A new technique: handpiecing - and my first youtube-videos!

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Yes, I tried it before, with Nearly Insane. That didn't work as you can read here.

But Dutch Treat is almost finished (4 blocks left, 192 done) and I need a new on-the-road-project!
Now that I can do needleturn-Applique I want to give handpiecing another try.

I couldn't find a class in Germany - nobody teaches handpiecing.
English Paper Piecing - yes. Handquilting - yes. Handpiecing - no.

There is the book 'Quiltmaking by Hand' by Jinny Beyer. But that didn't help me with Nearly Insane.
Ok, another tour throught the internet.

The best youtube-videos are these by Marianne Roberts from Craftlovers:

and this one by Becky Goldsmith:               youtube.com/watch?v=pNpSCsz-pzM

And yes, there is the one by Jinny Beyer:   youtube.com/watch?v=d_nIPPESxbM

And there are several blogs:
Crispy worte a complete - and very good - tutorial with a lot of photos:

Pat Sloan wrote also something:


Wow - that was enough. I had understood the principle by now.

I cut my sample-pieces with Accuquilt, a good start! So I can be sure they are cut perfectly. For my first try I cut squares with 2.5 inch.

1. Step - drawing lines
When I read all the tutorials I thought this step would be difficult and timeconsuming. What if the fabric will stretch? Do I have to make myself a board covered with fine sandpaper (as some recommend)?
No, it was not necessary. I had 4 completely different fabrics, none of them shifted or stretched. I used a led-marker with the light fabric and the standard white chalc marker from Sewline with the dark fabric.

But: the ruler!  I thought I could use my cute little 6x1-inch ruler from Olfa. Forget it - the ruler has like all the old Olfa-rulers thick yellow lines. You can't see where you want to draw the thin line.
Instead I used the 4,5x4,5 Olfa-frosted ruler. Much better.

I thought it would be timeconsuming to draw the lines. But it actually went very fast!


after about 20 blocks I stopped drawing. As Jinny Beyer says in her book: we quilter can eyeball the 1/4 inch. I suppose I'll start drawing again when I do triangles. But for now - no more drawing!



2. Step - pinning
You have to pin the pieces together.
I have 4 different pins: the small Applique-pins by Clover, professional seamstress-pins with a tiny metall head, my standard pins with a yellow plastic-head and the pins with the flat flowerhead, again by Clover.
My result:
the small Applique-pins are too short. The head of the seamstress-pins are too small. So I can use either the flowerhead-pins or my standard-pins. The flowerheads are longer - that's better. But they are also thicker - I have to stab with some force to get the pin into and through the fabric. I definitely prefer my standard pins with the yellow round head.


it seems there are different types of Flowerhead-pins by Clover. I ordered two more: both are 50 mm long. One has a diameter of 0,45 mm, the other 0,55 mm.

I don't know the diameter of my old coloured Flowerheads, but they are definitley much thicker!!
Result after testing: the thin blue ones are the best for this task. Anybody interested in my old coloured Flowerheads?


3. Step - sewing
aahh - yes. With what? Which needle, which size, which thread??

Each quilter recommends something different. As usual: try each method...
I tried almost each needle that I have with each thread.

A lot of quilters love Aurifil 50/2. I had tried that thread for a lot of things (piecing with the machine, quilting with the machine, handappliqué) - I never liked it.
And handpiecing was not different.
I still keep the spool. Maybe someday I try a technique where I like it.

Standard Gütermann-yarn Polyester:
Much too thick. I felt like I sew with ship jam.

Superior Bottom Line and YLI Silk
too thin

Superior Masterpiece 50/3 and SoFine
Both are ok. I have the spool with Masterpiece for a long time (like Aurifil) and didn't like it for machine piecing and quilting. The reason: Masterpiece is made of 100% Cotton and in my opinion doesn't glide well throught the machine. But for handpiecing I love that thread!
SoFine is made of Polyester, slightly thinner and my favourite for anything with the machine. For handpiecing it's on second place.

Needles! Oh Dear -
For Applique I absolutely love Tulip Applique No 10.
For handquilting I use Roxanne Betweens No 11.
Both are not good for handpiecing, they are too short.
Milward Sharps: too thick
Clover: Black Gold Needles No 10 - that needle is ok!  It is long and thin. Only the needlehole is somewhat small, even for Masterpiece. SoFine is ok.  (No 12 is too small, No 9 is ok)

I ordered Tulip Piecing Needles No 9, but it will take several weeks until they arrive from the US. And in France I ordered Tulip Sewing Needles (they offer a package with several sizes). Until then I will use the Black Gold needles. I have no clue why I can't order these needles in Germany. If somebody knows a shop that offers Tulip needles - please tell me!

