Saturday, August 9, 2014

81 and Blogcation

81 is completely quilted now! I wanted to take a picture of the entire hexagon quilt but will need to recruit two tall people to help out! When I find them and can take a decent picture I will share it with you. For now this is the best that I can do!


It looks wonderful from the back. Here's a bit of the dark border with baskets from the back.


The next step is to make and attach a hanging sleeve and a label for my quilt!

UPDATE: The inspiration for my quilt was an antique quilt. Angie asked if I would be willing to share my pattern and I would be pleased to do so. Stay tuned and I'll try to have it ready for you in the early Fall!

It is blogcation time for me! I'll be off for the next two weeks but will be back on Friday, August 22 with Block 10 of the Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt Along and hopefully I'll have a block or two from my Lozagon quilt to share

and perhaps Good Golly Miss Mollie (my version of the Godstone Grannies coverlet) will have some quilting!

I hope you are enjoying your summer and that you find time to take a few stitches! Until August 22, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, August 8, 2014

Value Proposition - Block 9

Welcome to Block 9 of my Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt Along (QAL). This block installment is something different and special - we will use applique to add interest to four of the hexagons! 


Value Proposition Map for Block 9





Value Proposition Recipe for Block 9
  • Cut 4 Light identified as S* on Map (1 for Centre and 3 for Round 2)
  • Cut 15 Light identified as A on Map (3 for Round 2 and 12 for Round 3)
  • Cut 12 Medium identified as B on Map (6 for Round 1 and 6 for Round 3)
  • Cut 6 Medium-Dark** identified as C on Map (for Round 2)
* These 4 hexagons will have circles appliqued to them. See below for Special Instructions for Applique.

** For my C hexagons I chose to use a medium-dark that was just slightly darker value than the medium fabric I used for the B hexagons. I wanted a subtle value change. If you can do the same or if you prefer you can opt for a more dramatic value change.

My Value Proposition Block
This is my block shown in black and white. Notice that four of the hexagons have circles made from two fabrics appliqued in place.





In the colour picture below you can see that once again I used a variety of Light scraps for A. I used a single Medium fabric for Round 1 (B) and a different Medium fabric for Round 3 (notice it is a very subtle directional print so I paid attention when placing the hexagons). The 6 Medium-Darks in Round 2 are two different fabrics that are only slightly darker than the others and I alternated the two fabrics. 



Special Instructions for Applique Circles

You will do the applique work before you cut you and baste your hexagons. 

Select a circular object that is roughly 1" in diameter and use it to make a template. I used cardboard but you could also use heat resistant plastic template material. I wanted my circles to be two-tone so cut two strips of fabric, one medium and one dark and each measured 1 1/4" x 6". I stitched together using a scant 1/4" seam allowance and then pressed the seam allowances open. Place your cardboard template on the wrong side of the strip and trace around it. Cut out the circle leaving a scant 1/4" seam allowance. With a needle and thread run a gathering stitch around the edge of the circle. Place the cardboard template in the middle and draw up the thread. 

Spritz with starch and press with a hot dry iron. Loosen the gathering stitch so you can remove the cardboard template. Draw up the gathering thread and tie it off. I did a demonstration  of this technique with pictures and you will find it here. If you have another method that you would rather use by all means do so! I'm a firm believer in doing what works for you!

Place the prepared circle on the fabric that you will use for the hexagon and applique it in place either by hand or by machine. Place your paper hexagon on the wrong side of the fabric making sure that the applique is centered and cut out the hexagon adding your seam allowance. Baste the hexagon to the paper in the usual English paper piecing manner. Repeat with the three remaining circles.



I set up a Value Proposition QAL page on Flickr so that you can post pictures of your blocks and also see what others are doing! There are many very different and exciting blocks to see so do drop by and if you have time leave a comment if you see something you like!

If you are looking for previous Block installments of my Value Proposition Hexagon QAL you will find all of the links under the tab Quilt Alongs by Karen H just under the banner. Have fun making Block 9. Block 10 will be available on August 22, 2014.

