Today’s Red Shed video steps away from the world of music and poetry for a moment to concentrate on my love of crafts and quilts. Those of you who also follow my blog over at ManQuilt.com will know all about that!
I make anywhere from 5-10 quilts a year. This particular one, Lexie’s Quilt, has been in the making for longer than 6 months. Not that it took 6 months of effort, but I started it before Christmas 2019 and then paused to make 3 other quilts which were due as presents… thereby sapping all my quilt-making energies for a while! So I’ve moved slowly with this one.
The design is based on a Lemoyne star but is otherwise my own design and uses fabrics and colours that made me think about or reminded me of the recipient’s family! Lexie is the daughter of my friends Valia and Matthew and I’m just glad I finished this before she got any older!
This IS a longer video, combining a little bit of tutorial/how to with some silent (ASMR) periods where the work is carried out. It’s longer than I normally do at nearly 45 minutes, but I think this slower pace reflects something of the peaceful and constructive nature of producing quilts.
(If you just want the finished object, scroll to the last 30 seconds of the video).
Please do subscribe and comment on the YouTube channel or here on the website for more content soon!
Now I just need to build up the bravery to take this quilt to the post office (I’ve not been to the post office since lockdown!)
I’m delighted to have finished these new socks. I learned how to knit socks over the past couple of months, and I’ve made two pairs before this. I made a bit of a rookie error with my first pair, because I picked a difficult yarn to work with, yes – a sock yarn, but one that was very hairy and weird to work with!
Having visited the John Lewis store in London, I learned a bit more about which kind of blend to look for. I found this yarn from Stylecraft, which has been very easy to work with.
Note: I have no association with this brand or other brands. With my first pair of socks, I followed a pattern, which did not work for my foot shape. With this pair, I adapted a couple of patterns to work better for me. I’m really happy with how these turned out, and they’re super comfortable.
Perhaps I will share a little video and pattern for these socks in the coming weeks.
What’s on your needles or on your sewing machine this week?
First Steps in English Paper Piecing (EPP) – Hexagons (Hexies)
In that video, I tell you that I must share with you my back to basics, first steps process for EPP (English Paper Piecing) in a future video. And I will do that. I also share with you that I started this hexie project about 2 years ago – that’s true – and here’s the evidence! I just was looking through my draft blog posts folder, and in there (since 2017, I know) was the perfect starter tutorial!
There’s all kinds of specialist bits and bobs that people say you need. I say, keep it simple. You need:
Fabric – I bet you have enough in your stash. Even so, it’s a good excuse to shop!
Paper pieces – you can make your own out of left-over cereal boxes or heavy magazine covers – lots of people do. I bought mine, to be honest, and use 3/4″ inch paper piece precuts from Paper Pieces(I have no affiliation).
Clover clips – I use the red ones. I think you REALLY need these to stabilise your work.
Needles – I can’t stress enough that you need quality needles. Sharps, embroidery needles, whatever you fancy. I favour anything with a slightly larger eye as my eyesight prefers them! I use a manual needle threader.
Cutting device – I precut my hexie material into strips and then sub-cut them into squares/slight rectangles – I expect you need a rotary cutter for the strips and you can then use scissors if you want to sub-cut or the rotary. It’s up to you.
Clear ruler – I use my favourite large 6×12 for strips and then use a smaller square, whatever’s to hand, for sub-cutting. The kit you see above is my ‘on the road’ kit, so everything is the ‘travel version’.
Step 2: Deciding how to cut your fabric
Important Note on Measurements My hexies are 3/4″ inch for this project. Note:that measurement, 3/4″, indicates the width of one side of the hexagon. The distance from flat side to side is in fact 1.25″ and from point to point is 1.5″. Even with that knowledge in hand, look how the hexie in the pic above and below is slightly bigger than 1.25″ – this looks more like 1 inch and 5/16ths.
For this reason, I cut the strips of fabric (WOF – width of fabric) at 2 inches. The usual advice is to add 1/2″ inch to the size from flat side to flat side, but for a 3/4″ inch hexie, it’s easier to cut 2″.
Step 3: A note on fabric choice
It’s a bit late in the day to mention fabric choice, but just a quick note – I’m crazy about using up all the fabric in every crazy which way possible, including where it’s not supposedto go! However, for hexies, I have found to my own detriment that getting your tonal range right at the get-go will save you a lot ofextra effort as it takes so long to work on a hexie project (two years and counting on this one!).
I wanted to work out a kind of faded red, cream and blue look. Some American friends will identify this as a ‘quilt of valor’ or Independence Day colourway… but here it’s intended as a faded French tablecloth colourway.
Okay, so I’ve cut all of my strips to 2″ wof, what’s up next?!
Step 4: Cutting your strips into hexies
Like almost all patchwork projects, we are aiming for a 1/4″ inch seam allowance. Let’s look at how best to do it before discussing the cheat!
