Saturday, January 24, 2015

GROW YOUR BLOG & a Giveaway!!!!

January 25 is GROW YOUR BLOG day. A big thanks to Vicki of 2 Bags Full (and her band of volunteers) for organizing the event. You will find a complete listing of participating blogs in Vicki's January 25 post. It is a wonderful way to meet new people and to discover new and interesting blogs many of which have giveaways. I have a giveaway so keep reading to find out more!

My name is Karen H and I am a Canadian quilt maker. I blog because I want to share what I do an how I do it. I try to keep my blog posts informative and have set up several pages that contain tutorials, instructions on English paper piecing and free patterns! One of the patterns is Cherry Blossom!

Cherry Blossom by Karen H 2013

I love all sorts of quilting styles and techniques. I've made traditional, applique,modern and improv quilts. To get an idea of what I do you can visit my Quilt Gallery to see some of my quilts. I think what makes my quilts different is that I like to add little details. For example a little bit of fussy cutting goes a long way! Take this block is very pretty but it needs a little something just to spice it up a little!

I cut some circles from a print and appliqued them to the bases of the fleurs de lis and while it is a small thing I think it has a big impact!

Here's a close-up!

My quilt Flora and Fauna, Parts of The Garden is another example of what I do! I've combined broderie perse with embroidery to create one of my favourite small quilts. It was made during a Guild Challenge; I was given three fabrics and I was permitted to add another six. You can read about my quilt and see more close-ups here.

Flora and Fauna Parts of The Garden by Karen H 2008

The technique that I keep coming back to over and over again is English paper piecing and my favourite shape to work with is a hexagon. If you love hexagons you've come to the right place! You will find complete instructions under the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions and Hexagon Fun at the top of the page. You will also find tutorials for a technique I developed more than 15 years ago. It is a fast and easy way to make spectacular hexagon blocks. I've published many posts and tutorials about this technique and you will find them under the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions and Hexagon Fun.

My quilt There's a Snail in Grandma's Flower Garden combines my love of hexagons and fussy cutting with embroidered details!

There's a Snail in Grandma's Flower Garden by Karen H 2004

In the past year I've worked on and completed several projects including my Value Proposition Quilt Along. The focus was on value (the relative lightness or darkness of a fabric when compare to another). The quilt is made of 18 full blocks and 4 half blocks. You will find links to all of the free patterns under the tab Quilt Alongs by Karen H. This quilt is still needing its border so that project is on my "to do" list!

Value Proposition by Karen H 2014

I recently finished piecing my quilt Lozagons. It is a reproduction of an antique quilt that I saw on a Lorraine's blog Granny Loz. You can see the original quilt here. I ran out of turquoise fabric and that colour was discontinued so I had to use a second which is slightly different. You can see it in the middle of the top and bottom edges of the quilt. I've ordered more of the darker blue and plan to add a nice wide border all around the quilt.

Lozagons by Karen H 2015

I was asked to test a pattern for Missie Carpenter of Traditional Primitives. It is her interpretation of the King George II coverlet. Missie's pattern is called Gardens of a King and it is now available for sale on her site. It was a very interesting experience testing the pattern. This is my version of her pattern.

Gardens of a King by Karen H 2014

The 6" blocks are made using English paper piecing. It makes for perfect points on even the tiniest of pieces!

I also enjoy other techniques including traditional piecing. I've posted pictures of some of my finished quilts in my Gallery of Completed Quilts. You will also find some free patterns under the tab Patterns by Karen H. One of the free patterns is for this quilt which I call 81 The Giant Monstrosity (it turned out much bigger than I had expected)!

81 The Giant Monstrosity by Karen H 2014

And now for the giveaway! This pile of goodies will go to one lucky person. The package includes 3 fat quarters, 3 spools of cotton thread in neutral colours, marking tape and a scissor fob pincushion made by yours truly!

To enter the draw simply leave a comment. I reply to every comment so if you don't hear back from me it means you are a no-reply blogger and I cannot enter you in the draw because I have no way to contact you (unless you provide your email address in the comment). I will draw the name of the lucky winner on February 15! Good luck people!

Thanks for dropping by for a visit! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, January 23, 2015

Back in the middle again

My Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt is growing under my fingers! I've now stitched together the first couple of rounds that will form the centre panel.

