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’.

A Visit with Family and Friends (and Fabric)

After several years in Australia, I finally had the opportunity to visit my family and friends in America.

I am always amazed at the changes that occur in places and people. I expect things to be just as I left them…

For the first time in my life, I had to get a rental car ALL BY MYSELF.  That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to someone who travels all the time, but for me, it was new territory.

One of the things that made it easier was the destination. I was going to ‘have to’ pass through Paducah, Kentucky on the 1000mile drive to see my dear mother.

Only 71 Miles to go

Only 71 Miles to go

Not the best picture in the world…I was driving with my camera on the steering wheel….notice the empty highway…

I had never been to Paducah and I was determined to go to Hancock’s and the National Quilt Museum.

My heart was pounding as I parked the car

My heart was pounding as I parked the car

After a tiny amount of retail therapy…..

I don't really need anything...yeah, right...

I don’t really need anything…yeah, right…

Turn to the left....

Turn to the left….

Turn to the right....

Turn to the right….

I get back on the road heading further south.

This rocket greets everyone entering the State of Alabama

This rocket greets everyone entering the State of Alabama

A joyful time was spent with my dear mother who has allowed me to borrow a quilt I had made for her from the Fall/Winter 1986 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine. It is hand pieced, hand appliquéd and hand quilted.  The label on the back has the’ finish’ date of 1991!

The Fall/Winter Quiltmaker Magazine

The Fall/Winter Quiltmaker Magazine

Mother said it was too good to use so it still looks like new.

My version of the cover quilt

My version of the cover quilt

A view of the hand quilting from the back

A view of the hand quilting from the back

I left her with several quilts she has promised to ‘use’.

After all that driving I was ready for the long flight back to my Aussie friends and family.

A sight for sore eyes

A sight for sore eyes

Now that I am back in Australia, I am determined to be a tourist more often. We never think to be tourists where we live.  I would love some suggestions of destinations….  (Quilt related, please).

Sewing On The Go…

During my recent travels I fell behind on my Aurifil Designer of the Month stitching. I was able to do some stitching in the evening but seeing new places and having new experiences (a gondola ride at the San Diego Zoo for example) can be quite exhausting!

Birds Eye View of the San Diego Zoo

The September and October blocks were calling to me almost as soon as I walked in the door.

The northern hemisphere is just entering their autumn and the leaves are beginning to change in many places. I decided to use a wonderful variegated thread that represented the warm yellows and burnt orange hues of these leaves in the September design by Amy Ellis.

The collection of fabrics I am using for this project contains some delightful shades of orange and red to really bring out my thread colours.

MY Autumn Colours

The October BOO! Block designed by Amanda Woodward-Jennings brought back happy memories of the many pumpkins I carved for our Halloween “Jack-o-Lanterns”.

October Fun

I realized I trimmed my block in the ‘wrong direction’.

Up to Date!

I will use that tiny mistake to be creative when I put all my blocks together. What fun!

Viva la difference!

The Aurifil Block of the Month, presented by Pat Sloan, is past the half-way point and I have finished the block for July; Summer is the contribution from  Sarah Fielke. I know we are in the middle of winter here in Australia, but I have enjoyed stitching beach umbrellas and thinking of the sand between my toes as I attached my golden, sandy coloured beads……I have employed the attitude…”Why make a French Knot when I can use a Bead”!

I loved using several variegated threads!

MY Summer colours

As a reminder…I began my Aurifil BOM with a collection of seductive fat quarters from Timeless Treasures.

Timeless Treasures

Choosing just the right fabric

I know Pat Sloan began with a different, luscious selection of fabrics. And Jenny is doing hers on wool with Aurifil’s fabulous Lana wool.

Here are a few snaps of my earlier blocks.

The Year Begins

Aurifil Cotton Mako 12wt….Variegated Bliss

I will indulge myself with a few days of feeling quite pleased with myself for being all caught up and waiting for the next installment …what new project can I start in the meantime???

Free Motion Quilting Challenge Update

When ever I sign up for a Block of the Month OR a Design of the Month I become acutely aware of the how quickly time passes. It seems like I have just written about my FMQ accomplishments under the tutelage of Ann Fahl ….THAT was MARCH!!

