Longbourne at Castlemaine

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a class with Katrina Hadjimichael. http://katrinahadjimichael.blogspot.com.au/

The class was hosted by Corliss of Threadbear Patchwork and Quilting in Castlemaine. http://www.threadbear.com.au/

I have been an admirer of Katrina’s work for a number of years, so when I heard that she was to teach here in Victoria, I knew I had to be there! The quilt being taught was “Longbourne”,  number 3 in Katrina’s Jane Austen series, which currently numbers eight. It’s a feast of applique, fussy cutting and English Paper Piecing. Bliss!

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Katrina and “Longbourne”.

Twenty eager ladies gathered in the light and cosy venue for a day filled with lots of learning, inspiration, friendship, laughter and delicious food (that I didn’t have to prepare!!)

When we arrived and found a spot to park our bags, belongings and bodies, we received a lovely little gift bag from Corliss, complete with chocolate sustenance and fabric treasures.

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What’s inside?

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Katrina also came armed with a gift: a copy of the recent Quilters Companion magazine which included a DVD featuring Katrina and her tips for Jelly Roll quilts.

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Then to the real work of the day! Katrina is a very organised and meticulous teacher and led us through the various techniques and processes required to make our own version of Longbourne. All the extensive notes, beautifully drawn pattern sheets, and a collection of photos showing in detail various elements of the quilt, were presented in a display folder for each participant.

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Pattern sheets and detailed instructions in a display folder.

Most participants chose to use reproduction fabrics for their quilts as in Katrina’s original, but one other brave soul and yours truly ventured into the realm of brights. I have decided this presents an additional challenge: many of the fabrics in bright modern fabric ranges have larger scale designs on them. For some elements of the quilt, especially the centre panel, small scale designs are also necessary. I found I had to go shopping for some additional fabric. (Oh dear, such a hardship)

At the beginning of the class one lady asked Katrina what her secret is for such accurate and neat work? In short, the answer is attention to detail.  All applique components are tacked onto paper first. Katrina takes great care when tracing and cutting out her pattern pieces. No sloppy workmanship here!

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Tacking onto cartridge paper for fussy cut components.


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More tacking.

Here’s Katrina demonstrating how she makes tiny (3/8″) hexagons. And the thread of choice… Aurifil of course!! (Here she is using 50 weight).

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And so, to sew. The bias stems come first.

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Ready to applique the bias stems.

I have not done a great deal of actual sewing as yet, but I have done a little playing with various fabric combinations, and lots of thinking about my creation.

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Playing and thinking.

And when Longbourne is finished, there may be another of Katina’s Jane Austen quilts calling me.

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Lambton, the latest in Katrina’s Jane Austen collection.

Thank you Katrina and Corliss for a most enjoyable and inspirational day.


Always Playing with Fussy Cutting

Recently I have made some miniature quilts, one of which is made from 1/2 inch hexagons.  I wanted to be able to engage in  some fussy cutting, so I deliberately chose a fabric which would give me plenty of opportunities to do this.

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Feature fabric for fussy cut hexagons.

I had great fun playing with the fabric to obtain 9 different little “flowers”.


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A little “flower” in the making.


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Another “flower”.

Once I had constructed 9 little flowers, I arranged them on the background fabric.  I decided to use a whole piece of fabric for the background, but I could also have pieced the background. I used Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 50 (on the orange spool) to create ‘invisible” applique stitches.


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Arranging and appliqueing the flowers to the background.

When all the flowers were in place, I machine quilted in the ditch around each one, and also quilted a small hexagon, the same size as the components of the flower (i.e. 1/2  inch), in the spaces between them. For the quilting I used Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 40 thread (on the green spool).


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Machine quilting the mini quilt.

Finally, I added some stripey binding and a rod pocket for hanging the quilt.

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Sewing on the binding.

I had purchased 40cm of feature fabric, which gave me enough to make the hexagons and back the quilt (which measures 13 inches square). There is not much left over, and what does remain is very holey!!


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Not much fabric left over.


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Small rod pocket for hanging the quilt.


Ta Da!  My miniature quilt is finished and ready to display.


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Completed miniature hexagon quilt.













Excellent exhibitions

I have recently attended two quilt exhibitions, each one a treat.  The first was “Quilts in the Barn” and the second “Eastern Palliative Care Quilt Show”.  Each is held annually during spring in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and each is a fund-raiser for very worthwhile causes, breast cancer research and Eastern Palliative  Care respectively.  In this post I will share some photos of Quilts In the Barn. (Permission given).

