Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hand piecing

I have completed my first two blocks from "The Civil War Diary Quilt" book. The first block is Selling the Livestock. It is not the first block in the book, but I used it as a way to test that my seam allowances and stitching were accurate before moving on to more complicated blocks. And it won't take long before I start hitting blocks with many tiny little pieces. After I stitch the first seven that were listed last week, I will start from the beginning of the book and work my way across each row from left to right. When I have completed stitching the 11 blocks in a row I will stitch the lattice and cornerstones and attach the rows as they are completed. I have never hand pieced a quilt this large and consider myself in training for "The Jane!"

Update: I received all the fabrics for the blocks as part of a Block of the Month program that was offered at Homestead Hearth. I have received a packet a civil war reproduction fabrics in my letterbox each month for the last 17 months. Next month I will receive the last packet for the last 6 blocks in the quilt. The only fabric I will need to buy will be the muslin I use for the lattice and cornerstones. I am almost certain that I have something in my stash to use for the borders, backing and binding.

I love the way the bulk of the seams can be evenly distributed when I hand piece. When I ordered my copy of the book I also ordered a copy of the cd that runs off of EQ5 software.
I am able to print my templates for each block and adjust my seam allowance to 3/16". This will allow me an easier time when hand quilting 1/4" outline around each piece.

The second block I stitched this week is Yankee Papers. It is another of the less difficult blocks in the quilt. Both of these blocks are a good place to start if you would like to give hand piecing a try. All of the seams are finger pressed. This eliminates the distortion that can occur when a block is ironed to death.

Here are the other blocks that were on the list from last week. After I use the template to mark each piece of fabric in a block I lay them out on a piece of felt that I've cut 8" x 11". Then I slip them into a plastic sheet protector. I have found that if I use the sheet protector with the expandable edge the felt doesn't buckle and my fabric pieces don't slip out of piecing order.

I have a 3 ring binder that I store the plastic sheets in. The important thing about being able to hand stitch on the go is the amount of prep time I put into getting the blocks ready. This week I spent Sunday afternoon prepping these seven blocks. Regardless of whether I finish piecing 7 blocks a week, I will spend time each Sunday prepping 7 additional blocks. This will guarantee that I will always have the next block to work on. If I have a few quiet minutes for hand piecing all I need to do is pull out one of the pages that holds two blocks and stitch away. After I finish the blocks I can keep them safely tucked away in the notebook where they won't get lost. I often take my piecing with me when I leave the house. Inside my notebook I have my name phone number and address listed n the inside of the cover. I also have indicated that if the notebook is lost I will offer a reward for it's return. Better safe than sorry!

If you are interested in a book on hand piecing try Jinny Beyer's book titled "Quilt Making by Hand." There is a dvd available as well. I have taken her hand piecing workshop from her at her studio in Falls Church, Virginia. If you are ever in the area of Washington, D.C. a trip to her shop is well worth the visit. Be warned though, the only thing she carries in her shop is her own line of fabric.

Over the last couple of weeks I have missed out on too many games of Candy Land. My daughter got board waiting for me one morning while I was writing a post and when I turned around this is what I found....

I had been replaced.