How are you all getting along with your quilts? I hope you’re beavering away and getting closer to this stage. I’ve left you alone for a couple of weeks to get ahead. My Hexy MF is still at the vines stage, but I’m hoping to get a good spurt on that over the next week or so and be done by Christmas. English paperpiecing really is a labour of love, but the beauty of any EPP project is you can pick it up and put it down and work on a little at a time when you have some spare time.
This post is the last in the series of the Hexy MF quiltalong, but you can pick up all of the previous posts by clicking here
My good friend Ruth has an alternative way to do the stems, as shown in the photo below.
She calls it the cheat’s way and it’s really very simple, involving less hand stitching.
1. Cut bias strips 1½in wide. (Stem will finish approx ½in wide)
2. Fold your strip in half lengthways and lightly press.
3. Pin the strip along the stem path easing the curves, bear in mind that the stem will finally lay to the left of the machined line.
4. Machine (or hand) stitch into place using a ¼in seam allowance, see diagram.
5. Ease the folded edge over to cover the raw edges and slip stitch into place by hand.
6. If you want a finished end then leave the last ¼in unstiched and turn under to finish neatly, the other end should be covered by a flower!
Thanks Ruth – you’re a superstar!
Once you have your stems in place, you can applique the additional flowers according to where you want them, just dot them around the stems, making sure they look nice and evenly distributed. Add in the occasional single bud (1 single hexagon) and applique on just as you did with the main body of the patchwork top. Use the diagram above as a guide.
The final step are the leaves. If you have a template set draw around the leaf template onto the dull side of freezer paper. I used 16 leaves, you could use more, or less. It’s your quilt, remember! Freezer paper can be easily found in craft stores and often the grocery store too – but if you can’t find it, don’t worry, you could use a light card stock instead, or a thick paper. Not a printer or copier paper, but something that has more weight.
If you don’t have a template set, draw a simple leaf/petal shape onto thick card stock or template plastic that is approximately 2.5″ in length and 1.5″ at it’s widest point. Cut that out and use it as your template
Place your freezer paper leaf shiny side onto the reverse of your leaf fabric. Press to fix into place (if you are using card stock, pin into place with a single pin in the centre of the leaf)
Cut your fabric a little larger than the template – 1/4″ all the way round is perfect. It doesn’t have to be exact, but don’t be too generous with your seam allowance.
Use a paintbrush to ‘paint’ starch onto the seam allowance, not too much, you don’t need to soak the fabric, just a light covering. I spray my starch into the lid of the can and use that as a little dish.
Using a hot, dry iron press the seam allowance in towards the paper template. Be careful not to fold up the edges of the paper. Watch your fingers too!!!
The points of the leaf will poke outwards, you are going to tuck those in as you applique.
Wait for the leaf to cool down and pop out the paper template.
Pin onto your top and off you go! You can either machine stitch this on using a blanket stitch, or continue with your hand sewing, and stitch them on.
And that is it – you’re finished!
Thank you, a huge thank you to everyone that has joined me in this quilt along, I have loved seeing the quilts come together and the variations in fabrics. I hope you have enjoyed yourselves and that you carry on until the very end.
Don’t forget to share your projects in the Fat Quarterly flickr pool!
This is part of the Hexy MF quilt along – you can jump in at any time and all previous posts can be found here.
(I’m sorry for the delay in this post being published – it’s been the last week of the summer holidays here in the UK and all kinds of changes are afoot for this year, so manic is a mild understatement!)
I am splitting the stem applique posts into 2 different ones, rather like when we did the hexagon basting, there are a few ways you can choose to do this step and you might want to consider both before you start.
This week we are using shop bought pre-made bias tape for the stems. This has the benefit of being pre-made, but you are limited to what colours you can buy. I really do not have anything against using a shop bought bias tape, but equally think making the tape yourself is wonderful. You can decide after you have read both posts.
First up, measure 2 opposite sides of your hexagon centre (either opposites are fine, this is your quilt, you decide whether you want the vines to be on the straightest sides, or the staggered sides. I did staggered for the first quilt, and straight for this one- just to be different), and triple that number. You will need to buy bias tape in that length. I am using a very narrow 1/4″ width which is mainly for applique work. You can buy tape with fusible web already attached to the back, and whilst this is useful and eliminates the need to pin, it does feel stiffer when finished.
