Category Archives: hand sewing

Hand Piecing with a Running Stitch

I put together this hand out for my quilt guild this evening and I thought it might be useful to folks to post it here! Ideally I’ll update this with pictures and what not, but we’ll see!

Handout for Hand Quilting with a Running Stitch

The Basics:

This style of hand piecing involves drawing the sewing line onto the back of the fabric, and using a running stitch to sew along the drawn sewing line.

Compared to EPP there is less prep time, less supplies needed, and I think it is a little easier for beginners to pick up and piece accurately. There are disadvantages, including having more exposed seams and having to press your seams.


Needle: I like a milliners needle – which is long, thin, bendier and more flexible. I use a size 11 but it is difficult to thread the eye is so small. Some people prefer a firmer needle like a sharp (often used for hand quilting).

Marking Implement: Basically, you want to use something that either washes out very easily, or is very permanent so it won’t bleed! And if you are doing light colors, you don’t want it to show through.

  • Pencil -Some people like a mechanical pencil – either a regular one or a sewing specific pencil.
  • Permanent marker – my fave is the Sakura Pigma Micron Marker – which has a fine line. I use in the lightest color I can see on the fabric.
  • Other marking options include an inkjet printer via Inklingo or purchasing stamps and using a permanent fabric ink like Versacraft.

Thread: Some people prefer very fine thread like So Fine Bobbin thread or silk thread. I like 50 wt Auriful or Guterman basic polyester because it “grips” the fabric and puts less stress on my hands when sewing, and I feel more confident my knots will hold. However, sometimes my stitches are a little visible so if that would really bother you, using a finer thread, or switching thread to match your fabric can help.

Drawing your shapes:

There are three basic methods for drawing the shapes –

  • Tracing from a template (similar to EPP)
    • Tracing your stitching line around an EPP Paper piece will do, or you can purchase templates.
    • You can make your own ¼ seam or get/make templates that include the quarter inch seam.
    • I like having the quarter inch seam precisely placed on my pieces because it makes the hand sewing process a little faster, however, it’s not necessary.
    • I print my own templates onto heavy cardstock and carefully cut them out.
  • Stamping – stamps generally include a stitching line and a cutting line – this allows you to have consistent quarter inch seams
  • Printing – via Inklingo. If you are comfortable with computers, the website has excellent customer service and I highly recommend it. The learning curve is a bit of a pain, but once you figure it out (took me about an hour of frustration) if you are doing a larger project it can really save time.

The Process:

I’ll spell out the basic steps, but watching is always the best way to learn!

  1. Mark your sewing lines on your fabric and cut out with at least a quarter inch seam allowance. Tip: You can cut off points on diamonds/triangles to reduce bulk.
  2. Line your two pieces up. I sew from right to left, therefore I’d place a pin in the LEFT corner perfectly joining the sewing lines at the corner.
  3. Make a quilter’s knot (or whatever knot you like) in your thread. Use a single strand of thread.
  4. Insert your needle one-two stitches away from the RIGHT corner, making sure it is evenly placed through both pieces precisely on the sewing line. I don’t put my knots in the corners, because I don’t want to add bulk there.
  5. Take a back stitch into the corner to perfectly secure your corner.
  6. Do a running stitch along the edge of the piece, taking care to check and readjust that your two drawn sewing lines are perfectly lined up. Some people do a back stitch every few stitches, though I don’t.
  7. When you get to the next corner, pull out your pin and do a back stitch to secure your point. If you have to tie your thread off, go back a few stitches to make your knot to avoid bulk at your points.
  8. One advantage to this method is doing continuous stitching as much as possible. I plan out my piecing to allow me to start and stop as little as possible. If you are able to add the next piece, then align the next piece, run your needle through the point/corner on the right side and place your pin in the left corner, and continue sewing.

Ironing: Generally speaking, press your blocks from the center going outward and have your seams facing in the same direction. You can finger press as you go or use an iron, depends on what you are sewing and your preference. I generally iron units before joining them or adding the next layer or piecing.


Note – there are many, many websites where you can get templates designed for EPP, but fewer where you can get stamps and hand-piecing specific products/tutorials so I have only included those.

InkLingo not only sells printable templates, but she has some nice videos on how to hand piece, search “How to Sew La Passacaglia by Hand” for a great overview – even if you don’t want to make La Passacaglia it goes over the basics really nicely. is a well-known instructor in this technique, lots of tips on her webpage

Pat Sloan’s blog has a lot of helpful pictures sells stamps and has lots of information on her website. is a source of clear stamps (most are rubber so you can’t see the fabric placement as precisely) – sells rubber stamps and has nice tutorials – is another source for clear stamps and has a La Passacaglia stamp kit

La Passacaglia Update and My Finishing Plan

I started my La Passacaglia quilt on February 20th, 2016. I wrote this blog about how I got started on my La Passacaglia – and now that I have the end in sight, I thought I would reflect on how I think the finishing might go. At first I was obsessed and would work on it all the time, and I thought, maybe I’ll get it done in a year! Then, I got sick, then pregnant, and I did not touch it for months.

