BM&I #44: Parterre block 11

Block 11, now that I have no more excuses!

We were away on holiday last time, and this particular block needs my big sewing machine, to do all the blanket stitch, not to mention a large number of assorted supplies. So this time, I had to get a block ready, because, well, isolation = no excuse. (I told myself I’d post more often while I was confined to barracks, and so far, it’s been 5 for 5, not bad going for unplanned, spontaneous posting).

I don’t love this block, but looking at the rest, I decided we needed some quieter ones amidst all the hectic colour. This one and the next are a little more subdued. After that, I’ll crack on with the brights again. I have the fabrics sorted for the next block, but I had other things on and couldn’t quite get a second one done. By other things, I mean domestic concerns that are a bit too mundane to make interesting reading, before you get excited about new projects.

So, here we are:

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column of this blog.

And while I think of it, today is our copper or wool anniversary, depending on which country you live in. Happy Anniversary, Husband

Until next time…

Anemone: talkin’ and stitchin’

The restrictions on movement are getting tighter.

Everyone in this household is safe and well, sheltering (mostly) in place. We still have to buy groceries and medication, etc, but the Husband has sensibly said that we should not both go, one of us is enough to shop. But given that my everyday life isn’t that different, I’m not feeling restricted, trapped or stressed. I have things to do, many, many books to read, food to cook and fabric to sew. I’m OK. Where I do get stressed is in worrying about friends in danger zones, especially those already not in perfect health.

So, well, I’m cooking and reading, but mostly sewing! No big surprise there. Before, from a few days ago.

After, below. I got another long row of flowers assembled (the one on the left in the image below), and am about to sew them in. After that, I’ll cut fabric for what is likely to be the last row if it looks about right. I’m still thinking about what to do on the back. I have a variety of fabrics, but I like to make the back work with the front, so it needs a little thought. I think I’ll also face the back edge rather than straighten it off and bind it. Probably…. I also like the idea of stitching the outer edge to a straight band of fabric, so long as it works well visually. We’ll have to wait and see, even me!

Over the past couple of days I’ve enjoyed a number of conversations with blogging friends, on the phone, by Skype and on FaceTime (hello again, Anne, Dale, Sandra, Jan and Linda!). It’s such fun to put a voice and a face to your online ‘voices’, and I hope we can continue to stay in touch. It’s interesting to hear how your daily lives are affected by the pandemic, and how you’re dealing with it. I have learned things and gained ideas from talking to you all, so thank you for your time, your friendship and your warmth in reaching out to a (comparative) stranger. Anyone else up for some cheerful conversation and a lot of laughs? If so, say something in the comments 🙂

Stay home, stay safe and stay well.

 

Anemone quilt: how to do hexies

It’s this quilt again.

Pauline said she couldn’t get her head around how I made the hexie flowers, and could I explain? It’s not at all hard to do, but a bit tricky to explain in words, so there will be lots of pictures. You can click and zoom on any of them. This isn’t going to be interesting or new for everyone, but if it demystifies the process for even a couple of you, I’ll be happy.

Let’s get started. For each flower you need a centre and six petals. In this quilt all the centres, or hearts, are black. To save time, I just cut squares that will accommodate the 2″ hexie papers*, rather than laboriously trace and trim out hexie shapes in the fabric. You can fold and hold the fabric in place if there’s a bit extra, but with the trimmed shapes, you might need clips, pins or tape to hold it in place while you stitch. Most of my hexie quilts use much smaller papers, but I liked the big ones to showcase the fabrics.

Then start wrapping each hexie paper with the fabric and stitching it in place. This is called ‘basting’. Fold a corner of the fabric over the paper, stitch down until the next corner, where you fold the fabric over again and stitch down to secure the fold. I start with a good knot, which at the end of the process I use to help me pull out the basting at the end.

At the end, simply do a double stitch to secure, and snip the thread. Now repeat that six more times with the petal fabric.

