Monday, July 6, 2015

Sewing, sewing, sewing! I've stitched the units that will attach to the sides of the medallion of my Green Parrot hexagon quilt. Although the units appear fussy cut they aren't. I've just taken extra care when orienting the hexagons and sewing them together. My fabrics were all cut across the width of the fabric so that the same print is repeated across the width of the strip. When I cut the individual hexagons it creates the illusion of fussy cutting without the effort.

All of the hexagon rosettes for this quilt and Birds in the Loft were made it pairs. The advantage of this is that when I lay out the rosettes to plan where each will go I only have to plan half of the quilt. When I am happy with the arrangement I write the number on the paper so that I know where it will go in the quilt.  You can see in the picture above that the red print in the upper left corner is repeated in the lower right corner.

 To illustrate here is my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt map. I've numbered the placement of the rosettes starting in the upper left corner of the top half of the quilt. The bottom half is identical to the top half but the numbering starts in the lower right corner. I don't need to have the path attached to the rosettes - what I want to do is ensure that the placement of the rosettes is pleasing to the eye. I can add the path and start sewing the rosettes into rows at my leisure!

Now lets get back to Green Parrot. Once the side units were constructed I could attach them to the medallion and I did.

Now it is time to get serious about the borders. I plan to add three rounds of hexagons to the quilt. I'll use the darkest brown from the medallion, followed by the olive brown from the centre and finally the pale green. It will be boring basting and sewing the same fabric over and over but I think that the final result will be very effective.

That's it for today. Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A noodle is stitched to the Green Parrot

Remember the "noodle" I constructed for my Green Parrot hexagon quilt? Here is a little reminder of what it looked like. It will surround the medallion that I constructed. I don't close the circle so it just looks like a big noodle when it isn't pinned to the fence (or stitched to a quilt). You can see that it isn't joined inside the red circle in the lower right hand corner. It makes it easier to attach to the medallion if I don't close it. Also I can use a single colour of thread to sew it to the medallion so I don't have to constantly change colours! In this case I will use an ecru thread because the border around the medallion is cream and pink.

So the "noodle" is now stitched to the medallion and this is what it looks like.The lighting wasn't very good so it looks rather dusty. The next picture I take will be better.

The next step is to finish the side units that will be added to the medallion. The Green Parrot fabric had some tiny little scenes so I fussy cut two and surrounded them with green. They will be placed on either side of the side stars.

I've started thinking about how I will border the quilt. I was thinking I would repeat the dark brown fabric from the medallion and border the entire quilt with it but I don't have enough so I am going to get creative and pull a similar fabric and see if will work. After that I'm not sure what comes next but we'll seen soon enough!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Parrot, arrows & diamonds

The top section of Green Parrot is now put together. I still have to decide what I will do with the border. I had better decide soon! I am constructing my quilt (as always) in sections. The bottom will be identical to the top, and then there are the sides. You've seen the middle section which is now stitched together.

I'll add the sides to the middle section once they are constructed so there will be three pieces, the top (as shown above), the bottom and the middle. It is at that point that I will decide what to do with the border. I'll make it and attach it to the sections. It is much easier to work with the sections rather than adding the border to the entire quilt top. The sewing is going fast now so it won't be long until I need to decide on the border.

I teased you with a picture of the middle of an old hexagon quilt that I started many years ago.

This one deserves to be finished so it has been added to the current pile of projects. Want to see what the entire top looks like? Well here it is! My working name for this quilt top is diamonds and arrows. Before you people get too carried away I have to tell you that this quilt is MUCH easier to construct that you think. The hexagons are 1" and I foundation pieced on the hexagon paper before continuing in the usual method of English paper piecing. There are lots of tutorials on my blog about this technique. Just click on the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions & Hexagon Fun. If you don't find what you are looking for just ask. I'll can add a link to a tutorial OR I can write a new tutorial to explain what I did and how I did it!

My plan is to add another border of the dark brown  spikes before adding more hexagon stars. If I were to make this again there are some changes I would make but for the most part I am happy with what I've done.

On June 28 I shared some of the things I do to help speed up the process of sewing. Bees Knees Granny was kind enough to share what she does and it is brilliant! She wrote "My focus for needle threading is best at the beginning of the session. I use a Clover needle dome to hold up to ten threaded needles. Great for travel, too. Whether using the needle dome or a pincushion, I knot the thread as I thread each needle, then pull the thread so the knot is right up against the eye. The thread never falls out of the needle while stored this way--just remember to pull the knot down before beginning to sew!" Great tip and one which I'm going to use.

