Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Quilt Along by Katja Marek

I must be crazy but in my humble opinion it is a good kind of crazy! I've signed up for a free quilt along that starts in January 2015. The QAL is by Katja Marek!

This is a picture the beginning of Katja's quilt which is made using the English paper piecing (EPP) method. So many wonderful shapes to work with!

Photo courtesty of Katja Marek

The best part is that this is a free Quilt Along (QAL)! To sign up go here. The first set of instructions will be emailed to participants at the beginning of each month starting in January 2015. To participate in the QAL you will also need a copy of Katja's book The New Hexagon. I've just received my copy. I'm going to make myself a cuppa and settle down to peruse the pages!

The QAL looks like it will be fun and a great way to use bright prints and also to do some fussy cutting. I love to fussy cut! Just check out the little fussy cut details in this block. Lovely!

Photo courtesty of Katja Marek

The first month will be the most onerous in terms of workload but January is very cold and snowy so this will be a great project to work on! So the question is are you tempted to join in? Even if you don't I'll be sure to post pictures of my progress on this one! So, are you tempted to join in on the fun?

I'll leave you with a smile. This is a picture of Jinxy the great hunter. He is on my sewing table getting ready to pounce on something. He is losing the kitten look and is starting to look like a cat!

I have a solarium across the back of the house. During the summer months we put the plants in the ground in the garden and in the fall we dig them up and bring them into the solarium. Last night I came home and saw a "string" on the hall carpet. I assumed that Jinx had taken one of the laces from my moccasins but as I got closer I realized it was too big and fat to be a lace and upon closer inspection I realized that the string was moving. Jinx had been out in the solarium and found himself a great big  fat dew worm in one of the pots! I've said it before and I'll say it again - it is a good thing he is cute or he would be getting his tail feathers clipped!

This will be my last post of the year but I'll be back in January with more to share. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and creative New Year! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Happy Holidays!

It's Christmas time again! Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy and safe holiday!

I'm going to be on a reduced blogging schedule between now and New Years; there'll only be one post but it will be perfect for those who like English paper piecing! I'll be back to speed in January and hopefully I'll have found the time to do some sewing so I have something to share with you!

Thank you for taking the time to read my posts and to share your thoughts. I truly appreciate that you take time out of your busy days to follow along.

Until 2015, I wish you happy holidays and happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's winter!

It is officially winter here although the snow that we had earlier on has melted! No doubt it will be back but not for some time! The weather forecast is for the warmest Christmas on record. I prefer the cold because it is great for quilting and for my little penguin!

I wanted to share with you a book that I just received, Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah of The Root Connection. Sujata's quilts are bright and vibrant. She combines traditional quilt blocks with liberated piecing techniques. Now there are loads of books available on the topic of liberated piecing and I've got many of them in my library but this one is different.

What I particularly like about Sujata's book is that she doesn't just share her technique and tell you to get creative or experiment. Instead she provide practical instructions for piecing of many traditional blocks using liberated cutting techniques. For those who want to dabble in the world of liberated piecing but aren't ready to just "cut loose" this is a great way to familiarize yourself with this method and make some truly spectacular quilts! The book is loaded with colourful quilt blocks and a range of setting options. I love it but am going to have to order a second copy because I showed it to a friend. She felt the same way about the book so I sent it home with her!

As I look around the blogosphere I am seeing lots of red and green seasonal quilts and decorative items. I was searching for a bit of fabric when I found not only one but  two long-forgotten Christmas quilt tops!  It was a little breezy for picture taking so the best I could do was a quick picture of one of the quilts!

The pattern was from a Piece O' Cake book Once Upon a Season. I had never done a quilt anything like this in terms of colour and design so it was and still is a real departure for me. I generally like to put my own twist on quilts but I just loved the colours and design of this one so I followed the pattern! I reckon it is about ten years old. And what did I find stashed away with the quilt top? The backing fabric which I remember buying for $2/m on a clearance rack! I like the 1950s atomic age look of this fabric.

In case you are wondering why I put the quilt top away, there is a very good reason. I wasn't doing any machine quilting when I made it. I had thought about sending it out to have it quilted but that can get expensive so I decided that I would quilt it myself when I learned to machine quilt. Well I've learned to quilt so I'm going to get this one done. It won't be in time for this Christmas but next year it will be done! Maybe even the second red and green quilt top will be completed!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, December 21, 2014

REWIND: Filling the elongated hexagons in the Anna H quilt and what the Turtle Girls got up to

Welcome back to REWIND! Every now and then I "rewind" and republish some of my older posts that you may have missed! Today I'm going to share a post from July 2013. It included a bit of information about the quilting of my Mom's Anna quilt and turtle yoga! If you can doodle it or write it with a little practice you can quilt it! I love drawing continuous figure 8s so I tried quilting them and they worked like a charm in the Anna quilt. Don't believe me? Try quilting your name in cursive. Bet it turns out pretty good! And as for turtle yoga.....well you'll just have to read to find out what it is all about!
Filling the elongated hexagons in the Anna H quilt and what the Turtle Girls got up to

There are some things I just don't like doing and filling bobbins is one of them!

