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 ÂĽ 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 April

And here we are again, making pretty things from scraps.

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

Now with 15 hexie flowers. Loads more to add!

This month, I’ve returned to the Anemone scrappy quilt, joining some of the blocks I’ve made and some ‘between’ hexies, rather than making loads of new ones. The joining part isn’t quite so much fun, but is highly necessary if all the hexie flowers are to become a quilt, so I have to be strict with myself and get some of it done before I’m allowed to go back to making flowers again.

This was before. 11 hexie flowers. Oh yes, and the other way up!

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps – no new fabrics. It can be a random or formal quilt block, a pillow or pincushion, a bag or hat, a collage or rag rug. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful 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 shown on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. You don’t have to worry about 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.

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):

Usually has a scrappy post:

Gun at (in Swedish and English)

Titti at (in Swedish only)

Heléne at (in Swedish only)

Sometimes has a scrappy post:

Eva at (in Swedish only)

Sue at (in English only)

Nanette at (in English only)

Lynn at (in English only)

Norma at (in English only)

Lynda at: (in English only)

Birthe: (in Norwegian only)

Turid: (in English and Norwegian)

Susan: (in English only)

Cathy: (in English only)

Debbierose: (in English only)

Tracy: (in English only)

Jill: (in English only)

Claire: (in English only)

Jan: (in English only)

Karen: (in English only)

Deb: (in English only)

Moira: (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!