Once you have all 7 hexies done, arrange them around the heart so that the pattern is pleasing, if appropriate. You can obviously use all different fabrics, or two, or three or just one.

Take the heart hexie, and one of the petals, laying them face to face. Knot the end of your thread. Start stitching along the edge where they meet. The stitches should pick up just a few threads at the edge of the hexies, and not pass through the paper at all. Work on the basis of at least 10 stitches per inch.

When you reach the end, pick up the next petal in the layout, lay it on the front of the heart, face to face, and continue with the thread from attaching the previous petal. Carry on all the way round until you reach your start point. Do not knot off and cut the thread.

Put the edges of the two adjacent petals together, and using the same thread, stitch these two edges together. Knot off and cut the thread. Work around the flower to attach all the petals to each other.

You will end up with a neat, crisp flower on the front.

At this point you have a choice. If you have used lightweight fabrics, quilting cotton, shirting, etc, you can leave the corners of the fabric on the back, as they won’t make an enormous difference when quilting. If you have used firmer or heavier fabrics, it would be a good idea to trim them off to leave a ¼ to ½ inch seam allowance, depending on how close to the edge you have basted. This will reduce the thickness and weight of the final quilt.

Use a pair of sharp scissors and snip away the excess fabric. You don’t need to get an immaculate result, just tidy it up a bit.

So there you are, a pretty, tidy hexie flower. There’s an endless variety of ways to join these. As you can see from the photo at the beginning, I’m separating the flowers with polka dot hexies. You can also surround them with a border and then a separator, or you can create diamonds using extra hexies, and so on. A quick search on Pinterest for ‘EPP’ or ‘Hexie Quilts,’ or a simple Google search will show a huge choice. One of my all-time favourites is a baby quilt using white petals, yellow hearts and green borders and separators, like a field of daisies. All the fabrics were different, which gave it a visual richness that flat, same fabrics would have lacked in this simple design.

Once you’ve joined flowers together, you can pull out the basting from all the hexies except the ones around the edge. Press well first, then unpick the basting, starting with the end stitches and pulling on the knot once you have one or two stitches left. Slide the paper out. You can use it again. It may need a bit of an iron to flatten out; papers get creased when you fold your work up between sessions.

I’m sometimes asked why I stitch through the papers instead of stitching only through the fabrics. It’s because I’ve tried both ways, and I prefer this one. It gives a crisper edge and sharper corners, as the fabric is tensioned over the paper more than using the other method. You may find the fact that you don’t need to unpick the basting is worth the lack of precision. Alternatively, you can buy little glue sticks you can run along the back edge of each paper and stick the fabric down. I don’t like this method as sometimes my papers stay in for years on a long term project, and by the time I remove them, the glue has stuck tight and shreds of paper remain, which is a Bad Thing, and ruins your papers for future use.

I hope this has clarified the process for you (looking at you, Pauline!), and that you might be tempted to give it a try. Who knows, being in lockdown might actually provide the impetus of boredom needed!

If you do, I’d love to hear about it.

 

Note: hexie papers are sized according to the length of each side, not by diameter. You can buy them from any quilt shop in packs of 50 or 100, and in a variety of sizes. 2 inches is a fun size to start with, as you get results quickly, but isn’t such a great way to bust your scraps if that’s what you want to do.

Unpicking the threads

I’ve been doing a LOT of hand stitching.

My Anemone quilt has been benefiting from the ‘stay at home’ order the government put out at the beginning of the week. This is how it looked before:

And this is how it looks now:

A bit of a difference, eh? It’s the other way up, of course, but you can see it’s a good bit bigger; two rows longer and another row wider. To give credit where it’s due, my friend Chippy stitched two of those big hexie flowers in, while we were on holiday together recently, but I’ve been industriously multiplying the blooms since then. For scale, each of those flowers is 65cm/10½ inches across at the widest point, so it isn’t one of my itty-bitty hexie quilts, and shows off those feature fabrics beautifully. I’m going to see how an extra row on the width looks, and then I may stop. It’ll be a good lap size, and if it’s much larger I’ll be really dreading the hand quilting.

