Speed piecing involves sewing long strips of fabric together which are then cut down to the correct size and sewn together. Speed piecing is used to "quickly" piece together several blocks. Speed piecing can be applied to both four-patch and nine-patch blocks and well as half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles and "flying geese".
Chain piecing involves sewing "pairs" of fabric pieces together, one after the other, without lifting the presser foot on the machine or cutting the threads. Once all the pieces for each stage have been sewn together, they are then cut apart. This "saves" both time and thread.
This lesson will be "demonstrated" using a basic nine-patch block.
I have selected a range of coordinating fabrics to make a Christmas wall-hanging.
Debbie Mumm's Christmas Bears
I then created a simple quilt design alternating the basic nine-patch block with a plain square. The "illustration" shows a star fabric on the plain square but you could use any printed or appliqued design for these blocks. I plan to use the small Christmas Bear panels.
Once you have chosen your design, you then need to determine which pieces are "repeated" and can therefore be prepared using the speed piecing technique. In this example, the squares in the nine patch are repeated. By sewing strips of the 3 fabrics in the sequence together and then cutting across the strips, you create the pieces very quickly.
Select three fabrics. You will have 2 sets of 3 fabrics for this design.
Cut the strips to the size you require.
I cut 2½" strips which will be 2" when finished.
Sew the strips together and where possible use the "chain piecing" technique to "save" time and thread.
Bring the sewn fabric strips forward and cut off as required to sew the next stip in place.
Here are the 2 different strip patterns. Once you have sewn them together, "finger press" and iron the seams flat. You will need to press one set of seams to the centre and the other set facing the outer edges.
Using your ruler and board, square off the ends and cut the strips into pieces - 2½" wide in this case.
Once you have cut all the strips, place them in piles ready for chain piecing.
Check that you have pressed the seams correctly. Notice that the lower piece has the seams pressed inwards, while the top piece has the seams pressed "outwards". This allows the seams to butt together "snuggly" and helps to create a smooth join with all the points touching neatly.
Join the pieces together using the chain piecing method. Cut the chains apart and "press" the seams flat.
Your blocks will be completed in no time!
Lay out your blocks and arrange them so you are happy with the effect. Join your blocks together, adding "sashing" if you so desire. Complete your quilt top by adding the border. Sandwich together and bind as normal. So easy -- you could make it in an afternoon!
Watch this space for my completed Christmas wall-hanging -- real soon!
As you can see, the use of chain and speed piecing allow you to "quickly" assemble the blocks for a quilt. I hope these tips will inspire you to whip up a small wall-hanging or table runner for the festive season. It's only around the corner so you'd best get cracking or should I say, speed piecing!
I hope you've found this information on chain and speed piecing useful.
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