Take a length of tape a little wider than your patchwork top, to allow for a wavy vine effect. Lay it out along the quilt top. You can provisionally pin at this point, or use an applique glue if you prefer. I like to do this stage on the floor, and then move to a table top when I’m pinning properly.
You will also need some shorter lengths for individual stems. How many you do is up to you, you can judge how many you need by laying your hexagon flowers and the occasional bud along the length and see how it looks. Bear in mind you will be adding leaves later as well so you might not want to make it too busy.
Pin your short individual stems first, and then the long vine over the top. As I mentioned before, I like to do this at a table or counter top. Any kinds of pin are fine, you can buy specific shorter applique pins which help if you are doing a lot of applique, as the thread doesn’t get tangled in them as easily and you don’t prick yourself as much.
Using a matching thread and a short, sharp needle (such as an applique needle) you can stitch on your stems just like you did with the hexagon top to the background. Take small stitches and sew all the way along both sides of the stems, both the individual stems and the long vine (don’t use a big old clunky needle like I am in the photo – I couldn’t find my applique needles although I had literally had them 5 minutes earlier!!!!).
And that is all there is to it.
Next week I will show you how to make your own tape with a slight twist, it’s not traditional bias tape.
I know most of you are nowhere near this stage and that’s totally fine – don’t stress about being behind, it’s not a matter of being behind at all. The first Hexy MF took me forever, because I took my time and enjoyed it, dipping in and out when I had a few moments spare or nothing else to do. This one I’m rushing to get finished so I can be one step ahead of you guys. If I’d have thought ahead I’d have taken photos as I went the first time! But then I wouldn’t be making my quilt from Lilly Belle and I love this line so much! So take your time, these posts will here forever. If you get fed up and want to take a break for a few months – do that, just be assured you can pop back and pick up where you left off at any point in the future, ok?
Now, remember when we made our background fabric we sewed a single seam line and that went across the middle of our quilt?
You are going to take your seam ripper and unpick a little hole, big enough for you to comfortably get your hand inside, around 7 inches across. This little hole makes it easy to pop your remaining papers out.Simply pop your hand in and pull those little monkeys right out.
And then, when you have removed all of the papers (check a couple of times to make sure – I have a paper still in Hexy MF the first, just the one but it’s there!) you can sew that seam up again.
Next week we are going to start the appliqued borders. I say we, I know it’s just me at the moment! And I think we need another check-in post, so upload your photos of your progress so far as of this week to the flickr group and I can share your beautiful work right here on the blog.
This post is part of the Hexy MF quilt along series. You can find all previous posts by clicking here! Join in with us!
Last time we basted our main hexagon piece to the background fabric. Now we are going to stitch that down permanently. Ok?
I like to use clover black gold needles and aurifil thread in 50 weight. I’ve spoken about these a few times before, mainly in this previous post if you want a reminder. I like to use a thread that will co-ordinate as well as possible with both my background and my patchwork. In this case I’ve used a mid grey, with the original Hexy MF I used a dark grey. You want your stitches to be as invisible as possible, they won’t be completely invisible but try to make them blend in as good as you can. After quilting and a wash you’ll not notice them at all, so if you can see the occasional stitch, don’t sweat too much. Just take this step slowly and carefully.
This step isn’t hard, you are simply using small stitches all the way around, a little like hand stitching binding to the back of a quilt. Take very small stitches every 1/8th or so and follow the entire perimeter of the pieced top, making sure you stitch through to the background and try to avoid stitching through the papers (if you have left them in). A tip – gather up as much of the background as you can in your free hand, so you don’t stitch through the background where you don’t want to. Or use a quilting hoop, or large embroidery hoop and rock your needle through the layers.
If you are going to remove the papers as you go (this is my least preferred method), take the hexagon paper of the next hex you are going to applique out before you applique it down. You will need to remove the basting stitches of that hexagon as you go. This method is my least preferred method because it does make it a little trickier to keep your background and your pieced top properly aligned. You can get puckers, so be sure to periodically lay the full piece back out on the floor and check you’re still ok and there are no puckers. A little admission for you – I had to unpick a whole side of applique because I wanted to show you this method and my edge puckered up really badly because I wasn’t checking often enough. Yep, I was completely bummed by this. I still am and Hexy MF and I have fallen out a little, I had to put it aside for a few nights because we fell out so badly. I’ve resorted back to my preferred method of appliqueing the whole top and then removing the papers afterwards, by cutting a slit in the reverse of the background fabric (I’ll show you that next time). Maybe you might want to do that too if you are thinking about removing papers as you go. Just a heads up. Just in case you get puckers too.
