Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hexagons Part 2

Using the advice/instructions from the bloggers I wrote about in my previous post, I set out to make my own hexagon mini quilt.  (I realized I forget yesterday to add a link to a great tutorial from Amy of Badskirt that also helped me learn how to do this.)  As I mentioned, I am relatively new to sewing and quilting with no formal training - I rely solely on the expertise to be found on the internet.  I'm sure the way I am making the quilt is not the best nor the most efficient but it works for me.  There are several time savers I recognize that I could employ but I'm in no rush to finish the project and I enjoy the process so I don't mind the extra steps.   

After picking some scraps from my stash, I started cutting out the paper pieces.  Although I did try to ensure that I cut all my hexagons the same size, next time I'll try harder since I think my errors in cutting will show in the final piece. (Now that I am looking at the pictures I'm putting in this post, my cutting errors are very obvious - yikes!)

I took one of the paper hexagons and using my kid's washable glue stick, I attached it to the wrong side of the scrap.  Make sure to use the glue stick on the edges of the hexagon, not the center.)

I then cut a square around the pattern leaving about a 1/2 inch border (I don't usually use as wide a border as I did in the photo - that was surely wasting this beautiful fabric - I'll have to find a way to use the small cuttings.)

Then I cut the square of fabric into a hexagon (see I told you I take extra steps but through trial and error I've realized this was the best way for me to do it to get the finished product how I like it.)  For this step, I would leave at least a 1/4 inch border but no more than 1/2 inch - if there is too much fabric, it is difficult to get a good fit around the pattern.

I then thread my needle using a quilter's knot.  I don't know what type of needle I'm using - it is rather large so it is easy to use but I'm concerned about the holes it is leaving in the fabric so next time I would choose a smaller one.  If you don't know what a quilter's knot is, look it up on You Tube - this is a great and simple way to make knots. 

With the wrong side still facing you, fold over two edges of the fabric over the paper pattern of the hexagon.  While holding the fold, flip over the hexagon to the right side and put your needle through a little less than a 1/4 inch from the edge.  Make sure the needle goes through both pieces of fabric and the paper.  And again, the knot needs to be on the right side of the fabric.  Flip back to the wrong side and pull the thread through and then put the needle back in about 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch away and pull through.  Go to the next corner of the hexagon and again fold the two edges of fabric over and repeat the needle directions above.  Do this for all 6 corners and end with the thread on the right side of the fabric.  I just clip the thread leaving about a 3 or 4 inch tail but you can knot it if you'd like.  You are going to later cut this thread and remove it so if you choose to knot the end, don't pick up any the fabric in your knot.

Depending on what you want your final size/design to be, make about 10-20 hexagaons.  For my quilt, I am just piecing the hexagons as I go so I didn't plan a layout.  If that works for you, you can alternate between making the hexagons and sewing them together which for me eliminates boredom and fatigue.  If you want a specific design layout, then you should make all your hexagons first.  

Take two of the hexagons and place them right sides together.  A quick note about using one or two strands of thread.  I am using cotton thread to sew together my hexagons.  For the first 10 hexagons, I used a quilter's knot and a single strand of thread without a problem.  But for some reason when I was sewing them together last night, I kept breaking the thread about 3/4 of the way to the end (so FRUSTRATING since I then had to start again.)  The third time this happened, I changed to using two strands of thread and used Elizabeth of Oh, Fransson! (one of my favorite sites) knotless start.  I sometimes find when using two strands at once that the tangles get the best of me but I didn't have a problem last night.

I used a whipstitch to sew the hexagons together - trying to make small, tight stitches and only pulling up a few threads of fabric from each side. 

                                               (back view)

When I got to the corner, I would always make a knot but for some corners I wouldn't cut my thread, rather I would use the same piece to attach the next hexagon to the next corner of the hexagon I just sewed (does that make sense.)

So, that's how I'm doing it.  If anyone actually reads this post and has suggestions for making this a better process, please let me know in the comments.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hello and paper piecing hexagons

Okay, my first post.  I've been wanting to start this blog for a long time but I couldn't decide how to begin.  Should I start with an introduction about me?  Should I write about my past projects?  My family?  My background?  Why I'm writing a blog?  Well, last week I was out walking with a friend who was talking about how she would like to start a blog but can't decide what to blog about.  My advice to her was just start writing and see what happens.  Um, so I realized I should really take my own advice and so here it goes.  I'm just going to start right off with my current project and I figure the rest will just work its way in. 

Just a bit of background - I entered this crafting world a few years ago when my oldest daughter got a knitting/crochet kit.  We tried to figure it out together and I was hooked - no pun intended!  I liked knitting but I LOVED crocheting.  I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it.  Up until then I had never been a crafty person - unless you count doodling in my notebook during class at school.  I actually owned a sewing machine but only because I jokingly told my husband when we bought our house that I would make curtains if only I had a sewing machine and he, thinking I was serious, bought me a sewing machine!  It sat unused in our basement for probably about 10 years until my oldest daughter (M) took an interest in hand sewing (another kit) and I remembered we had the sewing machine, dusted it off (well, actually dusted off the box) and things haven't been the same since.  Last year, I started quilting and that was it  - now all my spare time - and not so spare time - is spent crafting.  With the kids, without the kids but mostly for the kids.

I also read A LOT of craft blogs.   Everything I've learned about sewing, crochet, embroidery, etc. I learned from reading blogs (and books authored by my favorite bloggers) and from watching videos on You Tube.  In the past few weeks, it seems I've read several posts/how to's for english paper piecing hexagons.  I was first inspired by this.  I love Amy's blog and I think everything she makes is absolutely beautiful and inspiring.  But after seeing this hexagon doll quilt, I knew immediately what my next project would be.  I also love hand sewing - for two very different reasons.  One, I feel I have more control over the outcome and can make up easier for mistakes.  While I love sewing, I'm still learning and I make LOTS of mistakes - actually, I would say I stumble with every project.  And I still haven't come close to mastering the straight line on my sewing machine.  I use the word "wonky" to describe most of my quilts even thought that is usually not what I originally intend.  Or I just say "imperfectly perfect!"  When I first started quilting, I didn't even bother with binding (are they even called quilts if there is no binding - would it be more accurate to call them blankets or throws) instead I just sewed right sides together.  Then I read tutorials on machine binding so I tried that - attaching to the back first, attaching to the front first, using the backing fabric as the binding and using a zig zag stitch - but it never came out.  Then one days a couple months ago I decided to try hand sewing on a binding for a doll quilt - and I've never gone back since.  For me, it was so much easier to hold everything in my hands and go one stitch at a time.  Second, I love projects that can be done while watching TV.  Every night after the kids are asleep, my husband and I park ourselves on the couch to watch our favorite shows.  And it just worked for me to sit down on my comfy couch and watch Downton Abbey with the quilt in my lap sewing on the binding.  So, the hand-sewn hexagaon quilt fit in perfectly.

The first step for me was scouring the internet to figure out how to do it.  I got great advice from Alicia, Melanie (and I used Melanie's hexagon templates as well), and Melissa.  I took out some fabrics from my scrap stash and gave it a try.

Well, I intended this post to be about how I'm making a small hexagon quilt for my baby's wall, I didn't realize how much I would write before I even got to that point and now the baby is awake so I'll post how I'm making it tomorrow.  Okay, my first post - I have to say it feels great!