Jewel Box Quilt in Tapestry Fabrics – from 2 charm packs

Ever had fabrics so lovely that you knew exactly what quilt pattern you wanted to make with them? That would be a waste made into anything else? Even when you are REALLY close to the wire with this deadline and should go for simple?

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I always thought this was traditionally called a Jacob’s ladder quilt, but I’ve also seen it called a Jewel Box quilt. Given that Jacob’s ladder for me will always be that disturbing psychological horror film where the guy (Tim Robbins) sees peoples heads vibrating left and right superfast and is giving me a shiver just thinking about it now, let’s return to the world of pretty things and call mine a Jewel Box quilt shall we?

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My ex- boss has been my biggest fan for ten years and given me so many opportunities in my working life – and he’s moved the family (to follow jobs), turned 50 (!) and is having a 25th wedding anniversary this year. We’re going to their joint celebration this weekend at their new house, and I wanted to give them something for all those occasions. What better than a quilt using one of my favourite fabric lines – Tapestry by Joanna Figuera for Moda. I made another little quilt using these fabrics not long ago; you can see the blog post here https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude  … looks quite different doesn’t it? it is quite a versatile collection, and especially good for gifts where it can look colourful and classic all at once.

There are a couple of ways you could do this, but the easiest way to get a symmetrical quilt is to make this block:

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I had two charm packs and some white yardage so that’s what I’ll show you, but there are other ways to do it with precuts. This pattern uses the same block laid out differently to make quite a different looking (but beautiful!) quilt, and uses a jelly roll and 2 charm packs to make a bigger quilt: http://www.modabakeshop.com/2011/08/jewels-in-curio

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and this one is how I originally thought it would be done from just looking at the design, making 2 different (but simple blocks). http://www.modabakeshop.com/2011/03/sunkissed-jewel-box-quilt . The problem is making all these extra bits at the sides to make it symmetrical. She uses a layer cake to make a bigger quilt. I stuck with the traditional block.

Instructions (sorry I didn’t photograph every step!): For the quilt top you will need:

  • 2 printed charm packs (I used Tapestry) or 84 5” x 5” fabric squares – but remove any fabrics which are solid white or cream and replace with another print, cut from yardage. You need the contrast for this quilt.
  • 84 solid white or cream charm squares (I cut from yardage)

You will use 1 charm pack (42 squares) to make Half-square Triangles (HSTs) with 42 of the white squares
and the other charm pack to make 4-patches with the other 42 white squares.

1. So first the HSTs. Using one printed charm pack and 42 white squares make 84 HSTs with a print on one side and white on the other. I used my sizzix die cuttter to cut them and chain pieced them together, but I appreciate not everyone can or wants to do it that way (I might not next time!). If you need help to know how to make HSTs, try this link below for a picture tutorial from the fabulous “Freckled Whimsy”, making 2 HSTs at a time (they are easy!).

http://www.freckledwhimsy.com/2010/07/charm-pack-quilt-along-step-one.html

(Essentially you draw a diagonal line corner to corner with pencil on a white square. Lay the white square on the right side of the printed square so you can see the pencil line. Sew a parallel line 1/4” away from both sides of the line. Cut down your pencil line and open with pride to reveal your HSTs. )

2. Open them up and you should have a stack of 84 HSTs like on the right hand side of the picture below. Press the seams to the printed fabric and trim them to be 4.5” square. image

3. Next the 4-patches. Cut all your printed and white charm squares in half horizonally so you have 2.5” x 5” rectangles. Match each printed one to a white one and sew along the longer edge with a 1/4” seam. Open and press the seam allowance to the printed fabric.

4. Now cut these in half as in the picture below to make what I call little domino units:

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5. Now take these little domino units, mix them all up and sew them back together to make a pile of 4 patches like these on the left hand side of the picture below. you should have 84.

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6. Now make up one unit like this. Very carefully. it has to be this way, trust me, make them just the same and save yourself some unpicking. What? Me unpicking? No not me of course *looks up at sky, whistling innocently*. Sew one 4-patch, orientated this in the picture below to the white edge of an HST.

