Hand Piecing

Hand Piecing

Learn from the master! Explore the tips, lessons and videos that Jinny has shared with you.

Design & Color

Sewing Tips

Hand Piecing

Terrific Tools

Hand Quilting

Working with
Border Print Fabrics

Hand Piecing & Even Stitches

Jinny is often asked how to achieve even stitches when hand piecing. She replies:

It is all a matter of maintaining proper tension. You may be familiar with the “sewing birds” they had years ago. The birds were attached to a table and were used to anchor the fabric while one hand held the other part of the fabric at a good tension. The free hand took the stitches.

Tension on the fabric is of the utmost importance. Without proper tension, your stitches will be too loose or too tight. It is the same thing as quilting. Without a hoop or frame your stitches may be too loose or too tight. When I am hand piecing, I hold the fabric in both hands and I pull the hands slightly away from each other, creating tension on the fabric. The hand with the needle “gathers” the fabric onto the needle. I constantly maintain the tension as I sew the stitches.

For complete information on hand piecing and much more, see Jinny’s book, Quiltmaking by Hand.

Joining 6 Points

When sewing six points together, sew the first three pieces and then the second three, and finally one straight seam will join the two halves together.

Step 1 Begin by laying out the three pieces for the first half. Pick up piece A and, with right sides together, pin it on top of piece B.


Step 2 Starting at the outside edge and sewing towards the center, sew just to the point where the seam allowance would cross, and take a small back-stitch. Do not break the thread.


Step 3 Take the pin out, open up the seam and gently finger-press the seam towards the right.


Step 4 Now take piece C and place it, right sides together, on top of piece B. You should be able to feel the ridge from the seam allowance with your thumbnail. Carefully bring the needle directly through the end of the last stitch it made, and through the base of the seam allowance. Take a back-stitch along the”ridge, and then continue sewing this last piece.


Step 5 Sew the other three pieces in the same manner so that you now have two halves.

Check to make sure that the point in the middle of each half is securely bounded by the points on either side. If the point is not neat and sharp at this stage, it will not be neat and sharp when the two halves are sewn together.


Step 6 Place the two halves together with right sides facing each other, making sure that the points of the center piece in each half meet exactly. Place a pin through the point.


Step 7 Sew from the edge towards the center. As you reach the center, carefully pull out the pin, bring all the seam allowances towards the left.

Sew up to the seam line, making sure not to catch any of the seams in the stitches. Take a back-stitch at the center and then pass the needle through the base of the seam. Now pull all the seams towards the right, take another back-stitch right next to the seam, and then continue sewing across.

Joining Eight Points

Step 1 When joining eight points, sew the first four pieces together and then the second four, and finally one straight seam will join the two halves. Begin by laying the four pieces for the first half out onto a table or your lap.


Step 2 Pick up piece A and, with right sides together, pin it on top of piece B. Starting at the outside edge and sewing towards the center, sew just to the point of where the seam allowances on the piece would cross, and take a small back-stitch. Do not break the thread.


Step 3 Take the pin out, open up the two pieces and gently finger-press the seam towards the right. Now take piece C and place it, right sides together, on top of  piece B. You should be able to feel the ridge from the seam allowance with your thumbnail. Carefully bring the needle directly through the end of the last stitch and through the base of the seam allowance. Take a back-stitch along the ridge and then continue sewing to the end.


Step 4 Check to make sure that the point on piece B is securely bounded by pieces A and C as shown. If this point is not neat and sharp at this stage, you will not have sharp points when all eight are joined.


Step 5 With the right side facing, finger-press the seams towards the right. Pin piece D on top of piece C. Using a new thread, bring the needle all the way from piece A, at the exact point where the first seam ended, and through the bases of the three points and onto piece D.


Step 6 Back-stitch along the edge of the seams and continue sewing the last piece. Sew the remaining four pieces in the same manner so that you now have two halves. Check to make sure that the points in the middle of each half are securely bounded by the points on either side.


Step 7 Place the two halves together with right sides facing each other, making sure that the points of the center piece in each half meet exactly. Place a pin through the point, with the point of the pin coming just below the bulk of all the seams of the points.


Step 8 Sew from the edge towards the center. As you reach the center, carefully pull out the pin, bring all the seam allowances towards the left and sew up to the seam line, making sure not to catch any of the seams in the stitches. Back-stitch at the center and then pass the needle through the base of the seams. Now pull all the seams towards the right, take another back-stitch right next to the seam and then continue sewing across to complete the seam.

Joining Four Points

When sewing anything where four points join together, such as four squares, first sew them together in pairs of two.

Press the seams of each section so that, when right sides are placed facing each other, the seams will go in the opposite direction and will nest together.

Place the two sets of squares next to each other with right sides facing and one seam going one direction and the other in the opposite direction. This creates a ridge where the two seams can butt next to each other ,helping to keep them in place. Put a pin directly through this ridge and begin sewing from one side.


As you approach the center, carefully pull the pin out and make sure that the two seams are still butted next to each other. Now (if you are right handed), gently pull all the seam allowances to the left and sew right up to the seam line. Make a tight back-stitch.


Next, gently pull the seam allowance to the right, take another back-stitch right next to the seam and continue sewing across the seam.


The secret of getting points to match when hand piecing is to take these tight back-stitches where seams meet, and to never sew the seam allowances down, always leaving them free.

Working with Silk Thread

Silk thread is so fine that it tends to slide right out of the eye of the needle. One solution is to actually tie the thread to the needle — the silk is so fine that the knot does not interfere with the sewing. Here are the steps.

Note that for better visibility, we’ve used a huge needle and perle cotton, not silk thread, in the photos.

1. Thread the needle.

2. Wrap the short end of thread twice around your index finger, leaving at least two inches of tail below the wrapped thread.

3. Keeping hold of the tail of thread, bring the needle underneath the two loops.

4. Pull the needle through. As you pull, you will see a knot form. Release the short end of the thread and pull on the long end and the knot will draw up to the needle.

5. Now you are ready to sew!