Speaking of Hexies

This is an epic project. There is no way that this wasn’t going to take years of work. And here we are in the 5th year of English paper piecing this project.

It grows slowly. A little section at a time. It gets picked up and worked on a bit here and there over the year. And it keeps going.

Working on the layout

When preparing the randomized layout for the latest section, I snapped some pics. I always have to take a reference picture of the layout because inevitably I get the hexagons out of order somehow while I’m piecing them together (every time!).

For reference

The Stats!

Hexagon size: 0.875 inch a side
(It’s a weird size measured like this, when I was picking a size, I was measuring the diameter across from flat side to flat side).

Finished Quilt Width: 83 inches (55 columns of hexes)

Finished Quilt Length: 106 inches (81 rows of hexes)

Which gives a GRAND TOTAL of 4384 hexagons

This diagram shows the current progress. Not counting the hexagons in the current piece I’m working on, there are 2,005 hexagons pieced in this top this far. That makes this top 45.7% done.

My floor is too small

This quilt is getting kind of impressive looking, taking over my studio floorspace.

The Secret Language of Hexagons

Once in a while, there’s something in a movie or TV show which will catch my eye. I secretly love when crafting is referenced in pop culture, even in jest.

Heck, I even get excited when really nice handmades gets used as set dressing or costumes (Juno had some awesome sweater vests).

Most recently I noticed this amazing crocheted hexagon blanket while re-watching Wayne’s World for the first time in a loooong time.

I’m sure the average set dresser saw this as the usual ugly granny square blanket that would live in the typical basement rec room. But these be some truly bodacious granny hexagons!

There’s also this wonderful scrappy hexagon quilt used in the movie About Time.

It’s hard to tell from this picture that the fabric here is more than the usual printed cottons. There are some velvets used as well which makes me think this was probably built from old clothing scraps. Oh and nice hexagons too right?

What’s the big deal with hexagons you ask?

Current piece

Well, back in 2009 is when I first became enamoured with the shape. It began with the Jelly Bean Afghan early in the year and continued with the Hexagonal Quilt sometime over the summer.

Little did I know the effect these projects would have on me.

You see hexagons are kind of spectacular. They are one of three regular polygons that can be used to make regular tilings, but somehow don’t seem to be used that much. Or so I thought.

Once I started working with the shape, I began to notice it everywhere. And they are truly EVERYWHERE once you start noticing them. Those who know me in real life have likely noticed me whisper “hexagon” to myself, and perhaps take a picture of something random with no further explanation. Or even with too much explanation. It’s become my own meme of sorts.

At some point I started collecting the results of my personal hexagon scavenger hunt over on Pinterest. Many of the images are snapshots taken while travelling. I’ve had friends and coworkers forward me links to projects, products, articles and images based on their use of hexagons. It’s that kind of thing.

Most often I come across a wonderful old hexagon tiled floor. But strangely enough, hexagons also get used in futuristic settings too. Used in Amazing Spider-Man films (I haven’t seen 2 yet, but it shows up in search results).

Unexpected Treats

My roommate and I finally had our housewarming party this past weekend and we were very please that the Fuzzy Mitten family were able to make their way into the city to attend. Barbara was kind enough to give us some gifts as well. I’m very tickled pink with what she brought me.

Housewarming Presents

We each got a copy of this fantastic doodle book and do-it-yourself sticker kit for hours of our own entertainment. I also got this lovely package of precious fabric scraps curated especially for the ever-growing-beast.

Fabulous Fabric Scraps

Check these babies out. A couple of awesome vintage fabrics (appeals to my history crush), some fantastic small scale Japanese fabric prints including awesome awesome wolves (I don’t have enough small scale prints in this quilt, mental note when next I refresh fabrics), and finally some of the most excellently named goldfish. I’m going to do my best to fussy cut the fishes into their own hexes.

I have to work up the courage to cut into these precious scraps. So far all I’ve done is take them out of the bag, look and stroke them, then put them back again. I think I’ll get to it this week. I’m getting close to needing a full hex recharge (by which I mean baste a bunch of hexes onto papers). I have to remember to take some pictures. The scale of the recharge is kind of impressive.

The slowly growing beast

And another section added

This past weekend I finished and added another section onto the slowly growing beast that is the Hexagonal Quilt.

This is a section

I’ve highlighted where the new section and I’ll explain a bit my process. It’s become fairly systematic to achieve a seemingly random quilt. I really started this project with random evenness in mind. I started with a small smattering of fabrics and repeated them randomly as I was piecing.

The piece of quilt top started to become somewhat unwieldy so I stopped working on the main piece, and begun working on smaller sections that then get added to the “big piece”. As the chunk of quilt top grew, I started to become aware of how many hexagons I would need to get a quilt that would fit my double bed.

