CHQuilts: October 2021

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

I've overcome a hand-sewing bias

CHQuilts: Halloween candle pad
Hand sewing is just not my thing, or is it?

I have long believed that hand work just wouldn’t hold up as well as the work done on a machine; that is, until I started my own hand-sewing projects.

This small Halloween candle pad, made with one-inch hexis, is my most recent project. I will give it to my daughter, Jenny who is enamored by all things Halloween. I hope she likes it.

What a fun way to practice my hand work and to help me decide if I really want to make that Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt I have longed for.

All that sewing can be grueling if you don’t love it. But the more I do it, the more I think I’m starting to love it. I just don’t know yet if I love it quite enough for an entire quilt.

I had no experience with hand-sewing until recently. I’m in learning mode, so I’m trying out all kinds of new techniques and skills. I did some of my fist hand sewing on applique blocks for a recent quilt—Afternoon Delight—one I’d written about extensively in prior posts. It seems the more I did needle-turn applique, a popular method of hand-sewing small pieces of fabric onto a larger one to form a design and/or motif, the more that became my preferred method of applique.

I also recently hand-quilted that quilt and found that I really enjoyed that hand work as well. Like with most skills, the more you do them, the better you get at it.

Now, I might just be hooked on hand work.

I’m not sure where my bias came from. Perhaps it was just inexperience rooted in my own ignorance of the process. I’ve long been impressed by other people’s hand work—all kinds of hand work dating back to the fancy embroidery on my grandmother’s crazy quilts. Perhaps it was just a lack of confidence on my part.

I think the first time I questioned my own bias was when I learned that Jinny Beyer made all of her gorgeous quilts by hand. She hand pieces as well as hand quilts them and they are spectacular. I couldn’t have been more impressed. Jinny Beyer is one of my quilting heroes.

Like all things quilting, and with the help of so many technological teaching tools, I am teaching myself to hand sew. The joining of my first hexagons was definitely lacking, but the more I do it, the more I can hone my skill. I’ve learned how to place my needle so the stitches don’t show on the front of the piece, but are strong enough to hold the pieces together. I learned the hard way to secure with a knot with each direction change so the stitches don’t unravel.

Everything about quilting is a process and I have yet to find one I don’t absolutely adore. Hand-sewing is just one more.