The April FMQ tutor was Don Linn. Don has an interesting way of designing and marking quilt patterns onto the fabric. Once you have chosen your design, it is traced onto tulle. The tulle is placed onto your block and the design is transfered with a temporary marking tool. I used a Sewline pencil with green lead for my heart block. Don’s design wasn’t suitable for my heart block so I used one of Sue Patten‘s designs from her Quilting Possibilities book.

New Pattern Marking Techniques

Once the design was marked onto my block I had the new experience of staying on the marked line with my needle. I found this a bit awkward and the results are not as balanced as I would have liked. I filled the big gaps with “pebbles”.

Not wanting to lag behind again on this ‘monthly’ challenge, I completed the May FMQ challenge the day it appeared on Insights From SewCalGal‘s blog! The tutor for May is Leah Day. Leah’s tutorial video is very informative and she presents it in two parts. Several tools are recommended by Leah including the Supreme Slider and Quilting Gloves. One of Leah’s suggestions is to free motion stitch the straight lines as well as the design lines. She uses polyester thread in the top of the machine and in the bobbin. I may try this in the future on another project with Aurilux, but I want to keep the thread in this project consistent.

Part 2 of the tutorial presented  several options. I have used the first option as I think the design suited my crazy patch heart.  The heart was outlined with free motion quilting and then the large meandering was completed. I can honestly say I felt comfortable doing this so progress is being made. The secondary design is a smaller , winding meandering, filling in the larger foundation stitch.

Step 1Step 2

I will humble myself again…the back of the quilt shows my free motion, outline stitching of the heart block. There are a few wobbles and jumps but I am learning heaps. I really like the Supreme Glider and I think I can get used to the gloves. I am certainly feeling braver !

The back of the block

Christmas Cheating

I suppose my blog this month should be titled “Christmas Cheater Panel”  as I am showing some quilting I did on a panel I was given.
As I was in a hurry to complete the panel as well as  make some Christmas gifts for my patchwork friends, I did a minimum amount of quilting on the panel.

I also think that the Christmas decorations are only up for such a short period, it is not ‘worth’ the effort in going overboard with the quilting. The beauty and pattern of the panel is the important thing – enhanced by the quilting.

My panel with some Brillo quilting on it.

I used the Brillo – the Aurifil metallic thread to quilt around the letters of the panel, and on some of the other pictures. The spools of Brillo are made of wood, and in themselves an attractive item.  I used a topstitch or metallic needle and took my time quilting – feed dogs down and free motion.
On the other ‘illustrations’, I used some Ne 28 or Ne 50 Cotton to outline some of the details.

Some more of the quilting on the panel

Soon – too soon to me – I will be putting up the Christmas quilts, wall hangings and decorations – and hurriedly completing gifts for my friends.

Funky Chickens….My Bag is Finished

Back in July I was inspired to create a quilting design after purchasing some cool fabric.

My original idea of a four-patch design was discarded as I really like this fabric and, in the end, I just didn’t want to cut it up too much.

Added Ric-Rac and stitched handles to top fabric panel

The initial hand quilted motif has been augmented with some machine quilting using Aurifil Variegated 50wt (orange spool).

Hand quilted and Machine quilted with button embellishments

When the quilting is finished I then straighten the edges of the block and begin building a panel by sewing additional, coordinating  fabrics until I have a rectangle that measures 32 inches by 20 inches.

“building” materials for my market bag

I have also decided to add  an outer piece of tablecloth plastic to keep my bag waterproof and clean. The plastic is lightweight and easily sewn as part of the bag construction. I cut the plastic slightly larger than my cut bag rectangle.

Outer plastic layer adds protection from dirt and water

Fold your rectangle in half with right sides together. Using a walking foot (this keeps all layer moving through your machine at the same pace) stitch side and bottom seams, leaving top open.

While bag is inside out, grab one of the bottom corners and match the bottom seam line with the side seam line. Flatten the bag corner forming a triangle. Mark 2″ from the triangle tip and mark a sewing line across the width of the triangle. Stitch along this line making sure to secure your stitches at both ends.

