Wednesday, April 29, 2015

REWIND: Fussy cut options for hexagon quilts when you don't have enough fabric

Welcome back to REWIND! Every now and then I "rewind" and republish one of my older posts that you may have missed! Today I'm going to share a post from January 2014 in which I wrote about combining fabrics when fussy cutting. All of the hexagon rosettes and stars in this post are in my quilt 81 The Giant Monstrosity (I wrote a free pattern and you can find it under the tab Patterns by Karen H). Enjoy!
81 The Giant Monstrosity by Karen H 2014

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Fussy cuts are great for any block but they are particularly well suited to hexagons and diamonds.  I love to fussy cut to produce kaleidoscopic effects such as this one.

The hexagon above is six identical hexagons surrounding a seventh different hexagon. I love the blue star that emerged. I cut this hexagon from a strip of fabric that was part of a jelly roll. 

Sometimes I can only cut three hexagons from my fabric. What's the solution? Add a second fabric! In the two examples below I only had enough fabric to be able to cut three hexagons for each so I added a second fabric for the outside ring and a third fabric for the center. In the pink hexagon the alternating white and red hexagons were not fussy cut, nor was the center hexagon.

In this example I only had enough pale blue brown for three hexagons so I fussy cut three blue and yellow to go with them. The center was also fussy cut.

Another way to deal with a shortage of fabric is to use two different fussy cuts from the same fabric; if your aren't confident working with multiple fabrics and colour make cut your fussy cuts from a single fabric. That way you know that they will work together. In the star below I did have enough fabric but I wanted some variety so I fussy cut three diamonds with blueberries and three diamonds with red flowers. The colours work together since they come from the same fabric and the two different fussy cuts add some interest. A diamond is a derivative of a hexagon (three diamonds make a hexagon).

This is a second example of six patches cut from a single fabric. I cut three with red flowers and three with white leafs.

Here I've used two different fabrics. The colours are close but not the same and they don't have to be a perfect match. In fact sometimes it is more interesting if the colours are slightly off.

Here I only had enough blue to fussy cut three so I alternated with a red print which was not fussy cut. Even with only three fussy cuts it is still interesting. This star isn't a bobby dazzler but it would work in the Soupçon Quilt Along because it can be dressed up!

Again I fussy cut three hexagons (and a fourth and different for the center) and three plain hexagons.

This is yet another example of combining entirely different fabrics. What is consistent in all three is that I've looked for complimentary prints/colours. The red print in the first picks up the red flowers on the blue. The yellow hexagons in the second pick up on the background of the fussy cut hexagons and in the one below the gold basket weave picks up on the gold in the fussy cut leafs.

Experiment with your fabrics and see what you can come up with! Here are some examples of what I came up with. I LOVE the orange star with the striped fabric in the lower right corner! Stripes are our friend!

Lots of possibilities here! The star in the center of the bottom row features a fussy cut print and a fussy cut stripe.

Look at how the striped fabric was used in the hexagon flower in the middle of the bottom row. Pretty, no? Pretty, yes!!!

And here's one final idea. Sometimes the fabric is right but not quite right so how do you make it right? I took some pens to it! The triangular bits were very pale so I outlined them with my brown fabric markers. I still thought they needed some depth so I took another marker and I shaded the left side of the inside of blade on the light blue. And I am ashamed to say that it wasn't a fabric marker that I used but it was a permanent marker. Actually I'm not at all ashamed! I just did it and I like it! Feel free to alter your fabrics however you chose. 

All of the hexagons and stars above are part of my quilt top 81 (The Giant Monstrosity). It is on my "to be quilted" list. It is a big quilt so it is going to be challenging. Oh well, I think I'm up for the challenge!

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I hope you enjoyed this edition of Rewind. lf you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you! I'm always happy to share what I do and how I do it! I reply to every comment so if you don't hear back from me it means you are a no reply blogger! Until I post again happy sewing!

Karen H

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spot the spot

Thank you for all the get well wishes - they worked because I am now fully recovered and sewing once again!

