Wednesday, July 15, 2015

All Mooshed Together

... is what I did with these same-center hexagons.

and I haven't a CLUE what to do now.  :: sigh ::  But I sure do like the result!

I saw someone else's picture of a quilt, where all the hexagons had the same center.  It provided a continuity to the layout and I really liked it.  So,I began making my own, without a clear idea of the goal. 

Around the time that I was busily and happily making all the hexagons with my own paper templates (left over from another, different hexie project), I was able to purchase the Fiskars hexagonal paper punches with some discount coupons .. always a great deal!

I was *so* excited because with the paper punches, I would be able to make LOTS of paper templates accurately and easily, instead of the tedious way I was currently doing it.

Then .. disaster.   I discovered that the multi-size hexagonal acrylic template that I had been using to cut my own paper templates actually was *non-standard* it its measurements.  The entire hexie world measures a hexagon along the outer edge .. so that a 1" hexie has (6) 1" sides.  *This* acrylic template measured the hexies from top to bottom. Oy Vey.

The size I was using with the acrylic template measured 1-1/2" TOP TO BOTTOM, yielding a 7/8" side.  Who in their right mind makes a 7/8" hexie????

Well, in reality, if you are making your own templates and you are the ONLY person using them and they are being used for a specific project, then it really doesn't matter what actual size they are because you are being entirely consistent for the whole project.

The problem was that once I got my Fiskars paper punch to make my paper template, those hexies DID use the standard measurement along the sides!  The large Fiskars hexie punch produces a true 1" hexie.  Which does NOT match up, in any way, with my homemade templates.  My entire batch of homemade templates is now essentially worthless, as they don't work with any of the Fiskar hexagon punches.

Sooo .. what all this was leading up to with my same-center hexies, was to make only a small number of same-center hexies and finish it up in whatever manner I could device.  Which is where I am right now.

This picture shows my mooshed together hexies into a piece that is roughly 19"x25".  Not exactly a size that is convenient for anything.  I'm tentatively thinking of appliquing it to a larger piece of fabric, put a border around it and make a baby quilt out of it. 

Maybe.  I dunno.  This project is not on my A-List of Things To Do, so it can jolly well just sit and cool its heels for a while.  Probably a good long while.  :-)

Monday, July 13, 2015

I'd rather be sewing

... or what I did on my Monday ...

We have a long driveway.  300 feet, to be exact.  It's about 11 feet wide, more or less.  One one side, there are oleanders and cypress (?) trees that we share with our neighbor who has a similar driveway. 

The cypress (or whatever they are) trees shed.  So do the oleanders.  The leaves fall on the driveway and over time, start to seriously encroach on the width of the driveway.  Such has been happening over time and about 4 feet of the driveway (on one side) has become covered with dead leaves.  Today was the day that I finally pulled up my big girl panties, got my rakes and flat-bladed shovel and attacked the debris.

It's not particularly *difficult* work but it is strenuous and tiring and hot.  By the time I started this morning at 10am, half of the driveway was in the sun and half was in the shade.  I elected to start clearing the leaves from the driveway that was *in the shade*.  My mama didn't raise no dummy!

So, I raked a section about 4 feet long and the width of the debris field (mmm .. 4 feet, more or less).  This was then shoveled into a wagon that has a bed that tips up.  When the wagon was filled with leafy debris, I put a big yard trash bag at the end and up-ended the wagon bed into the trash bag.  Over and over and over. 

Then I realized that .. hmmm .. I don't need to be shoveling the *dirt* into the trash bags .. the *dirt* can be distributed elsewhere in the yard.  So, my raked piles were first separated into leafy debris for the trash bag and dirt for the yard.  Over and over and over.

Over the course of the afternoon, I took two breaks and was forced to call it a day around 4pm when we needed to go retrieve one of our cars that was being repaired.  In all, I cleared about 120 feet by 4 feet of leafy debris and dirt.

Remember that I said our driveway was 300 feet long?  Ummm, yeah.  In the picture here, the red area is what I cleared and bagged.  The green area (which is considerably narrower than the previous 4 feet of debris!) is about 48 feet long.  That won't take too long to clear.  But the blue area in the back?  Don't let the perspective fool you .... that tiny, tiny blue area is really .... 135 feet long by 4 feet wide!  Oy vey.

The reason I didn't start on that section is because *that* was the area that was in the sun when I started!  It'll be in the sun tomorrow morning too .. so I'm going to wait until tomorrow AFTERNOON when the shade hits it before I start on that area.