I hope you are enjoying this QAL! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I send an email response to every comment so if you don't hear from me it means you are a no-reply blogger and I have no way of contacting you.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

81 - the final stretch and a Quilt Show

The work on my hexagon quilt 81 continues and the end is in sight. The inner striped border with baskets of flowers is completely quilted now so it is on to the last bit in the light grey outer border. This corner is completely quilted. There's still quite a bit of border to go but good news is that the amount of quilting to be done is less than what I've already done so that's something!


When I get going with my doodle (or free form) quilting that fills the background it sometimes feels like I'm repeating the same motif over and over again. I have a limited repertoire so it feels like I just quilted a design even if I didn't. To help choose what to do next I keep a sketch with designs by my machine to give me inspiration and ideas. Each time I come up with something a little different I'll add it to the diagram. When quilting if I am stuck I look to my diagram for inspiration. Combining motifs is a great way to great variations. For example a large teardrop can be changed if it is outlined with circles or feathers. To make a design really pop I echo quilt around it two or three times!


For those of you who live in the Toronto area or will be visiting the area in mid-September I will be showing my quilt 81 at the Yorkshire Rose Quilt Show on September 20 &21, 2014. There will be some amazing quilts on display. For those of you who can't make it I will take pictures and we'll have a virtual quilt show!


Friday morning I'll publish Block 9 in my Value Proposition Quilt Along. We are going to do something a little different this time. I hope you'll like it!

Time for me to get back to quilting! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Monday, August 4, 2014

Reader questions about making 81

There have been several questions about how I made my quilt 81 The Giant Monstrosity. Some were from no-reply bloggers which means I can't reply to the comment or question. I reply to every comment so if you don't hear from me it means you are a no-reply blogger and I have no way to contact you unless you provide me with your email address. Anyhoooo, I thought I would answer the questions here!

Where did I get the pattern for 81 The Giant Monstrosity?
I made my own pattern. I saw pictures of the original quilt  (below) which was made in the 1800s. I fell in love with it (what lover of hexagons wouldn't) and I drafted my own pattern. This is the original quilt.


This is my version before I added my final diamond border. I made mine in brighter colours. The grey fabric in the centre panel is different from the grey in the border and that's just fine.


I started with the centre panel for my quilt. It is a single piece of fabric with 81 hexagon rosettes and stars. I determined the measurements for the borders as I went along. I did make some changes to my version of the quilt. For example I swapped out the pieced blocks in the corners for appliqued baskets and I added a slightly different diamond border. While I drafted my own pattern there is a commercial pattern available for this quilt from Threadbear. The Threadbear pattern is by Corliss Searcey and her version of the quilt measures 72" x 82". My quilt measures 92" by 97". I believe the title of her pattern is English Basket Quilt.

What size are the hexagons and diamonds?
I used 3/4" hexagons. You will find the template I used for my hexagons here. Each side of the diamond measures 1 1/4". I drafted my own diamond master template, made copies and cut them up as I needed them. I explained how I draft them here.


Are the hexagon rosettes and stars appliqued?
Yes. After the stars and rosettes were stitched I gave them a spritz of starch and pressed with a hot dry iron. The basting threads and papers were removed and I used Roxanne Glue-Baste-It to affix them to the background for applique.

When I thread baste my diamonds I do the corners a little differently. The method I use results in diamonds that look like the diamond on the left in this picture. You can read how I do this here. I makes the applique much easier because there are no dog ears to be tucked in!


What kind of paper do I use for the hexagons?
I just use regular 20lb bond printer paper and don't seem to have problems. You can get printer paper that is a little heavier but not quite as heavy as cardstock and that might be a better option for you or you can use cardstock. I use a glue stick to tack my papers to my fabric (a tiny dab of glue is applied to the paper never the fabric) and I use only enough glue to hold the paper in place on the fabric so when it comes time to remove the paper the bond is very weak and in most instances the paper just pops out. If you prefer not to use a glue stick another option (which I've used for 1/2" hexagons) is to use applique pins. They are very tiny and unobtrusive so your thread won't get tangled around them when you baste.

