Friday, April 1, 2016

Hexagon blocks of a different variety for The Empire Quilt

So why the silence? I was to have a bathroom renovation done. The work should have been done in four days but once the walls were opened there were problems with the plumbing. Major, costly problems. The result? Part of my kitchen had to be demolished to do the repairs so in addition to the total renovation of the bathroom, the kitchen must also be done. I had already packed up my bathroom and then had to pack up the kitchen AND worst of all I also had to pack up my sewing/computer room so that the workers could access the attic for the electrical work. The work is still not done. For the next couple of weeks I will be living out of boxes. I can't wait for this to be over with.

I've managed to tunnel my way to my computer in order to do a quick post about The Empire Quilt. I had said that there would be some different hexagon blocks for The Empire Quilt. Today I'll share two of them. Both are made with simple pieced blocks and hexagons. I dug into my stash of basted leftover hexagons. I never throw them out because they might just come in handy one day. The pink and green print in the pieced block is not at all in keeping with the scale and style of other prints used in the quit thus far but it works. Don't be afraid to combine your fabrics. If it doesn't work just do a little reverse sewing and try something different!

I think there are lots of possibilities for creating dimension with colour and value in this one but I decided to keep it simple. For example, I could have swapped out some of the grey fabrics for darker greys to create shading.

You be surprised at how fast and easy it was to make these blocks which combine traditional piecing with English paper piecing. It would be fun to make an entire quilt with blocks like this! Hey, I just gave myself a new idea. Maybe there's another quilt in the making!

There are two more hexagon blocks to share with you and they are bobby-dazzlers for sure! For now I have to work my way out of my sewing room because the contractors will be back shortly. There is white drywall dust and construction mess everywhere. I'm so done with it and eager to be done so life can get back to normal.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cutting stripes for hexagons

Angie in SoCal saw the striped prints I used in the hexagon blocks I showed in this post and she asked "do you cut them in order?".  There are many things in life I don't like and cutting fabric slowly is one of them! I use my rapid fire cutting technique when I need to cut multiple patches from a single fabric. In the following block there are stripes (white and beige) and a directional prints (the beige crosshatch) both of which were cut from a single strip of fabric. I cut all of the hexagons for that block at one time. I have a large sheet of cardboard covered with a scrap of batting so that I can arrange the hexagons on it to get a feel for how they look. Once they are all cut out and I am satisfied with the arrangement I take a picture to help with sewing the hexagons together. The hexagons go in a little bag so that I can baste them at my leisure! 

In the example above the stripes are all running from a straight edge to a straight edge so that made the cutting easy (I just cut them all from a single strip of fabric).  You will notice that the rosette in the middle is also made with a stripe fabric and again the stripes are all running from a straight edge to a straight edge. Let me demonstrate with one of my Road 66 blocks. The centre hexagon is fussy cut and then the first round of hexagons that make the rosette are cut from a directional chevron striped fabric. In this example the stripes all radiate out from the centre.

Notice how the stripe runs from a straight edge to a straight edge. I use regular printer paper to make my hexagons. The beauty of paper is that you can write on it. If you are a beginner draw an arrow on the wrong side of your paper so that once it is basted you can use the arrow to position the stripe.

The second round of hexagons were also cut from a directional fabric. There are twelve hexagons in this round. Notice how the six hexagons that are attached to the straight edge of the previous round have the stripe running from straight edge to straight edge.

The remaining six hexagons that fit in the "V" are cut so that the stripe runs from point to point. Again drawing an arrow on the paper will help orient the hexagons once they are basted.

If the stripes were to circle the central hexagon the placement of the hexagon on the striped fabric will be reversed. Take a look at this Road 66 block.  The fabric that surrounds the central hexagon is a border print.

The hexagons cut from the border print are placed point to point.

The second round is cut from an ombred stripe fabric. The six hexagons whose straight edge connects to the straight edge of the first round will be cut from point to point.

The remaining six hexagons that fit in the "V" are cut so that the stripe runs from straight edge to straight edge.

With each subsequent round the number of hexagons needed will increase by six so the third round would require eighteen hexagons. A fourth round would require twenty-four hexagons. In each round there will be six hexagons cut exactly the same way as those in the first round and any remaining hexagons would be cut the other. Let me demonstratre.

If the stripes were radiating outwards, six hexagons would be cut from straight edge to straight edge.

In round 2 which is made of twelve hexagons, six would be cut from straight edge to straight edge (red arrows) and the remaining six from point to point (green arrows).