Eventually, I'll need to clear the other side of the driveway .. about 170 feet worth ... of debris also, but it's not nearly as wide an area.  I'm anticipating that it'll take the major part of whatever day I work on it.

This is all time that I'd really rather be sewing because when I'm sewing, I'm in an air conditioned room and I get to SIT DOWN.  :-)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

hexies is what I'm working on

I have several hexie projects I'm working on right now ...

1. Continuing with my "Reaching Out" Forever Project™.   I've finished all the hexie flower units and "leaves" that I need.  The next step is to start sewing the individual flower units together into a column.  This column of hexie flowers will eventually be connected to vertical columns of applique vines and flowers on a white background.  To make it easy for me to attach the column of hexies to the column of white background fabric, I'm filling the voids along the sides of the hexie columns with white half-diamonds.

I've used this technique before, although it was on a larger size of hexies.  *This* is a smaller hexie and so the half-diamonds are correspondingly smaller.  Exactly HOW much smaller was decidedly demonstrated to me when I attempted to wrap the white background fabric around the paper template.

HOLY MOLEY!  These half-diamonds are SMALL, being 7/8" along the edge.  Somehow, making the 7/8" hexagons wasn't a problem at all but these half-diamonds???  Geez, Louise!  They are definitely a pain.   I'm thinking they aren't going to be as soothing and mindless as the hexies were.

In the picture to the left, I've outlined the white half diamonds I've already done in a dotted blue line.  The red lines show where the next half diamonds will go.   I have about a bajillion of them to do.  Good thing this is a Forever Project™!  :-)

2. From somewhere on the internet, I saw a hexie quilt where all the centers were the same color.  It really tied the entire quilt together and I wished I had seen that picture *before* I started on  Reaching Out!  But, just because that project didn't have a consistent center color didn't mean that I couldn't experiment with ANOTHER hexie project!   (I must have been delusional).

So, using the same paper templates, I started making a whole messload of hexies with a white tone-on-tone center.  I knew I didn't want to make a big quilt like Reaching Out.  I didn't want to make yet another throw pillow.  I didn't want to make a tote bag or purse (I have lots of tote bags; I don't use purses).  Then *what* could I use all these new hexies for?

Well, once again, perusing the internet, I saw what I later learned was a miniature quilt. (On that blog, no credit was given for who made the miniature or if a pattern is available.)  The size of the sample didn't bother me; it was the *layout* that I really liked.   Although the sample showed a center of equally spaced hexies in a grid pattern, I realized that I could replace those hexies with my hexies but all mooshed together into one great humungous center medallion.

Then, I could follow the sample photo of surrounding the center medallion with a narrow border, followed by a simple applique border of hexie flowers.   So, that's the current plan with my same center color hexie flowers.  I'm not quite sure how big my final quilt will be.

3. From the June/July 2015 issue of McCall's Quick Quilts, I saw the most AMAZING hexagon quilt.  From reading the description, I found that it was created using fabric PRINTED with hexagons!   What a sneaky, sneaky way to use a cheater fabric!  I *so* approve!  :-)  I promptly found the fabric used in the magazine and will be making my own version .... ummmmm ... "soon".

In the meantime, I was rummaging around my stash and found ... to my utter astonishment ... two pieces of  *printed* hexie fabric!  Now, to be sure it wasn't the same as what I had just ordered and it wasn't the same scale and it sure wasn't enough to make a quilt using the magazine's layout .. BUT .. surely I could come up with something in the same vein?

One piece was simply small hexies placed smack dab right up next to each other.  If you tried to cut them apart to use them individually, you'd lose most of the fabric.  Instead, I put that small piece on the bottom of a background fabric as a "band".  Unfortunately, it wasn't long enough to go from edge to edge .. but it'll work out.

printed Grandmother's Flower Garden fabric
The other piece of printed hexie fabric were larger flowers in a Grandmother's Flower Garden layout.  To use these hexie flowers, I sacrificed the "path" around the flowers so I could then applique each of the flowers onto the background fabric, above the band of hexies.

As with so many printed fabrics, these hexie flowers were not printed strictly on-grain.  Many of the flower units along the cut edges were askew.  I didn't want to waste any of them and I wanted to use all that were there, so where the flower units were incomplete, I simply stuck them right up against the edge of the background fabric.  As a result, there are several flowers stacked up against each other on both sides ... it was the only way I could reasonably use those flower units.