Are the papers reusable?
Sometimes. If the paper is in good shape I will reuse it. Otherwise it goes in the recycling box. In order to be reusable I want nice sharp corners so if the paper is chewed up at the corners I get rid of it!

What basting method do I use?
In the past I basted through the fabric (the brown hexagons in the picture below) and will continue to do so when making my foundation paper pieced English paper piecing hexagons. However when as of late I've been basting only the fabric at each corner fold without piercing the paper (the turquoise hexagons in the picture below). With this method the basting thread remains in the quilt and the papers just pop out quite easily. The bonus is that the papers remain relatively intact which means most of them can be reused. Let me know if you would like a little tutorial!


There is an alternative to thread basting and it involves the use of starch and freezer paper. Missie of Traditional Primitives explained her method and you can read about it here. I've tried this method and it works really well. There are no threads or papers to removed however you will need a little iron such as Clover's Mini Iron or Dritz's Petite Press for this method.

If you have questions about the making of 81 please feel free to send me an email or leave me a comment and I'll be more than happy to reply. It's time for me to get back to quilting 81. Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Free form quilting, quilting straight lines and binding 81

Thanks for all the nice comments on the free form quilting in 81. I got the idea and the confidence to do this by examining one of my quilt sandwiches that I use to test stitches and/or threads before I start quilting. I thought it looked pretty nice and if there were lots of open spaces to fill it would be a good way to do it. I'm quilting on the Jukester, a Juki TL2010Q domestic sewing machine.


Mistakes are less visible when there are a variety of motifs and you can adjust the size or change the motif to fill small spaces or odd shaped spaces. The first time I tried this was on my Lazy Girl quilt.


The entire quilt was ditch quilted to anchor everything and then I went back and quilted the open spaces. The trick was to pick a corner and work out from there. I chose to work with shapes that were comfortable and familiar. I first wrote about how I do it here. If you want to give it a go I recommend that use a light weight thread on top (at least 50 wt or greater) and use a colour that matches the area that will be quilted.


Angie asked how I quilted the straight lines in the border. This is a picture of the quilting from the back. Ignore the line of sewing along the bottom edge; I had already attached the binding when the picture was taken.


I quilted to the outside edge of the quilt, stitch over a couple of stitches and then quilted back up until I hit the edge of the diamond applique on the front. I would take a couple of stitches along the edge of the diamond applique and then head back down to the outside edge of the quilt. I used the edge of my free motion foot as my guide. The lines are not perfectly spaced nor perfectly straight but on a large quilt it doesn't really matter because once you it doesn't show. If you do want to keep them straight you can mark guide lines on the front of the quilt and make them about 3/4" to 1" apart. It gives you a visual guide so you can keep the in between lines reasonably straight. This technique was so fast and easy!  

There is a corner square and I wanted radiating lines. The first thing I did was quilt the swag which is the stop for the radiating lines. I marked my sewing lines before quilting. I next made marks along the outside edge of the quilt and I spaced them 1/2" apart. I placed my ruler on the quilt and lined it up with the inside corner of the corner square and a 1/2" mark. I drew a line. I repeated this for every 1/2" mark. I then quilted it going back and forth (or up and down actually) the same way that I did on the border. 


This is a fun way to quilt and it looks great even when it isn't perfect! And I assure you that mine is not perfect but that's perfectly fine with me! You should give it a try - I think you might just impress yourself with how good it looks!

I've attached the binding to the quilt and started to stitch it down. I used the scraps of the backing fabric and the colour is subtly different from the border fabric. Love that look!


I also love the look of a nice sharp bound corner! Can you see my pretty little scissor pouch and scissor fob? They are so beautiful and I just love them. I won them in a giveaway earlier this year. They were made by Sheryl of Sewing After Seven. She does absolutely gorgeous, incredible handwork!


Well I would love to write more but as you know I've got some binding and quilting to do! So until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, July 31, 2014

81 is BIG!

Today I''ll update you on 81 The Giant Monstrosity and I'll share a helpful tip! This was 81 before the quilting. The diamond border is quilted and I just finished the centre panel which is made up of 81 stars and hexagon rosettes.