One of the reasons I dislike filling bobbins is that I don't like having to take off my thread, load my bobbin thread, rethread the machine and then fill the bobbins. I do a bunch at once but eventually they need filling again!

My friend Barbara asked me about what I thought about bobbin winders. These are little machines that are used exclusively to fill bobbins. I'm starting to think that maybe I might just invest in one. I've read some reviews and they seem to do a good job and it is something I could do in the evening while I watch TV. Does anyone out there have any experience with these devices and if so would you recommend them to others? I would love to know.

I have gone through LOTS of bobbins quilting Mom's Anna quilt but the end is in sight! I now have a plan for the elongated hexagon inner border. Figure 8 is a comfortable shape for me to draw and stitch as are feathers. If you can doodle it you can likely quilt it with ease!

All of the elongated hexagons were previously stitched in the ditch. To quilt the design above I first stitched just inside the top and bottom edges of the middle strip of hexagons and then quilted the figure 8. The 8s don't have to be perfect or exact - the eye sees the whole, not the parts.

Next I quilted just inside the top edge of the top row of elongated hexagons, then the feathers were quilted and the feathers were echoed.

I repeated the same step with the bottom elongated hexagons. I did the same on the other three borders around the centre panel. Finito!

And this is the view from the back.

Tomorrow I move on to the outside edge of the swag! More thinking needed!
Yesterday I told you I caught those naughty Turtle Girls heading out to the garden with my little silk quilt. And what do you think they told me they were going to do? Yoga! 

Hurry up - run! I see a good spot for yoga!

They started with some gentle stretches

Downward turtle? Don't you mean downward dog?  And I can't do that!

Turtle Girl perseveres on her own and gives cobra a go. Stretch!!!! Inhale, exhale breathe. Ahhhh!

Happy baby, or happy turtle as she calls it,  is very good for the back - like a gentle massage! Oh - it feels very nice but I'm pooped! Best not overdo things first time!

Forget yoga! This is more like it - let's just hang out with the goldfish!

Until I post again, stretch, breathe and happy sewing!

I made the turtle girls myself and I had planned to add to the family this summer but somehow time just got away from me! They are on the "to do" list for sure! I hope that you've enjoyed this issue of Rewind. I reply to every comment by email so if you don't hear from me it means you are a no reply blogger and I have no way to contact you unless you provide me with your email address (or you email me)!

Happy sewing!
Karen H 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt - The Path and Border Options

If you are new to English paper piecing (EPP) and have made the 22 blocks that make up the Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt you might be wondering how they are put together into the quilt top and then once you've got them together, how you finish the quilt. That's what today's post is all about!

This is my quilt top put together without any borders! I designed the quilt with a triple light coloured path. In today's post I'll write about:

  • Constructing the path;
  • Sewing the blocks without a path;
  • Two methods of adding borders and
  • Finishing the quilt without a border.
Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt by Karen H 2014 approx. 62" x 71"

Constructing the Path
If you haven't already done so now it is time to decide on the path fabric! I designed the quilt with a triple path. I chose two light fabrics but you should select fabrics that appeal to you and that suit your blocks! The outer path surrounds each block and the middle path which is marked in pink is between the blocks after the outer path is sewn to them. As I look at this picture I realize I didn't colour in the pink in the lower right hand corner! Good thing I'm cute; otherwise I would be fired! 

You will need 24 hexagons of outer path fabric for each of the 18 blocks. In addition to the 18 full blocks there are 4 side setting block and they will each have 13 hexagons stitched to them.

You will also need to construct units made of outer path fabric for the corners (see Outer Edges of Path Fillers in diagram below) as well as the Vs for the top and bottom (see Top and Bottom Fillers in diagram below) . These units will be sewn to the quilt after the middle path has been attached.

The original middle path diagrams were not quite right so I've redrawn them and colour coded them to make placement easier. My original post on this topic has also been updated with these diagrams. This is what you will need to construct from your middle path fabric.

Middle Path Colour Key

The following diagram shows where these units will be placed. Notice that there are 18 pink units. Each one will be attached to each of your 18 full hexagon blocks. The units coloured in blue, green, gold, red and grey will be used to fill the remaining spaces.

Sew the middle path to the blocks in the first row and then stitch them together. Add the filler pieces at the top and corner. Repeat the process for the second row and then stitch the two rows together. Continue in this way until the top is assembled.