But now, the fire is back! I have even made a plan for how I want to finish my edges. The original quilt pattern has you make a bunch of extra pieces and then cut them off- making the quilt a little smaller than I want and creating extra work. Some people leave all the rosettes of the original pattern and then appliqué it down with curved edges – I think that is pretty but I liked the straight edge finish of the original.

In my version, I am going to cut off a few rosettes, but I am going to add some more partial rosettes to make it overall slightly larger. Now that I have a plan too, I can make the rosettes with a plan so I don’t have to cut much off for the final finish.

I am planning to a dark border then a light border, but keep a few corners rounded, I guess I’ll appliqué those down to the border.  The end quilt should be close to queen size. I might put it on the bed, but then of course the children will never be allowed in my bedroom again!

passacaglia finishing option 4I used a chart made up for the quilt by this person Ketutar on DeviantArt. I then cut and pasted in extra pieces and blanked out the middle of each rosette so I could write in my own code system for how I am organizing the layout. The floaty stuff around the edges are just stuff I forgot to erase – I just made this in Microsoft Paint! I am sharing it here because a bunch of people asked me for it, and since so many people are planning to finish the quilt in a similar way I figured I would save them the trouble of doing it themselves. Here is a link to a printable pdf. 

I know some people think it is rude to share the charts – disrespectful to the artist that made the original because then people might not buy the book – but I honestly don’t think you could make this quilt by just looking at this chart! You wouldn’t know how all the rosettes fit together – it’s way too complicated to try and figure that out, just buy the beautiful book!

But if you have the original book chart and this, you can use it to make a plan to finish out the edges of the quilt pattern. It should go without saying though – by the book and support the author who thought this amazing quilt up!

I’ve very excited to have the end in sight – of course adding the extra pieces to square it up is going to stretch out timeline of the project!


I’m sewing more pieces together, and making lots of weird odds and ends pieces that will fill in the border. I am doing hand piecing without papers using inklingo which is a massive time saver (for me anyway, I really like it) but one result is you have a lot of messy looking raw edges. As I connect the units though it is starting to look so pretty and tidy, so that is extremely satisfying!



I spend a lot of hours sitting on the floor in the middle of the layout sewing the pieces together!


This is a picture of it a month ago. I am working on finishing up the last large rosette that will fill in that giant whole in the top left.


It is great to have a plan in place! I’ll be honest – I have spent so much time looking at this quilt I don’t know if I even like it anymore. I wish I had done it in all blue and white, or maybe in a more organized rainbow scheme. But I do know that I want to FINISH IT. My husband keeps joking it will be a two sided quilt – with a full hand-pieced La Passacaglia on the other side. He says, “This is great, just think when you finish all these rosettes you’ll be half done! The other side will go so much faster.” Ha ha!

Now I am motivated to sew, sew sew! I find when I take a break it takes me a lot of wasted time to get back into the layout and design of it, so I want to get a bunch done now before I lose steam! Which will definitely happen when the baby comes in May!

Improv Star Quilt Return

I previously posted about this quilt here, but at the time I was not excited about blogging, and the post only has two pictures – and you can’t even see the whole quilt!

Improv Star Quilt

So I decided to blog about it again with the motivation of entering the quilt in the Hand Quilted sewing category of Amy’s Creative Side Blogger’s Quilt Festival.  I have another quilt in the scrappy section, my Mad Farmer’s Medallion. This is a great place to check out other amazing quilts. I am not under any illusion that the quilting on my quilt compares to any of the masterpieces that are also entered in this section! But it’s fun to play along!

Voile Improv Star Quilt

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How to Get Started On Your La Passacaglia Quilt

When I told my brother we wanted to have kids but didn’t feel quite ready, he said, “You’ll never be ready, you just have to be brave.” I think the same advice applies to starting a La Passacaglia quilt.

Normally I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration when people compare a sewing project to having a child, but with the amount of time (and money!) I’ve put into this quilt, I’m starting to feel like that’s pretty accurate!  Though this quilt has fewer temper tantrums 🙂

La Passacaglia Progress Using Inkligo

This gorgeous quilt pattern has been very popular and I’ve admired it for several years – HOWEVER I also thought that everyone doing it was totally out of their minds!

What changed? Well, when my daughter was about a year old she was a terrible napper. But she would nap in the car. So I started to spend a lot of time sitting in the car! I started to have an itch for a hand sewing project to keep my hands busy. I decided the people working on La Passacaglia had the right idea. And then I became obsessed with this beautiful quilt.

Now my daughter naps in her own crib, but I am still sewing! I sew listening to audiobooks and while watching TV. My hands have stayed busy.

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