English Paper Piecing…Hexagons and More!

Always Quilting recently blogged about hexagons and the pleasures of their constuction as well as the advantages they present for portable sewing projects. http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/hexies-can-mak…rtable-project/ ‎

One of my “current”  projects uses some hexagons in its design and so I’ve been using the English paper piecing technique a bit recently.  In addition, several of my “forthcoming” projects also use this technique, so it has given me the opportunity to try out some methods and I’d like to share with you the way I have found works best for me.

blog photos English paper piecing hexagons
Hexagons used in my current project.

First you need to prepare your papers.  Traditionally quilters made their own papers from stiff paper or lightweight card (old greeting cards are often a good weight), but these days it is easy to buy pre-made papers in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.  One of the advantages of buying pre-made papers is that they are accurately printed and cut.   If you would like to make your own you can go to http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/hexagonal/ and print them from your computer.  This site is worth checking out, as it allows you to select your shape and size requirements.

Once the papers are ready, you need to attach them to the fabric.  In the past quilters would pin or use a paperclip to hold the papers in place and tack them in position, usually through both the paper and fabric.

Just this week I saw advertised some papers which can be fused to the fabric.  They are made from soluable applique paper, and are currently available as pre-cut hexagons in 3 sizes with more to come.  After construction you can leave the papers in as a stabiliser or wash your item for a softer look.  http://www.hugsnkisses.net/index.php/shop/other-thingys/applique-paper-precuts.

Some sewers advocate using a the Sewline gluestick .  A dab of glue is used in the centre  to hold the paper in position, and then around the edges to secure the seam allowance in place.  This removes the need for pins or tacking, but when I tried this for myself, I found it quite difficult to remove the papers and as a result, the fabric edges also frayed and became messy.

Instead, I now employ a small dab of glue, just  in the centre of the paper as before, so that I don’t have to use pins which tend to distort the shape.

Use just a small dab of glue in the centre o your hexagon.
Use just a small dab of glue in the centre of your hexagon.

Then I tack the paper to the fabric, but I do not go through the paper, just the fabric, using a small overstitch to hold the fold in each corner and a small running stitch between corners.  I use a fine thread, Aurifil 50 weight,  for this task, and try to use a colour which blends in.  This means that I do not have to bother removing the tacking threads before appliqueing the hexagons to the background fabric..

Tacking the fabric, but not the paper.

Tacking the fabric, but not the paper.

It is important to iron the shapes as you make them before joining them together.

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Iron hexagons as you go.

Once the hexagons or other shapes are ironed and you have a nice crisp edge, you can whipstitch them together taking care to make sure that the corners meet neatly. Sixteen stitches to the inch is the recommended size for whipstitching.  As before,  Aurifil 50 weight is ideal and makes it easy to achieve almost invisible stitching.  Once again, I iron my joined shapes, with the papers still in place, before I applique them to the background.

In the next photo you can see how I have used a shape with a curved edge.  A small running stitch along the curve helps to gather in the fullness.  Corners and straight edges are dealt with as before.

Gathering the curved edge.

Gathering the curved edge.

Lastly, before appliqueing the shapes onto the background, you need to remove the papers.  This is done easily by flexing the hexagon and “popping” each paper out.  Small tweezers can assist with this.  As I said, I do not bother to remove the tacking.  Generally, papers can be re-used several times.

Cardboard papers are easy to remove after pressing.

Cardboard papers are easy to remove after pressing.

The  curved shapes used in the photo above only required joining at each tip as I was making them into a wreath.  You can see how effective fussy-cutting can be.

Pinning and appliqueing the shapes in place.

Pinning and appliqueing the shapes in place.

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More fussy cutting in these jewel shapes.

The curved shapes form the centre of my current project which is “Louisa” by Carol Roberts. http://www.cherrypiedesigns.com/  This is what the completed centre looks like.

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The centre of my quilt.

And if I remain on-task and am not too distracted by other projects or the housework, I will hopefully be able to share with you the finished quilt, or at least quilt top, before too long.

Tuesday Treats: Is Aurifil better than Chocolate?

We will have to ask the winners of the Valentine’s Day lucky draw if a parcel of Aurifil is better than chocolates.

Yummy chocolate hearts from Sisko

Yummy chocolate hearts from Sisko

Congratulations to the following five winners:

  • Lynne
  • Glenda D
  • Jess
  • Jennifer
  • Elspeth

All five have been contacted, and an Aurifil parcel will be winging its way to them as soon as they respond to our email.

The Aurifil prize

The Aurifil prize

Thank you to everyone who joined in the fun, making a comment about your favourite colour. We wish you better luck next time we have a competition on our blog.

Welcome to our new Aurifil retail outlets

It has been a little while since I updated the list of retail outlets so I thought that I should give a shout out here to let you know about your LQS who have recently become  Aurifil stockists.

Late last year Somerset Patchwork & Quilting in Mount Waverley , Victoria,  added Cotton Mako’ 50 threads to their store. Somerset specialises in reproduction fabrics and patchwork designs so the Cotton Mako’ 50 is the perfect choice for their patchwork style.

Millrose is a pretty store with a gret cafe next door, so it is worthwhile planning a road trip with friends

Millrose is a pretty store with a gret cafe next door, so it is worthwhile planning a road trip with friends

So far this  year we have set up, & sent, Lana thread display stands to Millrose Quilting & Gallery in Ballan, Victoria,  and All things Patchwork in Waimauku Village, Auckland, New Zealand.

We have also sent a Cotton Mako’ 50 display stand to The Quilter’s Store in Salsibury, Queensland.

And the latest store to join the Aurifil stockist list is Calico Crossroads in Exeter, Tasmania.

