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.

10% Quilted

Mmmmm....sandwiches.
Sandwiched last weekend.

To hell with the back log. I’ve been enjoying some hand-quilting this morning. This stage always is super exciting, this is where the magic happens. From sandwich to quilt! It’s happening! It starts getting all ripply and cosy.

First broken needle from hand quilting. CRAFTS.
Broke a needle yesterday. First time I broke a needle while hand-quilting.

I got the best compliments yesterday when I was hand-quilting in public. The best comment being: “It looks like I should be all curled up underneath it now.” I know I’ve already said this but this is the magic step. All the cozy magic is being built into the quilt. I’m casting spells for infinite delightful naps.

Sunday Morning Hand-quilting

This morning I was hanging out in a sunbeam, quilting, drinking tea and listening to Rock ‘n’ roll. Delightful way to spend a Sunday morning.

10% Quilted

Yes, this is one of those quilts everyone was making that time. I started this last month sometime? Sewing the top was pretty fun/productive. And yes, I’m still enjoying hand-quilting. 1 day + 1 evening = 10% quilted. Not a bad ratio.

Finally Quilting

So way back in June of 2011, I started fussy cutting some unicorns and started putting together some blocks. Slowly but surely from then until lets say August of this year, I put together enough blocks to make a queen sized quilt top. I don’t have many pictures of the block assembly, but I’ll still tell you how things went down on this project.

Though I loved the colourful blocks, they started to look rather too busy and overwhelming all on their own. So I decided when I was nearly halfway to make complimentary muslin bordered blocks to alternate with the colourful ones.

Back in May, I went into intense production mode on the muslin blocks while out in the Quebec countryside in Charlevoix during a long weekend. When I got back, I realised that I only had a handful of blocks left in order to have a finished quilt top!

Scrappy Block

At this point excitement really kicked in. Having borrowed a friends floor to lay out all the blocks, I made a very scientific analysis of the balance of colours in the quilt and determined what there needed to be more of. Finished said remaining blocks. Then on an intense crafturday, I went through and re-trimmed all the blocks (moderately epic), then proceeded to leave them in a nicely trimmed pile for at least a month, if not two before attacking them on a sewing Saturday.

Rather than going through hours of possible quilt layouts on the floor, I decided to continue the “not too precious” process of this quilt. I separated the colour combinations into separate piles and systematically sorted the blocks into rows. After sorting them, I looked through them briefly to prevent too many repeating colours in the same row. Then I went to town sewing them together. By the end of the day I had a finished quilt top.

My brother let me raid his stash of fabrics to put together the quilt back. I combined some crazy 30’s reproduction rabbits with some pink woven ginghams and mystery fibre denim for the backing.

Quilt Back

I’ve really earned the quilting moniker of Miss Cut while working on this quilt. At many stages in the process, I’ve stopped thinking just long enough to screw up my cutting. All the quilt blocks are bigger than originally planned because my quilting ruler is 6 inches wide and not 5 (Miss Cut number one). When making the backing strips, I forgot to start measuring at the 0 on my cutting mat (not the first time THAT’s happened either) and had to sew an extra seam to get the proper width needed (Miss Cut number 2). THEN when measuring for the final length of each strip, I totally came up with some random number that wasn’t long enough and ended up with extra seams again! (Miss Cut number 3).

Not that it really matters in the end. The quilt is pretty scrappy even without a few extra seams here and there. It’s pretty funny how I seem to lose my brain completely at some stages of the process.

It's (almost) a quilt!

So I managed to get the back done in time to spend Canadian Thanksgiving weekend putting together the quilt sandwich. And because I’m a giant nerd, spent nearly a day trimming all the extra threads from the seams and raveled edges of the fabric before finally basting it together. Those little raveled threads at the edge of a project are my number 1 pet peeve, and I just couldn’t knowingly leave them on the inside of the quilt. Not that it really matters, they’re on the inside of the quilt where no one will see them, but I’ll know that they’re there. It’s like a Tell-Tale Heart thing.

So since Thanksgiving (mid October), I’ve been hand-quilting this quilt. And I’m even going as far as echo quilting the muslin blocks. I tried one block and love the result so much that I find it totally worth the extra effort.

<3 hand quilting ripples.

I’m sure some people will think I’m nuts for hand-quilting this, but they probably haven’t seen my slowly-growing Hex-a-quilt that I’ve been working on since the spring of ’09. I much prefer the look of hand quilting to machine quilting, so it’s worth the extra time and effort. And half the blocks have reasonable outline quilting in crochet cotton, which is remarkably fast to do. I often finish quilting 3 or 4 blocks in an evening.

Quilted Block

Outline Quilting Detail

Quilted Block

International Baby Friends

There have been some cryptic sneak peeks of this project over the past year, but FINALLY I can share the things for reals. So last fall, a couple of friends announced they were pregnant so a group of us decided to make them some quilts. This scheme was initially thought of to reduce our individual efforts, but in the end, the quilts had about the same gestation periods as the babies themselves. Amanda posted the timeline of events over here.

