Hexagon Adventures

If you follow me on Instagram, you will notice I have started a new adventure in my sewing life!

Several weeks ago, I went to quilt market with the fabulous Katie from Simple Life Pattern Company. It was an amazing and inspiring trip! I came home with lots of ideas and inspiration to bring to my sewing room. I imagine as I add more of my Market inspired projects to the blog I will share more, but for now, I will focus on this new project.

Here is a quick snapshot of one of our fun times at Quilt Market! 

Now that you’ve admired our lovely margaritas, let’s get back to my project!

When I was on the airplane home from Houston I sat next to a lovely quilt shop owner. She whipped out an Omnigrid Travel Case and started working on a paper-pieced quilt block sample for her shop. She kindly explained paper-piecing to me and showed me the book she was working from:  The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece. It didn’t look fun to me the same way that cutting out and machine-sewing a dress for my girls looks fun, but it looked PORTABLE. I watched her effortlessly cut, glue-baste, and piece her block while chatting away.

Quilt Market was an absolute blast but I had this desire the whole time I was there to CREATE. My senses were overloaded with inspiration in the forms of fabric, patterns, and gorgeous samples, yet I had no way to satisfy them beyond my notepad (and Katie kept nixing my idea to run to Wal-Mart for a cheap machine).

Fast forward 4 weeks later, and I am staring at this gorgeous Riley Blake Hello Gorgeous Fat Quarter Bundle that I picked up during Sample Spree (see bundles below). I spent lots of time entertaining making a quick quilt out of it but didn’t really know what to do.  I also remembered that I have a few long flights and road trips on our calendar this winter and that I would want something to do with my hands while traveling.

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I ordered a book on English paper-piecing based on the Amazon reviews and the cover (I’m one of those who judge a book by it’s a cover). It was totally the right choice for me to dip my toe into a new medium. I also ordered 1.5″ hexagons on Amazon but since they wouldn’t arrive until the day before my recent trip home to California, I found some at my local quilt shop so I could get started. I started by making just a few hexies to make sure I didn’t hate doing it. There was a bit of a learning curve for my method, but it was honestly easier than I expected. So I took a deep breath, and cut my entire fat quarter bundle into 4″ squares (after determining 3.5″ squares didn’t quite give me enough wiggle room for folding the edges for my hexies.

The next day I boarded my plane and shot this image at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport:

This is what I packed in my kit for Paper-Piecing on the Go:

2 large zippered bags (1 to store general supplies, the other to store my UFO)

1 smaller zippered bag (this just stores completed hexies and I nested it within one of the larger bags)

1 spool of quality cotton quilting thread

1 pack of applique needles

1 pair of sharp scissors (I LOVE these for clipping curves and snipping threads)

1 piece of felt to hold my needles (in lieu of a needlebook) Tip: Count how many needles you are bringing to prevent losing them in someone else’s house or a hotel). 

6 wonder clips (5 to use, an extra to lose!)

Paper-Pieces (I ordered these from Amazon, but I am actually using 1.5″ hexagons from Paper Pieces since I could get them locally)

This is what I added to my kit on Black Friday at JoAnn’s after making hexies for a several hours the day before:

A wrist pin-cushion. I learned on my flight that it was awkward to keep putting the needle up and down and rethread while making the hexies. Tip: This particular brand has flat edges which are great for clipping wonder clips too. 

A comfort thimble. I bought the wrong size at JoAnn’s but overall really like it. I just need to size down. It was hard to tell in the pack what size I needed. I also am not used to using a thimble so I didn’t really think too much about how it should fit when purchasing.

Quilting Betweens. I read a tip in All Points Patchwork: English Paper Piecing Beyond the Hexagon for Quilts and Small Projects by Diane Gilleland to use these for piecing. (She recommends applique needles for making the hexies). I wasn’t sure I would like piecing with such a short needle but I love it!

Here are a few tips from me, a paper-piecing beginner: 

    1. You can do this and enjoy it even if you don’t like handsewing. You really can. I had serious doubts that I would enjoy this since I don’t like other handstitching, but now I crave working on this project.
    2. I don’t recommend using a mesh bag. As I mentioned, I purchased a second pack of needles on my trip. The case fell open in my mesh bag and I had to diligently hunt and find all my needles. All were accounted for but it would have been nice to not have them slip through the mesh!
    3. I found that I like to switch between making hexies and piecing. I recommend doing what I suggested in my Instagram post – group your assorted fabrics in sets so you are making a mix of hexies instead of several of one print at a time. This makes it easier to switch back and forth during a larger project.
    4. There are a lot of methods for cutting your fabric prior to the project. I would try each method out until you find one you like since you want to enjoy also making the hexies since that’s half the project time in most cases! In my case, I found I wanted my squares to be a bit bigger than the suggested size.
    5. I tried basting both by piercing paper and just by tacking my folds in the corners. I think tacking the folds in the corners works well if you are not going to be hauling and handling your project frequently. After doing and piecing a batch that is just tacked, I went back to basting through the paper to avoid paper popping out too early.
    6. A fat quarter bundle was an excellent way to get a variety of colors for my hexagon quilt. However, there were times I had to decide to let two of the same print in different colors butt up since I didn’t quite have enough variety of prints (I have 18 prints in this quilt in progress). If I had been more knowledgeable before I began, I would have added a few coordinating solids or maybe a pop of white to break repeats up a bit more. On the other hand, I do really love the look of the quilt, and it’s been nice to just take one hexie out at a time to add rather than trying to stick to a particular hexie arrangement.
    7. Piecing = I still don’t know how I like to piece best. I tried doing it in strips of 3 but I found I honestly prefer just adding them one at a time. I try to add them in an order that allow me not to tie off so often.

Stop when you are tired. This is not a project that is meant to be done overnight. It is a project that is meant to be enjoyable. I came home from a week long trip. Some days I worked on this project and visited with my family for an hour or two at a time. A couple days I didn’t touch it at all. But when I came home, I gave it a good press and was very pleased with how far it had grown and can’t wait to see the finished results.

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A personal note about this project:

Two women special to me in the sewing community greatly influenced my decision to try this. When I was in my early days of sewing, I started following Jodi at Sew Fearless . Jodi is a lovely lady and I have enjoyed getting to know her through blogging as well as sewing up her patterns like the recently released Mic Drop Tote.  She has some very helpful posts on her site about her hexagon quilt.

 

I also need to thank Katie from Simple Life Pattern Company as well. I remember having a sewing day at her beautiful studio and watching her make a paper pieced bodice for her daughter. I remember thinking, “This is something I couldn’t do.” But Katie is a good friend to challenge me to learn and do new things! And on a funny note, without knowing it, we both started messing around with hexies the same exact night! See one of Katie’s gorgeous paper-pieced creations below!

 

Who inspires you to try something new? Will you try paperpiecing with me? 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Melissa | 3rd Dec 16

    Lovely! And thank you for showing how to incorporate a finished piece: a dress bodice … I would have never thought to do that! I have not tried paper-piecing, but I may give it a try someday.

    • MadebyEleri | 6th Dec 16

      Thank you, Melissa! It is a great activity for travel or any circumstances where you can’t bring a sewing machine 🙂

  2. My Hexie Quilt Work Flow - The Sew and Tell Project | 27th Mar 17

    […] I’ve been working on a hexagon quilt on and off for my daughter since November. You can read more about some of my initial thoughts and experiences with it here. […]

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