Monday, October 29, 2018

Hand Pieced QAL - What's in my Sewing Bag?

I've been hand-piecing up a storm and Kristin and I thought it would be fun to share the tools that we love to use everyday.  (Read more about the Hand Pieced QAL announcement which will start in January.  Want to make sure you don't miss it?  Join our Hand Pieced Quilt Along Facebook Group.  We'll remind you of new posts as they go live and you can share photos and chat about your experiences as we all build this quilt together.  Subscribe to our newsletter so you'll be among the first to know about the latest QAL news.)

The Basics

Lighting by Daylight, Thread by Aurifil, Needles by Clover, Snips by Famore

All you really need for hand piecing are the basics - needle, thread and snips - plus good lighting.

  • Your choice of a needle is really a personal one - I like a short needle while other quilters like to use longer needles.  The key thing to look for is a needle that you can thread without issue and one that feels comfortable in your hand.  Needles are inexpensive - experiment until you find one that feels right.   
  • Regular 50 wt quality quilting thread works well.  
  • Snips (or scissors) are also key - you want something smaller to trim any dog-ears and snip the thread.
  • I like to sit and stitch at a table where I can mark seams, finger press and sew with ease.  Great lighting and a quality lamp is critical.  I love, love my Daylight lamp.

Cutting and Marking Fabric

Perfect Piecer by Jinny Beyer, OLFA Cutting Mat, 28 mm Rotary Cutter & Ruler

For cutting fabric and marking seams, mats, rotary cutters and rulers are the key tools.

  • A small cutting mat can be very useful as a portable surface for marking seam lines.  It is easily rotated if you are, for example, cutting a piece of fabric in half on the diagonal to make  triangles.
  • I really love this smaller sized 28 mm rotary cutter for trimming up smaller blocks
  • Basic rulers are important for marking the 1/4'' sewing lines.  This specialty ruler - The Perfect Piecer -  makes marking sewing lines on triangles a breeze!

Making the Experience Enjoyable

Clover Leather Thimble & Metal Tip Thimble, Applique Pins, Clover Wonder Clips, & Robot Mom Sews Thread Conditioner

Finally, there are several notions that will make the task more enjoyable.
  • For some people, thimbles are critical while hand sewing.  I wear a thimble on the middle finger of my right hand while sewing.  I've tried all different thimbles and am enjoying the leather one pictured above.
  • Pinning seams is important.  The type of pin you use is one of personal preference but I love using short pins designed for applique because they don't get in my way while I am sewing.
  • Clips to keep pieces organized are wonderful - I just love these binding clips. (The mini ones work really well!)
  • Thread conditioner keeps your thread tangle free - I just love the conditioner from Robot Mom Sews - it does the job and smells so nice!
  • Listen to a favorite podcast or audio book.  I'm loving Friendship Album 1933 by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Sew Anywhere

Elm Street Quilts Travel Mesh Bag Tutorial

Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy hand piecing so much is you can take it anywhere. 

  • My travel case (tutorial here) folds open to give me a work surface and the center serves as a mini pin cushion.
  • Travel with a bobbin wound with thread instead of a spool.  (A great way to use up those almost empty bobbins.) 
  • Small case which holds a few pins and needles.  I always worry about loosing needles so a piece of fusbile fleece taped to the top of my case holds the needles tight.  If I am traveling by airplane, I bring along a tiny cheap pair of snips just in case TSA decides to confiscate my scissors.
  • Pieces cut, marked and kitted together is the key
Most of the items featured can be purchased at Fat Quarter Shop, one of the awesome sponsors for the Hand Pieced QAL!

Please note this post contains affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase an item.  This does not increase your costs in any way.  The Daylight Company, OLFA, Robot Mom Sews, Famore and Clover provided product for my personal use.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Have a wonderful day! Patty


  1. Thanks for the post. Lots of information for a new stitcher.
    xx, Carol

  2. Great tip about listening to a podcast while you do hand work, too. I've never tried thread conditioner. Hmmm, off to go look for some unscented options...

  3. Remarkable post! All that fit in your bag? I really like the mesh bag. I bought a package of mesh for another project (that I haven’t gotten to, yet) and I’ll bet there’s enough leftover to try this bag, too! My winter make list is growing!

  4. Thanks for all the information. I'm actually looking forward to the QAL.

  5. I have not heard of the thread conditioner - might give it a try - I'm new to your blog but not hand piecing and hand quilting

  6. Nice travel mesh bag. I recently tried my hand at handsewing a small mini quilt using 1 1/4" hexies. The piece turned out very stiff. Maybe my stitches were too close together and too many? I didn't mind sewing the hexies together but did not like making them. I will watch for your posts on how you hand sew your pieces together.


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