My friend and I arrived right on opening time which meant we avoided a  long queue. Before very long things became very busy, especially so later in the morning when a coach-load of eager ladies arrived!!

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Entrance to Quilts in the Barn.

This magnificent quilt was hanging in the entrance.  It is called “Homage to Sallie Anne” and was designed by Di Ford-Hall.  This version was made by Helen Hayes.  (Should I confess? …I too have a Sallie Anne lurking amongst my UFOs).

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“Homage to Sallie Anne”.

One of the guest tutors/ exhibitors was  Brenda Papadakis of Dear Jane fame. Understandably there were some Dear Jane style quilts.

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“Zutphen” made by Jenny Bear.

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Another Di Ford-Hall design, this one made by Jenny Bear and called “Jane Austen in Texas”.

Here is a close up showing the fussy cut borders and quilting.


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Close up of “Jane Austen in Texas”.

There were quilts made from hexagons. This is Jenny Bear’s Jane’s and Vera’s Garden. Lots of fussy cutting here!

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This is a miniature hexagon quilt, stitched and quilted by hand by Marion Edwards.

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This antique quilt caught my eye.

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These quilts were made by Michelle Yeo.

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The Quilted Crow girls Leonie and Deirdre were there with their shop.

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The Quilted Crow shop.

Shoppers could see (and touch!) some of their latest offerings: their fabric range “Pomegranate Lane”, their wool range, “The Seasons”, and their hand-dyed velvets.  Aurifil Threads (Cotton Mako’ Ne 28 – on the grey spool) are available in two Quilted Crow Girl Collections which coordinate with their favourite colours.  Check out the collections at  http://thequiltedcrow.danemcoweb.com/shop/product/aurifil-threads/

They also had copies of their recently released second book.  This is one of the quilts which is featured in it.

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All this viewing and shopping  is thirsty work and the bevy of helpers in the cafe did a great job!

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Such exhibitions involve a great deal of preparation and work by many dedicated people, but provide a wonderful service and inspiration to us all. (Quilts in the Barn raised $16,000 this year). Well done!!

Another hexagon bag (or two)

I must confess a real weakness for bag patterns. When I buy them I am full of enthusiasm and good intentions, but I am not very good at actually making/completing the bags.  Last year I bought a pattern, “Mill Girls Tote”,  from Sewn and Quilted. http://sewnandquilted.com.au   It is designed by Vicki Bellino of Bloom Creek  http://www.bloomcreek.com

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“Mill Girl Tote” pattern.

I purchased a lovely piece of border print fabric for the top and bottom borders.

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Border print fabric “Pride and Purpose” by Kaye England for Wilmington.

I found some jazzy red handles which are perfect!!

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The perfect handles.

I was able to utilise many fabrics from my stash to construct the hexagons for the centre feature. The hexagons are quite small, only 1/2 an inch.

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Fussy cutting some of the hexagons.

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The collection of hexagon “flowers” grows.

154 hexagons are required to make this panel.  I’m nearly there!

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Hexagon panel progressing well.

While I was beavering away on this project, my friends in a friendship group decided to make a bag, using this pattern, for one of our members celebrating a “big O” birthday. A group of us shopped together to select fabric.  Our choice this time was quite different from the fabrics I’ve used.

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Hexagon panel taking shape.

Various members of the group completed different sections of the bag.

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Bag outer constructed.

After much furtive activity and secret conversations, the birthday bag was completed and presented to our birthday girl.

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The completed birthday bag.

As for my bag….well I did confess at the outset that I am not good at completing bags.  And the decision to make another hexagon panel for the bag back  (rather than using a plain panel as in the pattern) will slow me down.  However,  I’m now re-enthused and keen to add this to my list of completed projects for 2014!

Time to fussy cut some more hexagons…..




Tuesday Treats-The Hexagon Bug Has Bitten

I fought the Hexagons as long as I could.

When knitsnquilts wrote about her lovely Quilt-As-You-Go hexagons back in July,

I was tempted to join the ‘hexi-harem’ then, but I fought the urge. But then, I began seeing hexagons EVERYWHERE.

Patchwork Papers from Busy Fingers

Patchwork Papers from Busy Fingers

It seemed the little, pretty, multi-sided papers were all around me.

If I wasn’t seeing paper hexagons, I was seeing them tiled on walls and floors and THEN

in that Swedish furniture store that uses hexagon shaped tools to fit hexagon hardware!

Hexagons Everywhere

Hexagons Everywhere

Back to that in a moment…..