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7. To make the block,  Make another unit as above exactly the same, turn one upside down and sew together. Make sure it looks like this. It will be your template, and be there in times of doubt! Make a pile of your 4 patches all lying the same way, next to your HSTs, again all the same way as below. Lie them all carefully by your machine.image

8. And relax! Easy from now on. Chain piece them together into units of 2, then take 2, turn one upside down and sew together to make the complete block. Yippee!image

9. Now go forth and play! As you lay them together you can see the secondary pattern energing.

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10. Lay out in a 6 x 7 bloack layout:

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11. Sew them all together. I sewed on 2.5” white borders, and bound in a strong red.

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For the first time ever I used Quilter’s Dream wool batting, which is almost impossible to get in the UK… I found mine at www.passion4quilting.com which is a great site with some lovely fabrics at great value. The wool batting was 93” not 122” wide unfortunately, but I have told the shop now, so hopefully the site will be updated too. It is GORGEOUS! The finished quilt has a nice weight to it – it is much higher loft than cotton – and denser than Hobbs wool batting – but also feels much warmer (sewing the binding on whilst watching Tv is a good test of the warmth value!). Machine washable. Easy to quilt. Clung to the fabrics well. My only issue with it was (the price and) that my microstitch basting gun didn’t easily penetrate the batt to take in the bottom layer, and I’m a big fan of the gun now! I have enough for another quilt so will give it another go and report back.

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The wool’s high loft really accentuated the quilting – finally I did my New Year’s resolution of abandoning the stipple! I quilted in a loop de loop pattern, with some sweeping lines. It was quite easy actually – much easier than mastering the stipple with its echoing and not crossing the lines (I hate ugly stippling), and I really like the result…although I wasn’t sure at first – I wasn’t used to looking at a non-stippled quilt!

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Well, I loved making this pattern, and I’m sure I will do it again. It was less expensive than many quilts of its size as it only used 2 charm packs, and although it is more complex and I like simple patchwork, it still feels very pleasing to me. I’ll have a hard job parting with it, but I’m really happy it’s going to a good home.

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Block size – 8” finished. Finished size 52” x 60”.

Have fun, whatever you’re up to, ‘till the next time, Poppy xx

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Quilts of Gratitude

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Teachers… I’ve always had a lot of respect for them. And now even more.

Last year my little boy started at a local nursery but was utterly distressed to the point where his behaviour changed profoundly (read “lovely boy became a rabid, savage, tantrumming monster”), following which I took him out and put him into another nursery in a neighbouring village with – seriously – THE MOST amazing nursery teachers in the universe. So kind, yet firm, warm, confident, listened to us, listened to him, encouraged us to become part of their school and community. He settled within a few days. Not one tear or tantrum; he has completely thrived. They turned our family around, took out all the worry and stress we were feeling for our son. They gave us so much. All I could give them both on his last day of nursery were quilts:

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So don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has made a quilt knows this is not a small gift, or even an inexpensive gift. But I was so glad I could give them something in which the evidence of how much I appreciate them was in every little stitch. Of thousands of stitches. Even then, it doesn’t convey all my gratitude (although they were overwhelmed as you would expect lovely folk to be!) – but short of giving them our car, this was the best I could muster 😉

Anyway, the first quilt was a slight variation on the Little Lady Patchwork’s “Charming Stars” quilt pattern from Moda bakeshop, to be found here:

Charming Stars Quilt

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As you can see, instead of doing all stars I did 5 star patches and 4 nine-patches. It went together very quickly, partly because charm pack nine-patches are superfast – I didn’t think too much about fabric placement, just went with a variety in each block. Quick, and I think I prefer it like this – now how’s that for a bonus 😉

The fabrics are “Tapestry” by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda. It used 2 charm packs (well, 77 charm squares to be exact), some white cotton and 12.5” of a border print. The fabrics are so timeless, as they always are with Fig Tree Quilts’ collections, but not as “sweet” as some of the collections; she lives in a farmhouse, so I thought this might fit in with that traditional feel. The quilt measures about 52” square.

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Do I have any regrets about this quilt? Did I preempt a “…brown border??” question which might have been forming in your head? Well, although I like the quilt a lot, especially in our house and double-especially in the flesh, I can’t help but wonder if I might have preferred a different coloured border. I had some red, and some of the minty bluey colour. I think it would have changed the feel of the quilt completely. On reflection though, this will fit into a farmhouse better than the other options. I now can’t work out if that final answer is the truth or if it’s my natural “life’s too short to go round regretting small stuff you can’t change” mentality.

