Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hand piecing- Gather your Tools

I am inviting everyone to hand piece a quilt with me. While making this quilt I will describe my time saving and very useful method based on Barbara Johannah's machine piecing method. Even if you do not want to make this quilt- you might find the method valuable to use in your own projects.

You will need to make three triangle templates: No 2 (Straight sides 5 cm (2 Inch)), no 3 (straight sides 15 cm (6 inch)) and no 4 (straight sides 25 cm (10 inches)) as in the drawing.

You will draw around the template. In a big quilt it is best to make the templates from plastic like Mylar (I use old x ray's). For a single block, cardboard (as from a cereal box) will be fine. We do not need a template for the square- but you will need a perspex square of 15 cm (6 inches) with lines marked every half cm or every 1/4 inch. You will also need a bigger square: 30-40 cm (12-16 inch)

You will also need a multi- line perspex ruler marked in centimeters if you are following the metric instructions and an Inch ruler if you prefer to use that measurement. A rotary cutter and cutting mat is also essential. Perhaps I should call it Hand piecing with a Rotary cutter?

I draw around the template with a HB pencil, make sure it stay sharp or use a mechanical pencil.

I sew with a between needle (the same one used for hand quilting.) I see most books and people recommend using a sharp needle. I find them to long to control to make tiny stitches. I use cotton thread and I prefer a thin thread (no 50) so that there is no bulk in the seam lines.

For this quilt I have used a jelly roll with pre-cut strips. The pinking cutting make the strips  a little thin.(I will talk later about this again). I used 18 of the strips- a medium value, 6 greens, 6 reds and 6 blues. I like to use many fabrics in my quilts. I feel it make a quilt more interesting and unique. So I have only used one strip of a particular fabric. You do not need to use pre cut fabrics. You can cut a 6,5 cm or 2 1/2 inch strip of 18 different fabrics. You will also need to cut 23 strips of the same width from a very light or very dark fabric. I have used white to make sure that I get a good contrast.

The 15 cm (6 inch) triangles were cut from dark Kaffe Fasset fabrics. Once again try to use a variety. You will need 72 of the triangles and will be able to get 12 from a fat quarter. I like to have a wider variety and cut only 6 triangles from a specific fabric- I had 12 different fabrics. So you will need  of 6-12  fat quarters.
The biggest triangle form a pathway. I used Westminster big prints in a medium to medium light colorway. OI coloured it to form a green, a blue and a red/pinkish path. (See previous post) One could make it one solid fabric through out and do some lovely quilting on it or you can have it in a variety of dark colours and make the smaller triangle a medium value. (If the small triangles stay a medium value it will look as if the triangles are part of that fabric and can create an interesting look.)

In this quilt I will first piece all the triangle units. I will then lay it on my design wall and audition fabrics to decide if I will use a dark or medium fabric for the big squares. You will get 4 squares from a 30 cm (12 inch) cut of yardage. You will need 9 squares in total. I think at this stage that I will have to green, two blue and 5 red/ maroon squares but I will make a final decision later.

Here is another EQ diagram coloured differently.
 I prefer to put my fabrics in a tub full of hot water. I want to shrink it and let extra colour come out. I keep the light and dark fabrics separate. I press it with steam to make sure it has no wrinkles.

If all the preparations is complete we are ready to start.


  1. hi there, this is a wonderful blog.
    i would like to do the "bear's paw with 3 claws" triangles that you showed -- i found it here and would like to make a quilt like this:
    thanks so much


  2. hi there,
    i was looking for a tutorial on this pattern
    and thought it looked very much like one here on your blog. it's a really cute pattern and i'd like to make a quilt with it. i would appreciate if you could share any shortcuts with us -- piecing triangles is not my forte.
    all best


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