Monday, April 11, 2011

Red and White and Quick handpiecing

Oh, how I wished to have been in New York to see the installation of Mrs Rose's Red and White quilts. Thanks to the wonderful photo's and videos on some blogs and You Tube I could experience a bit of the magic.

This is my red and white quilt (well almost) and it does have a wonderful story behind it.

I went to the USA in 1984 with my backpack and I tour from one Quilt show and Quilt Convention to the next. My tour started at the wonderful Northfield Vermont show organized by the Historical society and Richard Cleveland (It has moved now to another venue) Here I took classes with Jinny Beyer and Carla Hassle- in hand piecing. (At that time I was quite accomplished in machine piecing but needed to learn more about applique and hand quilting- learning handpiecing was a bonus.)

I will write about some memories about this tour in a later post. Now, back to my quilt and hand piecing. During my tour I learned about Barbara Johannah and her quick piecing method of triangles. (This is a method that is still widely use in different variations today- but most people do not know that it originated with this quilter.) This method entail that a grid is drawn- either on the fabric or on paper or nowadays tear away stabilizer- of a double row of squares divided diagonally with a continuous line. You then use the line as guide for the pressor foot and sew a line 1/4 inch on either side of the diagonal lines. Cut on all the drawn lines and you have multiple HST (Half Square Triangles)
In 1984 we did not have the rotary cutter that can cut up to 8 layers, but we had sharp scissors and could cut 4 layers.This method where one have to mark and could cut only 2 layers did not seem like a quick sewing method to me. (You save time in handling individual pieces- that is all) I thought that this method would be more suitable in hand piecing than in machine piecing of HST's (I still think so today). So 3 month's later on the plane back  from the USA, I started the HST of this feathered star medaljon quilt- using an adaptation of Barbara's method. I draw triangles on a scrap piece of red/maroon fabric (it was an odd size) and lay it on a bigger calico piece. I then worked the diagonal seams as marked on the red fabric. The advantage was that I did not have a lot of small pieces that could get lost.I did not have to pin individual pieces. I also saved time- instead of having to check that I follow the line on the piece at the back (as one do in handwork) there was only lines drawn on the red fabric. After I worked the diagonal seams, I turned the piece over and lay my template with the diagonal side on the seam worked. I then just had to draw the two straight seams. I could also cut two layers simultaneously- not something ussually done in hand piecing.
Beginning of Lady Of the Lake-handpieced
With this, my quick hand piecing method was born. I have adapted this idea to piece a Trip Around the world, Baby Blocks, Six point star and several other quilts where different shapes were pieced using this method.

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