In round 3 which is made of eighteen hexagons, six would be cut from straight edge to straight edge (blue arrows) and the remaining twelve from point to point (gold arrows).

A fourth round (not demonstrated here) would be made of twenty four hexagons, six of which would be cut from straight edge to straight edge and eighteen from point to point.

If the stripes were circling the central hexagon, round 2 would be made of six cut from point to point (red arrows) and six cut from straight edge to straight edge(green arrows). In round 3 there would be six hexagons cut from point to point (blue arrows) and twelve cut from straight edge to straight edge (gold arrows).

When I construct my rosettes I make each round an open donut and add it to what I've already stitched. It makes for fast and accurate sewing!

Was this helpful? I sure hope so! Until I post again, happy sewing.

Karen H

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

More blocks for The Empire Quilt

I've got three more blocks from  my next QAL design, The Empire Quilt to share with you today. I've started writing the pattern and once it is done will have to have it scanned commercially so that the patterns are to size. Unfortunately my HP scanner reduces the size of documents and that's no good! I've found a place where I can have them scanned at a more reasonable price. I know this is taking longer than expected but I want to make sure my measurements are accurate and that you see the finished quilt top before I start posting the instructions.

This first block makes good use of stripes/directional prints and some fussy cutting. Stripes create so much visual interest and I just can't resist using them!

This is a fun block. While most of my fabric choices have been older style prints I've combined some modern prints in this one and they work. The dark brown in the border is a Brandon Mably print. I figured that if it didn't work out the basted hexagons would go in the box of leftovers and eventually be used in another project. Fortunately for me they did work!

I had mentioned that I was searching for a blue fabric I have in my stash. I eventually found it and used it in the rosette in the lower left corner. I must have about a zillion blues in my stash but I had my heart set on this one. I also had a couple of small scraps of Japanese fabric with owls so I fussy cut them for the centres of the rosettes at the bottom.

So far you've seen eight hexagon blocks that will form part of the border. There are four more to go and they will be quite different from the other eight. If like me you have leftover hexagons this will be the place to use them!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, March 10, 2016

More Empire hexagon blocks and The Trent Evening Quilters Guild

I had a great time in Peterborough sharing my quilts and teaching. I taught my techniques for English paper piecing at Alice Williams studio in Curve Lake and it was fabulous. She has a huge room with windows on three of the four walls so that the space is flooded with natural light and large work spaces. This is just one section of the workspace.

Here is a part of the other side of the work space.

I think that the students enjoyed themselves and that the came away inspired to create something really beautiful. Alice is a really warm and welcoming individual and her home is fascinating. Everywhere you look there is something to see. She has created little vignettes made up of things she loves and collects.

There were beautiful examples of beadwork on a large display board when you first walk in the door and her studio was filled with displays of apples of all sorts and hearts. Alice told me she loves hearts; must be because she has a big, warm heart! If you have a moment be sure to visit Alice's website Pimaatiswin Quilts. Thank you very much to Alice and the Trent Evening Quilters. I hope that you enjoyed yourselves as much as I enjoyed myself!

Today I thought I would share two more blocks from my upcoming QAL, The Empire Quilt. There will be eight hexagon units it total and then there will be four "partial" hexagon units. The first block is just a simple collection of rosettes in honey colours. I do love the warmth of this grouping.

The shape of the design within the next block reminds me of a flower vase! I've still got some of those lovely honey tones in the block. 

The colours/fabrics I've been using are cut from existing strips and scraps. I think the colours will work well with the greens that I've used in the centre panel If you are new to my blog this is the centre panel. The greens will be repeated in the outside edge of the quilt.

Last night I had the opportunity to see a trunk show by Debra Anger of Patchwork Sanity - A Woman's Piece of Mind. I came home just itching to sew. Debra loves scrap quilts and demonstrated how to make all fabrics work together in a single quilt. She also talked about fabric and block swaps. I was asked to help show the quilts so I didn't get a chance to take many pictures but will share those that I was able to take in a future post. Until then, happy sewing!

Karen H

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Two more hexagon blocks for the Empire Quilt

Tomorrow I leave for Peterborough, Ontario where I will be doing a trunk show and teaching. I can't wait to share my work with others. My hope is that they go home and want to sew, sew, sew!