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You might have seen this second little quilt in the making a couple of posts back, where I showed how to make it (https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/89599354437/the-nine-patch-disappears-tutorial-and-layouts). I actually really love it finished – although this isn’t a quilt which really works in my house, I found it a tiny bit hard to let it go. This is partly because it is made with a very rare, older, gorgeous Fig Tree Quilts line (Strawberry fields) as well as with a more recent one, Honeysweet. The two collections mixed beautifully. The following pictures show some of the so-pretty-my-heart-aches prints:

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I showed them to a few folk, and this one in particular stole several hearts. I bound it in a slightly retro feel blue floral from their “Whimsy” collection, that I had in stash, and it was perfect. I hadn’t really thought I would like this D9P pattern so much, but quilted up it looked really great. The top took much longer to make than the charming stars one, which surprised me somehow – silly really, you make blocks, cut them up and re-sew them – how did I not think that might take a while??

Both quilts measure about 52” square – lap size/ sofa throw size, perfect for those chilly winter evenings in front of the TV in Scotland. Both used 2 charm packs. I used my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting in both, for softness, warmth and washability, used plain white backings (to keep costs down in truth) and stipple quilted both. I resisted washing them, although I love seeing them all crinkly; in this country where the lovely crinkliness of quilts is not well known I think it’s better to give them looking “new” and let them wash them and acquire that beautiful antique look. For once I did put a label on saying thank you and the date – I hope they bring these wonderful teachers warmth and comfort for many years to come!

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As an aside (kinda), all the other parents felt the same way about these teachers; the nursery parents got our kids together and did fingerprint trees, got them framed and gave them to the teachers all together on the last day of nursery. They were so touched. All very emotional, but in a good way.

I downloaded the finggerprint tree here – edited the legend in Microsoft “Paint”, printed on some nice ivory card and used a lovely non-toxic ink called Tsukineko Memento ink (colour Lilac Posies). The kids did 4 fingerprints each and I wrote the name by one of them. We all really loved how they turned out.

http://onefabday.com/diy-project-free-fingerprint-tree-template/

Now onwards to school and beyond… I’m not sure if I’m ready for this! How can my baby be growing up so fast?? Thankfully at the moment, the thing he seems most aghast at when listening to the story of the three little pigs is not that a wolf can blow down a house and try and eat little talking pigs, it’s why they would possibly want to leave their mother’s house in the first place… I think I’m safe for the moment 😉

Hope you are all enjoying a summer holiday! Until the next time,

Poppy xx

The Nine-Patch Disappears…. (tutorial and layouts)

See? Not a sign of it anywhere…

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Hello you lovely craftilicious folk. So I’m in the process of making 2 more charm quilts – and I’m a bit close to the wire with this deadline. Hopefully by next time I will show you them both finished (or I would have had a deadline fail…actually I prefer the words deadline unsuccess).

For quilt 2, I have been playing with the Disappearing Nine-Patch a.k.a. D9P.

This is a pretty common block, and all over blogland, but it’s easy and makes quilts which look more complicated to make than they are. Just in case you’re not too familiar with it, I did these “show + tell” pictures with some 2.5” scrap squares.

How to make a Disappearing Nine Patch block (D9P)

1. Start with making a nine patch. You can use all prints or solids and prints. I decided to use prints and white solid. You need 4 squares of white and 5 prints (my prints were all different in my real quilt).

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2. Sew them together in rows as shown below. The middle one is special as you will see, but in my real quilt it was just whatever randon charm square came out of the pile.

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3. … and sew the rows together to make a nine-patch

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4. Next get your rotary cutter and ruler and slice down the middle of the block, and again at right angles as shown below:

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5. Play with your new blocks! See what has happened to the middle square? It has become the littlest square in the block and will be distributed more widely throughout the quilt. You might use this in your thinking in some quilts.

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That was the layout I eventually used.

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That picture is a very common layout. I once did a baby quilt in that, again using white solid ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/8048473613/ ).

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Or a “bigsquare-littlesquare” look. Bear in mind that when you use lots of prints it will look more complex and scrappy…

In fact, I’ll just show you how they look. I took pictures of the different layouts whilst I was trying to decide what look I was going for.

Making the Quilt top – finished size 52” square

  • 80 printed 5”x 5” charm squares (2 charm packs with 4 left over)
  • 64 solid white 5” x 5” charm squares (or enough white fabric to cut these)
  • rotary cutter and ruler
  1. Make 16 nine-patches as shown above, and slice into quarters. At this point you should trim your blocks to make sure they are the same size. Mine were pretty much the same, so I didn’t bother out of sheer laziness, and I just tried to match up the seams well when I was sewing.
  2. And then play! Until you get a layout which pleases you.

