Monday, August 31, 2015

The Meadery and Men-An-Tol

I've been working on The Meadery. I had a piece of cotton home decorator fabric that I planned on using for the centre medallion of the quilt.

Something about it wasn't working for me. First the grey background wasn't quite right for the honeycomb and the medallion was too "solid". By that I mean there was too much of one thing. As I was pondering what to do I recalled a megalith in Cornwall (the idea of this quilt is to reflect my Cornish heritage). The megalith is called Men-an-Tol which in the Cornish language means hole stone. You can read more this granite wonder about it here.

Many (many) years ago I visited Men-an-Tol with family members. They told me that in bygone days women would pass their children through the hole to prevent rickets. I was about to set off on a seven month back-packing trip with a friend so we decided to crawl through the hole ourselves. And guess what? Neither of us developed rickets! But I digress.

I thought that if I removed the middle of my medallion that the medallion would take on the appearance of the circular stone and it could represent Men-An-Tol in my quilt. Since the name of my quilt is The Meadery it seemed appropriate to reverse applique a bee skep in the middle.The next step is to trim away the outer fabric and applique the whole thing to a creamy background.

I continue to work on two large diamonds for this quilt and they will flank the medallion. Men-An-Tol has two upright stones and the diamonds will be a fine representation of those pillars.

Men-An-Tol also has a third stone that has fallen and is at the foot of one of the uprights. You can see it at the base of the upright stone on the right. So I've begun work on a third unit that will represent that fallen stone. There will be multiple rounds of hexagons but this is a start. And the bee is front and centre! My hope is that as I add the next rounds with darker fabrics that a pale cream wheel with spokes will appear.

I've been working on producing a pattern for my Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt. The block patterns are available free of charge on my blog but I am going to put them all together with detailed instructions for English paper piecing and a new and simplified method of putting the quilt top together. The pattern will be available on Craftsy. I was finally able to get a better pictures of the finished quilt top for the cover of my pattern.

Mind you I had some "help". Gump and Jinx decided it would be fun to get behind the quilt and wrestle! What is it with cats and quilt I ask you? It looks like the quilt has been caught by a breeze but in fact it is Gump's mighty tail that is holding up the quilt! Once the wrestling started the quilt fell down! Good think those cats are cute otherwise I would be clipping their tail feathers!

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

Karen H

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hexagon Pincushion

I promised to publish the instructions for my hexagon pincushion pattern and they are now available in my Craftsy pattern store. You will find them here.

The pincushion is made with 1 1/4" hexagons and it finishes at about 3 1/2" across (from point to point).

Do you see the snail in the upper right corner? What do you think he is doing? I think he is trying to hide from Grandma because if she finds him he is a goner! Remember my quilt There's a Snail in Grandma's Flower Garden?

Here's the poor little guy hiding in the leaves and berries! If I'm in her garden and find a snail I'll pick him up and put him somewhere where she won't find him! Run snail, run!

That's it for today. I hope you enjoy my pattern and don't forget that some of the quilt patterns which are currently free will have a nominal fee attached to them starting in September so be sure to download them while they are available at no charge!

Until I post again, go save a snail!
Karen H

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Measure once and cut twice

No,'s measure twice and cut once. Doh!!! I cut some background blocks onto which I planned to applique four of my Brinton Hall rosettes and applique them I did. When I put the four blocks together to admire my work I realized that two of them were smaller. I quick check revealed that I cut two of the backgrounds 1/2" narrower (the length was fine). As my old Mom would say, dough head! What's a quilt maker to do? Well these blocks are alternated with squares of print fabric so I might just cut some of the print squares a little larger so that I don't have to re-do the blocks. Or I will reverse sew, cut two more background squares and applique the hexagon rosettes for the second time. My mantra is "if it bothers you fix it but if you can live with it, live with it". I like to let a little time pass before I make my decision. It is amazing but the more time that passes, the easier it is to live with the little imperfections. It is kind of like wrinkles. The first one comes as a bit of a shock but after while you learn that you can live with it (and its many neighbours).

I've got four more rosettes made for my Brinton Hall quilt. I adore this fabric and do not want to waste even a scrap of it so what I did was put the fabric on my printer and I made a copy. I cut out hexagons from different parts of the fabric and when I liked what I saw I place the copied fabric and cut out the real fabric being sure to leave a generous seam allowance. I generally use a 3/8" for all of my English paper pieced hexagons.

This is one of my favourite fabrics. I love not only the colour but also the energy of the wavy stripe. I wish there were more of these types of fabrics on the market.

Isn't this one fun? I love the effect of the pale green arches - they look like curve edged star points.

This is hands down one of my favourites. This is yet another wavy print that creates so much visual interest. I think that the turquoise/red colour combination is an absolute classic.