I've been pondering the filling in of the opening with my bird fabric. The simplest option would simply be to cut a circle from the fabric, place it under the opening and applique it in place. Nice but it is a little bland for my taste and rather on the small side. I think that a larger piece is required for the centre.

Another option would be to make a rosette of larger hexagons and applique in on top of the centre panel. Very pretty and interesting but I want to use the birdie fabric. I'll save this rosette for another project.

At this point my plan is to work with an oval shape. I've made a paper template and pinned it to the quilt. I'll modify the shape just a little but of the three options this is by far my favourite. I think it has an elegant look and an antique mirror! It also complements the shape of my panel.

Today I'll cut the red hexagons for the next round and time permitting manipulate the centre oval until I get it just right!

This Saturday is GROW YOUR BLOG Day organized by Vicki at 2 Bags Full. There will be lots of interesting blogs to discover, many of which will have giveaways! I'll be participating and I'll have a little giveaway planned!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Birds in the Loft goes under the needle!

I've started cutting, basting (love basting) and sewing my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt! The medallion is now started and this is how it is looking pinned to the design wall. These are 1" hexagons and the papers were recycled from my Value Proposition quilt. Although I've taken several steps forward in the making of Birds I'm going to have to take a few steps back and do some reverse sewing.

My plan is to remove the pieces marked with the red circles and replace them with fussy cut bees. I hate to have to rip out stitches and only do so when I can't live with what I've done. In this instance I think the addition of the bees will be subtle but well work the effort! Here's a little close up sneak peek at the bee! Much better, don't you agree?

I've also made two hexagon rosettes with fussy cut bees. These rosettes will be stitched to the top and bottom of the medallion. The brown print is a directional print so when cutting and sewing I paid particular attention so that the print radiates out from the centre.

Today I'll head back to my design sheet and start sketching some possibilities for what comes next! I have a few ideas but am not sure if they will translate well so I'll sketch them in pencil and if I'm not happy I'll do some reverse drawing with an eraser!

I've got some sketching and sewing to do so until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Monday, January 19, 2015

Birds in the Loft - the beginning

I'm ready to get going with the making of my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt. I have a rough idea of where I am headed with this quilt but it may change as I start cutting and sewing. There are a number of inspirations for this quilt. The first is my Stars in the Loft quilt. I love all of the rosettes in this quilt so I will have rosettes in the new quilt. I will also incorporate my foundation paper pieced English paper pieced rosettes in this new quilt.

I want to feature this beautiful print in a quilt. It is from Moda's Dominique II line. I plan on using the birds in a centre medallion and perhaps elsewhere in the quilt. The ideas are still percolating!

Medallion quilts really speak to me. Since I've already done a round medallion in Stars in the Loft I wanted to use a different shape. This one really spoke to me. The quilt is dated 1800-1820 and it is in the Quilt Museum and Gallery. You can read more about this quilt here.

There will be rosettes and lots of them. I start by pulling fabrics that I think will work with the birdie fabric. They don't have to match but they should complement the starting fabric. What I focus on is the scale of the print (the size of the print), the value (the relative lightness or darkness of the fabric compared to others) and the colour. I am using 1" hexagons for this project.

I cut 2 1/2" strips of fabric and then quick cut my hexagons in no time flat. You can read how I do this here. I am cutting 12 hexagons which is enough for two rosettes but I'll also need one more for the centre of each rosette. If I have a fabric that I like for the middle I cut it at this time and if not I'll look for something later. I tack these hexagons together with thread and toss them in a bag so if I have a few spare moments I can do some basting. I can always find a few spare moments for basting especially in my helper (the little stinker) is sleeping!

I want a light fabric for the background and did a rough calculation about the fabric requirement. I  reckon I will need five yards. There are plenty of lights in my stash but I don't have a five yard length so I've selected two fabrics, one of which will be used for most of the medallion (the middle fabric) and the other will be used for the path between the rosettes (top fabric). I pulled a third fabric and will fussy cut some bees to be used although I'm not sure where they will be used. I have several other fabrics with bees which I will likely incorporated in my quilt!

