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.

A Weekly Dose of Triangles: just the beginning

I have stacks of the leader/ender triangles done. Last weekend, I pressed and cut them to size, and finally it was time to play. (Now that I have finished playing with the triangles, the design wall has to come down. The painters are coming…)

Loads of triangles

I know that many of you who read my blog are not quilters, so I though a little lesson was in order, and if you are new to quilting, perhaps you will enjoy this as well. If I make a quilt using just one shape, it will be called a charm or one block quilt. Many quilters pooh-pooh this sort of simplicity, but wait until you see what these simple shapes can do. Let’s look at some common charm or one square patterns.

These pieces are made up of equilateral triangles. Remember Sophomore Year geometry with Miss Detweiler? If so, then you know that these triangles measure the same on each side.

Equilateral triangles

Back to geometry class, can you see that these shapes are 60 degree triangles? This pattern is called tumbling blocks or baby blocks. They are such fun to play with; to form a block you sew a light a medium and a dark piece together and you get this 3D illusion.

Baby block stack

I call this shape swirling stars and it’s the curvaceous relative of a baby block. Look at the baby block above – can you see where six 60 degree pieces intersect? So these pieces can make the same shapes as their straight-laced cousin.

Spinning star

Here is my favorite shape – a hexagon. Not only does its six-sided shape make many, many lovely designs, it can be divided in half, in thirds and even in sixths, if you want to do some really nasty piecing. Handy hexagons

If you are interested in starting a charm quilt, Pat Yamin has loads of templates for all of these fun shapes and more.

Please stop by next Friday to see some of what the humble half square triangles can do! It’s quite amazing.

Home Again &amp Some Finishes!

I always find it refreshing to be away from home! Ten days away is long enough to have lots of fun and get tired of hotel rooms. Then, when I return, I have all sorts of new ideas and energy and I see everything here with “fresh eyes”. Usually I run around cleaning, but Peter left the house sparkling, so I attacked several projects waiting to be completed.

Because we were to bring completed hooked pieces to display at the Midwest fiber and Folk Fest show, I decided that I should get the braided edge completed on Welcome Tulips. The off white and green are off the bolt fabrics and I tinted a beige stripe with fuchsia dye. This is the first project I have braided since class and with the help of Kris Mc Dermott’s directions, it went fairly well.

As I hooked this next piece, I thought it would be a pillow. When I was done hooking it I went to a nearby home deco store and found the wonderful trim you see Jasmine lying on. I basted it close to the hooking and then tried to sew it all together – several times. It finally went in the to-be-finished pile. In looking at it when I got home, I decided to finish it as a mat and frame it. If you read rug hooking blogs then you know that making hooked pieces into pillows is a challenge.

Here it is in an Ikea frame. I glued some Japanese paper onto the masonite backing. Then I attached the mat using sticky hook and eye fasteners. Of course the sticky tabs do not stay on the burlap backing, so I will have to sew them on. Finishing is never easy…

I can’t quite remember when I started this little Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I made it using the very fun Paper Pieces and just so you get the scale, they are 1/2 inch on a side. There was a partial seam to finish, so it was quickly completed. Here’s the back of the quilt  – I just love this look. Perhaps I should make an “art” quilt showing the backside of English Paper Piecing!

I spent one evening in front of the TV popping out the paper pieces. Then I appliquéd it on a backing fabric. When I was working on it I really debated how to finish the edge of the quilt. In my real quilts, which we use, I fill in the spaces with partial hexagons and trim them. I thought I might do that but it seemed too fussy and un-necessary. Here it is in another Ikea shadowbox frame.

This is Katie’s Leaves, the last pattern I designed for my rug hooking class at Pieceful Gathering. I decided to finish it as a pillow. As with the hooked piece above, it was not as easy as I thought it would be, but here it is. This time I sewed wool fabric to the mat to enlarge it and then had to hook a row of loops as you just can’t sew close enough to the hooking. It’s on a 12″ pillow form. Next time I want to make a pillow I have a new idea to try.

So! I think these are my first finishes of the year; better late than never!

P.S. Don’t forget to leave a comment if you would like to win a big, beautiful bunch of floral fabrics on Wednesday!

