Upcoming Fun at Island Quilters!

I have been asked by my friend Beth to lead hexie make and take sessions at her Hilton Head Island store, Island Quilters next weekend. We will be doing English Paper Piecing; a technique where fabric is basted around a paper template. It’s quick and accurate and addictive. Her description made me laugh – Debbie will tell you about her favorite subject – hexagons! It’s true, I do love them, and I am looking forward to sharing this passion with other quilters. Island Quilters is under new ownership and I wrote about it here.

I have been making a lot of hexie units in preparation for the make and take. We’re hoping for a big turnout and I need to keep ahead of the students, like cooking shows and their swap outs. Each participant will get a little sample pack with EPP pieces and bits of fabrics and learn how to sew them. (Big thanks to Paper Pieces for sending us these packs!) Instead of just making random hexies, I do want to make something, so I chose this medallion pattern, which will take shape as the weekend progresses.

Medallion hexie pattern

There are so many ways to be creative with hexagons! You can play with the patterns of the fabric, like the swirling flower on the right. You can make fun shapes, like the (purple) frog’s foot. You can layer the different sizes. You can cut the hexie in half and use two fabrics on each hexagon. And stars and diamonds, oh my! All of this is just Beginning Hexie. Check out Pinterest and Google for a zillion ideas.

Hexie ideas

But the best fun is getting out your colored pencils and drawing a design to make…

Star hexie pattern

In case you are in the area, or know someone who will be, here’s the information:

Island Quilters store, located on Hilton Head island, January 27 and 28

The sessions will start at 10 AM and will be about 45 minutes long.

If you would like to reserve a time, call the store at 843.842.4500.

Under Construction : Tiny Wagon Wheel Quilt

It seems to be Summer in South Carolina now and I get hot at night! So – nighttime hand quilting on my Indian rug inspired quilt is probably over for some time. Instead I’m making little wagon wheels. So cute!!!

Night time piecing

I have made some serious progress on the quilt. What size is it going to be? I don’t know yet! Perhaps when I run out of appropriate fabrics……

Wagon Wheel progress



Tiny Wagon Wheel Quilt Progress

As one of my grandmothers would have said – these wagon wheel bits “are fiddle-y” to sew. English Paper Pieced hexagons are very easy to deal with, but these shapes, not so much. However, I am determined to get a wagon wheel “right”! First job was to sew a group of the spokes. Next up was choosing a background. I auditioned several color ideas. I really wanted a green, but I thought this dot was too bright. And the purple dot seemed to be a bit intense.

Purple & green

Another plan was to use a light background, but this dotty black was surprisingly distracting, and I never use plain white. I like the navy/tiny print on the right the most.

White ad blue backgrounds

In my last post, I forgot to mention that the middles of this English Paper Pieced quilt are hexagons, little ones. I have been choosing a different middle for each one. I debated using the same fabric, but I think that from a distance they might look like holes, rather than middles.

The fiddling continues and mistakes abound! As it happens, the top of the wheel pieces and the background pieces have a direction! I knew that but one night I wasn’t paying attention and sewed several groups of spokes the wrong way. I have been watching the season-enders of some TV shows and my excuse is that it can be hard to stitch and watch. (Scandal… OMG … and Agents of SHIELD and The Blacklist are really ramping up!!!) Now I have the side that I pin under the fabric marked in boldly in red, so it’s hard to miss. ;-D

Wagon wheel progress

I’m happily sewing.

How Not to Piece a Wagon Wheel Quilt!

Wagon wheel quilts are a favorite of mine, but I have not yet made a “successful” one. Many years ago I took a class with Mary Mashuta. She uses a lot of Japanese fabric in her quilts and since I lived in Tokyo, I have a nice collection of said fabrics. This is my favorite of hers. This striped fabric is wonderful and though I started this quilt right after taking her class, I have never been happy with it.

Japanese wagon wheel quilt


Another quilter who has done this pattern with entirely different fabrics is Becky Goldsmith of Piece O’ Cake designs. I am a big fan of her color sense and here is one of hers I like. And here is the one I started to mimic hers. I don’t like it either and did not piece too much before I put it away in a project bag… Can you see where both of my designs are headed in the wrong way?