I've been asked to do a trunk show at East Toronto Quilt Guild on May 7th so I'm pulling and sorting some of my quilts. I have one that I made about twenty years ago. It has been very well used over the years and there are some nice memories tied up in its making. When I opened it up to have a look there was a huge stain. YIKES! I've no idea what it is or how it got there. I'm pretty sure I have washed this quilt before but I'm not positive. Normally this wouldn't be an issue but the backing is a very vibrant red and I worried about it bleeding. I didn't want to end up with a pink quilt! Oh well, it had to be washed so here goes nothing.

I pretreated the stain for five minutes with diluted OxyClean Max Force. I threw the quilt in the washing machine with two Color Catchers (fingers crossed) and more OxyClean Max Force. I set the machine on the gentle cycle and used only cold water. When I took the quilt out of the machine the Color Catchers were pink but the quilt was not! Phew! Into the dryer went the quilt on a gentle cycle for twenty minutes and when it came out the stain was still there but much improved.

I think if I pretreat it and wash it one more time the stain will be gone.

So here's the story about my Flower Pot quilt. I saw a picture of an antique quilt in a magazine and decided I had to have one of my own; that's often the beginning of many of my quilts! There are all sorts of fabrics in this quilt including some polycotton (sometimes it is just the right fabric to use as I explained here). There is even old clothing that was cut up for flowers! When I made this quilt I was still trying to figure out quilt making on my own because there was no internet and I had yet to learn about quilt guilds and workshops. Most of my learning was from magazines. All of flowers, leafs and flower pots were buttonhole appliqued by hand. There are no raw edges - they were all turned under and thread basted before appliqueing which I did with DMC floss. To keep each shape in place for the applique work I also thread basted each piece to the background! Lots of handwork that all had to be removed - sure wish I knew about applique pins and/or Roxanne Glue Baste-It back then!

The quilt is hand quilted with Baptist fans. I liked this quilting design (and still do) but didn't know how it was done so I started with a large piece of cardboard. starting in a corner I drew a quarter circle line with a compass made of a pencil tied to a piece of string. After I drew the first line I drew a second about 2" distant and then a third and finally a fourth line. I cut out these shapes on the pencil line and used them as templates to mark my quilting lines. What you can't see the quilt was bound with a navy and white stripe that was cut on the bias so it spirals around the quilt (you can just see a bit of it in the upper left corner).This is the finished quilt.

There are so many fabrics wit so many memories. There is a flower made from a scrap of cotton I cut from the sashes of my fishing hat. I also found a flower pot of red flowers and realized it is the same fabric I used in one of my hexagon rosettes for Birds in the Loft.

The red print in the middle of the rosette is leftover from Flower Pots!

There is also a flower pot filled with turquoise polka dot flowers. That fabric was a mail ordered pound of scraps that I used to make my quilt Pound of Stars. It is a lovely bright colour - sorry about the shadow but I needed the bright light to get the true colour.

Here is the same fabric in Pound of Stars. You can see read about the story behind the quilt and closeups of more of the blocks here, here and here.

Enough of the old; it's time for a bit of the new! I've made three more pairs of hexagon rosettes for my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt. Plus I have a pile of them stitched into rows. It is starting to come together so stay tuned!

That's it for today. Until I post again happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Silence is golden

In my case the silence wasn't so golden! The entire clan was hit with a flu virus. All we've done for the past week (aside from dealing with the usual flu symptoms) is sleep. I know I'm really sick when I have no interest in sewing and I had none at all for the duration. I felt the same way about food (also uncharacteristic)! But yesterday afternoon I finally felt like I had turned the corner - I knew I was getting better because the urge to sew overwhelmed the urge to sleep. I picked up my needle and thread for the first time in four. I managed to get two pairs of rosettes stitched for my Birds in the Loft quilt.

The first pair are the same fabric but the print is oriented differently to create some interesting effects.

The second pair of rosettes are identical. I like the fussy cut centre! Both fabrics are old, treasured fabrics from my stash.

Today I'll add the partial path units and then get a few more rosettes stitched. I may also start laying out rosettes and number them so they can be stitched into rows.

Angie of A Quilting Reader's Garden did an interesting tutorial on sewing the hexagons together to make an open donut without continuously having to knot, cut and then re-knot the thread. You will find it here. What's an open donut? It is a term that I used to describe six hexagons that are sewn together to form the outer ring of a hexagon rosette.

