Friday, January 17, 2014

Soupcon Hexagon Quilt Along - Part 2

Soupcon Quilt Along
by Faeries and Fibres
Part 2 of 6

Hello and welcome to Part 2 of  my Soupcon Hexagon Quilt Along (QAL)! If you missed Part 1 you will find it here. In Part 2 we are going to jazz up our blocks with embellishments and solve "problems".

Take your time with Step 2. Don't rush and if you aren't sure about what to do ask a question in the comment form! This is a medallion quilt so the attention will be focused on your star or flower; a few added details will make the hexagon center look even more amazing. I'll provide you with some design ideas but please feel free to use them, edit them or do your own thing. This is an opportunity to personalize your block and make it truly unique! If you are stuck and don't know what to do, post your block on the Soupcon FLICKR Group (if it isn't already there) and leave a comment below and I would be happy to give you some suggestions to get the creative juices flowing! The advice is free and yours to do with as you please. If you chose to ignore it I won't be offended! I'm also sure that the other QAL members and would also be happy to chime in!

I love applique circles and  embroidery so those are the embellishments I will focus on. As far as the applique method use any technique including fusible applique however if at the end you plan to turn your wall hanging into a quilt then you might want to consider stitching down the fusible applique. If you don't like applique you can use fabric markers such as Sakura Pens, Sharpies or fabric paints to create the embellishment. Or maybe beads and buttons are your thing (if you want to add beads or buttons it might be best to add them after the quilt is quilted)! It is up to you.

The first step is to prepare the block for embellishing. Mark an 8" square (with a fabric safe marking tool). I used the horizontal seam lines and the vertical star points to make sure the star or flower is centered. If the block is slightly off center this isn't a problem. It will be "fixed" in Part 3. Make a small mark 2 1/2" out from each corner and connect the marks to create an octagon. When embellishing your block please stay 1/4" within these boundaries. If you go beyond this measurement it will interfere with Step 3.

Adding Embroidered Details
I use two strands of DMC variegated floss for my embroidery. I find that the embroidery goes much smoother if you separate the strands and them bring them back together. DMC has some lovely luscious colours available - here are some gorgeous variegated reds! Yesterday I posted some basic rules for embroidery. You can read them here.

HELPFUL TIP: This helpful and brilliant tip comes from reader Clare. She wrote that her using variegated floss is that when the colour change is two fast or too dramatic she separates the strands of floss, flips one on end and then puts them back together so that the colour change is out of sinc. She says you get a beautiful effect with two tones but a more subtle look overall! Thanks Clare - you are so smart and I can't wait to try out this tip!

Another way to get some interest is to combine a single strand of floss from two different colours. Experiment and have fun! If you aren't sure if something will work, do a test on a scrap of fabric.

So let's start with a look at how I embroidered my blocks. Here is my blue Soupcon. I used DMC #4126 for the embroidery. I started by marking my design with a Frixion pen on the background and then I embroidered the leafs using the method I wrote about here. The markings were a guideline only and I made adjustments as I went. Sometimes the leaf needed to be a little larger or smaller or I had to adjust the position of the leaf so that it would fit.Tomorrow I will do a demonstration on embroidering berries.

For my red Soupcon I decided to use DMC #1316 and I did more embroidery because the flower arrangement is a little smaller than the star arrangement. I think the variegated thread creates the impression of a silky sheen in the embroidery and while there is a slight sheen, it is in fact the colour change in the floss that creates the illusion.

While I used a single colour of DMC floss in both blocks there is no reason why you couldn't use multiple colours. I could have done the little leafs in different shades of green and the berries in different shades of another colour. Here is a close-up of leafs that I embroidered on another quilt using different greens. I threaded six to eight needles and each had two strands of DMC floss in a different green. I used the same green for the stems and vines but each leave was worked with a different green.