I've also been working on The Meadery. The central medallion is still in the works but I've started on some of the outer components. There will be two large diamonds that will be on either side of the medallion. I'm not sure what I will put in the middle of the diamonds so while I give it a little more thought constructed the first two rounds of diamond hexagons. I'm using my open donut method so this means the diamonds are not stitched closed and they won't be closed until I start adding them to what I put in the middle. So here is the first round. It is a directional print so I was careful with the placement of the hexagons.

This will be the second round and it too is a directional print. The colour looks washed out but it is a lovely creamy yellow - like Cornish clotted cream. Yum!

This is what the two rounds together. There will be at least another three rounds but I've not decided what colours I'll use although I want to stay within the cream and honey family.

I had previously shown you my little hexagon pincushion.

I wasn't 100% satisfied with it so I played around with it and I've made a second pincushion. I'm much happier with the results. I'm going to write up the instructions and I'll share with you how I made it so that you can make your own. Time permitting I'll have it available on Friday. Failing that it will be sometime this weekend.

I thought you might enjoy seeing a new picture of Jinx. He likes to climb a ladder to get on top of the arbor. Here he is sitting atop the ladder. What a guy! I can't believe he has been with us for a year. Where does the time go? The good news is that he is maturing and has (for the most part) stopped stealing my sewing!

I'm linking up with Feline Friday over at Sarah Did It. Who knew that cats like tomato soup? I sure didn't!

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

I've been busy and more blocks

Phew! I've been busy, way too busy lately! I'll be teaching a workshop on English paper piecing in London, Ontario this fall. I've been putting together my course material and samples and wanted to test out the course so I ran a mini workshop on Saturday. I had a few samples on the table to help inspired and get the creative juices flowing. In no time flat I had the students sewing up a storm.

I was able to fine tune my workshop and it is ready to go. I won't share a picture of my class sample because if you've never done any English paper piecing you would be overwhelmed and think that you couldn't make it. However once I share my tips and techniques it is the easiest thing ever!

I've been on a couple of road trips to quilt shops - such a treat for someone who doesn't drive. I went to Sew Sisters in the west end of Toronto. She has a good selection of contemporary prints and wonderful pricing. There is always a room full of sale fabrics. I bought fabric.

I've also been to Quilt Junction in Waterford, Ontario.  This is a really lovely little store with a wonderful selection of the types of prints I love - old fashioned florals and Civil War type prints.The owner is Lana and she is very warm and welcoming. We talked briefly about the possibility of a workshop so if you live out that way and are interested sign up for the shop newsletter.  I bought fabric.

The third shop I visited was The Quilting Bee in Fonthill, Ontario. There is a huge selection of Civil War prints and floral prints. This shop is bright and airy and there is a large sale section in the loft. This is my second visit to this shop (I went last year to hear Edyta Sitar). I bought fabric.

I've been trying to work on my Brinton Hall quilt (from QuiltMania magazine) and have some hexagon rosettes stitched (these are 1" hexagons). Here are the first four. They must be appliqued to a background fabric.

The six outer hexagons are from a treasured piece of fabric sent to my be a friend in the US. It is a border print so careful cutting produced that narrow orange ring around the centre.

I love what can be done with chevron type prints. I chose to use a centre hexagon that resembles the outer fabric so that the entire unit appears to be cut from a single piece of fabric. What fun!

The centre of this rosette was made from the last scrap of the fabric used for the first rosette. Directional prints create such vibrant and lively blocks, don't you agree?

One final note is that I have had several of my patterns listed for free so if you haven't downloaded them yet now is the time to do so. As you know I've been moving them over to Craftsy and will start charging a small fee for at least two of the patterns starting in early September. Those patterns will be 81 The Giant Monstrosity and Baskets and Nine Patches.

81 The Giant Monstrosity

Baskets and Nine Patches

I've got lots more ideas and patterns in the works. As they are published I will make them available free of charge for a period of time so that all you lovely readers can download them. After that I'll move them over to my Craftsy store Faeries and Fibres

Today I think my day is free so I plan on getting some work done. My fingers are just itching to sew and sew they shall! Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cutting out paper hexagons and removing paper hexagons

I had an email from Diane. She printed out the hexagon template sheets from my blog and wanted to know if there is an easier way to cut apart the hexagons other than with scissors (e.g. a precision cutting knife or a rotary cutter and ruler). She also want to know when I remove the papers. So what does all of this mean? Time for a little demonstration.

How I cut paper hexagons

I print my hexagon templates on regular printer paper (20 lb stock). I know many people like cardstock and I've tried it but it is just too thick for me and I've found that when it comes time to join all the hexagons into a rosette or some other shape  the cardstock is rigid and that makes sewing difficult. However, I am a firm believer in doing/using what works for you so if it is cardstock by all means use cardstock.

