How to Hand Piece
Learn the tools needed for hand piecing, as well as basic steps for this quilting technique.
Needle: Thin needles, such as sharps or betweens, are best. Choose a size you can thread with ease. Many hand piecers prefer a size 10 sharps needle.
Pins: Use extra-fine pins. Those with large diameters can leave holes in your fabric and distort seaming.
Seam: Stitch only on marked lines, beginning and ending at marked matching points.
Stitch length: Try for stitches 1⁄8" in length, but don't stop hand-piecing if they are a bit longer. Stitch length isn't as important as matching corners, stitching on marked lines, and not sewing through seam allowances.
Thread: Sew with a 12" length. Some hand piecers prefer to use hand-quilting thread for its strength.
Layer two pieces, marked on the wrong sides, with right sides together. Align seam lines. Push a pin through both pieces at marked matching points-the ends of the marked seam lines. Add pins along the seam lines as needed. For short seams, use just one pin, pushing it through the left-hand corners, then use your needle to match up the right-hand corners (Photo 1).
Thread your needle; make a small knot at the end of the thread. At marked matching points insert your needle from the top through both pieces and make a small backstitch (Photo 1). Weave your needle in and out of the fabric along the seam line in a short running stitch. Take four to six stitches before pulling the thread through (Photo 2). If desired, take a backstitch about every 3⁄4" along the seam. (If you're using hand-quilting thread, which is sturdy, to hand-piece, you may be able to omit these backstitches.) Turn the piece over frequently to make certain your stitches are also on the marked seam line of the bottom piece.
Sew to the matching points at the end of the seam line; do not sew past them as they are where future seams will intersect. Make two backstitches at the matching points. Trim the thread, leaving a 1⁄2" tail (Photo 3).