Next weekend I am away at the festival of quilts in Birmingham, UK, so there won’t be a blog post at the weekend – I’ll set you homework instead. If you are at this stage and you manage to get your top fully appliqued onto the background and are waiting for the next blog post you can make some flowers for your borders using the smaller 1″ hexy papers. Make a couple of full flowers from the 1″ hexagons, and also make a few spare petals from 1.5″ papers – there are 10 in the quilt diagram below (shown as circles). You also need 6 flowers from the 1.5″ hexies, if you haven’t made those already, you could do those now too.
You can also make a start thinking about your stems. Do you want to buy pre-made double fold bias tape or do you want to make your own bias tape? (I will be giving instructions on making it) Clover do a tape that has a fusible web attached to the back that you can iron on before you stitch it into place. It’s really quite nice, although applique purists might shoot me down for saying that! I used it to make this pouch. If you want to buy your bias tape instead of making it, then you will need 1/4″ double fold tape x 4 yds. If you are going to make it yourself then a half yard of fabric for stems is ample (you will have leftovers, but a half yard cut gives you a better width for fewer seams).
This post is part of the Hexy MF quilt along series. For all previous posts please visit here. You are welcome to jump in at any time, we’d love to have you! Share your progress pictures in our flickr group!
Once you have fully assembled the hexagon top it’s time to think about your background fabric. You need 4 yards of background fabric.
First up, give the fabric a really good press and cut into 2 pieces of equal length (72″). Remove the selvedges from both lengths and sew together along the 72″ length to give you a large piece approximately 72″ x 84″. Press your seam to one side. This is your background. Take your hexagon top and give that a good press all over too. Particularly the edges.
Now you have a decision to make – you are going to applique the hexagon top onto this large background piece. You have to remove the papers around the edge of your hexagon top at some point and you have 3 options to do it;
1. remove all of the papers before applique
2. remove papers as you applique
3. wait until the very end and remove papers after the top is appliqued to the background (by cutting a slit in the back and pulling them out that way)
Think about this step carefully. There are pros and cons to each option.
1. remove all the papers first – this is the most obvious option and as long as you make sure you have nicely crisp folded edges (by pressing, maybe using starch too) it works well. However, you are leaving the edges of each hexagon without their stabilising papers, so you can end up with mis-shapen hexes if you’re not careful.
2. remove papers as you applique – this is the trickiest option as you effectively are removing basting stitches and papers one step ahead of where you are sewing, the background fabric can shift and you can end up with puckers.
3. remove papers after – this is the method I used for my Hexy MF first time round. If you have appliqued with glue this is a slightly trickier option as you need to get right under the glue basted folds to get the papers out. With stitches, the papers just pop out nicely.
Once you have made your decision lay the background fabric right side UP on a clean floor and tape to the floor just as you would if you were basting a quilt sandwich. Make sure you keep the background fabric pulled nice and tight, but not stretched, and smooth out the wrinkles. The seam will run across the middle of the background – not vertically.
NOTE – Remember that your seam will run HORIZONTALLY across the middle of the background and not vertically like mine (my quilt is smaller)
Lay the pieced top in the centre of the background fabric, with the columns running vertically, rather than rows. (refer to the picture at the top of this page for help)
Smooth out any wrinkles and then take a needle and strongly contrasting thread and using large running stitches, baste the top to the background fabric. If you have left the papers in, stitch right through them. Work all the way around the perimeter of the pieced top.
And that’s your top basted.
I’ll be back with the applique step shortly!
This is part of the Hexy MF quilt along series. You can jump in any time, all of the previous posts can be found here. We’d love to have you!
This week rather than a how to step I’m giving you the opportunity to ask questions and I’ll answer them in the comments, so be sure to check back.