Until I post again, happy sewing.
Karen H

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Getting to the bottom of it

I am ready to get working on the top and bottom sections of my Green Parrot quilt and will reuse the two sets of two rows of rosettes that I removed from my Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt. There were 25 rosettes in each set, 13 in one row and 12 in the other. I split this section so that there were 9 rows in the top row and 8 in the second row. The remaining 7 rosettes (4 in one row and 3 in the other) were stitched to one of the stars that were removed from the sides of Birds in the Loft. I  had added a round of dark cream and pink hexagons around the stars which will fit into the top and bottom of the medallion.

Stars removed from Birds in the Loft

Once the star was stitched to the remaining rosettes, the unit was added to the left side of the two large rows of rosettes.The red arrow shows where the rosettes were removed and where they were moved to. This will be the bottom edge of the quilt so the unit is hung upside down!

I've been working on extra rosettes that will be needed to fill the area to the right the star. I also need to add a row of cream hexagons to the top of the quilt so it has a nice finished edge. The parrot will attached to the star. The parrot unit is almost sewn together so there will be a picture of it in my next post.

I had used a cream fabric for the path (the area between the rosettes) my Birds in the Loft quilt but during the making of it I ran short so I added another similar cream fabric. I thought I would have enough of it to complete Green Parrot however I will be just a little short. So what's a quilt maker to do? I will add a third fabric. Unfortunately I don't have a cream that is the same value but I do have one that is just slightly darker so I will place it strategically on the sides of the quilt. This will make it appear that the addition of this fabric was intentional and it will create a design element. Interesting things can happen when you run short of fabric. That's exactly what happened when I made Stars in the Loft. I thought I had enough path fabric but was very wrong. I ended up have to add five or six fabrics. It is impossible to tell from this picture but the extra fabrics add depth and interest.

Stars in the Loft by Karen H

So my tip for today is this: if you are planning on making a hexagon quilt why not consider using several fabrics of the same value and colour for your path? I think rosettes surrounded by assorted black prints would be very dramatic!

Before I go I'll leave you with a close-up shot of another one of my very old works-in-progress that I recently pulled out. I so enjoyed making the rosettes for Stars in the Loft (see my page English Paper Piecing Instructions & Hexagon Fun for tutorials on making those rosettes) that I decided to create another quilt. My starting point was the print fabric in the very centre. I thought it would be great for a star centre so I fussy cut it and then made the star points. I thought another round of star points would be even more exciting so I added the darker pink star points. As I worked I sketched it out on paper and the design slowly emerged. I'll share more pictures in the near future! And I'll work out the design to finish this top because I think it deserves a fine finish!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Green Parrot - Round Two

I've stitched all of the pieces for the second round for the Green Parrot hexagon quilt. This is the parrot.

This is round two stitched together into a "noodle". Notice that the round is not closed (see the area with the red circle). A "noodle" is a circle or oval of hexagon units sewn together into a long strip which can then be sewn to whatever it is it will surround. It is the same method that I describe as an "open donut" only on a larger scale. I find it makes the sewing go faster and so much easier.

I am constantly asked how it is that I work so quickly so I thought I would share a few of the things that work for me,

  • I find that if I work on something I am enjoying I sew fast. When it isn't as much fun I slow down. To overcome this I always have my quilt in various stages so I can work on what tickles my fancy at that moment whether it is cutting strips of fabric into hexagons, basting or sewing hexagons together;
  • When I baste I work with a very long thread because basting using a lot of thread so the less I need to thread the needle the better. I baste with a darning needle because it is less flexible and it is longer so it is easier to hold;
  • When I sew hexagons together I use a short length of thread because there is less thread to draw through the fabric. So what is a short length? I work with roughly 12" of thread. If I finish sewing a seam and there is a little thread leftover I will use it to baste a hexagon rather than throw it out;
  • I always have a bag of fabric hexagons in a little bag with a needle, thread and small scissors and I toss it in my handbag. When I am out if there is down time I can baste or sew the hexagons. This is particularly helpful for path hexagons because there are so many of them and they are boring. By basting/sewing a few when I am out it cuts down on the monotony;
  • When I have a pile of path hexagons basted I sew them into pairs. Again, this is a great way to use leftover bits of thread (assuming the colour works);
  • I always have multiple needles threaded and ready to go. I've recently switched to milliners needles for sewing the hexagons together. These are long fine needles and I find that the longer needle puts less stress on the finger joints and this fine needle makes it easier to pierce just a few threads of fabric when joining hexagons.
So there you have it - a few things that work for me! I was also asked by JP (sorry JP, you are a no reply blogger so I couldn't send you an email) if I could discuss how I start and carry out my design process. What a great suggestion. I will definitely do a post to explain the processes I use but need to give it some thought so that it is useful to you people!