Note the pictures below are taken with ONLY 12 nine-patch blocks, not 16 as in the finished quilt top. This is the one I eventually went for obviously:

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I liked this one below, but the hubster wasn’t so keen. I quite liked that it was simple and easy on the eye (some people don’t like complicated patchwork) and the fabrics touch each other. Although I would have needed to do some jiggery pokery and shuffling around of the blocks if I had gone with this layout – still you get the idea). Hubster thought it was too simple for his eye. I think he has seen so many quilts, his brain has progressed beyond simple patterns and now he likes “interesting”. This has an advantage of being symmetrical around the edges, unlike layout 1 (did you spot that?)

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Next, I alternated the blocks between a square above and a reconstructed nine patch. I think on a bigger quilt or one with more blocks it would have been a more obvious “chain around the 4-patch” look.

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At this point I realised that with 12 blocks I was better laying it out as a 3 x 4 block grid, so here is that same layout with the pattern a bit easier to see.

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And finally, this is the one which almost won out. It looks pretty scrappy, but it is organised chaos! In the end I decided to go a safer, less complex pattern as it is for someone else.

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There are more options of course – you could take each D9P 4-block unit and sash it in white – 2.5” strips or smaller would be nice, choosing any of the layouts above for it, or mixing it up with a traditional nine-patch. And, as you can imagine, if you use all prints you get a very scrappy look! 5” squares would be too busy for me in that case – but 10” (layer cake) squares would be perfect! You could even just place them randomly.

OK, well again it’s wayyyyy past my bedtime. Hopefully next time I can show you these two little lap quilts finished and we can do some prettiness chat! By the way I used a charm pack of Strawberry fields and one of Honeysweet, both by Fig tree Quilts for Moda for this quilt.

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Edited: more pictures of the finished quilt are here if you would like to see :

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude

The 1000th Hexagon

There should be some sort of firework display in my bedroom or something.

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I have saved you the eye-rolling moment when I take a gazillion photos of 1000 unsewn hexagons all in piles on my bedroom floor, because frankly, it can only be interesting to the person who has made them. I kind of want to lie on my bed throwing them wildly in the air like in 80s movies of people winning the lottery or winning big at the casino. Although that would make me immediately sob for days as I try and re-sort them into collections.

This is that same 1” hexagon quilt made up of fabric collections from the wonderful Fig Tree Quilts that I posted about before. I think there are about 500 hexagons here. I love the fabrics so much! so far this is:

Fig and plum (top left)

Buttercup (top right)

Honeysweet (middle left and below)

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Avalon (middle right and below), which is a surprise favourite – that dark blue just didn’t look like it would work so well when ordering online – but my oh my. It even makes me sound like Judy Garland on her way home to Kansas. It’s lovely.

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and Tapestry (bottom right) which is now one of my favourite lines ever. I’ve even bought some for another sofa throw for our living room. I’m going to live in figgy quilty bliss. The Hubster and kiddo may need another room decorated in blue, grey and black as a refuge! My dog doesn’t care, boy though he is, He’ll live in frou-frou perfumed frillyness as long as he gets cuddles, so I’ll have company.

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The above photo is part-way through sewing a block together. I found I couldn’t keep making hexagons without sewing some together – I think had I tried to make all 1400 and then sewn them all together I would have given up by now. Or turned to gin. So alternating between making hexagons and sewing them up in front of the TV or listening to audiobooks has been the only way I could do it. And having breaks. And not trying to do too much in a day – making 10 -20 hexagons is enough, feel proud… even if the inspiring blog poster you just read made 100 in a day, and still fed the children, went out with her husband, baked a cake and wrote a witty and interesting blog. Whilst looking beautiful, shiny haired and thin. Eventually you will make your 1000th hexagon and feel you too have gone through a rite of passage.

Sadly, their latest collection, Mirabelle, isn’t doing it for me, at least not on the computer screen. That’s OK, just because Joanna Figuera is my favourite designer, it doesn’t mean I have to love everything. I’m Ok with it because I tracked down a really old line called “Strawberry Fields” in a shop in Australia (below). I know, I’m being mental. I’m glad the Hubster doesn’t read my blog.