Library Quilt Class!

Where did January go??? It’s hard to believe that February starts this week. Saturday was the day that Peter and I took down my quilt show. It was a few days early, but he is away this week on a business trip and he’s my main man for quilt show assistance.

And as part of my agreement with the Morton Grove Public Library, I taught a quilting class there on Saturday. I provide each student with a kit, so I started cutting fabrics on Tuesday. The class limit is 20, so even though I used a rotary cutter, it was a lot of cutting. (Normally I make all the fabrics the same, but I didn’t have enough of  any one fabric, so there were a variety of fabric combinations to choose from.) Then the sewing lines need to be marked, which is a good job to do while watching T.V. An important part of the kit is a piece of felt with a few pins and a threaded needle, so there is a lot to prepare.

Here is the room, set up for 20 students. 20 is a big class…

Thanks so much to Nancy, coordinator of programs, (standing in red and black) for asking me to have a show and teach a class. She plans many fun and interesting activities and makes the library an important part of many people’s lives.

After making the rounds of both tables and showing each person how to sew a seam, it’s wonderful to take a moment and see everyone working away – – – before someone needs help.

It’s fun to see the ladies interact with each other, and perhaps some new “quilty” friends are being made!

As the ladies finished piecing their hexes, they pressed the seams at the pressing table in the back of the picture.

And then the real fun begins! I usually teach just a plain Grandmother’s Flower Garden sort of shape, but the library has a devoted following for this monthly crafts class and I figured that some of the ladies I taught several years ago would come, so I needed to tweak my project. I decided on a half hexagon, which is a fun variation.

How to put the pieced pieces together??? And should she choose a different middle fabric? I usually cut middles out and then have each person choose the one they like and then mark the sewing lines. This gives them some idea of the piecing process and makes their project unique.

And just when I thought I had seen all the combinations for half hex designs, someone came up with a new one!

It often happens in a class like this that there are Nervous Nellys  who moan and people saying “I can’t sew” or “that looks complicated”. I was a bit worried that sewing the two seams together to make a hexagon and then sewing a flower shape might be too much for a 2 hour session. But wow – most of the ladies completed their flower or came close too it. And there were some very lovely seams sewn, with even and small stitches. I had some extra packets, which were snapped up and I wish I’d made more. Thanks to all you MGPL ladies – you were great!!!

Half Hexagon Class

On Saturday, Peter and I drove to the Johnsburg IL Public Library. He headed off on his bike in the drizzle and I unpacked my kits and supplies. Nine ladies joined me for a class on how to hand piece half hexagons, which is a new class. You know that I love hexagons, but did you know that the shape can be divided in several ways which will make lots of interesting variations? I have so many fun pictures of the class that I won’t put my class sample on here, but you can see it on my website.

I like to ask the ladies what their sewing experience is (like- have they ever held a needle before?!?!?) One lady took the cake. She said, “I thought it would be good to learn hand sewing. My husband and I camp a lot and I thought he would appreciate it if I had something to do rather than saying “Aren’t you too close to the car ahead ?” or “We’re awfully close to the side of the road!””  Isn’t that too funny?

Each student got a baggy with some of the pieces cut out and marked, a piece of felt with a threaded needle (;-D) and a few pins as well as the templates on a piece of paper. They were quite nervous about sewing the two hexagon halves together; I don’t know why!

Two ladies had taken the grandmother’s flower garden class I had taught at the library a year or so ago, so I knew they could sew and there were several (machine) quilters as well. While I demonstrated for half of the group, the other went over to the supply table and chose and cut out middles for their piece.

There are quite a few ways you can put the half hexes together after you sew them and I showed the ladies some examples that I had sewn. As I walked around the tables, I watched them move their pieces around to make different designs…

This was a variation I had not thought of – isn’t it fun? It occurred to me then that you could use a limited amount of fabrics for this quilt and then arrange the half hexes in many, many patterns.

I really like teaching at public libraries. They usually charge $5 for supplies and such a variety of people take the classes. And this was a fun group. They talked and laughed and I hope that some of them have caught the hexagon bug.

Thanks to Maria and everyone at the library for having me!