My stitching friendship group had produced two beautiful versions of Anne Sommerlad’s Hanazono quilt. This quilt is made of 25 blocks, each using hexagons as flowers. After getting this pattern, I began to ‘see’ hexagons in every piece of fabric I owned.

Fabric for Block 1

Fabric for Block 1

Fabric for Block 2

Fabric for Block 2

So far I have finished 2 blocks.

Aurifil Cotton Mako 50wt for joining hexagons and applique

Aurifil Cotton Mako 50wt for joining hexagons and appliqué

I am doing the appliqué and joining of hexagons with the fine Aurifil Mako 50wt thread.

Aurifil Cotton Mako 12 wt for embroidery

Aurifil Cotton Mako 12 wt for embroidery

I am doing the embroidered stems with gorgeous Aurifil Mako 12wt thread.

Block 1 with thread and fabric

Block 1 with thread and fabric

Block 2 finished

Block 2 finished

And then I saw this in that Swedish Furniture Store.

It will be displayed in my sewing room…

where time always flies….’cause I’m having fun!

Piecing Hexagons without Needle and Thread
Piecing Hexagons without Needle and Thread          
Time to Stitch my Hexagons

Time to Stitch my Hexagons

Follow our Blog to keep up with all the great projects my colleagues work on…… as I convince them all to become members of the ‘Hexagon Harem’.

Always Playing with Aurifil Thread: 2013 blog in review

We don’t post every day, in fact some times we don’t even post once a week, so I was surprised to see these results for our blog in the 2013 annual report prepared by the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

The most popular post was …… you guessed it ….. about Hexagons …… thank you “KnitsnQuilts”

Quilting stitch around the edge.

Quilting stitch around the edge.

Click here to see the complete report.

Tuesday Treats: Quilt as you go hexagons.

I have had a number of requests for instructions to quilt -as -you -go hexagons so here they are!

You can apply theses instructions to any size hexagon you wish to make.

You need backing fabric, a contrasting feature fabric (or fabrics), fusible wadding (or non-fusible wadding and basting spray), and thread to match your backing fabric (Aurifil of course!!).  Scraps of fabric and wadding are ideal.

You use 2 hexagons, one smaller than the other.  The smaller one is the finished size. The smaller hexagon should have sides which measure 3/4 to 1 inch smaller than the large one.  Many different companies produce perspex templates for drawing hexagons, or if you’re confident you can draw your own using a compass. There are lots of instructions online.  Here is one http://www.wikihow.com/Draw-a-Hexagon

Mark and cut smaller hexagons from your featured fabric and your larger hexagons from your backing fabric.

Marking the large hexagon.

Marking the large hexagon.

For each hexagon, you also need to mark and cut small hexagons from fusible wadding and fuse onto the back of the feature fabric hexagons.

Ironing fusible wadding to small hexagons.

Ironing fusible wadding to small hexagons.

I like to use a quilting ruler and mark 3/4” from the edge on the top side of the backing hexagon.  This helps me to centre the small hexagon and have even seam allowances.

Marking the position of the small hexagon.

Marking the position of the small hexagon.

Place the small hexagon and the large hexagon together, wrong sides together with the fused wadding between, making sure that the small hexagon is centred.

Finger press a 1/4” seam towards the centre, all around the edge of the large hexagon , then fold over and pin in place.

Ready to sew.

Ready to sew.

Be careful to make neat corners – I like to ensure my corner seams all face in one direction (either clockwise or anti-clockwise).

Turning over the corners.

Turning over the corners.

Now sew all the seams in place from the front.  To do this I use the same stitch I use to sew down quilt bindings, making sure to add a couple of stitches into each corner to secure.  I use Aurifil Cotton Mako 40 for this task.

Stitching the edge.

Stitching the edge.

Securing the corner.

Securing the corner.

Make as many hexagons as you require in this way.  To join them together, place two hexagons right sides facing, making sure corners are exactly matched and whip stitch together using very small stitches and trying to take only a small “bite” into each hexagon.  Small stitches and small bites mean that you have a very neat appearance on the right side, with your stitches hardly visible!

Whip stitching hexagons together.

Whip stitching hexagons together.

This is all you need to do to make your quilt or item, but there are additional embellishments for those who are keen!!

You can add a row of quilting around the edge as I have done in the photo, or indeed quilt an appropriately sized motif in the centre.  My thread of choice here is Aurifil Cotton Mako 12.

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Quilting stitch around the edge.

You can also embroider along the joins if you wish.

Adding embroidery.

Adding embroidery.

When joining  hexagons together to make a quilt you can leave the edges as they are or make half-hexagons to fill in the spaces.  In the scrappy quilt  in the photo I have left the edges as they are.