White and pastel wagon wheel

Sometimes one can use too many fabrics, and as I was photographing these UFO’s before we moved, it was so obvious. Too busy! Way too busy! What I like about the wagon wheel patterns is the graphic nature and in order for that to shine, there has to be less use of fabrics. So the background probably should be one color in the Japanese stripe. I do think I can make the multi black and white background fabrics work, but each wheel should be the same color.

A few months ago, Becky Goldsmith started selling English Paper Piecing patterns for Wagon Wheel and I bought a pack of the smallest ones. I have been eyeing them as I need to do something new. I’m choosing fabrics soon and am determined to do a wagon wheel quilt that works!

Scrappy Hexagon Class

Wednesday night I had a class of 5 ladies all anxious to learn how to construct hexagons using the English Paper Piecing technique. I introduce people to this technique during an hour demo at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Fest, but I wanted to design a class to move further than that and actually get to the finishing part. So I came up with the little quilt below, which you have seen before.

It was a bit confusing at first. One lady came with a bunch of 1″ pieces already constructed, feeling sure she didn’t know the proper technique. Two others had bought a “kit” and a book; I had no idea what they were talking about! And the last two didn’t seem to know that there was a project and hadn’t pre cut the fabric for their quilt top. Whew- I have no idea what the disconnect was as the description I wrote for the newsletter went something like : This quilt was designed to showcase the English Paper Pieced hexagons…..

But no matter – – – I had scheduled 3 hours (I never know how long to allow, with people sharing irons and cutting tables and so much going on), so there was plenty of time to deal with everyone! I got the two making my project sewing strips and demonstrated the EPP technique to those who were ready. (Turns out the “kit” went with a EPP doll quilt in the store and was sewn on a one piece background.) I had come up with a quick way to piece the lattice and background squares for the top, and the other ladies were ready to learn EPP in no time.

We ended up gathering at one table, like a sewing circle, and talked as they sewed. Below you see the pieces already sewn together by the one woman. It’s a true scrappy hexagon!

By the end of the evening, the two ladies making the project each got a hexagon appliqued to their top. The two ladies making the doll quilts each completed a hexagon and were starting another. The woman who brought her project got a lot of questions answered, though the big one about how to finish the EPP hexes as a “real” quilt was one I wasn’t sure about. The people at Paperpieces.com are really friendly and I suggested she e-mail them for advice.

I am happy to report that everyone loved sewing the squares and I am sure will continue with whatever project they started! That’s the best part for any teacher – students who are happy and excited about a new technique. It’s one of the many reasons I enjoy teaching so much.

Fair Finish-Up

One more post and then I’m done! I thought you might want to see a few views of the fair. So much to see and fondle and buy!!!

This is one of my favorite vendors; she goes to all the big quilt shows. Her business is called Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods. Look at the attention to detail, the items grouped by color and all the cunning little items. I always spend ages in her booth, touching and oohing and aahing in my head (I hope).

I had two English Paper Piecing demos. I spend a few minutes showing them the technique, and then they try it.

The ladies seemed to enjoy the technique and

were surprised at how easy it is to do.

The second demo was on Sunday afternoon, when I thought everyone would be tired out,

but these three ladies were very intent on their sewing!

I am still unpacking and trying to get everything back in its spot in the studio. It’s quite a rat’s nest down here…

Off to the Fair!

Whew – I am almost ready for the big day tomorrow. Since I have taught rug hooking for several years, the preparations don’t make me crazy; I enjoy assembling everything. I had the wools spread all over the studio floor on Tuesday and saw a big gap…. Interestingly enough, most of the colors I have dyed are light or medium values, I’m not sure why. So I had to do some dyeing…. I did some dark magenta, blue purple and blue jean blue in dark values. And – I did some pretty spotty wools. I dyed a light value first and then drizzled a darker value on the top and popped it in the oven. I think they will be beautiful when they are hooked.

I’m organizing so I can pack up the car. Jasmine is making sure that I have enough wool to hook the clamshell rug.

Gizmo is counting the patterns and then I will roll them up.

Here are all the supplies…… Hopefully Peter will have a minute to go over the check list with me, as I almost forgot something very important last year. Wow – it’s going to be a very busy day!