(photo by Jeanette on flickr)
Is there anything so far that you need help understanding? Not the steps we haven’t covered yet – so far we are up to sewing your rows together (in the instructions, at least! You can be at any stage – it’s not a race!) Any of the applique or steps that we haven’t covered yet I’ll do posts on those, so if you have a general question on those -ask away, but anything specific it will be covered in the next few posts.
(photo by Rosa’s quilt and tonic on flickr)
One question I have had so far quite a few times is when can you start removing papers. As soon as a hexagon is surrounded on all sides you can take out that centre paper. So for example, the centre of the flower is surrounded on all sides and is the first paper you remove.
Another question I’ve had a few times is regarding the needles and thread breakages. I use beeswax or thread conditioner with my thread. I use Aurifil 50 wt and it is a thinner cotton thread, so it can break more easily than a poly thread or a thicker thread. Beeswax really helps, and it helps prevent the thread twisting which is most of the problem with breakages – as the thread twists it becomes weaker.
The needles I prefer are clover black gold in size 9 or 10. They don’t seem to make my hand cramp up as much, and I don’t get sweaty fingers with these. They are really sharp and run through the fabric smoothly. Plus they’re black and gold – so they look fancy (and that always helps!!!)
(photo by Bonnie on flickr)
Anything you want clarification on or help? Ask away!!!
This is part of the Hexy MF quilt along series. You can jump in any time, all of the previous posts can be found listed here. We’d love to have you!
I’ve left you all for a couple of weeks to make a good start on your quilts. How are you all coming along?
From the progress shots that are popping up on twitter, flickr and instagram there are so many of you playing along and so many amazing fabric combos. Most of which are making me itchy to go shopping!
Today is all about the rows.
This is the layout pic – you need to form alternating rows (or maybe they’re columns as they run vertically) of 8 flowers and 7 flowers, 9 rows (or columns) in total. This is just a guideline, my version in LillyBelle is actually going to be smaller as I’m planning on doing a bit more applique around the edges and I want a smaller quilt that I can take as my travel quilt. I am only 3 years old in my head, I like to have a blankie when I travel, and I think this will be perfect!
So, make a start by laying out your rows. I still prefer to lay out as rows rather than columns, so working horizontally. My brain works better that way. Bear in mind the quilt will be flipped so the straighter edges are the sides when it comes to do the applique and sewing onto the background fabric. Work whichever way you prefer – horizontally, or vertically. It’s all good.
Remember my quilt is smaller, if you are following the original pattern you need to lay out a starting row of 8 flowers, and then 7 flowers and so on.
The flowers need to tessellate together – like a jigsaw puzzle. Like this….
Make sure you have the correct edges lined up and make the first seam. Knot or backstitch well to keep the seams strong and sew along the first edge, right sides together, then knot and cut at the end of the seam (or knot and carry on – but just make sure you knot or backstitch at the end of EVERY seam to keep it secure)
Here is the first seam from the front…
The second and third seams are the trickier ones, you need to pinch a bit to get them to meet. Just like when you made the the flowers in the first place.
Just as before, make sure that seam is secure as you start by knotting or backstitching. As you move along the rows, and eventually sew the rows together, the quilt will be thrown about a lot, so these seams need to be super secure. Super super secure.
And that’s it – just carry on with the next flower, making sure you lay it out on the floor or a table to check you are still sewing the right edges together (it’s easy to slip up and then you have to unpick. It happens to all of us, don’t stress if you do that too!)
A little tip is to number your rows – just a scrap of paper pinned on to the first hex flower of each row to remind you where they go in the finished piece.
As always – any questions just ask, I’m here to help!
This is part of the Hexy MF quilt along series. For more details check out the previous posts (below). Feel free to jump in at any time and please share pics in our flickr group!
Now, we’ve covered basting by both glue and thread and you should have made a good start on basting your hexies by now (some of you may have finished basting altogether!). We now ned to start sewing the individual hexies together into flowers.This bit is rather satisfying, as a stack of flowers looks like you’ve really achieved something rather than just a stack of never ending hexagons basted and sat in a tin (which looks beautiful, but I find I start to go a little crazy after basting!)