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So apart from Butterscotch and Rose which is definitely in the quilt and I have some California girl which might make the cut (see the quilt in my last post if you want to know what it’s like! I clearly like I a lot),  that’s really it for fabric choice. Unless I can find some Mill House Inn or Patisserie, but they are both too old to find now. Darnit. Unless I’m still doing this by the time she releases a new collection…

Arghhhh, and it’s past bedtime again! How does this happen? Night night, and enjoy whatever it is you’re up to,

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

p.s. previous posts about this are here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/tagged/hexagon-quilt

A Quilt Quartet

I ran this one up yesterday thinking I really should have a quilt on show at least at this craft fair – which is only TOMORROW by the very way! I must say I have fallen a little bit in love with it myself.

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It is my favourite “child-size” quilt – two charm packs sewn up and bordered with white. 42” x 51” Quick, but when it’s such a beautiful collection as High Street by Lily Ashbury for Moda so very pretty. And big enough to be useful even as an adult. If you can be bothered to look back through my previous posts, you’ll see 2 other quilts made with this collection, both teamed with white. I had utterly fallen in love with the collection on paper and when it arrived, but haven’t really loved the other quilts / quilt tops I made with it. Now I know why, it needs to be a collection together with no chopping it up, no mixing it with white or anything else. Just bliss. I’m regretting using all my stash in the other quilts when i just want more of this!

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Cotton batting, stipple quilting (in all these quilts). This quilt was wonderful to quilt – partly because the collection gave me such joy,  partly because I remembered about my quilting table and fixed it on, and partly becasue I got myself some quilting gloves, and something called a sew-slip. The quilting gloves made a huge difference. I’ll tell you about it another time because I’m on a schedule – did I say it’s my craft fair tomorrow?

I said a quartet – I finished some WIPs, binding etc, for the fair, so i thought I’d include them here.

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This one is California Girl by the wonderful Fig Tree Quilts for Moda. Soft, beautiful, feminine, but so delicate that photos don’t do it justice – and direct sunlight washes out the colour on a picture (yes, spring is springing in Scotland!). I added the white squares to give it a bit of sparkle, and I really like the effect, otherwise it seems a bit too “shabby chic” for a baby. Cotton everything, stippled, 36” x 36”, a pram size or small baby mat.

This next one is the same collection. I really fell hard for it, and loved it when I got it – but made this little baby quilt last year (or maybe 2 years ago??), using the amazing “charm pack baby quilt by Elizabeth Fransson on “sew mama sew”. I love the pattern, but I think this collection is too delicate to be miixed with white.

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So I kind of lost my California Girl mojo, but having seen the first little pram quilt again, I might make up my remaining fabric into a bigger quilt, like the High Street one at the top of this page. It is beautiful, just not as “out there”.

And finally, this quilt.

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This is hard to part with. My mother has completely opposite home decor taste to me – she likes white, minimalism, and everything is beautifully spic and span. I like her house, but I know our won’t be like hers. I felt her living room could do with a little colour, and thought a sofa throw might be acceptable to her if it was pretty much all white, with a little strong colour (she like bright colours). This is Dena Designs fabric and white – I have forgotten which collection, I might google it. It is backed in white, and bound in fuschia, and I really like it, although white doesn’t work in our house. It has wool batting which makes it lovely, snuggly and warm. 45” x 51”

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But much as she loves my work and is appreciative, she’s just not going to go with throws in her house. So she has returned it saying someone else will use it and love it, and I should put it into the fair. Slightly sad, but she’s right. Luckily my good friend happened to be here when my mum came round with it, and stright away asked if she could buy it (she is also a sewist, how flattering) – SOLD to the lovely lady who will give it a good home 🙂

I’ll finish with yet another picture of my favourite! Such lovely lovely vibrant yet feminine colours!

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Less feminine are those size 10 feet!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

PS. please check out my previous post if you want to see the things I have made for the craft fair – leftovers may get put onto this blog for sale if I ever get my act together! https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/82041667739/a-week-of-sewing-like-a-madwoman-i-feel-a-craft-fair

sexy hexies

I admit, only someone who has sewn 450 1 inch fabric hexagons could write that title and not immediately delete it. And I was close. But, darnit, I needed a little motivation to keep me going now that I am 1/3rd of the way through my hexagon quilt, and laid what I have so far on the dining room table. And so, yeah, I’m willing to see this as quilty porn if only for a few minutes.