Folk Art Fair Preparations

The Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair is coming! It starts Friday, so I’ve been getting the supplies ready for my classes. I will be teaching Primitive Rug Hooking on Friday afternoon. The first item I check is the backgrounds and count how many bags are made up. It makes more work for me, but I do like to have several choices for the students. (When I am a student, I like choices!) I will have several plain-colored wools and overdyed plaids. Then I make sure that I have a good selection of the heart and flower colors; colors that will look nice with the various backgrounds.

The biggest job in preparing the supplies is cutting the wool into strips. As you can see from the cutter, a lot of lint comes off of the strips, so I wear a mask. Jasmine likes to be front and center with any sort of preparations, but wool is always a big draw for her; so warm and fuzzy.

Gizmo has been testing out a hooking frame I thought my students might like to try. No decision as yet; he is a methodical little man.

I will be teaching two one hour demos as well; showing students how to do English Paper Piecing. It’s pretty simple really, so after my short demo, they will have time to start sewing a little hex. Many thanks to Paper Pieces! They sell a huge array of sizes and shapes of paper piecing bases and sent me packets to use with my students.

When not teaching, I will be hanging out with the Foxy Ladies Rug Hooking Guild. There will be a display of hooked pieces, and each day of the fair will have a different array of rugs and stools and mats, depending on what hookers are there and what pieces they bring. Fun! (I will take pictures!) I will need something to hook while I am there. I just dyed some more greens for my clamshell rug, so I think I will take that. It’s fairly mindless hooking so I can talk with people as they stop by.

If you live in the area, I hope you come to the fair!!! It’s a wonderful event.

Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair-

Registration is Open!

This is the fair’s 5th anniversary and it will be held June 24 – 26 at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Illinois. This will be the second year at this location and I am sure will be better than ever.

I have been teaching there since the beginning and over the years I have taught some fun classes and enjoyed great students. One year I was crazy and taught an all day shibori class. The students were exhausted by the end of the day and I was too! In the morning we did folding and clamping and a bit of sewing,

and in the afternoon, it was on to arashi shibori. I often wonder if any of them still dye…

Last year I offered wool applique.

I think the ladies chose some pretty combinations.

This will be the third year I have taught Primitive Rug Hooking. Here are some of the colors I’ve dyed for class.

And here are a group of ladies happily hooking! Doesn’t it look like fun?

As well as rug hooking, I will also have several hour class/demos on English Paper Piecing. There’s yummy food, music, many, many vendors and lots of interesting artsy people to chat with. There are loads of interesting classes with some “big” name teachers this year, and as I said, registration is open, so I hope you will check out the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair.

Fascinating Hexagons

For those of you who are interested in hexagons, let me tempt you further….and introduce you to the tiny English Paper Pieced variety!

Small quilts have become of interest to me- they are so precious and perhaps they remind me of playing with my doll house. Some years ago I was at a quilt show and walked by a man demonstrating how to sew teeny tiny hexagons. I looked and said to myself “I don’t like EPP” and moved on. A few aisles later it dawned on me – how else could you put together hexes measuring 1/4″ on a side??? I whizzed back to him, watched more closely and bought a small pack. That night in my motel room I used scraps from a class I was taking and sewed a flower and became addicted! The next morning I was back at his booth buying more.

I buy my supplies from Paper Pieces. They sell a large variety of shapes and each shape comes in many sizes. With a hexagon, you measure one side of it, so if you look at the photo above, left to right:  3/4″   1/2″  1/4″. Isn’t it amazing how there is such a dramatic difference in the sizes? (Peter laughs at this and reminds me that it’s all geometry, and I remind him that I barely made it through that class in high school!)

Some time ago, Garden2day was talking about different ways to put them together and here are a few I am working on. Hexagons can be constructed so many ways, from small and simple to grand and complicated.Isn’t the star so dramatic? I saw that pattern on an antique quilt and did a little drawing on the spot to remind me how to put it together. The diamond shape is fun too and I am using a hand dyed gradation that I did to construct that piece. Underneath both those shapes is a traditional grandmother’s flower garden. Need more design ideas? Not to be gross, but the next time you are using an old public bathroom, you might look down. Hexagon patterns were a very popular tile design…

And lest you think that I never complete anything, and I do understand why you might feel that way, here is a little (1/4″) star in a shadowbox frame – and the completed Scrappy Hexagon quilt for a summer class!

And if you are interested in how to make them, we’ll talk another day!