Don't want to make a path so what do you do?
No everyone will want to go to the effort of making a triple path so there is an alternative option that is available to those of you in that boat. Consider the following possibilities:
  • applique the hexagon blocks to a piece of wide backing fabric or
  • applique the hexagon blocks to background squares set on point.
The applique can be done by hand or by machine with a tiny zigzag stitch and invisible thread.

If you want to use a wide backing fabric it should measure at least 62" x 71". Fold the fabric vertically and horizontally and lightly press. Next fold the sides and line up the outer edges with the vertical fold and lightly press. Finally fold the top and bottom and line up the edges with the horizontal fold. These folds will serve as registration lines to help you line up your Value Proposition blocks. This is a fast easy and effective way to finish and you'll have nice straight outer edges so you can add borders!

The second option is to applique the blocks to background squares. You will need a 15 1/2" square for each of the 18 blocks. The square will finish at 15". You will also need side setting triangles for the partial blocks and to fill the spaces at the top and bottom. For the side setting triangles cut 2 squares that measure 22 1/2". Cut each of them on both diagonals (each square will yield 4 side setting triangles). The last pieces you will need to cut are the four corners and for those you will cut 2 squares that are 11 1/2" and cut on the diagonal (each square will yield 2 triangles). This will produce a larger quilt that that with a path but it is a quick and easy way to finish your blocks!

Once your blocks are appliqued you can add borders (if you want them) in the usual manner.

Adding border(s) to a hexagon quilt
Once you've sewn the middle path and filler pieces you've got your Value Proposition  quilt top put together! You might be asking "now what?" It is time to decide how to finish your quilt top. Here are some options for your consideration:
  • applique the quilt top to a border fabric or
  • create a straight edge by trimming the top then add a border.
When I was designing the quilt one of the options I considered is appliqueing the top and bottom edges of the quilt to a chintz print and then straighten the sides of the quilt and leave them without borders. I've seen this type of finish in very old quilts and it is interesting so if that is the look that appeals to your aesthetic why not consider it? Alternatively you could omit the top and bottom and add side borders. A third option is to use wider borders on the top and bottom and narrower borders on the sides (or vice versa). How about using to different but complementary fabrics for the borders, one for the top and bottom and the other for the sides? Use your imagination to make your Value Proposition quilt uniquely yours! Borders will go a long way to change the look and feel of your quilt.

I am considering appliqueing my quilt top to this fabric. It is from Andover's Winterthur Museum line. I've had it in my stash just waiting for the right quilt and Value Proposition might be it!

This is the look it would create.

I wrote a tutorial that explains how to applique a hexagon top to a border. The zigzag edge of the hexagons is not trimmed; I applique the hexagons to a strip of border fabric in order to create a straight outer edge. From there you could add additional borders or just bind the quilt. You will find my tutorial here. I also provide instructions for creating a mitered corner. I think my method is pretty simple and straight forward so do read it over before you make your decision.

Good Golly Miss Mollie by Karen H 2014

If you prefer to eliminate the zigzag edge of the hexagons so that the quilt top is straight edges all the way around there is a wonderful tutorial on Jo Morton's blog. You will find it here. I would like to thank Jo for allowing me to use a picture from her blog. To do this you remove the papers from the outer edge, press the quilt, trim the excess fabric (in the picture below it is the white hexagons that were trimmed down) and then add your border fabric. Don't forget to measure your quilt top and cut the border fabric to fit the top. Never just cut a strip of border fabric and sew it to the quilt top because they will not lay flat!

Image courtesy of Jo Morton of Jo Morton Quilts

How about finishing the quilt without a border?
What if you don't want to add borders or straighten the edges? This is an interesting option that allows you to maintain the zigzag edge of the hexagon quilt top exactly as it is without trimming. There is a great tutorial by Amy of  Badskirt blog and I would like to thank her for allowing me to share a picture from her blog. Amy demonstrates how you would use hexagons to finish the edges of your quilt. You will find the tutorial here.

Image courtesy of Amy Gunson of Badskirt

There you have it - options for finishing your Value Proposition Quilt. I hope I've given you lots of food for thought! If you're working on  Value Proposition please be sure to post pictures of your progress on the Value Proposition QAL page on Flickr.  I hope that you'll post pictures of your completed quilt tops too! If you have a blog and post pictures on your blog let me know so I can visit your blog and send others over to see your masterpiece! 

If after reading along you are tempted to get started on my Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt links to all of the patterns and instructions  are under the tab Quilt Alongs by Karen H just under the banner at the top of this page. 

Thanks so much to those of you who sewed along with me and also to those of you who read along! I appreciate each and every comment and email message that you sent to me. I replied to each one so if you didn't hear back from me it would mean that you are a no reply blogger and I have no way to contact you unless you leave your email in the comment. The safest way to do this is to replace the "@" in your address with "at" and you could replace the "." with "dot"!

I'm linking up with The Needle and Thread Network - a great place for Canadian bloggers to share their work with others!

