The Checkerboard block seemed a good one to start hand piecing with. It has nine patches in total, is made with straight lines, and has no more than four patches in any one intersection. I cut them from a hand dye and a directional fern print, which meant that care was needed to make sure the direction was the same on all of the patches (I only stuffed it up once!).

I cut them out according to a very labor intensive method: printed the block out and traced it on to freezer paper, then cut out the paper, ironed it on to the back of my fabric (the thin plastic on the back of it melts under an iron and sticks temporarily without leaving a permanent residue, making it useful for patchwork), measured and cut a seam allowance, then marked around the freezer paper for the sewing line. Totally unnecessary for squares, but I hadn’t ever done it before and wondered how it worked. Here are the patches pinned together:

Basically, it was too much trouble. I’ll find some other method. I’m open to suggestions: please remember that I’m cutting very small quantities of very small patches. Rotary cutting might not be the answer. Jinny Beyer recommends marking all around a template with seam allowances already included, then eyeballing the seam allowances. I’m not sure I’m up to that yet.

Another problem I have is American style hand piecing. I’m trying to learn Jinny Beyer’s method (her book is the Bible of hand piecing, and you can see her sewing by clicking on the ‘Simply Quilts’ link on the sidebar, then searching in the video archives). It’s so fast, so clean and effective. I want to be able to do this well. It’s also a very foreign movement for my hands, so I struggled to keep my seams straight (the small pieces made it harder still) and I couldn’t match the seams perfectly:

Still, 1/16th of an inch isn’t bad for a beginner, and certainly not so bad that I’d consider ditching the block or starting again. I’ll just keep practicing, and make a four patch next, then maybe a double nine patch to practice these seams. So I have a finished first block: hurrah!

Patches in this block: 9

Patches so far: 9