If I ran out of green half way through a leaf I would knot off my floss and start with another green. It makes for some impressive embroidery when all I was doing was being frugal and using the floss up rather than discard it! Here is an example of what I've just described. Wouldn't it be fun to embroider some lady bugs on your block? If you are interested in a demo let me know and I'll prepare one for you in the next couple of days.

You don't have to embroider leafs and berries. They just happen to be what I did. You should feel free to embroider whatever you like. Consider using the print from your hexagon fabric as your embroidery motif.

I like to use Frixion pens to draw my design because if I don't like what I've done I just touch it with a warm iron and it disappears. You should use whatever marking tool you like best. I start out by drawing my designs that I will embroider. If I want to embroider three leafs (or berries) I draw the outer leafs first and fill in the with center leaf. I NEVER work without a hoop and my preferred size is 4".

The demo for embroidering the leafs is here. I'll demonstrate the berry tomorrow.

How about a few little stems with French knots at the tip of your star points?

You don't have to limit your embroidery embellishment to the background. You could also embellish the star or flower or the center if it is open!

I've sketched out a variety of design possibilities for you to embroider or draw with pens and you will find them here. You can use them as they are edit, rearrange or come up with your own design.

If embroidery isn't your thing consider embellishing with pens such as the Sakura Pigma Micron pens or brushes. Even Sharpies will work however you must be cautious not to let the tip of the pen sit on the fabric or it will slurp up the ink and spread.

Applique Embellishments
Applique can be used to embellish the block but it can also be used to mask problems. For example, if you made a flower with your hexagons and the center is a little lack luster or the points don't match up, why not prepare a circle to be appliqued in place.

I described how I make my circles here. I filled the center of my blue Soupcon with a gold hexagon but decided it needed some pizzazz so I appliqued a circle in the middle. Circles don't have to be used to hide problems, they can also be used to embellish! I might go back and add some embroidery in the center at a later date.

Bees would be fun a fun embellishment and I've already done a demo which you could read about here. I used Sakura pens to draw the wings but you could embroider them if you prefer.There's also a grasshopper demo here.

Jean had mentioned that her fussy cut center was off-center. From the original fabric I would cut a circle with the flower motif in the center (or close to it) and make a circle to be appliqued. It will need to be large enough so that the off center flower is covered.

Kath has a butterfly in the center of her block.If she has more of this fabric she could applique them between the star points. Or she could trace the outline of the butterfly and embroider them or draw them on the background fabric with fabric pens!

The fabric Bunny used has all sorts of interesting bits that would be perfect for applique. The six little blue flowers near the center would make great little circles that could be used as berry appliques. If she left some of the navy border around the blue flower it would be perfect in the center hexagon.

I could really have fun with this block by ABrandieCreation because of it's simplicity. Details could be outlined with embroidery and those brown teardrops are just screaming "embellish me" with some applique circles! I

There are all sorts of stitches you can use to embellish: back-stitch, running stitch, French knots, lazy daisy, buttonhole and so on. There are loads of videos available on YouTube and in other places so explore the interweb!

If you made a star and the points aren't quite perfect, consider adding some applique to change them up a little.

Combine applique and embroidery for fun! HELPFUL TIP: When I have a fabric that has motifs I like, if there is a motif that is so close to the edge of the fabric that it won't be useable I cut it so I can audition it on my block.

I left the center of this star open because I wasn't sure what I want to put in it. If I want to fill it I can slide the fabric inside and reverse applique it in place. But before doing that I thought I would audition some circles.


DESIGN OPTIONS: You can just use your block as is. Add multiple rounds of borders to make a quilt. How about making nine blocks using the same background fabric for each. Stitch them together for a center panel of a quilt. Add borders and you are done. A third option is to make more blocks and alternate them with 10 1/2" squares of a print fabric that compliments the blocks. There are lots of design possibilities but I hope that before you make a decision you'll stay tuned for Step 3.