I've sketched out the middle of the quilt and am ready to get started. I'm thinking I will use fussy cut bee prints where there are dots but that could change. The red in the middle will be the birdie fabric but I want to do more than just reverse applique it in place so I'll work on that component of my design later. For now all I need to know is the size of the opening. Now I am ready to get sewing! So exciting!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lozagons Quilt Top without border

I was finally able to get outside and take a picture of my Lozagons hexagon quilt. It was made with 3/4" hexagons. I ran out of the turquoise fabric and had to add a second fabric which is slightly different. You can see it in the middle of the top and bottom edges. This is such a cheery quilt top!

The next step is to add a wide turquoise border but I haven't ordered the fabric. Maybe I'll do that today!

The inspiration for Lozagons was an antique quilt on Lorraine's blog. You can see the original and several other hexagon quilts here.

Image courtesy of Lorraine at Granny Loz

I have another hexagon project it mind and one of my inspirations is this fabric from Moda. It is an old print and the collection is Dominique II and the colour is paprika! I just love these little birdies!

I also plan to use some of the ideas and techniques from my quilt Stars in the Loft.

Some of the design ideas for my new quilt are drawn from an antique quilt which I will share in another post. If my plan works out it will be a large quilt made of 1" hexagons and I plan to call it Birds in the Loft! The first step is to start sketching on a design sheet and then pull out my scraps to see what I can use! I'll keep you posted on my progress.
I will be posting a template for 1 1/4" hexagons but am having difficulty getting it to scan accurately. When I've got it figured out I'll let you know!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What size of hexagon should I use?

I'm often asked "what size of hexagon should I use?" and the answer is "it depends". If you have a specific project in mind that may dictate the size of hexagons. Albert Small made some incredible quilts some of which have 15 hexagons per square inch! That's a lot of very tiny hexagons! To read more about Albert and his quilts visit the Illinois State Museum.

If you want to make a traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden then really you can use any size. The smaller the hexagons the more you will need and the heavier the quilt top will be. The larger the hexagon the fewer you will need.

When you look at a single hexagon it is difficult to gauge size of block that will result. Today I thought I share with you a comparison of different sizes of hexagons and the size of the block they will produce. In the following picture there are rosettes made of hexagons that range in size from 3" to 1/2". The size of the hexagon is determined by the length of each of the six sides. The rosettes in the picture consist of a central hexagon surrounded by two rounds of hexagons. The first round is made up of six hexagons and the second 12. Each round thereafter would increase by six hexagons.

The large rosette on the left is my New Hexagon Millefiori Quilt that I am making as part of Katja's free Quilt Along. I still have one more round of hexagons to go. Each hexagon measures 3". The rosette on the upper right is 1 1/4". The rosette below it is made of 1" hexagons. The rosette on the bottom left is made of 3/4" hexagons and on the bottom right 1/2" hexagons.

The rosette made of 3" hexagons measures roughly 26 1/4"  from top to bottom and roughly 24" from side to side. It wouldn't take many large hexagons to make a quilt!

The rosette made of 1 1/4" hexagons measures 10 1/2" from top to bottom and 10" from side to side. This is the size of hexagon that is used in Di Ford's quilt Road 66. The instructions are in her book Primarily Quilts. The blocks each have one more round of background fabric and they are connected with diamonds. Only 18 blocks are needed to make the quilt!

The rosette made of 1" hexagons measures roughly 8 1/2" from top to bottom and roughly 8" from side to side. This is one of my favourite sizes of hexagons to work with. It fits neatly in my left hand when I am sewing the units together and it is large enough that the work goes fairly quickly. I used the 1" hexagons to make my Value Proposition quilt and Stars in the Loft. The brown plaid was not fussy cut however I noticed that each hexagon had some dark along one side and light on the opposite so I made a point of placing the lighter section toward the centre. Careful consideration of how the hexagons are placed can create the illusion of fussy cutting without the effort! Thoughtful placement of fabrics produces a more polished block,

The rosette made of 3/4" hexagons measures roughly 6 1/2" from top to bottom and roughly 6" from side to side. This is another of my preferred sizes to work with. I can create greater detail in terms of arrangement of hexagons. I used it to make my Good Golly Miss Mollie quilt and Lozagons. If you read my REWIND blog post about fabrics I use you will be interested to know that the six hexagons in the first round are made from 100% cotton that I found in the home decorator department of a fabric store!

