Are you ready to piece?
The Carolina Favorite block is actually just an elaborate four patch block. Meaning it is composed of 4 alike units (pieced squares) that are slightly oriented differently around the center. This means everything we cover in today’s blog you will need to repeat a total of four times for the entire block.
I am going to follow the piecing sequence I provided in your instructions that came with the templates. When I write block piecing instructions I first look for any combination of seams that could be sewn in thread length. As a handpiecer it is best to sew as much as possible before knotting off and starting again. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you wish to look at it there are no long combo lengths of sewing that can be done on this block. So things will be strictly one seam and start anew for all that is going to be covered in today’s blog.
This is what makes this very complicated looking block actually very easy to hand piece. So see that is the fortunate part. It just may take a few minutes longer then if you could sew a long a winding path combining several pieces together in one thread length. That is the unfortunate part.
First up you will want to sew Piece C to D. Now here is the magic of my pinning method. Normally if we were machine piecing we line up our edges and let whatever tool we have on our machines help guide us to the perfect quarter inch. And for many that is how they have tackled hand piecing in the past.
I want you to ignore the cut edge of your pieces and use the drawn inner line to line things up. And this is how you are going to do that.
Using any pin that is at least an inch in length poke the pin straight thru the corner of piece C and also the corresponding corner of piece D. Your pieces will be right sides together. Normally I would just poke straight thru and push the pin down to the head and leave the pin dangle. That works on a straight line of sewing. But this is a gentle curve so I do bring the pin back to the front as you see in the picture, back thru piece D and then C to just hold it in place.
Now do the same on the opposite end of your seam.
Next you will want to use the finest pins you have available to you. I use Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Pins for my hand piecing, you can find them in my store or check your local quilt shop. Remember no shop can truly carry everything but most put in weekly orders for supplies and if your willing to wait a bit I am sure they will be happy to order them for you. We must support our shops! (in fact please them about my templates because they are available for wholesale orders for shops!)
You are going to gently maneuver the edge of piece C until it looks to be about right, and then pin directly on the drawn line. You will check where the pin falls on piece D and make any corrections you need to so that it also falls on the line.
These pins are short and so two are needed. I actually would like you to use two pins regardless of the length you have as it will make it easier when you are sewing. Repeat this process with a second pin. Use my picture as a guide.
Right now your piecing should look a little like a porcupine. That is normal. Now load up your needle with 18-22” of thread single strand, knot one end. I like Aurfil Mako 50wt. Be good to yourself and use a good quality thread when hand piecing. It will make a world of difference in your experience. The needles I use are Hemmings Milliners size 11. The milliners needle is going to be a tad bit longer then a sharp but not as long as a straw needle. If you are more comfortable with either of those needles then use them. I have had students use quilting betweens because they were comfortable working with that length of needle. Use whatever helps you be successful.
NOW THIS IS IMPORTANT! You are not, I repeat NOT going to sew directly on the drawn line that you pinned on. You are going to sew a thread or two above that line, or a scant quarter of an inch. This will compensate for the thickness of your marking pen and the fact that no one/thing can get a line drawn beneath the inner edge of the template. This is also why you want to make sure whatever you are marking with does not show on the front of your fabric.
I begin with a backstitch slightly above and one or two threads to the right of the first orientation pin. You will want to remove this pin at this time but keep a firm hold on your pieces to keep them in place until you can get a few stitches made. It is a running stitch that is used in hand piecing with a back stitch every 3-4 stitches is my style. If you stitches are longish at this time, based on your skill set (note they will get smaller and you will get faster the more you stitch) you may wish to bump up your backstitch to every other stitch. Basically you want a backstitch in every quarter inch of stitching.
Since I am using very fine pins I can actually leave them in and stitch past them, I am hovering above them. This is a great reminder to stay off the line! Stitch across following the gentle curve until you reach the opposite orientation pin. End as you began, a thread or two into the left hand side seam allowance and always end with a backstitch.
Clip you thread.
VOILA! You first seam is done!
Since this is a curved seam you will need to clip some ease into the seam. Three or Four snips about slightly over half the width of the seam allowance should do it. Open and finger press. Look how nice that curve is.
You did it! Be proud!
Ok on to the next piece. No resting. Your fingers are warmed up.
Pin your seam following my image as a guide.
Don’t catch the seam allowance of the intersecting seam in any of your pins.
It needs to be free to allow you to make the roundabout move (RED CIRCLE in illustration) . This move is what will make all your points nice and sharp in the block and no pin holes at your intersections.
You have a page of general instructions included in your templates and I have been and will continue to demo the roundabout move on Facebook LIVE for the next week or so. I am going to dock one of those instructional videos onto a special page on my website so it will available to you for viewing whenever you need a refresher very soon.
Sew this seam. Make your easing clips. Finger press.
The final part of making this unit, UNIT 1, is adding piece A. You will see in my next image I lost my mind and actually added it to UNIT 2 (which is the mirror image of UNIT 1). It really doesn’t matter which unit you put A on just make sure 4 of them are sewn to one or the other.
Get yourself to this point where you have 8 “halves” totally, 4 left and 4 right, with the A piece sewn somewhere and we will tackle the rest of the block in Sunday’s blog post.
Piece & Hexiness,