Some of my Supplies for the Pink Hex Quilt

Hex N More ruler

Hex N More ruler

I never really told you how I was actually doing the preparation work for the blocks.  If you aren’t familiar with hand piecing, this may be interesting, if you are a hand piecer, maybe you’ll find some new supplies to try.

First, I’m using the Hex N More ruler from Jaybird Quilts to cut my hexagons.  I’m cutting the largest one possible with the ruler, but for those of you who may want to try this with a smaller hexagon (half hexagon, triangle or jewel shape), the ruler comes with instructions for four sizes and all four shapes.   If you buy this ruler, safeguard your little instruction booklet that comes with it.  I had misplaced mine and sent an email to Jaybird Quilts asking a couple of questions, but never heard back from them.  Fortunately, I found the booklet days later.  I’ve added little non-slip circles to the back of all of my rulers, this one included.

marking the block for sewing

marking the block for sewing

Once I have the pieces cut out, I then mark the sewing line on the back of each piece of the fabric.  I use my Omnigrid ruler that I’ve had forever to get the 1/4 inch sewing line.  Any ruler that is longer than the piece you’re marking and has a 1/4 inch line will work.  I put the fabric on top of a piece of fine grain sand paper which I’ve placed on a cutting mat.  I like to put it on the cutting mat because I can then turn the mat (or sand paper) without having to move the fabric to mark the next line, plus the sand paper doesn’t shift on the cutting mat like it might on a slick table.  Then line up the ruler so that the 1/4 inch mark is lined up with the edge of the fabric.  Hold it in place and mark with your favorite marking tool.

Sew Line pencil and refills

Sew Line pencil and refills

For this project, I’m using my current favorite, the Sew Line pencil.  It comes with one color of marking “lead” when you buy the pencil, but you can purchase four other colors for refills.  The five colors are yellow, pink, white, green and graphite.  I believe the refills are ceramic.  I’ve never had any problem with the markings not coming off the fabric when I want them too.  I’ll have to admit, that I have not been as happy with the graphite colored lead as  I thought I would.  It came off on my hands, making them pretty dirty while stitching.  Not what I was hoping for or what I had experienced with the other colors I’ve tried.  The only I have not tried, so far, is the yellow.

clockwise from left -- Mettler thread, Clover needle threader, Hiroshima needles, and Clover patchwork pins (fine)

clockwise from left — Mettler thread, Clover needle threader, Hiroshima needles, and Clover patchwork pins (fine)

After marking the sewing line, I pin two pieces right side together, using Clover fine patchwork pins.  They are thin and strong and perfect for most projects.  Then I thread the Hiroshima milliner needles with the Mettler silk finish thread using the Clover needle threader  and start sewing!  Mettler thread just happened to be what I had on hand.  I have no favorite yet for hand piecing.  I wanted something strong enough to survive my grandson and thin enough not to distort the blocks.  This is what I came up with this time.

Sew with a running stitch starting at one end of the line and stitching to the other end of the line, being careful not to stitch into any of the seam allowances.  You also have to stitch on the line on both the fabric facing you and the one in the back, so stop every few stitches to look at the back and make sure you’re still stitching on the line.  I knot my thread to start and then I take a back stitch on top of the first stitch.  After that, I take three stitches, back stitch and three more stitches, back stitch, continuing on until I get to the end where I back stitch and then knot.  I learned to make the knot I use to finish a line of stitches in this youtube video.  It’s fabulous!  In fact, I wonder if it’s possible to start the stitching with the same knot technique?  Something I’ll be trying soon!

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My New Needles

fabulous needles!
fabulous needles!

 

I had been trying all of the different needles I have on hand to piece these hexagon blocks — betweens, straw, sharp, milliner — you name it, I tried it.  I finally settled on using a Richard Hemming & Son large eye “Sharp” needle in size 9, but still wasn’t happy with the feel of it all.  I wasn’t able to get the stitches as small as I had wanted, I was having a lot of trouble getting the needle to easily hit both drawn sewing lines at the same time and it felt like I was stitching with something as wide as a spaghetti noodle and it felt just about as dull as a noodle too.  I’ve used these needles in the past with no problem, so it’s possible the real problem is that I’m hand piecing batik fabric which is fairly tightly woven.  Regardless, it wasn’t working as well as I needed it to, so I started looking for a solution.