The centre panel  measures roughly 40" square. This is what it looks like from the front. The photo doesn't do it justice. One thing I can say is when there is so much quilting and so many different designs, mistakes tend to disappear!


The quilt is BIG! While the quilting goes quickly there is so much of it to do. This is what it looks like from the back. Love it!


Here's a close-up of some of the stars and hexagons in the centre panel.


I spent hours quilting the border so I can trim the quilt and bind it. I've got one side to go! Once it is bound I'll go back and finish the quilting the inner dark stripe border and the outer border. There is still a lot to do so I think there will be at least another week of quilting. I'm taking frequent breaks and doing lots of stretching to keep my neck, back and shoulders happy and healthy! Once I've quilted enough of the border I can bind the quilt and I'll go back and quilt the inner border after it is bound.


There is a ton of thread in this quilt. I think I've already gone through at least a dozen bobbins of Superior's The Bottom Line. On top I am using Gutermann 50wt cotton thread and am on my second 800m spool! Considering how much thread I've used and the density of the quilting, 81 is surprisingly soft. There is no stiffness to it at all!

I thought before I sign off for the day I would share one of my HELPFUL TIPS with you. Sometimes I run out of thread, have a mistake I want to fix or what to know where to start sewing when I come back after a break. To make it easy to find those spots I use two safety pins. One is pinned in the spot I want to mark and the second goes through the pin. When I pick up my quilt and give it a shake the pins jingle making it easy to find the place(s) I'm looking for!


That's it for now. Until I post again, happy sewing and don't forget to stretch!
Karen H

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another B word or two (or three)

Yesterday I had a bunch of B words for you and I've got a few more today!

The first B word is back as in the back of my quilt. I continue to quilt 81 and thought you might want to see what it looks like on the back! On the left you can see a bit of the centre panel which has stars and hexagon rosettes. Each was outlined with quilting. As I quilted the background I decided that the stars and rosettes needed additional quilting and it made a difference.....a nice difference. On the right you can see the basket border with the appliques outlined with quilting and then the background filled with the same doodling or free form quilting. I just quilt whatever tickles my fancy and will fit in that spot! There are a few spots that I've missed and will have to go back and quilt. As for my thread choices, on top I've used a grey white thread on the centre panel and grey on the baskets but in the bobbin I used the same thread, Superior's The Bottom Line in silver (#623).


In the next picture you can see the difference when the background filler and the extra quilt on the stars and rosettes is added. On the left and centre the filler is quilted. On the right it hasn't been done nor has the extra quilting been added to the stars and rosettes. It is time consuming doing all of this quilting but I think it is worth the effort.


Next I have two B words, backing and bargain! I bought the backing  in the home dec section of my fabric store. It is over 100" wide and it is a soft pale grey tone-on-tone print that almost has the look of a subtle hounds-tooth check. It is 100% cotton and has a lovely silky feel. It was on sale for $12/m. I used it in my Lazy Girl quilt top and on the back of this quilt. I decided that it looks so nice and quilts so beautifully that I should buy more of it. So I went to the store and it was reduced to $9.60/m so I bought all that they had which was 4.5m! What a bargain backing buy! I like to use quilting cotton but I don't limit myself to quilting cotton. It is you quilt so you can do whatever you want!

My last B word is butterflies! Several readers asked how I did the butterflies on the front of 81. I have two fabrics with butterflies on them (by the way both were bargain buys). I cut out the butterflies leaving a seam allowance of somewhere between 1/4" and 1/8" all around the butterfly. I made a clip at the top and bottom toward the body. I did the same at the side where the upper and lower wings met.


In this picture I've turned under the edge of the wings on the left and just finger pressed. I didn't do this to the butterflies for applique on this quilt but I could have. Instead I placed them on my quilt top and tacked them in place with thread. I then turned under the seam allowances for applique. You will notice that a little bit of the background will show where the wings meet but I don't worry about that!


Here you can see a butterfly appliqued to the quilt top before the background is quilted.


I free form quilt the background and when I got close to a butterfly I stitched all around it. Once the background is quilted the butterfly kind of puffs giving it some dimension!


So there you have it - another bunch of B words! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H