Friday, February 28, 2014

Soupcon Quilt Along Part 5

Soupcon Quilt Along (QAL)
Part 5 of 6

Welcome to the 5th installment of my Soupcon QAL. If you are just joining in you will find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 herePart 6 will be released on March 14th. So mark your calendars or follow me on Bloglovin so you don't miss a thing! And don't forget to join the Soupcon FLICKR Group and post picture of your quilt!

In this step we add a border and embellish it with applique. My blue Soupcon has a border of  appliqued 1/2" hexagons. The border was added to the quilt after the hexagons were appliqued in place with the exception of the corner units which were appliqued after the borders were attached. I didn't miter the corners. I repeated some of my fabrics used in previous steps in the hexagons to add a cohesive look to the quilt. You can repeat fabrics or not - it is up to you!

I think that the little hexagon stars in the center of each border are a nice detail. I published a tutorial for making these little gems on February 16, 2014. They are optional so if you prefer you can omit the stars and just use solid hexagons feel free to do so!

I used a diamond motif for my red Soupcon.  There are actually three sizes: the grey diamond in the center of each border is the largest, the red diamonds in the corners the smallest and the red diamonds (which are made of four small diamonds) are medium sized. I chose to sew four of the small diamonds in the corners together to make the medium red diamonds however you could simply make the red diamonds from a single fabric. This would be less challenging than the blue version. The border was attached to the quilt and then the diamonds were appliqued in place.Unlike the blue Soupcon above I mitered the corners on my red Soupcon quilt. 

I chose to embellish my diamonds; I appliqued circles in the center of the diamonds. They were cut from the same fabric that was used in the border of Step 4. This made the quilt more cohesive while still maintaining the fact that it is a scrap quilt. It is yet another example of how a little embellishment can make a difference to the overall look of the quilt. Give some thought to embellishing your quilt to make it uniquely yours! You could fussy cut the diamonds to create something special!

If you don't want diamonds or hexagons choose another shape or  simply add a complementary print fabric and perhaps add some embellishment. Another option I could have considered for the red Soupcon was to leave the border with no embellishment and simply use the space to showcase some lovely quilting. 

IMPORTANT: Step 6 will be a pieced border so keep that it mind if you chose to do your own thing.

The border in Step 5 will finish at 3 1/2" so this means you will cut strips that measure 4". Some of you have mentioned  that your quilt top measured 17 1/2" after Step 4 rather than 17". Regardless of the measurement of your quilt you are going to want to cut your border strips at 4" wide so that they will finish at 3 1/2". There will a narrow border added in Step 6 and it is there that adjustments can be made to bring your quilt to the needed size for the final step. If your start measurement is 17", at the end of Step 5 it will measure 24" with seam allowance. If your start measurement is 17 1/2", at the end of Step 5 it will measure 24 1/2".


Making a hexagon border
My blue Soupcon did not have mitered corners so I cut 4 strips that measured 4" by 17" and four squares that were 4" square. (NOTE: If your starting measurement is 17 1/2" then you will still cut your four strips at 4" but they will be 17 1/2" in length). 

The border hexagons are made from 1/2" hexagons. You will find the master template for 1/2" hexagons here. I English paper pieced the corner units as per the following picture. Once they were stitched together I gave them a good press with a hot, dry iron and then a generous spritz of starch before pressing once again with a hot, dry iron.

I made foundation pieced English paper pieced stars. The tutorial for these stars is here. If you prefer not to make these stars you could fussy cut fabric to make an interesting center piece for each border or you could make it scrappy. How about making a simple unit with a fussy cut center? There are all sorts of possibilities.

In addition to the center piece I needed four hexagon flowers and six single hexagons to  connect everything together.

They are stitched together to create four strips like this.

If you prefer not to use the star center you could simply make five flowers that are stitched together as in this picture.

Once the hexagons are sewn into four strips I gave them a good press with a hot, dry iron followed by a spritz of starch and another good press with a hot, dry iron. At this point the basting threads and papers can be removed.

