Book Review: Quiltmaking by Hand

QuiltNotes Learning Center

Last Updated May 13, 2018

If the title didn’t scare you away then you’re probably reading this because you’re maybe interested in hand quilting or you just want to know what the heck Carol’s doing now! Either way, thanks for being here. When I wanted to learn hand piecing, I bought Quiltmaking by Hand by Jinny Beyer. This is a great book for many reasons. I wanted to learn how to hand piece because I needed something portable. The illustrations are outstanding and the step-by-step instructions are well written and easy to understand. I was hand piecing in no time.

In addition to the hand piecing instructions, the book covers a little piecing history, some of the tools you’ll need, drafting blocks and includes instructions for 10 hand pieced quilts. This is the only book you’ll need to learn hand piecing. There is also a section on hand quilting. If you need a quality addition to your quilt reference library, Quiltmaking by Hand is a must.

It is so refreshing to do hand work and I’m impressed that the tools you need are so few. Just the very basics of sewing notions including scissors, needle, thread, pins, thimble and a marking pencil and ruler.

For needles, Jinny suggests #10 or #11 Betweens. My favorite is Roxanne #10 Betweens because they are strong and glide through the fabric. You get 50 needles in a small glass container with a shell stopper. Perfectly portable.

For thread I like to use Aurifil cotton 50wt. It is strong, thin and silky and glides through the fabric.

For my first hand piecing project I used scraps cut into 2″ x 4″ rectangles. I sewed sets of two pieces together along the long side then I sewed the sets together in rows. This quilt is about 70″ x 75″, which is a weird size for me. I knew I wanted about 70″ long so I just kept adding 70″ rows until I ran out of rectangles.

I cut out all the pieces and put them in a zipper bag along with my thimble, thread, pins, scissors and seam marker. I would piece one scrap to the other then piece that unit to the row. Once I completed a row, I pieced the rows together.  I took this on a trip to Italy and worked on it on the plane home. It kept me busy during the 9 hour flight.

Close up of the pieced units. I basted the layers together with my longarm and now I am hand quilting it.

For the quilting, I am using black thread and quilting an X in each block.

I use this lap hoop to hand quilt because as I quilt, I don’t need to hold the hoop in place.  I put the quilt on the large hoop and use the small hoop as the stand. I can easily see the back to check my stitches.

My current hand piecing project is small tumblers. The tumblers are 2-1/2″ tall finished.

The thing I find fascinating about hand piecing is I can take the next tumbler and piece it any where I want to then grab another and piece it where ever I happen to be.

If you want to take a step back to quiltmaking in a simpler way, I recommend hand piecing. Moving from strip cutting and chain piecing, it’s refreshing to slow down and hand piece. I actually get more done by hand piecing because it’s so portable I can pick it up and put it down at any point.

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