I like to cut out my hexagons with scissors. One of the tricks is to have a good paper of scissors that you use for this purpose. Personally I love the Fiskars Micro-Tip Easy-Action scissors. They have a lovely sharp point that allows me to get into tight spaces and they are spring loaded so they are extremely comfortable to use. They are particularly helpful if you have arthritis in your finger joints.

The first thing I do is cut my hexagon sheet in half horizontally.This yields two smaller more manageable sheets to work with.

The next step is to cut the sides from each of the two sections.

I cut on the vertical lines and extend my cut beyond the point where the hexagons touch (inside the red circle).

To cut the hexagons I make the cuts indicated by the red lines. notice that the red cut extends beyond the point. This makes it easier to manoeuvre the scissors so that I can make the cut on the green line. As soon as I make the cut on the green line the hexagons is completely cut out. I repeat this process with all four side pieces. I usually work over a bowl or a box so that the hexagons can drop into it as soon as they are cut out.

Now all that is left are the two centre sections. I trim the excess paper from the outside edges using the technique described in the previous step. I cut on the red lines with the red lines stopping at the exact point where the hexagon corners touch. I make the cuts on the green lines and you will see that the two hexagons are now cut out.

The last step is to make two cuts as indicated by the green lines and then cut around the centre hexagon on the red lines. Each time I cut on the line another hexagon drops into my bowl.

The hexagon template could be cut with a ruler and rotary cutter/precision knife but there is a lot of wastage. Instead of cutting the sheet in half  as in the following picture one could cut on the red lines and then trim the hexagons. There would be less hexagons available per sheet.

There is another option for cutting out hexagons. You can find an excellent tutorial with easy tips for cutting multiple hexagons at Geta's Quilting Studio however the technique still involves some cutting with scissors. Geta's post also has a dowloadable pdf with six sizes of hexagons ranging from 1/2" to 2".

When do I remove my paper hexagonss?

First off I baste from the back because it is much gentler on the paper hexagons with means I can get multiple uses from each paper hexagon. To extend the life of the paper hexagon even further I
remove the paper hexagon as soon as it is completely surrounded by other hexagons. I have a bag of 1" papers that I've used to make four quilts. As soon as they get too soft to use they go in the recycling box!

That's it for today! I continue to work on The Meadery and I am making a class sample for techniques I will be teaching in London, Ontario in November. Lots of sewing to do and it is already sweltering and the cicada's are humming like crazy! I'm going to plop myself in front of the fan and try to do a little sewing! Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Monday, August 17, 2015

I'm baaack!

I'm back from my blogcation. I had a lovely two weeks off but didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped. One of the things that I did get done was to write up a pattern for my hexagon mini quilt called  Quilting Bees. The pattern is now available for sale in my Craftsy store Faeries and Fibres

I did get some work done on my new quilt The Meadery. I had already cut strips of honey coloured fabric and from them I rapidly cut a big pile of hexagons.

I kept them in a bowl and in the evening I basted them.

In no time flat I had a really big pile of hexagons basted and ready to be stitched together.

And stitch them together I did! Here is the first of two strips that will frame my medallion.

The next strip will be longer and I'll stitch the two together to make a big "L".  I'm not entirely happy with the grey background of the medallion fabric against the honeycomb and am mulling over some ideas for change.

It has been very hot and humid here the past several days. Jinx has been climbing a ladder to get on top of the arbor where he sprawls under the wisteria! Here's a picture of him on his back with his tail hanging between the slats of the roof.  What a life!

Time for me to tidy my sewing room. It was on my "to do" list and it is still on my "to do" list. Maybe I should have a cuppa first...yes, I think that I should have a nice hot cuppa before I do anything else!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My patterns, a reader question and time for a new quilt

I've opened a Craftsy store called Faeries and Fibres and there is a button on my sidebar that will take you directly to Craftsy. I'll  add my free patterns to the Craftsy store. The links that are already in my blog will remain but moving forward I'll post my patterns on Craftsy. If you have trouble accessing them drop me a line and I'll see what I can do to help you out!

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In the last post I wrote about some pincushions and I had a link to my Tiny World Pincushion Gallery

Silvana asked "Sono tutti una meraviglia, e il modello è sempre lo stesso?" which I understand to mean "are they all made from the same pattern" or something to that effect. Silvana is a no reply blogger so I was unable to email her my answer which is that I use Mimi Kirchner's pattern to get started and then I make little changes to make the worlds different. I made my own patterns for the trees and some of the houses. Thanks to Google translator I believe the Italian answer is "Io uso modello di Mimi Kirchner per iniziare e poi faccio piccoli cambiamenti per renderle diverse . Ho fatto i miei modelli per gli alberi e alcune delle case".