Take the four17" borders, fold them in half along the length and then along the width to find the middle. Center the hexagon strip on the border and applique it in place. A border strip is then stitched to either side of the quilt.

Stitch a 4" square to either end of the border and then stitch these borders to the quilt top and bottom.

Place the corner hexagon units at each corner and applique them in place.

Making the diamond border

Cut 4" strips of fabric for the border. My starting measurement was 17" including seam allowance so I cut my borders 24" long. (NOTE: If your starting measurement is 17 1/2" you will cut strips that are 4" but the length will be cut at 24 1/2".)  Mark a line with a fabric safe marker (or you can press a fold and if need be run a long basting stitch along this line) along the middle of the length of each border strip. This will be used to align your diamonds. Stitch the border strips to the quilt and miter the corners. 

There are three different sized diamonds in the quilt and all were basted to paper in the English paper piecing method. You will find the diamond templates here. I pressed them with a hot, dry iron followed by a spritz of starch and another press with the hot, dry iron.  In the picture below you will see the three sizes of diamonds. The middle diamond is equal to four of the small diamonds. You will need 4 large diamonds, 16 medium diamonds and 4 small diamonds.

You could use one fabric to made the middle diamonds or you can use scraps of fabric and piece the medium diamond. 

Find the center of each border and stitch the large diamond in place. Be sure that you've removed the basting threads and paper before doing so.

Here you can see all four large diamonds in position.

The next step is to position the four small diamonds at the corners.

The last step is to position the medium diamonds.

I decided that my diamonds needed a little boost so I decided to applique circles in the middle. If your points don't match this is a great way to cover them up and at the same time add interest to your quilt! Once I had appliqued the circles to the medium and larger diamonds they were appliqued to the quilt.

I am a great fan of playing around to see what happens. If you decide to use diamonds why not make a few and try out some different arrangements. I like to take pictures so that I can look at the various options and evaluate which I like best. 

How about sewing three diamonds together to make half of a six pointed star and then stitch them down as an embellishment? Or maybe you enjoyed embroidery so why not add some embroidery details? I hope that I've planted a few ideas and that you'll be inspired to take what I've shown you to get creative and really personalize your quilt!

HELPFUL READER TIP: Before I call it a day I wanted to mention an alternative to thread basting when doing English paper piecing. Missie of Traditional Primitives recently posted about her method of preparing hexagons without thread basting - all you need is freezer paper, starch and an iron. To learn more go Traditional Primitives and you will see a link in the post that will take you to Missie's old blog where you will find step by step detailed instructions and photographs. It is a great alternative to thread basting!

So there you have it - Step 5 is done! In two weeks I'll post the final step; we will add one final border. I called the QAL Soupcon because  it involves a little bit of many different techniques and methods that I like so in Step 6 we will use a  technique not yet used! This will be another opportunity to use scraps and leftovers! Don't forget to publish pictures of your work on the Soupcon FLICKR Group!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Soupcon Step 5 Teaser and another Soupcon Trunk Show

Tomorrow I'll publish Part 5 of my Soupcon Quilt Along (QAL). It is the second last step! Where did the time go? I know many of you are very excited to find out what comes next so I thought I would give you a little teaser of what might be in store for you tomorrow! What are we going to do you ask? Well now that would be telling!

If your quilt measurement is a little off don't worry. You can make any necessary adjustments in Step 6! I like to build wiggle room into my quilts so there's a place where I can make corrections when required.

How about a quick look at what you lovely readers have done since the last trunk show? Grab a cuppa and settle back but this is going to be a good trunk show!

Carrie of A Passion for Applique has added her icy blue border. Very cool! She has also repeated her modified hexagon fabric in the narrow borders and it makes me think of crazed ice!

Jean Cockburn has six quilts with borders on. She wrote that she is concerned that the soft green ring is too close in value to the background. My suggestion is to embroider a thin line around the ring to add some separation and definition.

This is Jean's second quilt. The  border just pops in a really good way!

