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.

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Shibori Truancy

I played truant from the office recently to spend a day with friends at a Shibori workshop. What fun!

Mary's "Chinese Pine" design after it has been in the dye bath.

I thought Shibori designs were created by wrapping the fabric with heavy thread, or twine, but we discovered that this was only one method.

The method that we used in the workshop actually involved a lot of stitching.

Preparing my "Chinese Pine" design, stitching with a thread that was a little too thick.

Here I have a very sad confession, as the owner of a business that specialises in thread, I took all the WRONG threads to the workshop!

As I said earlier, I was expecting to need a heavy thread to wrap / tie the fabric to create the designs so I took a heavy crochet cotton (luckily I did not take the string that we use to tie up the paper recycle!).

Others in the group had also taken thicker threads although, fortunately, Gwen had a nice fine crochet thread in her collection that she shared with the group.

Of course, because I had packed a thick thread I had also packed a BIG needle in my workshop kit.  Next time I will know better.

However, this turned out to be an excellent lesson in the value of using the right thread for the job.

  • Some of the thick threads, that appeared to be strong, did not pass the “snap” test and were deemed by the tutor to be unsuitable. … looks can be deceiving.
  • Some of the threads had a coarse twist and were difficult to pull through the fabric to create the stitched designs.

A thicker thread was also more difficult to gather up to create the “resist” pattern

After the design has been stitched, the threads have to be gathered up to pull up the fabric to create the “resist” patterns.

I tried  three different threads for my stitched designs:

  • the coarse one,
  • a thick but smoother crochet cotton (shown in the top photo) and
  • Gwen’s fine, very smooth, crochet cotton

Of the three, I have to say that the finer, smooth, cotton was the easiest to use for stitching as it didn’t grab the fabric as I made a stitch.

Further, after we had finished our first sampler Gail, another friend,  pointed out that using a thick thread with a big needle meant that the needle holes were visible after the fabric had been dyed.

The last, tricky technique that we had to master was unpicking our stitching while the fabric was still wet. This is not an easy task  … it was not possible to simply “pull” the gathered stitches out, they had to be cut out and we did not want to accidentally cut our beautiful fabrics at this stage.

  • We all found that our white cotton crochet threads picked up the dye at much the same rate as our white fabrics so it was quite tricky to selectively cut the thread without cutting the fabric

Unpicking the stitching required great care, and attention, as the white thread picked up as much dye as the fabric and was well disguised.

I decided that the black thread that I had used for the “Chinese Pine” design was the easiest to remove … it was a smooth thread and it was visible as a different colour to the dyed fabric.

Knowing what I now know about preparing shibori designs with stitching, I have to say that next time I will use Cotton Mako’ 12, in a rich colour,  as this good quality, smoothly twisted, thread will make it much easier to stitch & gather up the designs and will be visible when it is time to remove the thread.

Next time I will use the nice smooth, evenly twisted, Cotton Mako' 12 in an unusual colour

I think that it could also be fun to experiment using the Cotton Mako’ 40 to stitch closer rows of folds to create a finer more delicate design.

This colour of cotton Mako' 40 would also work

I have to say that during this workshop it was obvious that a good quality, well made thread, made the stitching easier, and faster.

When there are so many beautiful threads available, it really is false economy, and a waste of creative time, to use just any old thread no matter what the task.

I wonder when we can have another shibori day … my head is buzzing with ideas.

Read more about Shibori, written by people who really know what they are doing:

Japanese Textiles (From a Westerners pespective)

Smitha Nayar’s Blog