An Open Donut

I wrote about making an open donut here and here (this second link also has a video that demonstrates setting in the middle hexagon). I tried Angie's technique and it worked really well. Angie likes to bury her knot at the corner however I prefer to start in a few threads from the edge so that the knot doesn't pop out later on. If you watch the beginning of my video you can see how I place my initial knot. When I've finished my stitching I go back a couple of stitches so I can tie my knot away from the corner. Use the knot placement method that works best for you and you'll get no arguments from me! I encourage you to visit Angie's blog and check out her very interesting tutorial and be sure to let her know you enjoyed it. Your comments mean a great deal to we bloggers!

If you are new to English paper piecing and hexagons be sure to check out the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions & Hexagon Fun at the top of this page. It is where I share what I've learned over the years and how I do things!  If you have questions or would like me to demonstrate how I do something please don't hesitate to ask. I am always more than happy to share!

That's it for me today. Hope you are all keeping well. Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Atomic Ribbons - a quilted rug

That's what I'm calling my quilted rug that I started in the Al Cote Quilted Rug Workshop that I took yesterday....Atomic Ribbons. Al is a great instructor - very informative, helpful and attentive. There were 19 students in our workshop and I think everyone felt she/he received plenty of personal assistance, attention and oodles of encouragement.

We needed three to five fabrics and this is what I decided to use and the order I chose to use them with the dark green on top, followed by the gold check, then the orange red, the pale green and finally the turquoise.

We made our rug sandwich and Al provide instructions and helpful tips for developing our design. We spend some time making simple sketches to get an understanding of the design process. This was my favourite sketch - I liked the curved lines. My plan was not to recreate this sketch but to use it as inspiration for my rug.

We sketched our designs on our rug sandwich and quilted them! This is my rug from the back. I pinned my fabrics to the lover left corner. When my rug is finished those scraps will go in the scrap bin!

We started removing fabric layers to reveal different colours. This technique is very similar to chenille but there are some differences. I really liked the Atomic Age feel of my rug. I also liked the "ribbons" running through it - they created flow hence the name Atomic Ribbons! I'm not sure if I'll remove more layers of fabric. For now I'll put it up on my design wall and give it some time.

Once I'm satisfied with the design I can quilt it, wash it and bind the edge with a facing. And voila, I'll have a quilted rug!

If you belong to a guild in Ontario and are looking for a great speaker Al has a very inspirational trunk show. If you are looking for a fun workshop that is suitable for most skill levels I highly recommend Al's quilted rug workshop.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, April 17, 2015

Birds in the Loft border plan

I've sketched the first part of the border design for my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt but before we take a look at it I'll share my latest rosettes that will be the background for the centre medallion (you can see it here). All were made in pairs and I'm adding the path to them as I go so that the assembly of the background will be much faster!

Now for the border design. The first component a toasty oatmeal fabric that will frame the inside edge of the quilt once all of the rosettes are added. The toasty oatmeal fabric will create a visual stop between the centre of the quilt and the final borders. You've already seen this section of the top border with the toasty oatmeal added. I just had to stitch some of it together to get a feel for how the quilt would look and I am pleased with it!

This section will be the top and bottom edges of the quilt. This is my diagram of the upper left. My design sheets were not large enough to sketch the entire quilt so I'm working on it in quarters.

Upper left corner of Birds in the Loft

Upper right corner of Birds in the Loft

The sides will have these units stitched in the even rows. You can see that there are four toasty oatmeal hexagons around the bee but there are five in the diagram above. The fifth hexagon will be inserted between the pieced hexagons in the next border. There will also be a fifth hexagon at the top and bottom. These will also be stitched to the pieced border.

You can see the fifth toasty, oatmeal hexagons circled in red in the upper right corner and in the lower left corner of the following diagram.

So what will the quilt look like with these following two pieced hexagons added?

This where I am headed!

I know what I want to do next and you can see some of it in my sketch. I'm going to start my test hexagons for the final border this weekend and when I am satisfied with what I see you just know I will share them with you!