FINAL BITS OF ADVICE: Firstly, if I've described something you've never tried (like circles for applique) why not give it a go? One circle doesn't take long and if you don't like it you can do smoething else! Secondly, please don't rush; focus on working only one detail at a time and enjoy what your are doing. Thirrdly, if you aren't sure you want to do something, don't! You can always go back later and add to your block. Finally, if you don't get Step 2 finished in two weeks, it won't affect Step 3. You'll still be able to move on to Step 3 and continue to work on Step 2!

Well I sure hope the creative juices are flowing! I would love to hear from you if you have a comment or a question. As always if you need help, I am only a few clicks away! And don't forget to post pictures on the Soupcon FLICKR Group. I can't wait to see what you do!

Until the berry tutorial tomorrow, happy embellishing!

Karen H


  1. Oh my word, I am excited now. You have the best ideas ever! I was reading down the page, thinking, I wonder if i could echo the butterfly motif and Voila! there was your suggestion. The wood floors in my home arre screaming "vacuum me!" but I am turning a blind eye and hitting my sewing room ha ha

    1. I am so pleased that you like what I've done and I can't wait to see your block! Step 3 will be quite fast and easy and it will turn your block into a work of art!

  2. Wow Karen! So many great ideas and options. I am going out to shop for variegated thread to match my block today! I am so looking forward to seeing everyone's work.

    1. You are going to have fun with the variegated floss. I too am really looking for ward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

  3. well its midnight here and the cool change has arrived with a thunder storm (and bush fires in some rural areas), do i go to bed or go out to the sewing room to play with my block?, hmmmm, maybe i'll go to bed and hope i dream up something interesting. Thanks for the ideas.

    1. Glad that it has cooled off down under. Heat just demotivates me so when it is hot I don't get much done. Your block is very pretty so I am eager to see what you do with it!

  4. My mother used to do the most gorgeous embroidery; but I never did. I will think of her for sure while doing this. She would be proud of me for trying. Thank you.

    1. Hi Cissa - you are a no reply blogger so I couldn't send you an email. I hope you enjoy doing the embroidery and it is so nice that you will have pleasant thoughts of your Mom while you are doing it! I'm a mom and mom's are always proud of their kids, no matter what but I'm confident that your Mom would be pleased that you are trying something that she loved doing!

  5. Or Jean could have embroidered a butterfly or bee to center that flower. The leaves are wonderful. I really like the shape of each leaf. Thanks for some good ideas.

    1. That is a terrific idea to add a butterfly or bee to the center and leave the flower as is. I'm having so much fun and every time someone makes a suggestion - it is a demonstration of their creativity and every time I read an idea like yours, it gives me even more ideas! It is so much fun to share in this way. It gets me excited about what I'm doing and I hope others feel the same way.

  6. So excited for phase 2. Excited, but stumped. This one will take some thinking and playing. Here's my tip. I use a sheet of transparency film for overhead projectors (or any transparent piece of clear plastic) and an erasable marker to audition designs for FMQ and think it will work perfectly for trying different embroidery designs. Just place it on top of the square and doodle away. Just be careful not to smudge the ink onto your square!

    1. Great idea! You could also photocopy your block and doodle on the paper! As far as you being stumped, I say be patient. It will come to you and the nice thing is that when it does, the block will be uniquely yours!

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks Kathy! I'm pretty pleased with both blocks!

  8. Love your tutorials and the ideas you share with us.

  9. Thanks Sandra! I hope you are inspired to create something that is wonderful and uniquely your own!

  10. I love hexagons and English paper piecing :0) I came across this blog via another new found blog and I am going to gather up my bits and pieces to start this QAL!

    1. Hello Judith - I'm so glad you want to join in. I like to send a person welcome but you are a no-reply blogger. :-( If you are reading this I hope you will post pictures on the FLICKR page for the group!

    2. I had no idea I was a no-reply blogger...thanks for the mentioning :0) I think I've changed it now...hopefully haha! I will check out the FLICKR page!