Madeleine's Quilt

The jumping off point was receiving a parcel from one of the international baby’s mother-in-waiting over in Amsterdam. She sent us some fabric and other goodies, so this that was our starting point.

Kyr's Quilt

These babies are destined to be friends, even if at the moment they are only quilt buddies at the moment. But as you can see, Professor Hammy Cheeks has already put his to work in his mobile satellite office.

It's a baby in a basket!

P.S. These are officially my first ever finished quilt projects. I was surprised at how little fabric was needed for the binding. It’s quite magical.

Unicorn! UNI-CORN!

Though I’ve being playing around the idea about quilts for a couple of years now (have started several projects and managed to accumulate quite the fabric stash), it’s only in the past few weeks that the full impact of making quilts has hit me. And hit me hard it has.

Due to an undisclosed communal quilting project that has recently been completed (don’t worry, I’ll show pictures once the time is appropriate) I have finally realised how fantastic making a quilt is. And also how nice it would be to have a home made quilt. For reals. This is the closest I’ve come to owning a home made quilt.

I’ve had quilts before. Even had baby quilts. But they were mostly of the “pre-quilted fabric, just add binding” variety. The closest I ever got was a “home made style” quilt that was heavily discounted in the bedding department one year. Now that I’ve encountered a real, honest-to-goodness homemade quilt, I realise how poor a facsimile it is.

K. Now I’m getting a tad off topic. Sort of. Quilt = Great. Me. Want. Own. Quilt. So I could barely contain myself while finishing up this secret mysterious non-disclosed communal quilt project, and keep from starting another one right away. But I was good. I waited 20 whole minutes after finishing stitching down the binding before whipping out the fabric for the next on.

After seeing and suggesting the latest in the Old Red Barn Quilt-a-long to a friend who wasn’t inspired, I realised that this pattern would work wonderfully for my stash of thus un-planned Far Far Away fabrics.

Fussy cuttin' UNICORNS!

Early Saturday morning, I started fussy cutting unicorns while chatting with my sleepy roommate. We were up early as we had plans for dim sum with friends. While ironing and slicing fabric, I kept singing “unicorn, Unicorn, UNI-corn!” in the style of King Haggard in the Last Unicorn.

By the end of my awesome 4 day weekend, I had a nice little stack of fabrics going. 4 blocks done and a general strategy for the quilt. As you can see, the plan of attack involves diving into my box of 1930’s reproduction fabric scraps. The purples used are the most perfect match to the pinky/purple in the one Frog Prince fabric from the Far Far Away collection.

Unicorn, UNI-CORN!

I do have enough of the Far Far Away to make the entire quilt, I do really like idea of the borders using one colour, but many different fabrics. It would have been nice to have a cosy quilt entirely made of double gauze, but I plan to get a nice Nani Iro dot or floral print for the backing. Maybe some nice cotton lawn for the binding. Hrm. That would be a nice touch.

Postage Stamp Madness?

We’ve been having rogue Girl’s Nights while the usual hostess is away. Rogue also means the meals are NOT vegetarian (we’re REAL rebels). Last week’s instalment turned in Quiltie Fun Time chez moi and ended up spilling over to a Sunday Crafterday.

Much silliness. Lots of music and pleeeeenty of quilting (well, piecing as it were). Here’s what I got done:
New madness?
Yes, that’s about a half a million 1.5 inch square pieces for some patchy postage stamp blocks. I REALLY went overboard with the rotary wheel and ruler once I realised that each block will use 64 of the little squares.

This inspired us for something really fantastically great. Ugh. I kind of really want to put things in motion to get it going, but should finish off some existing ongoing projects first.

I’m excited for the next Rogue Girl’s Night at the next venue.

I am a quilt machine

This past weekend, my group of Montreal ladies and I headed over to my brother’s place (aka – the House of Quilt) for an Intro to Patchwork. It was super fun! Though some ladies left earlier, Amanda and I hung out and played Quilt Machine until 11pm or so. It was epic!

I (of course) chose a complicated, advanced block and spent the entire time cutting out the fabric pieces for my blocks. I originally intended to cut out fabrics for 2 blocks. Due to some confusion and the fact that the cutting instructions were for cutting out for double blocks, that, er, became fabric for 4 blocks. Er, yeah.

After cutting out a bazillion pieces of fabrics for these blocks, I also had to mark little dots on each piece. By the time I finished marking pieces early Sunday afternoon, I REALLY wanted to sew them together.

Chrysanthemum Block 2

So I did. The blocks aren’t perfect, but the block design is kind of forgiving? I like to think that it is.

Chrysanthemum Block 3

These are really the first “real” quilt blocks that I’ve pieced since beginning quilting.

Chrysanthemum Block 1

My machine was mostly co-operative about the piecing. Though I can’t wait to get my hands on the Singer Featherlight from my mom’s friend. It will be so nice to have a machine that sews straight lines (don’t tell Greenie that I said that).

Chrysanthemum Block 3
Mixed Bouquet Block from American Patchwork & Quilting, December 2009. Issue 101

4 blocks down, 6 more to go. I think I want to make some of those crazy itty bitty square blocks I’ve been seeing around. And maybe some of those asterisk blocks I’ve come across.

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.