After deciding on the arrangement of the squares and marking the 1/4 inch seam line on all sides of each square, I chose the two I would start piecing and placed them right sides together. Using my long straight pins, I pushed a pin through both squares so that it was directly on the marked line of both squares. I used one pin about every inch. At the corners, I made sure that the pin went directly through the intersection of the lines at the corners on each square.
Here is the wrong side of the other square showing the pointed ends of the pins poking through.
Then I took another pin and put it into the seam allowance near the first pin and then back out again so that it was flat with the fabric. The pin sticking straight up through both fabrics ensures that neither fabric will slip during this pinning. Then I removed the first pin that was sticking straight up and used it to pin the fabric near the next pin. I continued this until each of the pins that were sticking straight up out of the fabric was removed and replaced by a pin that was flat on the fabric.
Then I took my favorite quilting needle and hand quilting thread and began to stitch the seam. Using knots in hand piecing will tend to produce unnecessary bulk in the seams, so it is not recommended. Instead, start stitching about 1/2 inch away from a corner along the seamline and stitch towards the corner, making sure that your needle is going into the marked line on both squares. After every few stitches, work a little back stitch by putting your needle into the fabric about a half stitch back from where you ended your last stitch. This will lock your stitches in place. Once you have stitched that little 1/2 inch and have reached the corner, turn your stitching around and stitch the entire seam line to the opposite corner, working a little back stitch as before each time you come to a pin, or about every inch or so. When you reach the corner, turn your work around and stitch about 1/2 inch back along the seam line, taking one more little back stitch in that 1/2 inch. Then clip your thread.
I stitched all three rows of squares in this manner, and then...
...I pinned the rows together and stitched them in the same way, making sure that my needle was going directly through the marked line with every stitch and through the intersections of the lines at each corner...
...until all nine squares were connected to each other.
And there is the 9 patch pillow top, ready for layering and quilting.
I really enjoy hand piecing because of it's slow pace and relaxing rhythm. It produces just about perfectly accurate seams and corners too. Do you have any tips for hand piecing that you would like to share? Please leave a comment and let everyone know!
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