The rosette made of 1/2" hexagons measures roughly 5 1/4" from top to bottom and roughly 4 3/4" from side to side. I've got a quilt top that I made with these hexagons but I've not yet shared it with you! I need to be able to get outside to take pictures but it is just way too cold these days! What I can tell you is that the quilt top is very heavy because there is more seam allowance on the back than there is fabric on the right side! This block is another example of thoughtful fabric placement. Notice that there are little paisleys in the third round and I've made sure to place them on the inside edge of the round! 

The size of hexagon you use will be dictated in part by personal preference and the size and type of quilt you want to make! I know that 1" sounds small but I find that it is a great size with which to work. So what about you? What size of hexagons do you like to work with?

I hope you enjoyed this comparison of hexagon sizes. I've posted master templates for 1/2", 3/4" and 1" hexagons on my blog and you will find them by clicking on the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions & Hexagon Fun. Be sure to use the same hexagon product for your entire quilt so if you use one of my template do not use other hexagons; this will ensure accuracy and consistency. If there is interest I will prepare and publish a template for 1 1/4" hexagons.

If you leave a comment and don't hear back from me it means you are a no reply blogger. Until I post again, happy hexagoning!
Karen H

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tutorial: Another way to fussy cut

The weather is always so unpredictable in January so rather than bring in a speaker my Quilt Guild has a demonstration night. Three Guild members are asked to do a 15 minute demo. The Guild members are divided into three groups and then they rotate from one demo to the next. I've been asked to demonstrate English paper piecing/hexagons. I decided to make some samples with different sizes of hexagons for my demo.

I have two fabrics that I thought would work well together so I decided to play with them! The top fabric is an old fabric Malvern Hill by Judy Roche & Carienne Kramer for Henry Glass Fabrics. It is a leftover bit from a backing. The bottom fabric was purchased more recently and it is Return to Romance by WillowBerry Lane and Maywood Studios. I bought it because I love the colours and thought it would be well suited to fussy cut hexagons.

There are loads of ways to fussy cut fabrics and I'll use different methods based on the fabric I'm using and the number of patches I require. I will often fussy cut by placing a window template on the wrong side of the fabric and move it around until I find the image I want to use. I'll glue a hexagon paper in the opening and then cut out the hexagon leaving a generous seam allowance. For the remaining hexagons I line up my hexagon on the next motif being sure to line up the landmarks. In the following picture you can see that I lined up the upper left corner and the lower point of the paper template  at the yellow circles. This method works great if you can see the print on the back of the fabric.

My problem is that I couldn't really see the print on the back of the fabric. On the left you can see the print and on the ride is the back of the fabric. So how did I fussy cut six hexagons to make a rosette? I could have cut one out on the right side of the fabric but how would I line up the paper template on the back if I couldn't see the print? Let me share with you what I did!

The first step was to place a window template on the right side of my fabric.

Once I found the motif I wanted to use I tacked a hexagon in the window with a tiny dab of Elmer's Purple Glue.

I carefully removed the window template. Here you can see the paper template glued to my fabric.

I next position the remaining five hexagons on the right side of the fabric being sure to line up the landmarks as described above. I don't stress about getting things lined up perfectly - close is good enough for me! The red circles indicate the landmarks I used to line up my paper templates. At this point I could cut out the hexagons adding a generous seam allowance. I like to work with a 3/8" seam allowance if I can!

When I hold the fabric up to the light with the wrong side facing me I can see the hexagon that is on the right side.

I apply a dab of Elmer's Purple Glue to a hexagon template and while holding the fabric up to the light I positioned the hexagon on the wrong side of the fabric being sure to line up the hexagons. I remove the hexagon from the right side of the fabric and I am ready to start English paper piecing as usual!

So what did the hexagon rosettes look like after they were stitched together? This is the hexagon rosette made with 1 1/4" hexagons.

This is the hexagon rosette made with 1" hexagons.

And here they are together! I think the 1" hexagons work best with these fabrics although both are pretty! I love the stars that are created by fussy cutting the peaks in the Malvern Hill fabric.

So what will I do with these hexagons after the demo tonight? I'll put them in the box of hexagons to be used in a future project!

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and much as I enjoy sharing with all you people! If you leave a comment I will be sure to send you an email. 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 include your email address in the comment.

Until I post again, I hope you have fun fussy cutting!
Karen H