The rest of the flower units had the edges turned under and were machine appliqued with a narrow zig-zag stitch.

the "band" at the bottom is a different printed  hexie fabric
This layout isn't the most fantastic I've ever done but it was an interesting method to do ... and it gave me some experience before my other printed hexie fabric arrives.

When I quilt this, I'll put some filler stitches in the background fabric area.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sometime before last Thanksgiving (i.e. November 2014), I came across an *adorable* English Paper Pieced turkey that the blogger was sewing onto a dish towel.  I'm not terribly big on fancy dish towels ... BUT ... I thought they would look fantastic on napkins!  It was "sufficiently" before Thanksgiving (for our non-American readers, our Thanksgiving is at the end of November) that I thought I could SURELY stitch them up in time to impress our dinner guests.  :-)

 HA!  Fat chance that.

 However, I did manage to make 6 napkins before Thanksgiving was upon me and I realized that there was no way, José, that they were going to be completed.  So, I put them away for later.  "Later" became July 2015 and I am in the process of finishing them up. 

The EPP tutorial comes from Mollie Johanson of Wild Olive.  Her tutorial is excellent: easy to follow instructions that are thorough.  A template for the hexagons is also included, if you don't have any of your own.

Mollie's tutorial calls for making the turkey "feathers" from 2 half-hexagons, which are then stitched together.  That's easy enough but *I* am terminally lazy.  I got the same visual effect by simply sewing two pieces of fabric together into a "mini strip set" and cutting my hexagon fabric from the stitched together fabric, making sure to orient the seamline of the fabrics as Mollie shows.  In this manner, I didn't need to fuss with a lot of small half-hexagons and I didn't need to sew them together!

I also took the "easy" way out for the turkey face: although I did hand embroider the wattle and beak, I didn't want French knots for the eyes ... so I used my Micro archival pens to ink in the eyeballs. :-)

Once the turkeys were stitched together, I appliqued them diagonally to the corner of a napkin.

Oh, the napkins.  Originally, I bought some coarse, rustic commercial napkins.  I liked the rough, textural look of them.  BUT ... they were cheap.   And *no where* near square.   Good Lord, when I folded them up, they were horridly askew.  There was no way I could ever use them.  Good thing they were inexpensive.  On the other than, I certainly got what I paid for.

Because I know how to make a mitered hem, I decided I would make my own napkins .... they aren't that difficult at all.  I like mitered corners because they are FLAT.  It's a MUCH better and elegant look than simply folding the hem back on itself .. that results in an ugly lump in the corner.  ICK.

I cut approximately an 18" square, made my mitered corners and machine stitched the hem.  Sure, it took a little more time but I'm pleased with the napkins and they didn't cost anywhere near what good quality commercial napkins would.

When both leaves are inserted into my dining room table, I can fit 12 chairs around it .. so I made 12 napkins.   Although I haven't done so yet, I may still make a table runner to coordinate with the napkins.

The tutorial instructs you to do a contrast running stitch around the perimeter of the turkey on the dish towels.  I didn't want to have that stitching show on the back of my napkins so I chose to not to do it.  But, to dress up my turkeys just a bit, I chose instead to do a feather stitch down the seamlines of the hexagon "feathers" surrounding the turkey.  I slid the needle between the turkey hexagons and the napkin fabric so the feather stitch never shows on the backside of the napkins.  The only evidence that something was done is the tiny, tiny knot at the bottom of the feather stitching.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

hexie placemats & table runner

I started my hexie journey in the summer of 2013.  I remember it distinctly because hexies were HUGE at that time.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to join in the frenzy so during our annual family camping vacation, I decided that my handwork project that year would be to make some hexagons with the English Paper Piecing method of construction ... just to see if I even LIKED the process.

I intentionally made these preliminary hexies big ... 2.25" along a side ... because as long as I was making them, I wanted to make something WITH them .. and I wanted the hexies to be of sufficient size to be able to do that.  I got a multi-sized hexagonal template, cut a bunch of paper templates, cut my fabric and started the process.

I used solid fabric for these hexies.  Since this was an experiment, I didn't want to "waste" good fabric, ya know?  During the preparation process, I tried all different techniques.  I am self-taught, and I scoured the internet for any instruction pertaining to hexagons.  There is a LOT of information out there.  The preparation technique that ended up working the best for me was to thread baste the corners together but NOT going through the paper template.

It turned out that once I found that process, I *LOVED* *LOVED* *LOVED* making hexies.  There was a Zen-like calm in my mind and I churned out the hexies like nobody's business.  It was the absolute *perfect* portable handwork project for me when I was away from home.