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Maybe it’s no Daniel Craig stepping out of the water in Casino Royale. Or Aragorn being, well Aragorn at any moment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But compared to where I started, I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going.That photo is about 470 hexagons, about 300 or so sewn together, and the rest laid out.

I first blogged about it here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/63599622305/hexagon-crazy, where I’ve put a wee outline of how to make a hexagon. I was totally unsure if I would like this handsewing-hexagons-round-paper-and-then-handsewing-them-together malarky. It all seemed like the most enormous faff. But then my friend brought round a gorgeous vintage hexagon quilt she’d got from Ebay, wrinkled and worn, with some of the hexagons frayed and torn but glorious, with just the right amount of fading, all in blues, neutrals, reds, a few pinks, all rather understated but so beautiful together. It was love at first sight for me. And made me want to make a hexagon quilt SO MUCH! And there it began.

Alison came round today where I showed her how to make hexagons so she can repair her quilt and start using it – they are very easy, but she was hooked and proud just as I was when I made my first one! And AGAIN did I not forget to take some photos of her quilt? I might have to take some next time and dedicate a full on post to it.

After a lot of thought about scrap quilts, random fabrics, bright, crazy, fun hexie quilt, I decided that really I might not love the result in my house and after all that work I’d want to have it out every day. So I have decided on collections from Fig Tree Quilts – I call it my Homage Quilt, as I just adore their collections. It’s actually really nice to keep them together.

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The above is “Honeysweet”. I love this collection, it’s so feminine, with a vintage feel and yet fresh modern colours. I could stand looking at a lot of this in my quilt.

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And that one was “Fig and Plum” – the first collection from Fig Tree Quilts that I saw when I first made the jump from sewing to quilting (about 3 years ago). I have a quilt in this collection already – must be a good sign that I like it! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/8625084929/in/set-72157630302286578)

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This is Butterscotch and Rose, a gentle, cottagey, warm and yet rich collection which I completely adore. I made myself a sofa quilt in this which adorns our living room sofa and looks lovely! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/8807380614/in/set-72157630302286578)

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The above is Buttercup – I have made a few baby quilts with this, but not a quilt for myself – it’s just a bit sweet for our house. It is nice though and I thought I’d like the light spots that it and “Avalon” will bring to my quilt, but looking at the whole picture, I’m not as sure anymore, when the rest of it seems so rich. I might have to rethink the buttercup, a shame, but easier to do at this stage!

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And last but certainly not least, my favourite so far is Tapestry. So lovely. Grown up, classic prints but still modern – how does that amazing Joanna Figuera do it? This has been my favourite bit of the quilt to make, so much so that I have bought myself another layer cake, to make another throw for the living room (it’s a big room and a big sofa, and looks good for the colour). It’s gorgeous!

I had intended to make all the patches a lot bigger and use about 10 collections. I’ll see but I might end up with smaller patches and more collections – an expensive quilt though, because I am cutting up a charm pack for each collection… And all to make a quilt not a lot bigger than a layer cake would yield! Sigh. Quilters are insane.

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Okidoki guys, I’m off. To sew more hexies, having been re-inspired. 2/3rds to go. Ugh, that sounded awful. 1/3rd in the bag – yay! Seems I’m a cup 1/3rd full kind of girl.

Whatever you’re up to hope you’re having fun,

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Hexagon Crazy…

I love quilts. LOVE them. In our house even the dog has a quilt (the only way he’s allowed on the furniture). When my 3 year old is tired or in need of comfort he lies on a sofa and demands and then covers himself in a quilt  – which admittedly almost immediately becomes a tent, a flying carpet, an ice cream van, a snail house in quick succession – but that comforting cosy thought is there… And I love fabric. And squares. So, beautiful fabric, sew up squares, batt, back, quilt and bind. Not quick, but modern and compared to a lot of quilters’ amazing intricate quilts, if not instant gratification then pretty close. Like this one:

Typical of one of mine (on Flickr stream for more views), bright, squares, pleasing to my eye anyway.

Or our quilts which are most in use – dog on TV watching sofa – red, white and blue squares Rural Jardin quilt underneath, Butterscotch and Rose quilt relieved of duty now I’m up and photographing said dog, bit of random home decor fabric for dog’s quilt and high loft batting. He LOVES his quilt. And loves when we let him on the sofa with us. Hairy little rascal.