This is Jean's third quilt. She wrote that she ran out of some of her border fabric and had to improvise. I had to look closely to figure out where she had improvised. Running out of fabric forces one to get creative and I think that if the right fabrics are substituted it adds depth, character and visual interest to the quilt. I think it is a good idea to plan to run out of a fabric every once in a while and then see what happens!

The border on the fourth quilt is made with the same fabric as the modified hexagon. I love the dark narrow borders because they frame the piece so nicely!

Jean's fifth quilt! A polka dot border? How exciting and vibrant and modern! Doesn't the dark blue background seem to float over the polka dots? I think so!

Jean's sixth quilt repeated the fabric from her modified hexagon in the border to great effect! I think the bits of leaves in the pieced border really enhance the embroidered leaves.

Quilting Gammy (Sheila) has created this romantic version of Soupcon.  Lovely! Now that the border is on it looks so different. Isn't it wonderful how the floral print echoes her embroidery details? I didn't notice that as much before the border was added!

Clare's quilt is a stunner! I can see that she has repeated her modified hexagon fabrics in the border and the effect is very dramatic! The batik seems to recede and the pieced border comes forward. What a terrific effect!

And last but not least here is yet another of Nellie Durand's fantastic Soupcon-inspired creations. One of the comments was that with the addition of the outer border the center seems to float. Doesn't it just? To read more about what Nellie has planned for this quilt go here. But be warned: if the men in your life own ties I suggest that they hide them somewhere safe before you read what Nellie is doing!

Tomorrow morning I'll post Part 5 of my Soupcon QAL and there will be an interesting HELPFUL READER'S TIP. Any hexaholics out there will find the tip particularly hexciting so be sure to visit tomorrow. Until then, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hexagons with and without the path

After my post yesterday I had a comment and a couple of emails about the use of a path. Kathy had commented that she has seen hexagon flowers sewn together randomly in a quilt without the use of a path. That is exactly what I did when I made my hexagon quilt Ausiegons. I made flowers but instead of one round of hexagons around a center there were four rounds of hexies. It takes some planning to complete the quilt.


When hexies are sewn together in this manner the quilt will become a parallelogram rather than a rectangle. To correct this I added filler pieces to the top, bottom and sides and then the quilt was appliqued to a brown border to give the quilt a rectangular shape. There is nothing wrong with this sewing hexagon flowers one next to the other - the quilt just has a different look and feel but it takes some planning to make the filler shapes because they will have to be different to accommodate the shape of the quilt . If you are a beginner it may be a little challenging planning to fill in the sides to create a rectangle.

To demonstrate the effect of  flower hexies with and without a path I did a quick sketch to demonstrate. The sketches on the left are sewn together without a path and on the right with a path. On the left you can see the slope developing whereas on the right the quilt remains squared. If you sew your hexagons together into diamonds the same issue will arise if a path is not used.

If you chose to add a path there will still be filler pieces created for the top, bottom and sides but the top and bottom fillers will be the same as will the side fillers. And importantly the quilt will have a different look. So before you make the decision whether or not to use a path do give some thought as to how you want your quilt to look and perhaps even sketch it out on hexagon graph paper. The paper above was downloaded from Print Free Graph Paper. You can also find free downloadable design sheets at Paper Pieces.

I hope this explanation will be helpful! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cutting lots of hexagons for a path and I'm still a lucky girl

I am working on another hexagon quilt but I can't show it to you just yet!  What I can tell you is that it will have a path between the hexagons. The picture below is an example of a quilt with a path. The pink hexagons are the path.

In my view the path serves two purposes - it separates the hexagons so that they can shine and secondly it keeps the quilt square. If the hexagons are the same size (i.e. they have the same number of rounds) and butted one up to the next a gentle slope develops. This was the case with my quilt Ausiegons which is my version of an antique quilt in an Australian quilt registry. There is no path in this quilt.

