I have to be in the mood to piece. I LOVE my sewing machine (I've had this one for a year and a half) but the tedium of making sure pieces are placed correctly and the seam allowance is maintained is sometimes more than I have the patience to do.
Having a few different choices makes this process easier for me. I choose the method for each top that will provide the least amount of aggravation and the surest results.
Hand Piecing is, believe it or not, all I did for the first 4 years that I quilted. The thing I like about it is the precision. Perfect corners and points, even set in seams were sewn with ease. It's portable and only a few supplies are needed to take a hand piecing project along. It's obviously much more time consuming than machine piecing.
I'm sure that a vast majority of piecing is done by machine. There are a few notions that can make the process more accurate and enjoyable for some. For a while, it seemed paper piecing was very popular. Is it still? I really don't know, I do know that quite a few pattern books are out there for this method as well as individual patterns with preprinted paper foundations. There are also kits available like the one shown at right. These cute little kits were made and sold by a friend of mine. She still has an Ebay store where she sells them, the link can be found here. While searching for buttons for my daughter to use, I found these little kits. The fabrics are all cut and ready and perfect for a day when I feel like sewing without all the prepwork. I don't do a lot of paper piecing, but for miniatures it can't be beat. It seems I can't sew those little pieces together without difficulty, paper piecing makes this a much less painful process.
One thing I use a lot of is triangle paper. Whenever there are multiple half square triangle units with the same fabrics I use this and it's a lifesaver for me. While it means a few extra steps, I like the precision and there is no stretching of the piecing like one can sometimes get piecing/pressing triangles.