When Catherine and I were going to the different quilt shops, I finally remembered to ask one of the ladies at Quilters Connection  about hand piecing needles.  She showed me the Hiroshima needles they had recently been able to start carrying.  The sized 10 Milliners looked long and thin, which was what I was looking for, but I didn’t think my needle threader would be able to thread its small eye.  She demonstrated that it would work with the thread I’m using and that they were very sharp and smooth – which I do think is the reason for the high price.  So, I gambled and got two boxes.  These needles are pretty expensive!  You only get 6 needles for $8.50 compared to less than $5 for about 20 for most other brands.

I tried them last night to sew that last seam on block three.  It was amazing!  I was getting much smaller stitches with less effort, the needle is about the width of the line I’ve marked to sew on and I was hitting it easily, plus the needles are sharp enough that they have no problem getting through the tight threads of the batik fabric.  I am happy with the needles!  I think they are worth every penny.  I didn’t explore the different types of needles made by Hiroshima, but I already feel that I’ll need them.    Can’t wait to head back to Dallas.

 

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Pink Hex Block Three done!

block three

block three

This week has been delightfully busy with the visit of my friend Catherine!  We explored several quilt shops, an art gallery and various restaurants over three days.  We cleaned a bit in my storage shed, visited my mom, watched one episode of Outlander (the new Starz series!)  and we talked and talked and talked.  We had the best time together!  We always do though.  We’ve been friends for close to 30 years.  She lives in Colorado now, so we only see each other a couple of times a year.  I’m not complaining though because before she retired, we only saw each other once every year or so for a single day.  We’re hoping our next visit will be longer and involve actually getting to sew together.  I can’t wait!

Being on the go so much, didn’t leave much time for sewing.  Yesterday, was the first time I’d had time to pick up the project.  I only had one seam left on this block, so I was able to finish the third block of the Pink Hexagon quilt!  Hope you like it.

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Pink Hex Block Two done!

block two 001I finished this one last night.  Two done, eight full ones to go.  Then there are the four partial blocks before putting them together with the background.  I’ve started block three.  More to come!

If you missed seeing the first block, click here.

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First Pink Hex Flower

first hex flower done!

first hex flower done!

I finished hand piecing the first  flower for the pink hexagon quilt on Wednesday afternoon.  I started it Monday night.  I sewed a little on Monday and Tuesday, but did most of the work on Wednesday when I really should have been doing chores and errands.  I enjoyed the sewing much more than what I should have been doing!  It measures just over 23 inches wide!  I didn’t even think to measure how long it is though.  I had to hang it on my closet door in order to show you the whole block.

I had thought about using that dark pink for all of the background pieces that will surround and separate the flowers, but I wasn’t crazy about the way this particular fabric frayed while I was handling it.  Granted, I’m new at this and possibly it won’t fray as much as I get more skilled and at ease with my stitching, but you never know.  If you want to check out my earlier post, you can see the pattern I’m using to piece this.  The background fabric will go where the white hexs are in the pattern.

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Quilt for Hubby — in progress!

the first three rows!

the first three rows!

I started this quilt at my last quilt retreat earlier this year.  While visiting my son and grandchildren last month, I had about a week to work on it some more.  The pictures were taken with my iPad, so they aren’t great quality.  I’ll be taking more with my camera when I’m finished so you can see what it really looks like.

In my opinion, this is a non traditional quilt.  I’m using the Batting Budding rulers from Prairie Sky Quilting.  You cut out the backing fabric and the batting, using the rulers.  The backing ruler has a square opening in the center for batting placement (centered in the wrong side of the backing fabric).  Then you just sew your scraps onto the batting and through the backing, being careful not to sew off of the batting onto the backing piece, piecing and quilting in one step.  After squaring up the fabric on the batting piece, you then finish the edge.  To do that, you fold the backing fabric toward the edge of the batting and then fold it one more time, so that it covers the batting/fabric edge.  At that point, you sew it down.  If I’d made this on my Viking instead of my Singer Feather Weight, I would have used a zigzag stitch to make the fabric edges flat.  Since I did use the Feather Weight, I could only straight stitch.  There is about a quarter-inch of fabric loose on every front seam.  I’m concerned it will wear badly.  We’ll see.  I may have to go back and zigzag it all.  Because of this edge technique, I plan to add a traditional binding.  Otherwise the back of the quilt will wear like the worn out binding I showed you in this post.  Being the back of the quilt, that would be almost impossible to repair.  I haven’t quite decided if I’ll finish it the way the pattern calls for and then add the binding on top of that or if I’ll cut off the backing fabric to make it flush with the top, as it would be on a traditionally pieced quilt before binding.

hubby's quilt -- almost done!

hubby’s quilt — almost done!

