Slow sewing: what is it—and is it for you? (+ tutorial)

September is National Sewing MonthSeptember is National Sewing Month!

We’ve been celebrating all month with ideas for out-of-the-box sewing. Today’s focus: slow sewing—a celebration of hand sewing in all its forms: piecing, appliqué, quilting, and embroidery. Just you, a needle, thread, and fabric. The ultimate indulgence!

Slow sewing is an easy way to fit creativity into daily life. Instead of waiting for the right time to escape to your sewing room (raise your hand if you know that feeling!), you can hand sew just about anywhere you like.

Sewing-machine motif from Patchwork Loves EmbroideryPerhaps you’ve tried slow sewing in the form of hand quilting or embroidery (left). But have you tried hand piecing your quilt blocks? Thanks to the slow-sewing movement, the technique is alive and well! If you know how to sew a running stitch you already have the basics down, but there are a few special tricks to learn. Here’s some hand-piecing how-to from Laurie Simpson, coauthor of Everyday Folk Art.

How to Hand Piece Quilt Blocks

1. Rotary cut fabric pieces with a ¼" seam allowance added, just as for machine piecing. Lay cut fabric on a sandpaper board to keep the fabric from distorting and to reduce pressure on the marking tool. Use a 1″ x 12″ acrylic ruler and a marking pencil to mark a scant ¼" (to take the width of the marked line into account) seam allowance onto the wrong side of each piece.

Hand-piecing-quilt-blocks-1

2. The marked line is your sewing line. Use a sharp needle and 50-weight cotton thread to sew a small running stitch on the line. Don’t knot the thread; take a small backstitch on top of your first stitch to secure it. Start and stop at the sewing lines. Do not sew into the seam allowances.

Hand-piecing-quilt-blocks-2

3. To end a sewing line, take a small stitch on top of your last stitch and then make a knot in the thread. Pull the knot down with your fingernail so that it’s right up against the fabric, and pull to secure it. When you reach an intersection of seam lines, make an extra stitch to anchor your pieces. Check occasionally to be sure you’re sewing on the line on both the front and back. Also, take a backstitch every time you fill a needle with stitches—about every 1″ to 1½".

Take a look below at more ways you can enjoy a bit of slow sewing. Pack a portable sewing kit and some fabric, and you’re ready to sew wherever you go!


EMBROIDERY + PATCHWORK
From Patchwork Loves Embroidery by Gail Pan

Projects from Patchwork Loves Embroidery
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Patchwork Loves EmbroideryMake your own portable sewing kit in Patchwork Loves Embroidery >

Print book: $24.99 eBook: $16.99


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EMBROIDERY + SEWING
From Stitched for Fun by Fiona Goble

Projects from Stitched for Fun
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Stitched for FunEmbroidery on shoes? See it in Stitched for Fun >

Print book: $24.99


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ENGLISH PAPER PIECING
From English Paper Piecing II by Vicki Bellino

Projects from English Paper Piecing II
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English Paper Piecing IISee a quilt made with 2,031 hexagons (!) in English Paper Piecing II.>

Print book: $22.99 eBook: $14.99


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Slow sewing or swift stitching—what’s your current speed? Tell us in the comments!


Quiltmaker's Treasure Hunt 2014Once again, we’re happy to be a sponsor of Quiltmaker magazine’s exciting Quiltmaker’s Treasure Hunt! Where can you find the Treasure Hunt button this year? Here’s a big hint: Doze and dream of adorable baby quilts!
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