Creating a flat bottom gives the bag some stability

Make straps using two different fabrics. Cut 2 lengths of each fabric 2 inches by 20 inches. Creating two straps, sew two fabrics , right sides together , leaving one small end open for turning. After trimming corners and turning right sides out, press and edge stitch.

Two fabric Straps

Place your handles with unfinished edge along bag top in your desired position. Stitch these in place. Make your bag lining just as you made your bag ADDING at least an inch to height measurement AND leaving a large enough gap in the bottom for turning out. I have added several inches as I wanted a wider header at the top of the bag.

Place your bag, with right sides out,  into the bag lining with wrong  side out. Stitch all round the top edge making sure your handles are in the ‘down position’ so they are not caught in this seam. Carefully pull the exterior bag out through the gap in the lining. Stitch the gap closed in the lining. Top stitch around the bag top. I have added the green ric-rac and you may want to add some trims or embellishments as well.

Top stitch bag and add embellishments

If you are looking for more clever, quick, ideas for making  bags visit master bag maker Lisa Lam’s blog 

There is still plenty of time before the holiday season to make a variety of bags for your friends and family You can never have too many bags!

How do you find time for patchwork?

I am the world’s best procrastinator, always moaning that I don’t have time to stitch,  so I just had to find out how Judy found time to make the “Animal”  print quilt on such short notice. 

I knew she used a system  to give herself  “permission”  to spend time on her patchwork hobby everyday but had never thought a great deal about it until today, when I asked her to explain how it worked.

Judy said:  “I call it the “Cleaning-Sewing Combo“.  I divide my time into two parts – one half hour for sewing and the next half hour for housework, or any other chore that needs to be done. The sewing half hour is always from 1/4 to the hour until 1/4 past the hour and the household half hour is from 1/4 past the hour to 1/4 to the hour”

I asked why she had chosen to split the hour in this way and she replied:

” I am usually working in the one place when I am sewing so I can listen to the news on the radio, on the hour. It helps to keep me informed and up to date with world events.”

We agreed that a half hour spent sewing did not sound like very much time but Judy went on to say:

“This works if you have your projects organised. I sort everthing I need to make the quilt (jumper or embroidery) into it’s own bag and I mean everything … scissors, pin cushion, needles, quick unpick as well as the pattern and fabrics.”

Judy's collection of fabrics & tools sorted into a "fat quarter" bag, ready and waiting for her to start work

I asked how many projects she had sorted in this way:

“Well, I work on 7 projects each week, one for each day. At the start of the day I pull out the project bag for that day and do what ever needs to be done to progress the work … cut pieces, stitch pieces together, press seams, trim blocks etc. It is amazing how much you can get done when you don’t have to waste time searching for tools”

Not every project is machine piecing. Even the hand quilting ones have their own storage container

I was curious as to whether she spent the whole day in this routine:

“Only until the housework tasks that were allocated to that day are complete. As soon as the chores are dealt with the rest of the day is mine for stitching. It simply imposes a routine that means that everything gets dealt with over the week. I sort the household cleaning utensils into a portable basket, in the same way as my patchwork tools.  I don’t want to waste time looking for the the cleaners and cloths, the faster I finish the household chores the more time I have to sew!”

Wow! So how many quilts have you finished since you started using this system?

Judy responded: “An untold number, it can take me several years to finish one quilt but at the same time I may have made, and given away, a whole lot of other quilts. In 1988 I started keeping a record of the projects, just the start & finish dates, and it is interesting to look back through the book at my sewing history

When I had small children,  I would get to the end of the day and feel as if I had done nothing all day even though I knew I had been busy. The record book was a way for me to visually see that I was getting my sewing projects finished.”

A page from Judy's record book. Still a few projects waiting to be finished from 2006 but lots of quilt stamp rewards for the finished projects

Judy finished our interview with this comment:

“Half an hour may not seem like very much time, but even if you only get one block pieced, or one leaf appliqued, you are one step closer to finishing your quilt than you were 30 minutes before”

Now she has got me thinking about how I can organise my sewing projects and I am wondering if other people have a well tested method for getting their projects finished.

I would love to hear how you find time for patchwork.