First up you need to select a needle you’re comfortable with. I like to use the clover black gold needles, they’re thin and sharp. Other people I speak to like straw needles (I love these for binding actually), and I have another friend that swears by tiny applique needles. It’s personal preference, but you need a needle with a sharp point and that is really quite thin to make stitches that you won’t see too much from the front. Then you need to select a thread that is neutral – you could change your thread every time you sew a different fabric, but why make life difficult for yourself? Choose a neutral that is barely visible – something like a grey or off white is usually a good choice. I am using Aurifil 2615 in 50 weight. It’s a great grey. In fact, all of the greys are great greys and I use most of them an awful lot.
Take a centre hex and matching 6 ‘petal’ hexies and start by placing the centre hex and one petal hex right sides together, aligning the edges. Take your threaded needle and poke the needle in at one edge and pulling the thread through, leaving a short tail (I am left handed, so I start at the left side, and sew to the right, but either corner is fine!) under the fold. Either do a couple of stitches in one place to hold the thread, or knot by sewing through a second stitch.
You are going to whipstitch along this first edge, using stitches that are every couple of mm or so. A whipstitch loops over the top of the edges – a handy video tutorial for it can be found here (with reference to hemming, but it’s the same principle). Not too many stitches or you’ll create a ridge, and not too few or you’ll leave holes. Just catch the edges of both sides, missing the papers. This should be quite easy to do, if you are struggling to miss the papers you have basted a little tightly so bear that in mind for next time!
When you get to the edge, finish with a quilters knot, or over stitch a couple of times to prevent unravelling and cut your thread off. Always finish the edge off like this – don’t be tempted to just move on to the next hex – if you make sure each seam is secure you will have a much stronger finished piece. If you use just one length for the whole of the flower and don’t tie off or knot, imagine what will happen if just one stitch breaks later on and your quilt is all finished? Disaster would strike.
Your stitches will be barely visible from the front side. They may be a little visible, but that’s ok. You are not a sewing machine, you are not expected to do microscopic stitches. Just do as tiny as you can do comfortably and worry more about consistency and neatness than if they are visible. (if you click through to any of these pics, you can view them full size and see the stitches up close for a better idea of stitch length and spacing).
Continue onto the next side of the centre hex. Repeating what you did the first time. Do this for all 6 of the petals, so they have sides attached to the centre but not to each other.
See…the centre is attached at every side but the petals are still floppy!…
To sew up each petal edge pinch 2 sides so they are right sides together and working from the edge closest to the centre hex, whipstitch along the seam. Just as before – taking your needle in through the corner and knotting, and all the way to the edge, and knotting and cutting off.
Do the same for each of the edges. Working from the centre out.
From the front your seams will look like this.
And like this from the back.
And that is it!
Carry on and do the same thing over and over and over again until all of your flowers are assembled. Some people in the flickr group are well on their way with this – but don’t they look amazing stacked up?
Before I go – I just want to tell you about a great new feature Brenda and Jeni have started at Pink Castle fabrics. I love this idea. It’s a stash stack club. Read all about it over here. And whilst we are on the subject of Pink Castle fabrics, if you need to go shopping for Hexy MF fabrics (or any fabrics!) use KATY15 on checkout for 15% off orders over $35 (excluding shipping). That coupon works on all fabrics – including those in the sale section as well.
This post is part of the Hexy MF quilt along, you can jump in at any time or bookmark the pages for later when you have a free 1000 hours! Other blog posts can be found listed below.
Today we are looking at basting with thread rather than glue. This is the age old traditional way, and it is the way I prefer when I have plenty of time and no deadline. There are a couple of ways you can thread baste – either by sewing through the papers themselves or just through the fabric at the corners of the shapes.
I wholly recommend the following tools to make life easy. Clover black gold needles (applique/sharps sizes 9 through 12). These are the best needles out there, they’re thin, incredibly sharp and comfortable to use. The eye of them is pretty tiny, so a needle threader is always useful too! Clover wonder clips are also great for holding your fabric in place nice and tight. I only use one on the first corner, but you will use these clips for binding, so they’re well worth the money. I also wholly recommend beeswax for preventing thread tangles. I only use aurifil thread, which is very well behaved, but with hand sewing you tend to get the thread twisted a little and it can knot up or snag. Pulling your threaded needle through beeswax helps solve this. In the UK you can get all of these things from Ecletic maker
Let’s get started on basting WITHOUT going through the paper.
First up, either swipe a regular glue stick to the centre of your paper to hold the fabric, or pin in the centre. It just stops things shifting around.