Current Progress

Each section has 126 hexagons. These sections are attached together side by side to make a larger strip. Each strip has 707 hexagons. I figure I need about 5 of these 14 hexagon-tall strips to get the quilt size that I want. That’s 3,535 hexagons folks. That’s a lot of hexes.

Hex-a-flower

I have about 50 fabrics from cut up fat quarters that are included in each “repeat” of a section (2 repeats per section) plus a smaller selection of “wild card” fabrics that there are 4 per repeat. 4 each of solids, random scrappy hexagons and Liberty hexagons (as begun by the kit of hexes I got in awesome swap). The wild card fabrics are pulled out of some individual zip loc bags (only the highest of technology here) and then added to the randomizer (a smaller empty plastic container) where the hexes get tossed for a bit before being laid out in their final configuration.

25 fabulous Liberty prints

There are a few rules. I try to keep the fabrics from lining up or being to close to themselves in other repeats. This is much easier now that I have an army of hexes to work with. The polka dots are not allowed to be next to each other. And I try to keep from any one dominant colour to be too dominant in a specific location. Sometimes it takes a surprising amount of time to arrange the hexes to my arbitrary tastes but I try not to be too fussy about it. Once they’re arranged, I start sewing the gazillion seams.

Almost out of thread

There are so many seams. But I kind of like the mindlessness of taking a stack of 63 hexagons and sewing them together. It’s most satisfying to finish up a section and sew it to the big piece. So satisfying. Especially now that I’ve just about finished the first spool of thread that was dedicated to this project. Very satisfying indeed.

And the hex continues

As an omni-crafter with a penchant for starting (too) many projects, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with concurrent projects. As I work full time, I tend to start a bunch of projects when work’s especially busy, but without the energy to advance them as much as I’d like.

And so it continues

So lately I’ve found myself drawn to the simplicity and methodical practise of the slowly growing hexagonal quilt. I work on a relatively smallish section at a time. Here I’ve just laid out one repeat of hexes in anticipation of getting stitched up. I do two of these sections before I attach it to the larger pieced top. It’s getting quite sizeable and tricky to document.

Quilted coffee table

For several days, there was a quilted coffee table in our apartment. My roommate commented that it would be really cool if it were REALLY a quilted coffee table. But that project will have to wait for another time.

Hiya

Yikes. Sorry kids. I didn’t mean to be gone for so long. Things have been quite busy at work. Not so busy that there hasn’t been any crafting. Just busy enough that spending more time in front of a computer isn’t terribly appealing when I get home from work. That and I feel like I have to finish spinning the cotton sliver before moving onto another fibre. For future reference 4oz. is a HECK of a lot of cotton to spin up. But I’m definitely getting better at it. Much less swearing and breakage is happening.

But lately the hexagon quilt has been revived in a big way. And apparently the hex is really quite contagious.

Hex-a-flower

I’ve had quite the stack of fat quarters waiting to become hexes and finally got down to adding them all in. Add in some fabulous Liberty hexagons and the hex is back on folks! I have one last “small” section to add on to the “big” piece and I’ve reached the width I was aiming for. It’s very exciting to see the progress. Though it’s going to have to go on the back burner for a bit while I finish some other secretish projects.

I’m also faced with a bit of a quilting mental block going with my box bag. At a recent group patchwork day, we all selected fabrics to combine with some sent from one of the homegirls in semi-permanent absentia abroad (the Matryoshka dolls and the colourful apples as seen below).

Final Fabric Selection?

I have to say I had a REALLY hard time selecting these fabrics. Once Janina brought out the irrepressibly fantastic rainbow fabric (exclusive for Fabricville) I got started. Every once in a while I would get up. Look at all the fabrics and make some selections. Stare for a while. Get frustrated and then sit down and baste more hexagons. I added the red/pink polka dots after I got home and those fantastic rainbow stars a week later. The stars are from my mom’s 80’s fabric stash that Mr. Peabody recently brought back with him. They’re SO Rainbow Brite, I love them!

Now I’m not sure how I want to piece my fabric. I was originally thinking strips. But that was before getting the fabrics together. Now I’m thinking diagonal strips would be better. But I’m not entirely sure anymore. And the fabric has been hanging out on this chair in my living room for a few weeks now I feel like I should do something with it. I should just jump in and do it already. I’m not sure what I’ve been waiting for.

Super Awesome Hexagon Swap

While browsing through my groups on Flickr, I came across many packages of lovely little hexagons for this swap called { Handsome } Hexies – THE SWAP and decided I REALLY wanted to play along. They were in the middle of the first round so I had to wait ever so patiently.

But then round 2 came around and I finally got to play!

I was to prepare a package for Flickr user wishes, true and kind.

