Thursday, May 30, 2013

The making of Stars in the Loft and Hobb's Thermore Batting

Hexagon quilts are so much fun to make because they are portable and they make use of small scraps of fabric. I also like them because it is a good way to experiment with different colour combinations, combinations you would never have planned. Don't like the centre patch, swap it out for something else! Experiment and explore! When making hexagon quilts I always learn more about colour and usually come up with print and colour combinations that I would never have considered!

The basic technique used to make Stars in the Loft is English paper piecing, EPP for short. Simply put the seam allowances of the patches are folded over a paper hexagon template and then basted. These basted patches are whip stitched together to make the desired motif. The best known and most traditional motif is what I call a flower; it consists of six “petals” surrounding the centre patch.

Basic flower motif
To add interest to the basic flower fussy cut the centre patch.


For even more interest fussy cut the petals.

If you don’t have enough fabric to fussy cut six petals, fussy cut three and alternate them with another fabric.

Fussy cutting is great  fun because it allows you to make interesting designs or patterns.The medallion in Stars in the Loft is surrounded by a border of what I call firecrackers. They could have been fussy cut from a striped fabric but they weren`t. I made them with a dark navy fabric with a light stripe in the centre - don't they sparkle! The medallion is sourrounded by firecrackers and the border design was also made with them. I used only one navy fabric for the medallion but the border design was made with firecrackers made with a wide assortment of navy fabrics including the one used in the medallion.
Centre medallion surrounded by firecrackers
Close-up of firecrackers in medallion
Firecrackers used in the border
I could have searched for a striped fabric that could be fussy cut so the stripe was centred but I had two problems with that approach. First it would involve a lot of time to search for the fabric (time that would be better spent sewing) and secondly fussy cutting can waste a lot of fabric. So I had to figure out a work around for the firecrackers. The solution was simple; combine foundation paper piecing with EPP.
Here is how I do it. I draw my sewing lines on the paper template and foundation piece on my sewing machine.
Once the foundation piecing is completed the EPP techinique is used to baste the patch and built the motifs.

Once I had solved the border around the medallions I thought why not apply this same method to the flower blocks in the quilt. Ao here are three flowers made using the firecracker template!

And here is another simple variation, what I call  half and half. I made this template quickly so the sewing line isn`t centred but in this block it wouldn`t make much difference!

And here is the block!

So that`s the basic tecnique!

One of the things I want to tell you about hexagon quilts is that they are HEAVY, not the far out kind of heavy but rather they weigh a lot! All of those seam allowance add up. When it comes to what batting to use a I find that a cotton batting or an 80/20 is just too heavy. I prefer to use Hobb's Thermore. It is a thin light weight batting that needles beautifully. It is polyester but I've used it for both hand and machine quilting with not probllem at all. It is also a great batting to use for miniature quilts!

I buy my battings from Connecting Threads when they are on sale. Right now they are on sale at 30% off. The regular price is $22 but you can get a queen size batt for just over $15. Even with the shipping it is a great deal, particularly if you purchase multiple battings for yourself or with a group of friends.

I hope you enjoy my technique for making stellar hexagon blocks. It really is fast, fun and easy. And it lends itself to chain piecing which is a great time saver!

Until I post again, happy sewing!


  1. I think that your hexis are wonderful and also like that you showed how to get the firecrackers. I'll definitely have to try that.

    1. Thanks Deb and I'm glad that the explanation was helpful. Stay tuned because tomorrow I'll show you how I make some of the other motifs! They are great fun!

  2. They are just beautiful Karen, I must try them. Usually, I have a 'portable' knitting project on the go, but these seem portable enough that I should cut a few and give it a try.
    We learn so much from you. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience with this quilt. It turned out fantastic! I've votetd for you at QB and hope all your friends do the same.

    1. Thank you for voting for my quilt! I am always happy to share what I know or what I've learned with others.

  4. DANG! This is genius, you know that? No wonder your quilt is so gorgeous.