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.