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. :-)


  1. You keep saying this was a really quickie simple project but it sounds like you have put a lot of work and some great details into it. I have enjoyed reading about it................yep I was wondering about that plaid fabric :) I was thinking recently that I have never really done anything with hexies..........................wrong! I have worked with quite a few of them and will do a blog post about that sometime this month.

    I am heading home tomorrow and will be so glad to be back with all my sewing stuff..........apparantly I did not adaquatly prepare for the amount of time I was away and ran out. Lesson learned......................always bring way to much and I will never run out.

  2. You should feel virtuous! They look great! (But I love hexi' to have them in table mats is wonderful!)