If you look closely at the left hand side you can see this slope. I dealt with it by adding filler bits which straightened it enough that I could applique the entire quilt to border strips so that the quilt would be square. If you are a beginner this might be a little challenging so the use of a path is highly recommended.

If you decide to add a path to a hexagon quilt it will act exactly the same way as a sashing on a quilt made of square blocks. This means you have only one path between two hexagons. You do not sew the path around each hexagon because you will end up with a slope when the blocks are stitched together.

If you add a path you will need lots of hexagons made from the same fabric. I don't mind cutting fabric for the hexagons that will form the block because it is part of the creative process but I don't like to spend a lot of time cutting a single fabric for the hexagon path. I want that part done quickly so I can get to the really fun part, the basting and sewing. In this post I'm going to show you how I cut and prepare my path hexies quickly and painlessly!

To get started I cut strips of fabric and I want to cut strips in the most economical manner so that there is little waste and if there are any leftover strips they will be of a usable size. I am working with 1" hexagons so I determined that I would need 2 1/2" strips. I cut my strips from my fabric using the method I described on February 2, 2014.

I line up the selvage edges of two strips so that I'll be cutting through four layers. I trim off the selvages and then cut 2 1/4" sections.

I take a stack of four patches and set a paper hexagon on top.

I use my scissors to trim off the corners being sure to leave at least 1/4" seam allowance. It doesn't need to be an exact 1/4" all around (more is better) because when basted to the paper the finished hexagon will be the exact size needed.

Paper can be slippery so after the first cut I often make a fabric template which will stick to my fabric. I use it as a pattern to trim the corners.

In no time flat I had a pile of fabric hexagons.

I use a tiny dab of fabric-safe glue to hold the papers to the hexagons and again I want it done fast! To start I lay out a bunch of hexagons with the wrong side facing up.

A little dab of glue on the paper is all it takes to hold the paper to the fabric. And when I'm done it will release easily! In the past I've been asked about the little marks you see on the hexagons; I use a master template and I mark the size on the master sheet so the marks you see are the size of the hexagons which is 1". I always make sure that I place the glue on the blank side of the hexagon.

To speed up the gluing process I apply a dab of glue to a paper hexagon, pick it up and then I apply the glue to a second hexagon but I leave it stuck to the glue stick. I place the first hexagon on the fabric and then grab the second and place it on the hexagon. The glue sets fairly quickly since I'm only using a little bit so I work quickly.

In less than thirty minutes I had a pile of almost 200 hexagons ready for basting!

And now for something entirely different. I'm still a lucky girl. Look what I got in the mail: the threads that I won from Lorraine at Colour Complements! These threads are simply gorgeous! The colours are rich and vibrant and they have a glorious sheen. You can get your own from her etsy shop. All four threads are hand dyed and the package included knitted tubular ribbon, #8 DMC perle cotton, twisted rayon and #5 DMC perle cotton.

Now that I have a pile of hexagons ready to baste I had better get cracking! So until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Still playing around with hexagons and look what happened

I'm still playing around with hexagons and having fun and coming up with new ideas!

By now you are all quite familiar with my blue version of my Soupcon Quilt Along (QAL). I started with a modified hexagon, added embroidery,  some applique and a background and ring to frame the whole thing. The modified hexagons are one inch. I really like this piece and it all started with playing around with hexagons.

I was also playing around with 3/4" hexies using my paperless English paper piecing method that I wrote about on December 29, 2013. Here is one of the modified hexagons that I made this way.

I was playing around auditioning different centers and backgrounds. Just for fun I tossed it on my Soupcon quilt and look what happened! Magic! It isn't stitched down and I won't be stitching it down but I now have another idea for making an interesting block for a future quilt!

Is this fun or what? My message to you today is don't feel constrained by how things are "supposed" to be done. Play around and have fun. If it doesn't work out it will be our secret however in the process you will have learned something about what doesn't work for you. While you are experimenting you will learn about what does work for you whether it is colour combinations, scale, value or techniques/methods and you might just stumble across a really great idea! That is usually how I come up with new ideas!

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