Take an edge and fold down, tight to the paper, and fold over the second edge to form a corner. Hold this corner with a clover wonder clip (or a paper clip, or even a pin)
Take your needle and thread and sew through the fabric at the next corner to the clip. Make sure you catch both edges of fabric, but not the paper. You are basting, so the stitch can be wide, it’s only holding the shape into place, and won’t ever be seen. Sew over this stitch a couple of times to hold it in place.
Move to the next corner and repeat. There’s no need to cut your thread, just move to the next corner.
Carry on all the way round
The bonus of this method is when you have finished your quilt top, you can simply pop the papers out and leave the basting stitches in place. This method works really well for hexagons, but not so much for triangles (but that’s no concern for you with this quilt!!!)
The downside to this method is that the papers can fall out, so if you are carting your quilt top around with you and working on it every spare second, you may want a method that is more secure. That method is explained below.
With this method you are stitching right through the papers, but don’t worry – you will still be able to re-use them later if you are careful when you remove them from your finished top.
Just as before, either swipe with a glue stick or pin the paper to the centre of the hexagon.
Hold your first corner with a clip, and stitch next the corner in place by pushing your needle through both the fabric and the paper. Do a couple of stitches to keep it firm and ending with the thread on the right side of the hexagon (the front)
Move to the next corner (the only real benefit of the thread on the right side is when it comes to removing your basting stitches – it makes it easy to see)
Work all the way round in the same way
This is how it’ll look from the front…
So that’s thread basting. Try each method out, see which makes you happiest.
I’ll be back next week with how to sew a flower shape.
So by now you may have started cutting and are wondering where to go next. How do you turn all those bits of paper and bits of fabric into hexagons that you can sew together?
Well, you need to baste the fabric to the paper shapes, and there are a couple of ways you can do this – glue or thread. On Saturday I’ll show you how to thread baste, but for today we are looking at glue basting which is how I’m doing my shapes (although most usually I thread baste). Firstly – let me apologise for the slightly blurry pictures, it’s tricky taking pics and basting at the same time!
The benefits of glue basting are mostly to do with the amount of time you will save. It’s fast, it’s precise, you get a lovely clean edge, and it’s easy. The downside is the glue can become hardened if you leave your project for a long while, and the papers can be trickier to remove because of it. Tip – steam your finished piece with a steam iron, or by hanging in a steamy bathroom to loosen up the glue when it’s time to take out your papers and slide a pin under the edge of the fabric to loosen the paper a little as you remove them.
(You can click on this mosaic pic below and it’ll take you to flickr, where you can download it to your computer and print out for easy reference should you wish!)
First up – you will need to get a sewline glue pen. You can buy these in many haberdashery/sewing/craft stores, or just pop a search in google for online stores. The glue when wet is coloured, but dries clear. I would suggest you test it out first on a bit of scrap fabric though, just to be safe. You can also use a regular glue stick, but don’t get a good brand – the cheaper the glue stick, the weaker the glue, and the better it is for removing your paper later. Although I would recommend the sewline glue pen over a regular glue stick, regular glue sticks are water soluble but they are also stickier and gloopier and the glue makes the papers trickier to remove. If you want to use a regular glue stick just bear this in mind – it saves you money, but isn’t as good.
Give your paper a quick swipe in the centre so it’ll stick to the wrong side of your hexagon and hold everything in place as you baste.
Now swipe a thin line of glue onto the edge of one of the hex sides. Don’t use too much.
Fold over the edge and finger press down
Move on to the next edge
And keep going with all 6 sides
And there you go – carry on with all of your hexies in the same way…or hang on until the weekend and consider thread basting instead.
I have FINALLY decided upon a winner of the Lillybelle bundle. It was so tricky deciding on a new name, I am very fond of Hexy MF with it’s reference to Prince and one of my favourite all time songs, but it is a little bit rude. Teresa was the first to suggest keeping the name,but just changing what the MF stands for – that way you can decide, Hexy Mother F…… or Hexy Multiple Flowers? Leanne suggested changing the MF bit to Modern Flair. I can’t decide on a winner between the 2, so both are winners and so both will get a FQ bundle of Lillybelle. Congratulations ladies, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your addresses and I’ll pop your fabric bundles in the post!