 Manufacturer  Name  Size  Diameter  Length
 Tulip  Applique Classic Eye 10  0,46 mm  3,3 cm
 Tulip  Applique Big Eye 10  0,46 mm  3,3 cm
 Tulip  Applique Classic Eye 11  0,46 mm  2,9 cm
 Tulip  Sewing 7  0,69 mm  3,97 cm
 Tulip  Sewing 8  0,61 mm  3,65 cm
 Tulip  Sewing 9  0,53 mm  3,33 cm
 Tulip  Piecing 8  0,61 mm  3,7 cm
 Tulip  Piecing 9  0,61 mm  3,5 cm
 Clover  Black Gold Applique Sharp 9  0,53 mm  3,49 cm
 Clover  Black Gold Applique Sharp 10  0,46 mm  3,33 cm
 Clover  Black Gold Applique Sharp 12  0,46 mm  2,88 cm
 Roxanne  Quilting Betweens 9  ?  ?
 Roxanne  Quilting Betweens 10  ?  2,54 cm
 Roxanne  Quilting Betweens 11  ?  ?
 Roxanne  Quilting Betweens 12  ?  ?

The result after several tries: I like the Tulip Sewing No 9 best.  It is very thin and glides effortlessly through the fabric. It is very short, but like the Applique-needles by Tulip very sturdy, it doesn't bend at all.

Runner up is Black Gold Applique Sharp by Clover, No 9 or 10. Watch out, 10 is verrry thin, it is so flexible that it bends more than No 9 or the Tulip Sewing needle.


How did it go?

Fast! Much faster than I thought, especially because I did NOT check before each stitch if I end on the line on the back piece. It's not necessery. The pieces are cut correctly and fixed with pins. So all I have to do is sewing. And that goes fast!

Knot: I make a beginning knot. At the end I make the knot that Marianne Roberts recommends, I feel safer with that one than with a simple loop.
And the blocks turn out very precise - incredible! Squares and half square trianglese are no problem at all. When I tried a Square on Point I draw the lines sloppily - and the seam became sloppy. Ok. I learned that.

The back looks chaotic. Everybody recommends to press only the finished block. But I was on the road and wanted to try the handling of the piecing so I sewed a lot of pieces together without an opportunity to press them in blocksize.

When I was back at home and pressed the whole thing I understood why everybody recommends to press the block!


I did not manage to press all these pieces without a pleat. When the seamallowance was in the right direction on the back, I had a pleat on the top. When it looked ok on the top, the back was chaos.

Ok, from now on:

fingerpress each block and press it with the iron before adjoining the next block or sashing.
Jinny Beyer says in her book that she takes the finished top and spread it on a big towel and press then. She doesn't care where the seamallowance ends. Hm. I think I prefer pressing each block. On the other side - why not give it a try when the first blocks are done?

The first blocks are done. And it's so fast! I went for a weekend-trip and took pieces for 6 blocks with me. I finished 3 blocks  on the way there with the train. Much faster than the Dutch-Treat-blocks, the applique is so much slower.


I made my very first youtube-video to show the technique I developed after several blocks. And a special thank you to my husband - without him the quality wouldn't be as good!



Here is another option for finishing the seam:



These are tools which are absolutely necessary for handpiecing, at least in my opinion:



Here I show the ring-cutter:


Finally I got the ring by Clover, that Yoko Saito uses in her video. That one is even better than the one I showed in my video above, but you can buy it only in the States or Asia.


What happened next?
I happily sewed my 9patches, I need a total of 63. Last time I checked there were 55 or so. That's when I started adding sashings and cornerstones.

Oh - somehow my seam allowance is not right after all. Many of the 9patches are too small. Some with pre-drawn lines, some without.
I let it simmer for a while in my subconscious - and now I decided not to use these blocks for the planned Ukraine-quilt. They are just not beautiful enough.
A friend has already asked for a quilt for the cat basket. The cats don't mind if the blocks are crooked and wrinkled!

So I'll stitch up everything lying around with the machine and quilt it with a thick polyester batting.

But I start a new attempt! I don't give up that fast.



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Comments (2)

  • Doro
    at 20.12.2019
    ich bin soeben über Deinen tollen Blog gestolpert - er zeugt von einem großen Wissen, Können und Beharrungsvermögen. Das tut gut, anzuschauen.
    Wenn Dir das Handnähen liegt, hast Du Dir die INKLINGO-Methode von Linda Franz schon einmal angesehen? Zusammengefasst hast Du dabei Nählinien u. Ansatzlinien, ohne selber zeichnen zu müssen.
    ich nähe z.Zt. einen Passacaglia danach und habe bereits einen Drunkhard's Path handgenäht.

    liebe Grüße von
    • Nina
      at 20.12.2019
      Hallo Doro,
      Danke!! Tut immer gut, sowas zu lesen. (By the way - wie hast Du mich gefunden?)
      Klar, Linda Franz habe ich mir auch angesehen. Die Methode scheitert bei mir mangels Drucker, deshalb habe ich sie nicht erwähnt. Hm - sollte ich vielleicht nachholen.
      Ich wage es nicht, bei meinem Arbeitgeber auf Stoff zu drucken; -)
      LG Nina

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