Scrappy hexagon quilt.

Scrappy hexagon quilt.

There are many other possibilities for quilt as you go hexagons.  I have made a couple of hexagon bags using a Patchwork with Busyfingers pattern.

A friend is making small quilt as you go hexagons into mug bags.

The finished hexagon bag.

A hexagon bag.

If you haven’t tried this technique have a go! It’s a great way to use your scraps of fabric and batting.

Charity Quilts

Most of us who are quilters have been involved in creating quilts for charity.  We do this for many reasons, but primarily our gift quilts show that we care about the people who receive them, and they offer a very tangible way of receiving comfort and warmth.

As a member of Lutheran Women of Australia, I recently attended its convention in Adelaide.  In the year prior to convention, our president issued a request for quilts to be made and presented at convention.  Quilts could be sewn, knitted or crocheted. Organisers hoped for around 400 quilts to be distributed around the country wherever need is found. Many will go to African migrants, most of whom are refugees who have been through appalling experiences before coming to Australia.

I decided to hand sew my quilt, slow I know, but it had the advantage of being portable and would use scraps of fabric in the stash.  My thread of choice was Aurifil Cotton Mako (of course!!), this time in 40 weight. I made quilt-as-you-go hexagons and figured that if I made just a few every month I would have enough when the time came to take my quilt to Adelaide.  In all I made 67 hexagons.

Making individual hexagons.

Making individual hexagons.

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The completed hexagon quilt.

I invited my mum to help me make a second quilt, this time a knitted one since Mum does not sew, but she is a great knitter and between us we have lots of scrap wool.

This time we required 64 squares, making roughly half each.  I sewed them together and crocheted a border around the edge.

The knitted squares made into a quilt.

The knitted squares made into a quilt.

When we arrived at convention, the venue was decorated with many quilts hung around the walls.  A number of trestle tables and clothes airers held many more. Many styles and levels of difficulty and ability were represented, but all were colourful and the generosity of the makers really shone out.

Lots of quilts.

Lots of quilts.

Before very long it became apparent that there was insufficient space to display all the quilts and so organisers simply had to pile the quilts wherever they could.  Soon not only were more tables brought in, but all the space under the tables was used too!!  A preliminary count at morning tea on the first day indicated more than 1200 quilts and still they kept coming!

Many quilts did not go to Adelaide but will be distributed in their state of origin and so at the time of convention it was difficult to estimate exactly how many had been donated.

Too many quilts to display.

Too many quilts to display.

But in case you are wondering what the latest count is……. (drum roll). ….over 4000!  What a great effort!

Spolit on Mothers' Day (Mothers' Day Spoils)

Many of the gifts I am given are related to quilting, and this Mothers’ Day was no exception.  I received two beautiful quilting books.  (I must admit, I did have a hand in their purchase, but my family members are all well-trained and quite happy to indulge me!)

One of the books I received is Di Ford-Hall’s “Primarily Quilts”.  I have long been a fan of Di’s patterns and when I heard that she was publishing a book I was eager to own a copy.

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The book is published by Quiltmania, (www.quiltmania.com) and is beautifully set out with lots of photos and text in both French and English.

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A look inside the book.

The book has 240 pages, containing  16 of Di’s patterns, so there are plenty of quilts to tempt me, and yes, there are several I would like to make! The quilts are inspired by nineteenth century quilts and use techniques which include hexagons, broderie perse,  fussy cutting, hand and machine piecing and lots of applique. (Quilting heaven). I am pleased that all patterns and templates are full size so there is no need to enlarge, and the three large pull-out pattern sheets all seem very clear.

Now I must confess that one of my UFOs is a quilt made from a Di Ford pattern, but one which is not in the book. It is “Homage to Sally Ann” which I began over five years ago and stitched while on a 15 week trip around the eastern half of Australia.  I came back from my holiday, but Sally Ann appears to have left on one….and no progress has been made for a long time.

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The incomplete centre block.

The original quilt was on a cream background with mid to deep pinks and burgundy flowers, and I have also seen Helen Hayes Sally Ann quilt which is on a vibrant red background.  As you can see, mine is different again, being on a pale aqua background with coral, gold and brown flowers.

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One of the corner blocks.

Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 weight thread (the finest weight) is my choice for the needleturn applique I use in this project.

And now that Sally Ann has reappeared I might have to add the odd flower or two!

As for the other book I received on Mothers’ Day, I’ll write about that in a future blog post.

Now Sally Ann, where were we….?

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.

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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.