You may have noticed the white squares of paper pinned onto the blocks (top photo shows them well).  They show the row and placement within the row for each block.  I had very little room to lay out the design of this quilt at my son’s house.  I ended up having to do it on top of the coffee table.  I could only lay out 18 blocks at a time.  There are 90 blocks total.  So, mistakes were bound to happen.  Only one block is not turned incorrectly.  Hurray for that!  It didn’t bother me enough to rip out all of those seems to fix it.  Now, all I have left is to join the two pieces in these photos.  Then I’ll bind it and be all done.  It may be a while before I work on this one again though, probably my next quilt retreat in November.  I do have a couple of tips in case you want to make one like this.

  • You must prewash your backing fabric!  That way you can be absolutely certain your backing pieces are cut out on the straight of grain.  I didn’t prewash my backing fabrics and I’ve had some bias edges I hadn’t counted on.  It’s been a bugger at times!
  • If you don’t have enough of one fabric to use for the backing, use similarly colored ones that coordinate with each other.  Remember that your “backing” will show on the front.  Don’t pick something that will be too jarring when placed next to all of those strip pieces.

More on this when I finish.

 

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Pink Hexagon Quilt in progress

tools of the trade, so to speak....just add scissors and sew!

tools of the trade, so to speak….just add scissors and sew!

I’ve been mentally working on this quilt for well over a year, maybe even two or three. I’ve even started it twice by machine, ripped it all out and discarded everything. Finally, I decided that I want to hand piece this puppy. It’s for my grandson. He’s almost eleven and is on the autism spectrum. Pink is his favorite color. He told me, some time ago, that he wants a pink hexagon quilt.

pattern I'm using

the pattern I’m using

Since he is on the spectrum and busy things can be jarring for him, I’ve had a tough time trying to figure out exactly how to piece the hexagons. I tend to like making very busy quilts with dozens of different fabrics in them.  Toning it down is not easy for me.  I pulled all of my pinks out, finally deciding on just my pink batik fabrics.  I figured out (to the best of my ability) how many hexagons I’ll need for a twin sized bed.  If I’ve figured it out correctly, I’ll need 138 hexs and 12 half hexs.  These hexagons are really big — 9 and 1/8″ wide by 8″ long!  The pattern picture is a bit blurry, I’m sorry about that.  If you look at it closely though, you’ll see that every second row is offset, so that the middle of one hex lines up to the bottom of the next hex.  I’m using the width of  these two sections to find the width of the two rows, in order to figure out the actual width needed for the quilt.

one possible flower

one possible flower

I’m hoping to use one fabric for all of the white hexs in the pattern as the background.  The hex “flowers” will mostly be similarly shaded pinks, with an occasional darker or lighter one thrown in for fun.  At least that’s the plan.  The reality is that I buy a lot of fat quarter (18″ x 22″) pieces of fabric which gives me a very limited amount of hexagons I can cut from one piece of fabric.  I’ve played with the ones I have cut out so far and come up with a few of the flowers.  I’ll need ten full flowers and four that have a half hex to make the top and bottom of the quilt straight.  At this point, I’m planning to leave the sides with the points instead of adding fabric to make it all straight.  That plan may change.

another possible flower

another possible flower with a dark center

I’ll keep you updated as I piece the quilt.  I hope all of my figuring will work out.  Math is not my strong suit.

The dark center in the light flower is the fabric that may be the background, provided I have enough of it.  I’m hoping to use it as a binding also.

 

a light fabric flower

the same light fabric flower with a light center

 

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Home from Oklahoma

Sooner Quilts in Guthrie, OK

Sooner Quilts in Guthrie, OK

I’ve been home for a few days, back from a month-long visit with my son and grandchildren.  It was a good visit.  I had intended to post while there, but never quite got around to it.  I ended up sewing a lot though, which was a nice change of pace for me.  I really enjoyed every minute of it!