I love English Paper Piecing (EPP). I find it soothing, portable and ridiculously easy. The most boring part is picking out the basting to release the papers. Even the endless work of hand quilting is funner. Basting stitches that go in quickly and easily are reluctant to release from the paper and fabric. Please ask why I stitch the fabric to the paper instead of around the paper. The answer is that I get sharper edges and corners and the assembly is therefore easier. It helps to ensure you always stitch fabric to paper shape the same way, so you know exactly where to find the end and the knot to pull out. You end up with a pile of random, messy bits of thread that get everywhere. It’s my least favourite part of the process.

In the same way, I’ve found it hard to pick apart the vast quantity of coronavirus data that’s being hurled at us. What do those graphs and figures even mean? But today I found a really clear and informative explanation of what we’re looking at, what it means, and how the management strategies of different countries is working for them. Take a look if you’re interested. Or ignore it if you’re over the whole thing :-/

Meanwhile, I’ll carry on pick, pick, picking…

ScrapHappy March: Progress again

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

This month, it’s all about hexies. I took Days Gone By, my Days for Girls scrappy hexie quilt away with me, and it saw a lot of action! Here’s last time….

And here’s now!

The loose pieces from last time have been sewn in, extras added and a whole new double row at the bottom. I’m very pleased with this now. (Please excuse the photography; I took the shot on holiday, and as it was raining, I took the photo of the piece on my caravan bunk, standing on the ice box/cooler to get enough height). A lot of quiet holiday sewing time has paid off; it’s now almost as large as the piece that was lost. Not only that, but I’ve removed all the papers except those around the outside, so it’s now a lot nicer and softer to work with.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). We also have a new member: welcome, Kjerstin 🙂 If you’ve copied this list from previous posts, please use the one below as it’s the most up to date.

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline, Sue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

I only got back from our trip yesterday, so I’ll have to see what I can do for next time!

ScrapHappy February: A bit of everything

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

I have a mixed bag to show today, having been pretty busy with scrapbusting this past month. As well as the fabric bowl you’ve seen very recently…

The teapot for Dale that you’ve seen slightly less recently…

I also have progress to show on the hexie quilt I’m making for Days for Girls. I haven’t shown that for a while, so hopefully the before and after shots will speak for themselves.

Before

And after

Just a bit of progress, then! Now I look back at everything, I’ve got quite a lot of scrappiness done this month. More lovely scraps saved for a second chance at something useful, beautiful or both.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). If you’ve copied this list from previous posts, please use the one below as it’s the most up to date.

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline, Sue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

Next month, I’ll still be on our forthcoming road trip, so I may not have so much to show.

Heaven for Beginners #4: All done – and Finish #4!

I’ve been plugging away at the assembly, to some effect.

The Husband’s fingers just visible. Too much rain for outdoor photography…

It’s all together. Actually, doing it in small amounts, in many sessions is quite effective. It’s repetitive work, not terribly interesting, but requiring you to be meticulous and careful. You get bored quickly, so doing it a bit at a time means you don’t burn out and start getting careless. Work for an hour, go and do something else. Work for another hour, read your book… that sort of thing.

So, here is the completed ‘Heaven for Beginners‘ quilt*, ready for the lovely Caitlyn to take to uni. I hope it keeps her cosy and comfortable, provides napping and sleepover opportunities for friends and family, and gives years of cuddly service.

As I did on the Hatbox Quilt, I’ve made a ‘hidden’ label you can flip over to read. Not very hidden, given the fabric’s different from the rest of the backing, but still… I did a wash-test sample first, to make sure the archival-ink pen and tear-away stabiliser I wrote on will survive the washing process. All good.

Thank you again to all the F2F members who contributed blocks to last year’s session. As you can see, your hard work was not wasted!

Now, on with the next thing 🙂

 

*For the background to this name, see my earlier post.