Monday, July 25, 2016

Rowdy Flat Library Quilt and a Tutorial for straightening the edge of a hexagon quilt top

Once again I'm sorry for the silence. All is well but I've been distracted by a variety of happy events and captivating projects. I recently saw some blocks that really caught my attention. There were made by an Australian quilt maker, Susan Smith of Patchwork on Stoneleigh and she is offering the patterns as a block of the month. The blocks will be made into a quilt (which is yet to be revealed). The name of the quilt is the Rowdy Flat Library Quilt and when I saw the bees I was hooked.

The pattern calls for toile and I have been saving some scraps of a toile that I used to make my Lazy Punk quilt.

Lazy Punk

The toile looks like a typical toile until you have an up close look. It is skeletons! I've been saving this scrap waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it and this is just the quilt! But my plan was to transform the fabric to add my personal touch and transform it I did. More to come on the transformation in the coming days.

For now I thought I would do a little mini tutorial about another way to finish the edge of a hexagon quilt. There are so many ways to finish the edge of an English paper pieced hexagon quilt top and today I thought I would share one of the methods that I like to use to create a straight edge.

There are two different edges on a hexagon quilt top. The first is an edge of "Vs".

This one is easy to straighten because you just trim the points with a rotary cutter and ruler and the result will be a nice straight edge. The other important factor is that in trimming this edge you will not be cutting through your stitching so the seams will be intact. I leave the papers in my quilt top until I am ready to trim the points. This prevents stretching.

The other edge looks like dentil molding.

You could simply trim the hexagons 1/4" beyond the mid-point (the red circles) to give you a nice straight edge.

When you open up the seam of the lower hexagon the problem is that the 1/4" seam allowance area is not stitched closed (see inside the red circle). I like my seams stitched right to the end of the seam because I know it will be secure. If it is not stitched to the end my fear is that eventually the seam may open.

A second option is to open the seam allowance at the top of the innermost hexagons (at the red arrows) and then trim the them on the red dashed line. What I don't like about this method is that when you add a border or binding the seam will be 1/4" in from the edge (the black line) and so the outermost hexagon will be less than a half hexagon. This just looks wrong to my eye.

My preferred approach is to add half hexagons to fill the space. Normally I baste my hexagons from the back so that the basting will remain in the quilt however when I make half hexagons to fill the dentil edge I prefer to baste through the paper.

I like to work with a larger seam allowance because it makes the basting process so much easier. I dislike cutting fabric slowly, especially if I need to cut lots of fabric for the path between the hexagon rosettes. I wrote about my rapid fire cutting method here. When making half hexagons I will trim the raw edge after I've basted it to the paper. There is a precise 1/4" seam allowance that will allow all raw edges to line up.

My next step is to clip the basting basting threads at the top edge of the outermost hexagons and trim the outer edge so that there is a precise 1/4" seam allowance.

Once the outermost edge is trimmed I can set in the half hexagons.Notice that I've used some tiny applique pins to hold the papers in position. This is optional but I find that retaining the papers helps maintain nice, crisp edges for sewing.

The finished product is a nice straight edge that makes it easy to add borders or binding.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H


  1. When you said "You could simply trim the hexagons 1/4" beyond the mid-point (the red circles) to give you a nice straight edge." why don't you do a stay stitch around the entire perimeter of the quilt before cutting off the edges of the hexagons? Nothing will come unstitched. True that you would ruin some papers but that's not much in the grand scheme of what a quilt costs to make.

    Otherwise, welcome back!

  2. I've also been bitten by the Rowdy Flat Library Quilt! In fact I ordered a piece of fabric from France to use as my Toile. I was just pulling fabrics tonight to start soon.
    And speaking of the skeleton toile, I bought 6 yards of that last year at my LQS just because I loved it too much! Great minds think alike!

  3. Well, the lost is found! I am going to do Rowdy too... not sure, but someday! Enjoyed the tutorial!
    Nanette - doitrightquilter

  4. I was initially puzzled as to why you would use a toile for Steam Punk - too funny! I'm going to enjoy watching you make an Aussie designed quilt.

  5. I was so glad to see your post! I was getting worried that you or your mom had taken ill. But then I placed you in the Lord's hands (both of you) and stopped worrying. What a great process post. I'll bookmark it. Blessings,

  6. Love this tutorial! Looking forward to the Empire quilt along. I'm now unpacking in another home and healing a bulging neck disc. Not a stitch of stitching have my hands done. :(

  7. Tips and tricks are always handy I will have to keep this in my filing head, Thanks. Love your center for your RFLQ it is going to look so awesome!! you are such a talent with your fabric!

  8. Glad to see you "back in the saddle", Karen!!

  9. I saw an offcut of that skeleton fabric on EBay recently!
    It never occurred to me to colour it, dam it, wish I'd tried for it now lol
    Love what you've done with it now mind you:)