So today my plan is to attach the "noodle" to the parrot. This picture will give you an idea as to how it will look.

It is a grey, rainy day here so it is perfect sewing weather. Until I post again, happy sewing.

Karen H

Friday, June 26, 2015

Two finishes (sort of)

Today I have two finishes for you. When I say finishes I mean they are quilt tops but they are technically not "finished" because they are not quilted. They will eventually be quilted but I've got a trunk show in July and if I baste them for quilting they will be far too bulky to take to the show. My trunk show will be part of a huge outdoor quilt show in Toronto. It will be at Black Creek Pioneer Village and the name of the show is Quilts at the Creek. I went in 2013 and there were over 300 quilts on display. You can get a sneak peek of what I saw here.  If you are in the Toronto area you really should plan on attending this show. It is well worth the price of admission!

I have finished the border on Value Proposition hexagon quilt. When I last showed it to you I had a print border at the top and bottom and an off-white border on the sides. I thought the side borders looked rather bland and unfinished. They needed something dark on the edges. I have an old wavy print in my stash so I cut it out and appliqued it on top of the off-white border.

This is the finished quilt top. I like the result.

I also managed to take a picture of my "edited" Birds in the Loft hexagon quilt. At 128" long it was just too long so I removed two rows of hexagon rosettes from the top and two from the bottom. This is the before picture.

This is the final quilt top after the rows were removed. It is still large but it is much more manageable and I think it looks more like a quilt and less like a carpet!

The extra hexagon rosettes will be used to surround my parrot medallion quilt. The leftover stars from the border of Birds will be incorporated in the medallion. I've already prepared two of them for the sides of the frame for the medallion and I've now completed the second pair for the medallion. These two will be above and below the medallion.

Now I can start putting the hexagon frame together so I can add it to the parrot medallion. Pictures will follow! I'm also going to start cutting strips of fabric for the extra rosettes I need to surround the parrot medallion. Work, work, work but oh what fun it is!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Round 2 for the parrot medallion is underway

And so round two of rosettes for my parrot medallion hexagon quilt begins. I want to add a round of rosettes to the medallion but I want to create a unique effect with these rosettes.

I have two strips of leftovers from Birds in the Loft. The rosettes will eventually surround the parrot medallion but for now what I want is to remove the stars. There is one star at either end of each strip so I've got four of them to work with.

I like to construct my quilts in sections. I start with small sections and then combine them to make a larger section. So to begin round two for the parrot medallion I made four rosettes using two toffee coloured fabrics. I added a dot print centre. It is the same print I used in the middle of the cream rosettes that surround the parrot. It is good to repeat prints in this way because it gives the quilt a more cohesive and planned look. I stitched four dark brown hexagons into a "V" shape and added it to the toffee rosette.

I made a unit out of seven dark cream hexagons and will stitch it to the toffee rosette. The dark cream fabric is darker than the cream fabric in the leftover strips from Birds in the Loft. I am hoping that this subtle different will add some depth and dimension to my quilt. The only place I will use this cream print is in this round of rosettes.

The last step to complete this rosette is to make a pair of "parenthesis" from an olive brown print and stitch them to either side. That's one down (almost) and three  more to go!

I'll need two rosettes made from the dark brown print and the olive-brown print. Once again I repeated the dot print in the middle of the rosette.

I stitched three dark brown hexagons and three olive-brown hexagons. They will attach to the top of the rosette as indicated below. Does this look goofy? Well hang on a minute because it will get better!

I next made a "V" with three brown hexagons and another with three olive-brown hexagons. They will be stitched to the bottom of the rosette. Can you see how the colours appear to be intertwined? That's is what I am trying to achieve by using the two colours, dark brown and olive-brown!

I next stitched two hexagons from the red print on ecru fabric that I used in the first round of rosettes and to each I added a cream hexagon (the same fabric that surrounded the first rosette in this post).

And with two of the stars I'll make these units. The stars are surrounded by the dark cream and there is one red print on ecru hexagon at the bottom.

I'll need to create some connector units made of two or three hexagons to join all of the units I've made today. I also need to add a round of hexagons to the two remaining stars. Lots of sewing to do. Also I realized that I need seventeen pairs of rosettes to make up the background. I really enjoy making the rosettes so it isn't a hardship! Sew, sew, sew!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H