Thursday, 4 April 2013

Piecing with a running stitch


This week I picked up some hand-sewing again as it's a sociable activity while my children are on their Easter holidays. I've had this project in my head for nearly a year now, but after my English paper piecing marathon before Christmas I decided to rest my eyes and elbow (for some reason hand-sewing makes my elbow ache horribly) before embarking on a new project.



This time I haven't used the English paper piecing method to piece this together. Everyone finds what feels right to them with a density of stitches and, for me, the whip stitch I naturally settle in to using for EPP works out at around 22 stitches per inch, which makes it quite labour intensive. I've tried to lessen this, but I just gradually revert back to what instinctively feels right. To piece these I've abandoned papers and am simply piecing them using a running stitch of around 12 or 13 stitches per inch...which means that not only is it much quicker, but a running stitch is also easier on my weirdy painful elbow as I don't have to pull through the thread with each stitch, but can gather four or five stitches onto the needle at a time. It almost feels like cheating, it's so quick by comparison.


I have been the lucky recipient of helpful tricks and tips from Cathy via email and Lorena on Instagram and it's made my transition to hand-stitching with a running stitch almost completely painless.


Something (I can't actually remember what) sparked off the idea for this tiny - as yet, unfinished - piece  when I went to the Quilting show at Birmingham NEC last summer. It will hopefully end up framed and hanging in our dining room and my focus is to fussy cut (even though I loathe that expression) specific patterns from the fabrics that ,once placed in a circle of diamonds, create new repeating patterns. The piecing gives a finished diamond size of 1".


I bought the fabrics right there and then, mostly from, I think, Petra Prins' stand. The fabrics have tiny prints and I enjoyed choosing some that incorporated a stripe, knowing that I'd enjoy matching the lines up, as you can see in the top left star in the photo below.


I worry that these prints may look a little old-fashioned and stuffy...that they may even appall you slightly, but I find myself strangely drawn to them and I love the new rings of flowers that dance amongst the stars.


One of my early mistakes was to use Frixion heat-erasable pens for marking out the sewing lines on the fabrics. It stopped me from being able to press the seams with an iron (which I normally do obsessively at every opportunity), until I eventually became so despairing that I decided to draw over them with a non-heat-erasable silver gel pen, as I couldn't bear the mass of wavy coral-like seams I was faced with on the underside. The silver gel pen works well and doesn't show through on even the palest of fabrics. Pressing each seam into the place I wanted it to lie at this point was more troublesome, but they are now all lying happily in their correct places and I'm ready to embark on the next round of piecing.

Florence x

27 comments:

  1. Why didn't I ever think of this method!? Have to try it, sounds very reasonable. The fabric is lovely and your fussy cutting fantastic!

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  2. Silver pens have their use for appliqué too- Sarah Fielke is the expert on that technique. I use the Sewline pencil for jobs like this. I do love pieced diamonds, yours look wonderful!

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  3. This is such a lovely selection of fabric, Florence. I haven't done any sewing - hand or machine for ages - I've even got stuff cut out that I can't get round to. I must start hand-sewing again, it's definitely more sociable. Can't wait to see this piece finished.

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  4. Your stars are looking lovely! I have problems with my elbow too. My Dr says it's the nerve in there. They can do a simple operation to help it. So maybe you should talk to your Dr, and see if that's the problem. Good luck.

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  5. I always seem to have great difficulty in matching up the points in the middle how do you achieve this?

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  6. Gorgeous!! Would it help to make the seam allowance smaller? Of course, not if an edge is on grain. Perhaps it's even harder to tame smaller SA's.

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  7. I love those stars! I do all of my hand piecing this way (with a back stitch every few stitches) and I use a 0.5mm 'H' mechanical pencil to mark my stitching lines - it doesn't shadow through to the front and gives a lovely fine line, I couldn't do without it!

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    1. What a good idea - and lovely excuse to buy some new stationery!

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  8. I love your stars, the fabrics are gorgeous and not stuffy or old-fashioned at all. Like you I use a million stitches when EPPing but don't have any problems with my elbow (although I do when I'm knitting). Your project is lovely and I'm looking forward to see it finished.

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  9. That is a lovely project and I love the way you use your fabric colours and patterns, though I think you're brave having the diamonds so small... I often use this hand-stitching method, and like Archie, I use a fine mechanical pencil for marking. At the moment though, I have just started on my first EPP project in years! Hope my elbow will be OK with it ;-)

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  10. Oh, they are beautiful! I love the fabrics you have chosen, they look fantastic all stitched together! x

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  11. The fabrics do look old-fashioned but not at all stuffy - very charming. I find that knitting hurts my wrists, and I've sometimes thought about taking my knitting along to an Alexander Technique teacher to see if they can spot what I'm doing wrong! x

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  12. Not appalling in the slightest. :)

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  13. I love your kaleidoscope patterns - so pretty! I think I'm going to have to try out this running stitch method, I also have a high whip-stitch count and have tried to stitch less but also find myself reverting back. Can't wait to see more of your stars! Sx

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  14. They look wonderful. I love hand piecing too. My e-mentor was Jinny Beyer. Have a look at her videos and books on hand piecing.

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    1. I have one of her books too - I didn't know that she did videos though - I'll have to look into that!

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  15. It looks awesome! I'm not a big hand-sewing fan myself but you made me think of trying this pattern.Waiting for more...

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  16. So that is why I have "tennis elbow" when I don't really play tennis!

    Your piece is lovely, I look forward to seeing the completed work. I love that you stay so true to yourself!

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  17. You know how sometimes the eye plays tricks? (Or else maybe someone like me should wear her glasses more often?) Well, when your new post came up on my sidebar, I read it as "Placing with a cunning stitch." And you know what? I think that title works equally well!

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  18. I love the colours and patterns, what is it going to be I wonder. I will have to stay tuned in. Jo

    http://joeveryday19.blogspot.co.uk

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  19. Loving the fabrics you're using, it's going to look beautiful when it's finished..........I hate the phrase fussy cut too, much prefer creative cut.

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  20. I really like your work, i'd really appreciate it if you could take some time to have a look through my blog here http://kraftidesigns.wordpress.com/

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  21. I love your fussy cutting, so pretty! I'm intrigued by the method too, it looks great so far x

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  22. No not at all stuffy and old fashioned - fabric perfection, I love these! Are the children still on their Easter hols? I have a little one back at playgroup this morning, and a husband back to school, but the elders are still at home for another week. Hope you had a lovely Easter! Love to all. x

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    1. As you saw on Instagram, I've been in Great Marlborough Street! Children still on hols too - I hope you're having a lovely time with the elders! x

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  23. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments - I'm so pleased it's not just me who likes the fabrics! x

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x