I forgot to take my camera on most of my excursions.  I also forgot to take the cord that connects my camera to my laptop so I couldn’t share the few photos I did take while there.  I went to four different, wonderful quilt shops during this visit.  Next time, I’ll visit them again and take photos of all of them!

flannel quilt repair

flannel quilt repair

I had planned to do quite a bit of quilt repair for my son while there.  They have loved their quilts just about to death!  You know what they say about the best laid plans.  I did do the repair on the flannel quilt that I had made for my son before he was sent to Italy early in his military career.  It had two small holes in the blue.  I didn’t have any of the same flannel left, so I bought a bit of blue while out exploring the area quilt shops.  I wasn’t going for quilt restoration, just honest repair, so it’s fine that the color is slightly different and you can tell it’s been repaired.  The plaid is the back of the quilt.  It has two large red stripes with one large white stripe in the center, topped with three large white six pointed stars on a field of blue.  I matched the binding up to the colors of the quilt.  Where there is blue, there is blue binding and the same with the red and white.  I was quite proud of that multi fabric, multi color binding matching up along the quilt edges.

worn out binding

worn out binding

Another quilt that needed help was a patriotic quilt I had made for my dad.  My son inherited the quilt about 19 years ago, when my father passed.  It’s a pretty long quilt and almost the whole bottom row is badly worn, probably from being tucked under a mattress.  The binding was also worn out.  I had some of the fabrics left from making the quilt.  I also bought a few more patriotic prints while visiting the quilt shops to supplement the few I had.  Half of the blocks are “string” pieces, so there are a lot of different ones needed for each block repair.  I did take off the binding and I’ll replace it with a different fabric when the block repair is done, but that’s as far as I got on this one so far.  I left the fabrics at my son’s house, so I can hop right on it when I visit again.

one of the more badly damaged blocks

one of the more badly damaged blocks

It was interesting to see how much my quilting has improved since making this one!  For one thing, this quilt had a very wide binding!  Most quilt bindings have about 1/4″ showing on the front and back of the quilt.  I think this one had about two inches!  I can’t recall why I added such a wide binding.  I guess I’ll have to add one roughly the same size when I replace it.  I’m also debating the repair on the large triangles.   Don’t know if I’ll repair only the worn areas or the whole triangle.  So much to decide!

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Sunday Sunning after the Storm?

squirrell 001I went out to go to the laundry room a little while ago and spotted this squirrel.  It was laid flat-out on the deck railing.  It is sunning itself?  It wasn’t very sunny when I saw it.  Or possibly flat-out tired?  Or laying in wait for the dog who had the dead baby squirrel in his mouth recently?  The thing that got me was that I saw the squirrel and I went back into the house to get my camera.  It waited for me.  I took this photo.  Then I went on down the stairs to the laundry room, did my thing there and came back up.  It was still there.  I came in and folded the clothes, then I went back out to check on the squirrel.  It was still there!  The sun had peeked out from behind the clouds and it was in the sunny spot.  Maybe that’s all it wanted.  It was gone an hour later when I checked on last time.

Until next time….

Posted in little things

Nature’s Treasures

baby racoon tracks 001I live in a rural area.  My father designed and built the log home I live in.  I wish I had known during the design process that I would someday live in this house, because I would have recommended a few things.  One thing I would have suggested is that the laundry room be IN the house.  It’s not.  You have to go outside.  It’s attached to the house, but you still have to get out in the heat, cold or other weather to wash your clothes.  I’m thankful there is a laundry room, but it’s still somewhat of a hassle.

To make matters worse, the laundry room was added as an after thought.  The outside wall to the laundry room was built from inferior logs that dad had discarded as not usable on the house itself.  These logs have now rotted and are falling down.  It’s going to take us a while to save up the money to fix it all.

close up

close up

One of the true downsides of this happening, is that critters can get into my laundry room when it’s shut up.  I’m always afraid of what I might find in there.  As I’ve been told in the past, there is a silver lining to every cloud in your life.  Today, I saw the silver lining!  Tiny, little baby raccoon foot prints in the mud in my laundry room!  They are no larger than a dime.  That one in the top left looks like a flower in person.  It’s just precious!  Maybe that’s what my dogs were barking their heads off over last night.

Until next time…..

Posted in dad, dogs, gratitude, little things