Because I was just experimenting at this point, I really didn't plan for any color placement and had simply cut a bunch of squares without regard to the final project.  Once I had used up all the solid fabric that I had pre-cut for our vacation, and not having any access to more, I put them together into a table runner for our dining room. 

I used an interesting finishing technique that is essentially a faced backing.  This technique is a tutorial by Amy Gunson. I made a "ring" of hexies in the same shape as the perimeter of my table runner and stitched/appliqued this ring over the top of the backing fabric.  Oh and the backing fabric!  Since this was "just an experiment", I used some truly awful plaid fabric for the backing.  After all, who looks at the back?  And, it allowed me to finish the table runner.  I machine quilted it with continuous curves.

By the Fall of 2013, I had finished the table runner.  And there it sat for many months.  (You will notice on this picture, the backing is decidedly NOT plaid  .. more on that later on.)

So, let's fast forward to the Summer of 2015 .. that's now.  :-)   Once again, I am trying to work through the UFOs that I have piled up.  The UFO that I chose to kick-start this effort was a Lone Star.  I worked as much as I could on it until I was stalled by lack of specific fabric.  So, while I waited for the specific fabric to arrive in the mail, I decided to work on smaller scaled projects, just so I could get them finished.  That way, they would stop *nagging* me.

The interim project that I chose was that table runner of 2013. Yes, the table runner was finished, but what the heck was I going to do with just a table runner?  It looked rather lonely all by itself on the table.  Soooooo ... to keep the table runner company, some placemats were in order.

But, I didn't want another long, drawn-out project on my hands because I'm anticipating the arrival of my Lone Star fabric.  Once that arrives, I want to return to *that* project and *not* have the placemat project hanging over my head. 

With that restriction in mind, the placemat layout that I devised was VERY simple.  The rectangular placemat would be made of a single foundation fabric, which looks like either hexagonal bathroom floor tiles or chicken wire .. depending on your poin of view.  There would be a column of detached hexagons down the left hand side.  SIMPLE simple machine quilting and a faux piping binding for just a splash of color.

That is *exactly* what I did!   Without any extension leaves, my dining room table will seat 6 people.  Hence, 6 placemats were made.  Each placemat had a different color of hexagons in its column. 

Although it's difficult to see, I used thread that matched (or closely matched) the hexagons for the quilting.  I stitched several horizontal lines to stabilize the placemat and a stylized flower inside each hexagon for interest.

Another requirement of mine was that I wanted to use only stash fabric for the placemats.  I didn't want to buy anything else.  I had the chicken wire fabric .. that was perfect for the front of the placemat.  But the backing?  Well .. hmmm ... what could I use?

I rummaged through my stash and re-found a multi-colored striped remnant.  A sizeable remnant.  One that I thought would provide enough for the backing for all 6 placemats AND the faux piping on the front.  Turns out that I just squeaked by on that striped fabric!  :-)

This is the first time that I have used this faux piping technique.  I used the tutorial by Lissa Alexander titled "Faux Flat Piping".  It works perfectly!  Her proportions of the binding to piping fabric result in just the tiniest roll of piping and is SO EASY to do.  The finished effect is awesome.

The binding is actually made of 2 fabrics: the "binding" and the "piping".  

 What I really like about this binding is that since I used the same fabric for the *binding* part, it looks as though the "piping" is floating.

I cut the striped fabric for the piping on the bias because it results in a delightful diagonally striped strip for the piping.  I really do just love diagonally striped binding (or piping, in this case).  It presents such a dynamic statement.

Oh .. and the backing of the table runner?  Well, after I had completed all 6 placemats, I realized that the truly awful plaid fabric I originally used for the table runner backing was totally inappropriate.  There was *no way* I was going to rip out all my quilting and hexie facing stitching, so I did the next best, sneakiest thing ... I *appliqued* a new (false) backing right over the old plaid backing!  Then, because the new striped fabric covered such a large expanse, it was quite loose and didn't look very good.  So, I hand quilted some VERY basic lines across the backing .. just catching the old backing underneath.  These basic lines never show through to the front.  And that's the striped fabric you see in the very first picture of this post and in the close-up of the hand quilting here. :-)

As a result, my table runner now has 6 buddies to converse with on the dining room table; I have finished a short term UFO and feel very virtuous.  :-)

But, I'm still waiting for that Lone Star fabric, so I have my eye on another short term project to work on. :-)