Bee, Myself and I #2

I finally got to the point where I could start stitching the first couple of hatbox blocks. Only I didn’t leave it at two…

Hatbox collage 1It made a few things clear:

•  I definitely need tear away stabiliser.
•  Starching the fabric for the appliqué pieces helps a lot.
•  I can stop being neurotic about the Y seams at the intersection of         each cubbyhole.

Up to this point, I’ve used fusible web behind each piece when I’ve done machine appliqué. It has the virtue of holding everything firmly in place while I’m stitching, but the disadvantage is that it adds stiffness and a small amount of extra bulk. Also, it makes trimming out the fabric behind it quite hard. Not using the fusible web means that the pieces can shift a fair bit, so I’ve been hand-basting, which seems to do the trick, even if it’s a bit time-consuming. I’m happy with the result. The stabiliser stops puckering at the seam and channelling of the blanket stitch, so things stay nice and flat.

As for the Y seams, well, that whole section gets cut away, so on the first block I evaded the issue by not sewing completely into the corners. Slack, I know, but it worked! And having taken the pressure off myself, the next Y seams were perfect anyway…

The trickiest part is keeping the long thin banana shape of the hatbox rim stable. Hence my extensive use of starch, which seems to do the trick in preventing it warping or stretching and makes the fabric crisper while I’m drawing around the templates.

The blocks don’t actually take that long, but it’s fiddly: Change the thread to white. Assemble the 3 cubbyhole pieces with a Y seam. Change the thread to red. Cut out the 3 hatbox shapes, being sure to align patterns where necessary. Baste, appliqué, baste, appliqué, hand baste, appliqué. Remove basting, tear away stabiliser, trim out excess fabric behind, press.

I love these blocks as a way of showcasing the fabrics I’ve been collecting for this quilt for over 5 years… It’s nice not be cutting them up too much, and as an added bonus, it’s generating some very nice scraps for my postage stamp blocks :-). Oh, and at the rate I’m going, this project will take a lot less than a year!

Don’t forget to hop over to Carla’s blog to see what the others are up to. You can also click on the Bee, Myself and I button in the left hand column to go straight to the bee page.

Only 32 blocks more to go….

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40 thoughts on “Bee, Myself and I #2

  1. claire93 says:

    oooh this is lovely

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m having loads of fun using the big collection of fabrics I’ve assembled for this project. I’ve wanted to make this for ages, and now I have the perfect excuse!

  2. nanacathy2 says:

    I really really love those hat boxes .

  3. One box would probably do for me! But I can look at yours and admire them.

  4. What a unique choice of theme. I still have two of my grandmother’s hat boxes, neither one as colorful as the ones you’re creating, but it reminds me that I’ve long intending to grow into a woman who wears interesting hats. I’ve got to stop putting that off!

  5. tialys says:

    These are beautiful Kate. I’ve always fancied making this quilt but, seeing as you always describe your process in such detail, I can do it vicariously through you 😉

  6. What fun! How many will you make?

    • katechiconi says:

      The original design is six by six, with sashing and corner posts between each block to give it substance. I’m thinking I shall do the same. I have made the blocks a little smaller than the original so the quilt is not quite so enormous, but at the rate I’m making them, it won’t take me too long!

  7. So beautiful! I’ve never seen a hatbox quilt, and this will be lovely with colorful boxes set against the gray.

    • katechiconi says:

      The original design was busier, with more colourful interiors to each ‘box’, but I prefer my cooler, plainer version for showing off the box prints to more effect.

  8. knitnkwilt says:

    I had fabric like the green and white once. Your fabrics make very convincing hatboxes. I remember the days, both of hats and great hat boxes. But I haven’t worn hats (other than keep warm in winter type) for a long time.

    • katechiconi says:

      My mother had just one, quite plain, in highly polished tan leather with a handle for travelling. I have no idea what happened to it… I keep my hats on a high shelf these days – they need to be ventilated in this humid climate or I’d be finding mildew on them in the Wet season…

  9. Shauna says:

    very cool, I love those blocks

  10. These are beautiful and you are doing a good job and great research for the rest of us. 🙂 I don’t know what y juncture you are speaking of. I
    don’t do much applique but I love the look.

    • katechiconi says:

      Behind each hatbox is the junction where all the background fabrics come together, which is the Y seam I was talking about. You need a solid base to appliqué the box to, not just a floppy strip around the outside, so you have to make up a square first of all, and then trim away behind the hatbox once it’s sewn on, to reduce bulk.

  11. I love your fabric choices!
    What if you used the ‘doughnut method’ to apply a narrow ring of fusible web just around the outside of each piece? It would hold things in place while you sew but avoid the stiffness and trimming problems.

    • katechiconi says:

      I have plenty more pretty ones to show off next time!
      To be honest, I’m not feeling a lack of the fusible stuff. The way I’m doing it works very well, and the blocks are lovely and supple afterwards, which will be much nicer to work with if I end up hand quilting it (which is by no means certain yet).

  12. rutigt says:

    So nice and I love the fabrics you are using!!!

  13. SarahZ says:

    These are wonderful fun! I appreciate how repeating a block really does improve our skills, doesn’t it! They are looking great!

  14. Lorij says:

    So pretty. Do you have the pattern for the hat box?
    I have about 110 hats. I love to wear them. These are worm mostly to church. Then I have other hats that are worn during the week, I really enjoy hats and when worn to church they really look beautiful.
    This quilt I will try to make. But if the blocks are larger l think I’ll do that size.

  15. Lorij says:

    It’s interesting that here it’s 6:25 and there it’s 11 :25 wow.

  16. Lorij says:

    6:25 a.m here
    I forgot to add this
    and 11:25 pm there

  17. lovely fabric ! cute design those hatboxes !

  18. Lynda says:

    These are truly beautiful, Kate. And after reading what you’re going through at the moment I believe they are to fiddly for me!

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