ANYWAY, so far so good. But suddenly I have been inexplicably thinking about HEXAGONS. Hexagons! Those tiny little 6 sided pieces which are really difficult to sew by machine, so you have to paper piece them. By hand. And then sew them together with tiny stitches. By hand. The shudderingly long process should have me quivering and running for the nearest charm pack to sew together in record time. But maybe it’s the idea of hanging out watching TV, on the sofa next to husband instead of locked away upright at my machine which appeals. I don’t know, and I’ve no idea how long this phase will last. But off I go, into the uncharted territory of English Paper Piecing…

I’m starting with this above picture – paper hexagons, 1” each side, Pretty small. And bigger fabric hexagons, 1.25” each side. you fold two sides of the fabric hexagon round the paper one and do a double stitch at the corner to secure, fold the next side and do another double stitch at the corner all the way round, the knot off.

It all started with the most beautiful vintage hexagon quilt my friend bought from ebay in need of some repair – but I haven’t been able to shake it from my thoughts. I must ask her if she’ll photograph it for me and I’ll post it here. Meanwhile, here is some beautiful hexie quilt inspiration from other (very talented) people’s blogs:

From Blog: http://luannkessi.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/hexagon-text-quiltborder-fabric.html

and from quilthaven.co.uk this:

From : http://quilters-haven.co.uk/blog/2013/02/show-and-tell/heaxagon-quilt-2/

And so it begins…

It’s easier than I thought, and more relaxing – it takes almost no effort (once everything is cut out) to sit with a pile of hexagon pieces, fabric, needle and thread and watch TV or continue conversations.

and then you end up with this perfect little hexagon. I think it’s something maybe only a quilter will really adore, you can’t look at a hexagon quilt and not see the work that has gong into it.

And then you hand sew them with tiny stitches to each other:

Some people will outline all these “flowers” with a row or two of white hexagons, called a “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt, but it’s not the look I’m going for, so I’m aiming to have all coloured/ scrappy-looking quilt. I say scrappy looking, but I actually would rather have a coordinated quilt in practice in my home, so I will use collections probably.

They look like this at the back  – but the papers just slip out (notice the middle one?).

I have a die cutter so got a die to cut the hexagons out of printer paper, but you can buy them from ebay sellers for just a couple of pound including p+p and you can reuse them. Some people use “freezer paper” apparently which can be ironed onto the fabric and make it easier to sew round them… may have to try it.

The flowers fit together like this:

and this:

I have chosen the brand new line from Fig Tree Quilts called “Honeysweet”. I love it. I adore so many of their lines – in fact, two of our sofa quilts are from their collections. These fabrics have a vintage feel but with fresh warm colours; they will always be timeless.I thought  at least I wouldn’t tire of making hexagons out of all those different and beautiful colours. But then when I saw this:

… I realised that a whole quilt out of just these in tiny tiny pieces will look  “flat”, like one piece of fabric and certainly not as though it has taken this long to make.

So I have decided to make the hexagons out of several different collections which I love (and actually some of which I have already so it makes sense!) all from Fig Tree Quilts collections. I would have LOVED to have Butterscotch and Rose in there, even though I have an entire quilt made from it, but I can’t find it anywhere – it is an old line. The good news for me is that the wonderfully talented Joanna Figuera who is the designer is prolific producing 2-3 lines for Moda a year!

So… I think I will also choose

Fig and Plum,

Tapestry,

Buttercup,

Avalon

and one or two more. I going to try and keep the collections mostly together but try and work it so they mix nicely, which shouldn’t be too hard as Fig Tree collections often mix nicely. And the yellow/blue collections will be the brighter spots… fingers crossed.

I’ll have plenty of time to work it out though because I want a 60” x 60” ish quilt… which means 1400 HEXAGONS!!!

Oh my giddy aunt. What am I doing?

There is a pretty simple way to machine piece “almost hexagons” – half hexagons they are called, but the pattern gets disrupted in the middle so I’m not keen on the look except from a distance or with solids, or very tiny scale patterns, when it looks great, and very like the real thing. (You can google half hexagon quilts if you want to know more)

So on reflection, I think it’s GAME ON.

50 so far. 1350 to go. better get sewing.

Till the next time,

Poppy

xx

ps by the way, if you fancy making your own, here is a fabulous online calculator to work out how many hexies you’ll need (fewer if the hexies are bigger):

http://www.cddesigns.com/PaperPiecing/number.html