* * * * * 

I had previously mentioned that I was getting ready to start a new quilt so today I thought I would give you a hint of what I have planned. The whole design isn't worked out but I've got some ideas sorted. I also thought this would be a good opportunity to answer a question I received about how I design a quilt.

When I start a new quilt I look for inspiration. Sometimes it comes from a combination of colours I see or architecture. Old quilts are a great source of design and colour inspiration. Other times the fabric in my stash inspires me. It is the later that is my inspiration for my next quilt.

I have mentioned in the past that I am a non-denominational quilt maker which means I'll use any technique that works for me and I'll use the fabric that meets my needs. This sometimes means that I shop in the home dec department of fabric stores. They sell 100% cotton so why not? Well I found a great bolt of decorator fabric. It had a grey background with large mandalas (they are about 19" across) in yellow, gold and cream so I bought a piece of it!

I loved the print and thought it would make a fabulous centre medallion in a quilt. The grey reminds me of stone, the yellow of honey and the cream of Cornish clotted cream. All of these things spoke to me of my Cornish heritage and I knew that I wanted to make a quilt in which it would be reflected.

I also want to incorporate other aspects of my life and my family. As a child I remember chewing on chunks of honeycomb given to me by my grandmother; it was such a sweet, golden treat and when the honey was sucked from the comb we would delight in chewing on the wax!  I wonder if the honeycomb was the beginning of my romance with hexagons! Coincidentally it was that Grandmother that showed me how to make hexagons over a cardboard template.

My Mom has a love of bees and she often incorporates them in her quilts. She loves her garden and bees are critical to the success of every garden. They are also helpful when making a quilt . Mom was making a quilt that she calls Afrika and there were places where the seams didn't line up. What to do? Cover them with bees, killer bees! You can see and read about her quilt here. My new quilt will provide the perfect opportunity to incorporate bees for my Mom!

All of these elements are my inspiration and they will fire my creativity. So the plan is to design and make a quilt that I will call The Meadery. Mead is a beverage made of fermented honey and it is tasty! Have any of you watched the series Larkrise to Candleford? One of my favourite characters is Queenie Turrill. She raises bees and is renowned for the mead that she makes from their honey! A meadery is the place where mead is made and it is also a type of restaurant common in Cornwall, England.

I am going to need hexagons for this quilt and they will form the honeycomb. I'll use a variety of honey colours from the palest yellow to the richest golden orange. Many years ago I made a small quilt for my Mom. I called it Quilting Bees. I plan on making the honeycomb so that it resembles the honeycomb in this quilt.

Quilting Bees by Karen H 12 1/2" square

Close-up of Quilting Bees by Karen H

Step one is to cut oodles of strips of honey fabric. I'm planning on using 3/4" hexagons for the honeycomb so I'm using 2" strips. I'll also go through my bin of leftover hexagons that have basted and I'll add them to the pile of hexagons I'm going to need. I'll use my rapid cutting technique for cutting my hexagons from these strips so that I can get sewing as quickly as possible!

So listen people: I've decided that it is time to take a bit of a blog vacation or a blogcation as I like to call it!

I'll be off for the next couple of weeks but will be checking and replying to all emails and comments. If you leave a comment and don't hear back from me it means you are a no reply blogger and I have no way to contact you because and email address isn't linked to your profile. 

As always, until I post again happy, happy, happy sewing. I'll be back in a couple of weeks and hopefully at that time will have lots to share with you!
Karen H

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pincushions galore

I love making and collecting pincushions of all descriptions because a quilt maker can never have too many pincushions. Everywhere I like to sit and sew you will find a pincushion. Some, like my Tiny World Make-Do Pincushions, are more elaborate. I do use them but I also have made myself a collection of them that I keep them in my bookcase. In the following picture the canoe, teepee and trees are my own creation but the starting point for was Mimi Kirchner's pattern. I have a whole gallery of tiny world pincushions which you can see here.

Teepee at M'Chigeeng by Karen H

Today I thought I would share some more pincushions, two of which I made very recently.

The blue pincushion in the upper right is reversible. I've written a pattern and it will be published in the September/October 2015 issue of Hexie Love magazine. The magazine is devoted entirely to hexagon projects and there are all sorts of patterns, articles and ideas inside each cover. The magazine is published by Julia Wood of The Hexie Blog. It is priced at $5.99 USD per issue. You can't beat that price!

This is the reverse side of the pincushion. I've made a few of these pincushions and they are great fun!

The second pincushion is a prototype. I just finished it this morning and plan on making another but I'm going to try to sew it a little differently from the first to see if the results are better.

The third is a combination pincushion/needlecase. This is my own design. I've made quite a few of these over the years. I've never written up a pattern but may do so in the future. The top is pretty and it also serves as a pincushion.

Needles can be tucked away safely inside!

I hope you've enjoyed my little show of pincushions. I love each and every one of them.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H