the ground with her hands, but doesn't realize that she needs to use her legs to crawl. So, she ends up crying in frustration and then I have to flip her back on her back again. Then she does it again and we repeat ourselves over and over again all-day-long. Gone are the days where she would lay on her back and play with her toys that dangle above her.

Anyway, I wanted to learn hand sewing so that I can have small portable projects while watching her. During our first class, I made the 4 Patch Squares in the above photo. I had a lot of fun learning to hand sew a quilt square. I thought it would take forever, but once you get going, it doesn't really take that long. At first, it was hard sewing a straight running stitch and keeping the stitches even length, but you soon learn it doesn't really matter when you flip it over to the good side and iron it. Practice does make everything better. After a couple of squares, my hand stitching looked a lot better.
We didn't get any homework, but she did encourage us to keep making squares when we got home because that is the only way to improve our hand sewing. She said that we could continue to make the 4 Patches or start a different design as long as there wasn't triangles involved.

So, you start off by drawing your design on Quilter's Graph Paper. You draw the exact size that you want and you don't add in seam allowances. That's one of the differences between machine piecing and hand piecing. The design is then transferred onto a plastic template and then you cut it out. The above photo shows how I used the template to trace rectangles onto the fabric. A piece of sandpaper on the back of the fabric really helps with the tracing. You have to leave a little room for the seam allowance but preciseness doesn't matter. Then you cut out the pieces with scissors.
The reason why you don't need to add in seam allowances when you make and cut out your template is because you sew on the drawn pencil lines. So if you want a 6 inch square, your template would be 6 inches and then when you trace it onto the fabric, you leave room for the seam allowance. For this particular quilt square, I wanted the finished square to be 6 inches, so the rectangle template is 1.5 inches wide by 3 inches long.I think that it's pretty cool that you can make quilt squares with just scissors, fabric, thread and a needle. No machine necessary! And I find that the running stitch used to sew the squares is similar to the garter stitch in knitting, very meditative. I can't wait to see what we will be learning this week.
On the machine sewing side of things, I have pieced all the squares together on this quilt that I blogged about a few weeks ago. All that is left for the quilt top is to piece the border pieces together and then sew it to the quilt.

32 comments:

Marisa said...

I love piecing by hand too. Have you seen Jinny Beyer's book about it? Called "Quiltmaking by hand" and is probably one of my top 3 books of all time. Excellent instruction for hand piecing. http://www.jinnybeyer.com/ax_commerce/shp_detail.cfm?productID=000802FB-5654-1269-A60300017F005857&category=00011874-4E9D-1269-A60300017F005857

Nettie said...

Wow your hand stitching looks so neat! The pressed pieces look machine sewn.

I hope to take a few classes this summer, you're making this one look very appealing.

Jacquie said...

Sometimes old school is really great. That's why I love hand quilting so much. Both quilts are going to be beautiful.

abcgirl said...

i love the colors in the top quilt blocks and i love the repetition of the orange center block in the bottom quilt. great projects!

Jennie said...

The quilt looks great, love the fabrics.
Your handsewn quilt squares look good too.

Miss 376 said...

It was lovely to read this. My sone wants me to do a quilt, but I am thinking of making a bag first. Has been such a long time since I did patchwork, but I much prefer the hand stitching method.

Thank you for the inspiration

Natalie said...

Beautiful work. I feel intimidated by that much hand work, since I already hand quilt, but I agree it is liberating to be able to do a projective with simple tools and away from the sewing machine. Can't say it enough: your stitches, fabric choices, pattern, everything looks beautiful!

Rima said...

I am "bright, intense" color person, and I am totally loving your machine WIP. It is calling me.

I just finished a beginner sewing class at Purl. Made a tote bag. Gee...I feel like I figured out the science behind gravity.

amandajean said...

I've never hand pieced...it is intimidating to me...but it would be nice to have a portable project. sometimes I get jealous of knitters for that reason...at least their projects don't chain them to a sewing machine. (weird, I know!) both quilts are great.

