16 December 2013

Hand Piecing Tutorial

I have had lots of kind comments on my Downton Garden quilt, thank you! I have also had several questions on how I am stitching the hexagons, so I thought it would be helpful to show my method here.
I know it is traditional to sew hexagons in the English Paper Piecing way, that is basted over papers, but I am not a fan of this method, I find it too time consuming and cannot see any real benefit when working with large shapes (The hexagons I am sewing are 1") I am using regular hand piecing, it is fast and accurate!

The first important thing to mention, is that you must cut your pieces accurately. You can't get away with rough cutting as you can with EPP!
I love the acrylic template sets by Marti Michell I am using the 1" 60 degree shapes from set G for this quilt. I can rotary cut several layers quickly and easily with the templates and my rotating cutting mat. You can of course make your own template from template plastic, you then need to draw one hexagon shape on the back of your fabric and then stack several fabrics and cut them in one go, using either your ruler and rotary cutter, or you can pin several layers together and cut with scissors.
Once the pieces are cut, you need to mark where the seams allowances cross with a small dot, Marti's templates have a hole on the template in the right place, it is easy to mark the seam allowances quickly. If you are a beginner you might find it helpful to draw the whole seam line in, until you get used to eye balling the 1/4". 
Place the first two pieces right sides together, line up your cut edges, and place a pin through the dot on both pieces where the seam ends.
You then stitch between the dots; I start with a back stitch and load my needle with several stitches before pulling through. I have about 8 or 9 stitches per inch. Take a backstitch at the end of the seam just as you come to the dot. You don't stitch through the seam allowance.
Before you break your thread, check if the next piece can be added. Again you are only sewing "dot to dot" I like to use a size 10 between needle and aurifil cotton thread for hand piecing.
You might find it helpful to lay out all your pieces face down on a flannel board, you can then easily see which is the next piece to be stitched.
I like to start in the centre and add the first round of hexagons
Then I add the next round
I wait until I have completed the whole piece before I press the seams from the back. I showed how to press in THIS tutorial.

I hope you have found this helpful, any questions please ask!


  1. Interesting. I'm so used to using the EPP method. I like how the accuracy is built in that way -- I'm lazy. lolol!

    1. yes it is accurate, but I am too impatient to cut and baste the papers :)

  2. I'm with you Elaine, I have tried EPP but have never gotten used to it - I do it like you templates and pencil or with Inklingo on some - it goes so fast. I think a lot that use EPP like the stiffness and how it looks pressed immediately.

  3. I use this method also, I mark and don't use Inklingo. I find if much easier than all the paper pieces, etc. This method can be just as accurate as EPP. Thanks for sharing with those that might not know about our method.

  4. Thanks for the tutorial. I have done some hand piecing, but I am still very, very new at it! Don't really like the EPP method very well.