Set your hexie paper flat sides parallel to the cut side of the fabric strip. Yes, I am including the selvedge edge in my project, but don’t feel you have to do this!
Next, carefully measure a 1/4″ inch seam allowance along the top left side and carefully trim using a rotary cutter.
Repeat and trim the bottom left side, discarding the trimmed pieces.
This leaves one side of the strip ready to go!
Next, we are going to cut the right top and right bottom sides in the same way, giving a 1/4″ inch seam allowance. Note: go the WHOLE way from one side of the strip to the other. You can’t see it in the picture below, but I have used my rotary cutter to go the whole way from edge to edge for both cuts.
Can you see what I mean in the picture below? If you do this carefully, the left side of the remaining strip is already DONE for the next Hexie cut!
So here we are, my little pile of trimmed hexies!
Step 5: Baste stitch your hexies
I have followed a number of tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere on how to baste hexies (Google those, there’s loads of brilliant help out there!). Here’s my take on it that made sense to me, at least!
First off, I hand baste, I don’t use glue. It might make things a little faster, but I don’t want that glue on my papers or in my project.
I fold over one seam, that is a 1/4″ inch of overhang fabric and hold it in place with a clover clip. I finger press the other side which gives me the shape of the seam.
Holding that side in place, I fold over the next side of the hexie and place a holding stitch at the corner joint of the two seams. From top of Side 1, push the needle through to the paper level, up through Side 2 and repeat – now that joint is held. I try and make the distance of the stitch across the joint/corner be as tight as possible – about 1/8th of an inch or a millimetre.
Finger press the third side and then repeat the rules above, putting in two stitches to hold the joint and move to the fourth side. Repeat until you have to remove the clover clip. At the final corner joint, tie a simple knot by sewing through the final loop of the stitch or any other method you prefer to sew a final knot.
Step 6: Layout your project
Thinking of the tones you have selected, layout a portion of your project and test how you want it to appear. In my Hexie Stars project, I’m creating diamonds, which go together into a six-pointed star.
And here you go, here is my finished diamond, ready for use in the whole project (as yet unfinished!). For a video tutorial about connecting the diamonds, simply click here.
All comments and clarifications are welcome – feel free to share this tutorial if you liked it!
Whoever said that EPP Hexie quilts go on forever (EPP = English Paper Piecing) was 100% right! I started this one, my own design (but I’m sure someone somewhere has made it before!), about 2 years ago when on a trek through New Zealand! I like the faded blues, reds and creams of French General by Moda and Pondicherry colours and wanted this as maybe a US-style or French-style quilt.
This is all done by hand and I have never quite been sure how the layout would work but had the sense that it would ‘speak to me’ when I had a few of the star ‘petals’ ready. So it came to pass! This will be a wall hanging consisting of 4 stars, in the formation
—-X—- -X—-X- —-X—-
Before I left for this current trip around Australia (details over here on my travel blog, Planet Patrick!) – this was as far as I got (see above). I could see that I needed something neutral to ensure the stars were, well… the stars! I auditioned whatever I had in my stash, and – believe me – that’s a lot of options! Nothing seemed to match… using more red throws off the balance, as did blue and indeed, the cream was too much. This needed a neutral and probably from the same range.
I had no time before leaving to order something online, so I searched out local quilt stores (LQS) that might be on my path. There wasn’t much in Perth near where I was staying but, as I would be driving from Perth > New Norcia > Margaret River, I spotted a store with an online presence, stocking (thank you, Deeanne!!) Pondicherry colours that might just work. I thought greys could give just the tonal neutrality I wanted.
I was driving through yesterday (18 February, 2019) and the weather was glorious… low humidity and in the high 20s Celsius. It took no time at all to find The Blue Box (good signs!!) and there was a parking spot right outside the door.
This boded well! I love the design – is that a metal ring used as a sleeve? So cute.
The front of the store has a tonne of things to look at – all things crafty from wool to patchwork. I like the rainbow afghan rug in the picture below.
On the walls are hints that this place looks after quilters, too!
This is the lovely Deeanne who took the time to make sure I found what I needed.
We auditioned some plain colours first. She did have a sort of stonewashed Essex Linen type fabric, if you know what I mean, but the weight was much too heavy for my paper pieces.
She helped me zone in on neutral Pondicherry / French General type options. You can scroll through these… I picked all three for various purposes within the finished piece, but the sort of scalloped / Baptist Fan type fabric to sit next to my red/white/blue hand work. Can’t wait to get started!
Luckily for my wallet, I can only take one bag on my upcoming flights!
But I couldn’t resist a little wander around first!
All of that wool! I wish I was good enough with needles to make something.
Thanks Deeanne – loved visiting your store!! (I should say, I do not get/ask for anything for my reviews – so you can be assured they are 100% independent and my views only).