In her questionnaire, she mentioned that she liked Amy Butler, Heather Ross, Heather Bailey and Anna Maria Horner. As it happened, I had just received a scrap bag as part of my pattern order from Anna Maria Horner’s website. I decided to start making hexagons from the scraps. I then proceeded to dig through my growing stash of fabric for suitable matches.

For my partner

I find that the resulting grouping of hexes is a nice range of reds, oranges with some touches of green and blue (heavily favoured in my stash). I added a piece of the Kokka strawberries I bought at Purl Soho on my trip to NYC and put it all in an Amy Butler zipper pouch. I added some goodies and sent it away. And waited.

I waited patiently for my partner to get her parcel and not-so-patiently to get mine in return. I keep prowling the Flickr group, at first to see what other people were sending. But then people started getting their parcels and this is where I started to get antsy. I had favourited so many of the parcels and they were arriving in other people’s mailboxes. Mine stayed annoyingly empty for the better part of the week. This clearly was the way to madness. Thankfully a busy work week and many evenings out with friends kept me from getting to obsessive and start making charts (yes I had considered it).

But then something magical happend on friday. I came home from work to find something in my mailbox. It was down in the bottom so only reaching in did I get my parcel. It was from the UK! Only now did I dare to think, did I get it? Did I get THE LIBERTY package I had seen posted to the group?

I GOT THE LIBERTY PACK FROM IMAGINERMONKEY!!!!

Well, yes indeed I DID get the Liberty package from I’m a ginger monkey (from her Flickr id I thought it was imaginer monkey, funny how the mind is?). I kind of feel like I won the lottery or something. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Liberty. I have loved Liberty ever since I lived in London and would often go there with my friends to browse around in the fantastic Tudor-style building. I think I bought some loose tea there once to send to someone, but never bought anything for myself. And I wasn’t quilting or sewing at the time so definitely didn’t peruse the fabrics. But of course now that’s where I would spend my time.

I love ALL the hexagons that I got. How could I not love 30 some hexagons of different Liberty fabrics. Heck, even if they were the same fabric I would love them. It’s Liberty!

In addition to the mind blowing fact that I got 30 some charm Liberty hexagons, I also got 2 pieces of Liberty oil cloth AND a very very lovely zipper pouch also made from oil cloth. I plan to leave the hexes in the pouch and pick them out one at a time when it’s time to pick one for the quilt.

Here are some hexagons that particularly stuck out when I first opened the package.

Beautiful pansies

Beautiful little pansy flowers!

Fantastic geometric

Fabulous fussy cut mint green geometric! (mint green is my favourite colour).

Dancing fruit

And dancing fruit! How could anyone not love getting dancing fruit? So fabulous.

So this swap was a great experience. I had fun playing and will definitely be playing again. But I don’t expect to be getting Liberty every time. Wouldn’t a full on Liberty only hexagon quilt be fantastic? A beautiful dream.

Project Hexagon Re-activation Complete

So this was the last picture I showed about the Hexagonal quilt I started last summer.

Initially started this quilt with some fat quarters and fabric scraps I had kicking around from some old sewing projects. It’s a slow project but has been progressing off and on since I started it.

Here’s an update. It’s grown a bit:

I’ve dusted off the project and brought it back to life. Mostly as a portable project to have with me at the Salon 2010 and have been working on it in the weeks since the show. In fact I’ve been working on it during my lunch break at work. EVERYONE who comes into the kitchen while I’m stitching says something about the quilt, the most hilarious being “are you decorating easter eggs?!?” These reactions are almost more fun than working on it again. Almost.

So when I’m working on this quilt, I put together smaller sections like this:

You may notice that there have been some additions to the fabrics used for this quilt. Truth is that I don’t have enough of the original fabrics to make a quilt of the size that I want. Originally I planned to make this quilt for my double bed. That’s still the plan, but if I get bored with it (doubtful) it could become a lap quilt or something.

When each smaller section is done, I attach it to the larger piece:

The arrangement of the hexagons is a kind of planned randomness. Here’s how that works. I have a group of fabrics that I have larger quantities of and others that are truly scrap hexes that I have say 1 to 20 of. In each “repeat”, I include one of each of my regular fabrics plus a number of my scrap fabrics. They all get arranged in a pleasing random-esque order and get stitched onto the working piece.

Now I’ve even started paying attention to the orientation of the hexagons. I like it when the shapes from the print on one hexagon can be arranged to line up and blend into the shape on a neighboring one. I’m sure no one will notice these little things but me. They’re my little quilting secrets and I find them infinitely amusing.

Oh and if anyone has any fun scraps of fabric they don’t know what to do with, I’d be more than happy to take them off your hands. They might make it into the quilt or even for future scrappy projects.