Piece Making

Small is not a measurement

I called this  segment Small Cloth.  We might ask ourselves what is small?   And there is no real answer.   It's relative to your point of view.   Your personal sense of scale.   I have my own sense of small  which will be the framework  for  preparing patches and puzzle pieces.    It is what I  feel comfortable with  after all these years.   Small is not a measurement.   It might be quite personal , especially when considering capability.   Comfort often translates into a sense of what seems right.   Maybe that feeling keeps expressing itself for a while until something else takes over.   What feels good or even "right" changes.   Especially with time, practice.

I will begin with  a kind of personal math then.   Quilt Math I used to call it, especially in the traditional context of quiltmaking.   But now I've simplified into something I will call  PieceMaking, which I think  works in a broader way within my style of composition.  An an open ended or "Loose" plan.

When  I ask myself what is small, my answer is not (too) big.  But at the same time, and quite importantly, not (too) tiny.

AUDIO-Sense of Scale

A Sense of Scale


I am linking to and adding  content from old blog posts and previously recorded thoughts on this subject  because I have talked about this many times before within the context of what I was working on  and just like scraps of cloth,  loose thoughts  might all work together  to build  and round out this concept.  It is handy for me to look back as well, before I try to explain where I am today.  Today is simply a sum of our yesterdays.

Below is a little film I made awhile back when I was experimenting with on screen drawing.  I just like it.  The sound was not too good so I did not publish it,  but you  might lean in.

simple as one, two, three

And below are some excerpts form Small Journeys (sometimes awful sound)  where I talked about my personal sense of scale.  Just  giving you a bit of history.

So, today, reconsidering again.  PieceMaking.

Let's do it.

Back to the present, that life in pieces

a simple beginning

Just begin

This is a way to begin.  Each size piece is a puzzle base that might be developed  later.   But all the base puzzles will work together.   I call them puzzle 1, 2, 3, etc,  just to keep track of the size I began with.  Over time though, I don't  keep track at all.  I just play with what I have and learn from  that.

The other thing about small cloth is the convenience.  Small enough to fit in your pocket, portable and easy to manage.  Handy to use to catch a few thoughts in stitch,  and easy to use for practice.

Small Cloth also helps me appreciate less.  Live in the moment.   Use a little time to make a little something.  Makes it easier to begin.

AUDIO-Just Pieces

Just Pieces


  1. Fumiko

    I wonder about the idea of cutting the one inch square out of a larger piece of paper or poster board, so that the template becomes a sort of window..

  2. Carol

    In my searching for the elusive harem cloth for a backing piece I realized there are different grades of cheesecloth. A grade 90 cheesecloth has the same thread count as harem cloth, 44 x 36. I’ve ordered some to see if it will work. I don’t have any harem cloth to compare but if it works ok then I’ll be happy. Will let you know.

    • jude

      i replied to this but somehow it got lost, maybe because I am a bit lost lately. The 90 grade is ok I think, I’ve ordered some as well, I am also investigating other cloths that are called muslin. Names are very confusing.

      • Carol

        Just received the 90 grade. Not sure it will work. Ordered “butter muslin” which apparently has a 90 thread count per inch. Hopefully will find a good alternative. Love to hear what you and others are finding. BTW, you’re not lost… just on a different path than usual or expected. : )

    • Laura R

      I ordered the grade 90, washed and dried it in the dryer on low. It is wrinklier than gauze. I will iron it. It is still a much looser weave, and a lesser quality, than harem cloth. The brand I bought was Sceng. I’m looking forward to hearing the opinions of others.

      • Carol

        Hi Laura, I just received my 90 grade and it happens to be the same brand, Sceng. Haven’t washed it yet but really appreciate you sharing your results. Sigh. Maybe the “butter muslin” at 90 thread per inch will be better.

        • jude

          there are many thin cloths, i often just keep my eyes open. my neighbor was discarding some old almost see thru cotton curtains. I said, can I have those?

  3. Pam S.

    I’ve always liked working with small pieces too, and since I don’t use a sewing machine it feels awkward to hold pieces larger than my palm…. it works well for me!

    • jude

      it is quite an important thing to consider, comfort. I think we are always challenged by the idea of “comfort zone”, but what fits us might be the first step toward personal style. sometimes when I am faced with a new technique, the steps I take toward how it might work for me have to do with what I think I can handle. And I see that as an opportunity to reshape it. Perhaps we are drawn to what we can rest in. Portability shaped my process, because I was a working mom, commuting on a train for so many years. And that was my “free” time.

  4. I made ten one-inch squares and I was fumbling quite a bit! Some fabrics were easier than others. But I think my technique improved as I made them. I am really fond of the smallness of one inch, so I’ll keep at it.

    • jude

      yes, we learn a lot about cloth s we handle it. Cloth is like clay and mostly my squares are not square, I manipulate them a bit and they always seem to fit together and the wonkiness is just part of what I love about hand piecing.

  5. debgorr

    Thinking about the difference between a “pattern” in the sense of something you cut out to make something and a system of measurement…

  6. I especially appreciated the woven rug in the background of your Piecemaking video …

    And thank you for the return to Small Journeys … it brought back memories of my own experiments to find the sizes that work best for me. To which I might add the discoveries about how the relative weight of a piece of cloth (linen versus cotton, for instance) affects the final dimensions of each patch, in spite of whatever template one works with.

  7. Henrietta

    Somewhere: either part 1 or 2 you mentioned repeating yourself-culled new here today, thinking off center. A hint or suggestion of the whole.

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