Priscilla said...

Wow, it is all so pretty! Looks hard and also looks like it would take a lot of patience. No pictures of Miss Melody??!!

Agnes said...

It's true ... hand piercing does have advantages over machine piercing. My first quilt project (a small coaster) was hand-pierced ... I learned from a Japanese quilting book (translated into Chinese). Besides, hand piercing is more suitable for small pieces.

Lynn said...

One of my good friends started hand quilting because of her little ones, and loves it. Your squares are gorgeous, and you make me want to sign up for a hand piecing class now! Your quilt is beautiful. I can't wait to see it with the borders!

Kristy said...

Your hand piecing looks really good! All the lines are so crisp and straight.

I love your machine-pieced quilt! It's so bright and colorful :)

*karen said...

You're so lucky you live so close to Purl. I think your quilt is looking lovely.

Rebekah C said...

wow! your hand quilting looks great and I love your pinwheel blocks! I'll have to try out hand piecing and sewing sometime soon. You're so lucky to live close to purl!

bunbun said...

very beautiful and I love your choice of colors!

Kirsten said...

Love all the colors - looks great!

Octopus Knits said...

Very cool! Your pinwheel squares are beautiful, and the machine sewn quilt top looks great : )

Rebecca said...

Thanks for sharing! I just love your fabric selections. Who designed the greens and blues? Did you get them at Purl Patchwork?

Marianne said...

It looks great !
And having some time off while attending class is also a big bonus :-)

Ravenhill said...

Thank you so much you dear lady for explaining the hand quilting in such detail! What fun that sounds like!

And your machine quilt is gorgous!!! I have quite a bit of those fabrics too. They colors you have used is pure artistry!

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Goodie for you. Everything old becomes new again!

Danielle said...

When I read your post it so threw me back to before I got into knitting seriously(about 10 years ago). I quilted and sewed a lot for a while. And believe it or not I started of quilting my first few projects by hand like the method you've discribed here. Only difference is I didn't take a class because I live in a more rural area and didn't know of any.

I remember making some log cabin pillows. I bought a Leisure Arts leaflet on quilting that helped me out with the general concepts of quilting. I really got into it after that, and it wasn't long before I got a sewing machine. But I really loved doing it by hand too. It was just much faster by machine. Seeing your hand piecing kind of makes me want to do some handpiecing again, great post :)

My Best Friend Calls Me Martha said...

I still don't think I'd have the patience for hand quilting! God for you, girlie! L.O.V.E. the machine quilted piece. The colors are soooo pretty!!!

kawaii crafter said...

Lovely machine quilt. I can't wait to see the finished hand sewn one, all though that might be awhile since it's hand sewn. Then again, you do tend to whip things up awfully quick. :)

c.Rachel said...

I second Jinny Beyer's book on hand quilting.

I would love to take that class too!

Thanks for posting all the photos. Your pieces are so precise and lovely! It's inspiring me to do a mini hand sewing project. Coasters maybe?

Hannah said...

Really lovely work... I wish I had the time to make another quilt now!

JL said...

How i wish there is a class here whereby i can learn. I love it.

Muddling Through said...

Both are your quilt color ways are beautiful, though completely different. Isn't that just the marvelous thing about quilts - they can be so different and yet still be beautiful!

schrodinger said...

Great idea to start quilting by hand, there are times that I really don't like being stuck behind the sewing machine, it must be a lot more freeing to just sew where-ever you are. The machine quilt is looking great too!

bettyninja said...

I've actually been craving hand sewing time lately too. I think also for the portablibity of it. I can take with me on the train etc. Also, I love how it just makes me slow down.

I love your put together quilt the colors are so lush.

Laurah said...

I love the fabrics you chose for that quilt! Good luck on the hand-quilting thing. I seriously can't handle all that finicky sewing just to turn it around and see corners not lining up. I appreciate hand sewing so much, though! My mom machine sews, but it does make sense that hand sewing would be a better choice for a mom of a little one.