Calico Crossroads

Calico Crossroads

We welcome the new stores to our stockist list and encourage you to visit, to shop in person. Each store has it’s own personality so it is fun to visit and explore their stock.

Tuesday Treat: Our Valentine to You

Our Happy Valentine to You

We wish to share our favourite Aurifil colours with you

Five-Valentines

We each picked out a selection of Aurifil threads in our favourite colour …

or our favourite colour of the day because, with 252 colours in the range, who could claim only one colour

Ladybirdee

Ladybirdee chose her favourite reds……

JudySew4th

JudySew4th chose her favourite purples

Jenny-floral

I couldn’t go past Emerald Turquoise & Teal Blues

KnitsnQuilts

KnitsnQuilts couldn’t  limit herself to only one colour  …

Bronwyn

Bronwyn is the quiet member of staff, but she joined us on the blog to share her favourite colours of Coral & Peach

So Happy Valentine’s Day to You from Us at Always Quilting

Now we would love you to join in the fun for a chance to win a prize that is even better than chocolate.

 Five lucky people will win an Aurifil thread pack, Valentine Gift, from us!

 To enter the lucky draw for one of the prizes,
simply comment here to share your favourite thread colour with our readers,
and be sure to fill in the comment form with a valid email address
so that we can contact you when you win.
(Email addresses are not disclosed on the blog)

Entries close: Midnight Valentine’s day (Eastern Australian Standard time)

Competition is only open to residents of Australia & New Zealand

Birthday Blocks Again!

In the middle of last year, we made a ‘Birthday Bag’ for someone special who works at Always Quilting.

Completed Birthday Bag

Completed Birthday Bag

You can read about it in our blog posts on 3 August 201210 November 2012 and 11 January 2013  where there are excellent descriptions of how each person went about their ‘row’ for the bag.

"Skewed" square in a square block

“Skewed” square in a square block

I made a row of six, 6-1/2″ blocks (three for each side of the bag). In the picture below you can see the braid and the sashing strips.

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After all these months I have forgotten where I found the pattern !!  I have looked and looked for the pattern in some of my favourite foundation pieced books . It was relatively simple to make  if you are experienced with foundation piecing. If you aren’t – have a read of Judy’s excellent step by step instructions on the January post. Foundation piecing just takes time and patience (like most things with patchwork!).  Even though it doesn’t look like it from the photos, the rows were straight – and sewing accurate!

Tuesday Treats: Dear Jane

Do you love working with small blocks with lots of parts?  or

Are you horrified by the thought of 4″ blocks made up of 42 pieces? or

Are you simply fascinated by the thought of making a quilt with 160 or more small blocks but are not going to be tempted?

Either way, the Dear Jane Quilt Exhibition is the place to be this weekend.

The Dear Jane Quilt Exhibition is being held at the Box Hill Town Hall, Whitehorse Road, Box Hill (Melbourne)

The Dear Jane Quilt Exhibition is being held at the Box Hill Town Hall, Whitehorse Road, Box Hill (Melbourne)

The Exhibition will be open from Friday 8 to Sunday 10th, from 10am to 4 pm each day.

There will be at least 58 Dear Jane quilts on display, mostly from the Melbourne area but some have been entered from regional Victoria and from interstate, so the exhibition should be quite varied.

In addition to the Dear Jane quilts, the Australian Quilters Association will  also exhibit 15 to 20 Reproduction  Quilts, made by  members, as the background setting for a collection of antique garments (dresses,night attire,lace etc) and period items.

There will also be a Market Hall, in conjunction with the exhibition, where you will find books, threads and vintage fabrics.

Our Cotton Mako’ 50 is the perfect “go to” thread for making small blocks and miniature piecing,  so we have arranged for Aurifil threads to be represented in the Market Hall.

Look for our pre-packed sets of Cotton Mako

Look for single spools or treat yourself to one of our pre-packed sets of Cotton Mako

We will have a good selection of Cotton Mako’ colours available for purchase from the Needles & Pins stand.

Entry to the exhibition will be $7 per head, and morning and afternoon tea will be available for purchase.

For more information about the exhibition.

2012 Block of the Month and patience

I always smile to myself whenever anyone discovers I make patchwork quilts and they immediately say,” Oh, I could never do that. I don’t have the patience.”

When I am immersed in a project and I have ideas bubbling around in my head, I am ANYTHING but patient.

Even while I am stitching my blocks together I am auditioning design ideas, in my mind, considering colour combinations and border variations. When I completed the December block of my Aurifil 2012 BOM I just couldn’t wait to see how Pat Sloan was going to put the blocks together.

So, I have finished my Aurifil 2012 blocks using my soft rainbow palette as I still had fabric left over. I began to measure and cut and piece….

January

January

February

February

March

March

April

April

May

May

June

June

July

July

August

August

September

September

October

October

November

November

December

December

MY 2012 Aurifil Designer of the Month Completed top

MY 2012 Aurifil Designer of the Month Completed top

 Here is the finished top.

I like the result and I have ample space in my borders for quilting or more decorative embellishments with my Aurifil 12wt thread collection.

When it is quilted and bound I will share a picture later this year.

Want to see more finished quilts?

Sewzalot has finished her quilt and has shared some great images, and a pretty quilt layout

Many others have finished their quilts and shared them on the Aurifil Flickr page

Didn’t collect the patterns in 2012?

It is too late to enter the 2012 competition, but it is not too late to  download the patterns to make your own version of the quilt.

The Cotton Mako’ 12 threads can be purchased from Always Quilting

Don’t get left behind this year, start collecting the 2013 Aurifil Designer of the Month blocks now.

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We also have a BOM, “A Modern Welcome”, beginning here on our blog in the first week of March.

We hope you will join in the fun…..you just have to be patient.