Phew! I'm done! I hope you enjoyed this QAL! I'm thinking about another QAL for 2015 so if you are interested stay tuned! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tutorial: Planning the construction of a hexagon quilt

Looks like there is some interest in learning about my plan for constructing Lozagons so that's what today's post will be all about! This is a picture of the original quilt that was published on Lorraine's blog, Granny Loz.

Picture courtesy of Lorraine at Granny Loz

I usually do a sketch of my quilt before I get started so that I have a road map. In so doing it helps understand the quilt and it allows me to identify the type and number of units that make up my quilt. It also gives me ideas about constructing the quilt in sections.

This is my sketch of Lozagons. I  sometimes colour in my sketch with felt tip markers. The top and bottom of the quilt will be the same but I didn't sketch the bottom portion.

There are three basic units in this quilt. The first is a medallion of roses surrounded by a white background and pink hexagons; it is the centre of the quilt. 

Rose medallion

The balance of the quilt is constructed from two units that I describe as passion flowers and  snowflakes (turquoise). This is my diagram for the construction of passion flowers. It doesn't look like much in the picture but it will when it is attached to the snowflakes. The centre of each passion flower is a solid fabric. The first round of hexagons is a print, the second a different solid, the third is made up of two prints, six of one and twelve of the other. The final round is made up of six turquoise (this will form the points of the snowflakes) and eighteen of a single print. 

Diagram of passion flower

This is a picture of a passion flower stitched together. All of my passion flowers are made like this except for six of them that will have only four turquoise hexagons. More on this in a bit!

Passion flower

To make the turquoise snowflakes I start out by making a pile of rosettes.


Each rosette will need three hexagons added to it to make a triangle. The remaining points of the snowflake are created by the turquoise hexagons in the passion flower blocks.

Snowflake triangles

Once I have my rose medallion, snowflake triangles and passion flowers  I am ready to construct the quilt.

To construct the centre of the quilt I will use the rose medallion and the six passion flowers with only four turquoise hexagons. I will also need to construct six "crown" shapes that are coloured royal blue in my diagram. They are made of eight hexagons. These crowns will fill the spaces between the passion flowers and the rose medallion.  I stitched it to the lower left edge of the passion flower (you can see the crown fits in one of the two spaces that did not have a turquoise hexagon. I've marked a red circle to identify those spots. A snowflake triangle coloured in turquoise was sewn to the right side of the passion flower. I constructed six units in this manner.

These are the six passion flower units arranged around the rose medallion. I will stitch the six units together to create an "open donut". It is the same technique that I use to construct the passion flowers and you can read about it here. This is then stitched to the centre medallion and the open donut is closed. I like to work in this manner because it provides long continuous seams and that minimizes the number of starts and stops.

The next step was to attach a passion flower with snowflake triangles to either side to create a large diamond shape. If you examine the passion flower with the deep pink solid on the far right side you can see I attached two snowflake triangles, one on the upper left and the other on the lower left. This unit was then sewn to the quilt. I made a second unit (the passion flower with gold solid on the left) and attached it to the quilt.

This is my plan for constructing the balance of the quilt. The unit shown above is labelled A on my diagram. I will construct section B and attach it to the quilt. Section C is next followed by D, E and so on.

To construction section B I will need two passion flowers. To the first flower I will attach a pair of snowflake triangles. This will create a large diamond.

To the second passion flower I will sew two snowflake triangles like this.

To construct section B I will place the two units like this.

This is what the two diamonds will look like when they are sewn together. You can see the passion flowers and the snowflakes starting to emerge.

I generally construct several units before attaching them to the quilt. The reason is that they are still relatively portable but once I start stitching them to the quilt it becomes less so. I'll share more pictures of the construction of Lozagons as it grows.

So there you have it! I hope that this was helpful and informative. If you have any questions please feel free to ask because I am always willing to share. I  reply to every comment so if you don't hear back from me it means you are a no reply blogger. No reply bloggers can always leave their email address in the comment; just replace the @ sign with (at) (for example faeriesandfibres(at) and I'll be able to reply to you!

I'm linking up with HeLP for Hexie-aholics over at Sarah Did It! Pop on over to see what others are doing with hexagons!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No sewing today

The little stinker is putting his foot down (on my sewing)! Guess I'll go to a Christmas party instead.

Hope you have a nice day!
Karen H

Monday, December 15, 2014

Moving along on Lozagons

Today I'll share three more blocks for my Lozagons hexagon quilt.

The other day I showed you the centre blocks arranged on the floor,

I've now stitched them together and I've added a block on either side. This represents the width of the quilt. The balance of the blocks will be sewn together into strips and then the strips will be added to this centerpiece. It makes for very efficient sewing! If you would like me to share a diagram to explain just let me know and I'll do it!

Today and tomorrow I've got to go out and run errands so there won't be much more sewing done! Oh well, needs must!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H