Before I go I thought I would share two more hexagon blocks from The Empire Quilt which will be the subject of my 2016 Quilt Along. Both were made primarily of leftover bits and pieces from other projects. I love the first block made up of four hexagons. They look like lazy diamonds laying on their sides! I think it would be fun to make an entire quilt of these guys! Right now I am searching for the blue paisley in the bottom middle. I have a fat quarter that I putt somewhere safe but where that is I just can't say at the moment. I've torn the place apart searching for it and have no doubt that it will eventually turn up!

I wasn't crazy about this second hexagon block but as you will soon see it looks good in the finished quilt top! I love the green bubble fabric and have only a tiny piece left. I do have plans for it in the near future.

That's it for today. I must get back to my packing. Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Let there be hexagons

I've mentioned that there will be hexagons in my 2016 Quilt Along quilt which I call The Empire Quilt. Today I thought I would share a picture of one of the eight hexagon blocks that are to come. This design reminds me of a wagon wheel. I chose to use variegated shades of teal for the six spokes but they would be equally nice were they made from a single fabric (maybe fussy cut for extra zip)!

The bird blocks that I've shared seem to be very popular so here is yet another. These three little birds are kookaburras, need eyes and feet. Kookaburras are a type of kingfisher native to Australia; I know that the colours are wrong but I used the scraps of fabric that I had on hand so my kookaburras are pink! The little crests on their heads are made from leftover scraps from my Easier Than Pie & Beyond quilt border print fabric. Their wings are made from an earthy tone leafy fabric; I used it because the print looks like feathers. The background fabric is washed-out in this picture.

In this picture the background fabric colour is more accurate. Now my little birds have eyes and feet. I stitched their feet using a simple chain stitch but they looked rather small and flat so I stitched over the chain stitch with a satin stitch and the feel loot much more dimensional. I used a variegated thread so each bird's feet are a little different! The eyes were cut from a fabric with a circle print. I needle-turn appliqued them in place. They are small but they were appliqued in no tine flat. An alternative would have been to embroider little eyes or use my ink pens to draw then on. There's always more than one way to do things.

The next step was to reverse applique the birds to a square of white fabric. As cute as the birds are I think the block looks bland.

There was too much blank space so I once again did some broderie perse applique. A leaf was appliqued to the top of the circle, and to the midpoint on the branch. At the far left a cluster of blue flowers was appliqued. I'm much happier with this block with the extra bit of applique. Sometimes you just need to add a little more to make it right.

My blogging tine will be limited this week because I've got a trunk show scheduled and a workshop so I'll be away from home for four days. I'll try to squeeze in another post before I go. Until then, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Easier Than Pie & Beyond and The Empire Quilt

I've added the final wide cream border to my Easier Than Pie & Beyond quilt. I think it frames the blocks perfectly and will provide plenty of space for fun and interesting quilt designs. I've received a number of emails about the size of the hexagons in my Easier Than Pie & Beyond pattern books. They are 1" which sounds small but they are actually a very nice size to work with. However, if it is too small for you then simply enlarge the patterns on your printer/copier until you have the size you would like to work with. I think that 1 1/4" would be a great size and they would work up very quickly.

Where does the name of this quilt come from? I've been making these types of blocks since the 1990s and I always knew that they were deceptively easy to make. The blocks are simple rosettes/flowers made with 1" hexagons and while they look complex the designs are easy to make, easier than pie! If you can sew a straight line and do a simple whip stitch (or ladder stitch if you prefer) you can make any or all of the designs. I would love to get started quilting it however I have a trunk show next week and would like to take this with me to show so it will remain a quilt top for now.

I've also been asked questions about my 2016 Quilt Along (QAL). Rest assured it will be coming soon! I generally like to name my projects; it helps me keep my various projects straight in my mind and also it makes it easy to label pattern pieces and fabrics. I've been struggling with a name for this quilt and have finally settled on The Empire Quilt because the quilt reads as empire green. Want another sneak peek at the quilt? Today I'll share the next sets of borders that were attached to the medallion.

The triangles and diamonds were basted over regular printer paper before being pressed with a little spray starch. I could also have used freezer paper or no-melt mylar to prep the pieces. However, I had paper on hand so that's what I used. Once the pieces were prepped they were stitched to the borders and the borders were attached to the medallion. The next border is a wide border and it is going to be full of wonderful hexagon fun! It is also where I will be using the bird appliques that you've seen. Stay tune for more pictures in the days to come.

Mary Huey of Quilting Through Rose-Colored Trifocals is running a Y-seam link-up party and I'm linking up. There are all sorts of ways of doing Y seams and English paper piecing is only one of them. Pop on over to the party and see what everyone is doing!

Until I post again, happy sewing.