Tomorrow I'll be attending a "quilted rug" workshop with Al Cote. I'm really looking forward to this workshop! You can see some of his students' work here.

Just a reminder that if you leave a comment and don't receive a personal reply from me that means that you are a no reply blogger and I have no way to contact you unless you update your profile or you include your email address in your comment! I've had a few no reply comments lately and I feel bad that I wasn't able to thank you!

I'm linking up with Angie at A Quilting Reader's Garden. If you have a moment click on over for a visit!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Persian Tiles, star tutorial and more!

Since my last post was about churn dash blocks I thought I would share a picture of the first miniature quilt that I made because it was made with churn dash blocks. I call it Persian Tiles and it was made in 1998. The six larger churn dash blocks measure 3" and the two small blocks are 1 1/2". All were pieced on the sewing machine - these blocks were not foundation paper pieced!

Persian Tiles by Karen H 1998

I used the method I described here to make the blocks. The pieces for the smaller blocks started a little larger. I made the HSTs and I trimmed them down to size. I just love these little churn dash blocks because they are a terrific way to use small scraps. One thing I've learned over the years is that even the ugliest of fabrics become beautiful if you cut them small!

Time to get back to my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt. I've selected seven red fabrics that I will use to make 34 stars for the border of the quilt and I've made seven sample hexagon star rosettes.

I've done other tutorials on making them but thought I would do a refresher today.

I start with a sheet of hexagons. I draw a line from the upper left corner of a hexagon and extend it to the lower right corner of the hexagon below. I repeat by drawing a line from the upper right corner of a hexagon and extend it to the lower left corner of the hexagon below. I cut the hexagons out.

I trace around a triangle star point and add a 1/4" seam allowance all around. I cut out the paper template. From my fabric I cut a 2 1/2" strip of fabric. I lay the paper template on the strip of fabric and start cutting the star points. I use my rotary cutter to do this - it is a short cut so I don't use a ruler. If I accidentally cut the paper template I just make myself a new one! I need six star points for each rosette.

Place a tiny dab of glue on the wrong side of the hexagon in the area that will form the star point. I place the hexagon on the star point (Fig. 1). The lines of the star points are the sewing lines; I make sure that there is a narrow seam allowance (slightly less than 1/4") beyond the sewing lines. If I place the hexagon closer to the bottom the seam allowance will be larger and if I move it to the top it will be narrower. I clip the point of the star fabric so that it is 1/4" beyond the paper  (Fig. 2).

I shorten the stitch length on my sewing machine. I place my hexagon with the star point fabric on the background fabric as indicated in Fig. 3 and I sew from the top to the bottom. It is important that the first seam start at the star point because it will make sewing the next piece of fabric easier. In Fig. 4 I've folded back the paper and I'll trim the seam allowance with scissors to tidy it up. I then fold the paper back, the background fabric is pressed away from the star point  (Fig. 5) and I trim the excess fabric away  (Fig. 6) leaving a generous seam allowance of about 3/8". This will make the basting much easier. I repeat these steps with the fabric on the other side of the star point.

I use a knitting needle, crochet hook or orange stick and slide it between the paper and the star fabric to break the glue bond.

The final step is to baste the star point. I find it easier to fold fabric over the paper so that I don't have bulky corners. Notice in the hexagon on the left that the bottom edge of the star is folded up and the sides are folder over. This makes for nice flat corner with minimal bulk.

I like to use Elmer's School Glue to tack the paper to my fabric because it is washable, fabric safe and does not create a strong bond (that makes breaking the bond between the fabric and paper very easy). I only need to tack the fabric temporarily to hold it in place.

Once I've made six star points I'll stitch them together to make an open donut and then I'll set in the centre hexagon. Once the star is completely surrounded by other hexagons I can remove the papers. I may need a pair of tweezers to grab the smaller pieces on the sides however they tend to come out very easily provided that I shorten my stitch length on the sewing machine.

I've also made some more hexagon rosettes for the quilt.

Don't forget to drop by The Needle and Thread Network for WIP Wednesday.  It's where Canadian quilters share what they are working on!

Time for me to get sewing. Sure hope you enjoyed what I shared with you today. Until I post again happy sewing!
Karen H