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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hexagons Revisited Part Two

Before we begin, yet another photo of Gizmo!
So, after the first post you have decided you want to try hand piecing, but you have no interest in learning to print on fabric with your home printer.  There are other ways to get the pieces marked.
As previously stated, I am a proponent of marking both the cutting and the seam lines when hand piecing.   Marking both lines requires a window style template.  You can make your own out of various materials.  During the Great Depression, ladies used cardboard saved from grocery item boxes.  There was a time when bacon came on a piece of plastic that worked great for templates and didn't wear down on the edges like cardboard. Now, when I want a template, I print them from a computer quilt program onto cardstock.  Before cutting, I glue the cardstock to fine sandpaper to keep it from slipping when marking on fabric and then cut it out. I have used this method for many of my miniatures.  I usually make several of the same template and throw them away as they wear.  This is an accurate method, as long as you are able to be precise when cutting. 
Print out, glue to sandpaper and then cut out window style for templates.

Another method is to order a window style metal template with non-slip backing from Ardco Templates.  These templates are practically indestructible. Ardco offers a huge selection of templates.  Just be sure to order window style, so that you can mark the cutting and sewing lines.

Below  is a photo of an old  (c. 1979)  Quilter's Template that I found at a flea market.  I bought it for this post.  Here you can see that one plastic template would allow you to mark many sizes of hexagons.  Your pencil slips into grooves in the plastic.  It is not really my cup of tea, but thought it was worth a mention, as you might find one online, if you really wanted it.  I am not sure how accurate it would be. 
But the method that makes the most sense, time-wise, to me is to use a rubber stamp with a stamp pad and simply stamp the hexies out on the back of your fabric. Cindy Blackberg has a nice website that shows all the stamps she makes and gives a good explanation of how to use them.  Visit her blog as well. (The bottle shown below is a re-inker for the stamp pad.  That way you don't have to buy a new stamp pad - you can just add more ink to it.) Her website and blog will explain this method further for you.
Here is a small quilt top that I hand pieced using one of her patterns and stamp sets:
Someday I may actually quilt it!  Or maybe not.  

 It was fun, fast and accurate to use her stamps.  Plus, unlike computer printing, where you need an entire 8.5" x 11" piece of fabric, her stamps lend themselves to using small pieces of fabrics.  Charm squares or scraps would be fine, depending on the size of the stamps you are using. So, if you love scrappy quilts and want to hand piece, stamping might be the answer for you.
Note:  I don't sell any of these products nor am I connected to them in any way.  Just letting you know what is out there.
Well, that about covers it for marking hexagons for hand piecing.  In the last part, I'll talk about EPP and why I have changed my mind about doing it.
Till next time......

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hexagons - Revisited Part One

More about these quilts later.
It has come to my attention that the quilting community doesn't measure hexagons the same way engineering people do. Time to clear up some confusion. When I posted about hexagons some time ago, I measured them this way:
(Note: All dimensions refer to the finished size.)
That is the way my drafting and design background taught me to think. I referred to the first measurement as point to point and the second one as across the flats. 
The quilting world views things a bit differently.  If you would order a 1" Hexagon stamp, template or die cut, you would probably get this:
The 1" measurement would refer to the length of each side.  The hexagons are the same in all the pictures above.  So you can see that although you are thinking a 1" hexagon is small, it really isn't, as it is actually 2" from point to point.  Whew.  Hope that clears it up, once and for all.  Just be sure to pay attention to the way the manufacturer of any hexagon product measures, and you will get what you expected to get.

There are many different methods of making a hexagon quilt.  I used to think that English Paper Piecing was a waste of time.  Yes, some of you out there are probably yelling at me about now.  My way of thinking was that basting all the way around each piece and then sewing them together was akin to making two quilts.  It was like sewing everything twice.  Also, after trying EPP for miniatures, I found it was much easier for me personally to just mark the sewing line and the cutting line, cut them out and then sew them together.  That is how I have made both the miniatures shown in the opening photo.  I did, however, EPP the doll quilt in the opening photo. It is made up of elongated hexagons.
The last quilt in the opening photo is an antique doll quilt and it is my guess that it was hand pieced and not paper pieced.
It is my belief that quilters should try every method available.  You never know what will work for you until you try it.  For the first method, let's just talk about plain old hand piecing.  If you follow my blog, you know that all my miniatures are hand pieced, hand needle turn appliqued and hand quilted.  For hand piecing, I am a proponent of marking both the cutting and the sewing lines.  Quilters that have gone before us, used to just mark the sewing line of hexagons and then eye-ball the seam allowance when they cut them out.  That doesn't appeal to me, although those quilters turned out lovely quilts in many cases.  My eye-balling technique is not that accurate.  So, how do you mark both the lines without taking forever to do it? 
One way is to use your computer. You can not do anything as accurately as a computer can.  I drew a sheet of hexagons in my computer.  They were drawn with the cutting line and the sewing lines depicted.

It was like the above drawing, except it was an 8.5" x 11 sheet.  Then I ironed freezer paper onto the right side of my fabric and printed out sheets of hexagons onto the wrong side of the fabric, using  my home ink jet printer.  Then I cut them out and sewed them together. Simple as that.  Inklingo is a company that specializes in this sort of thing.  I have never used any of their products, as they weren't around when the above quilt was made. (Or if they were, I didn't know it.)  I always just printed out my own stuff.   What the ink will do to the fabrics in 100 years is unknown. This quilt was washed several times in the washing machine (big gasp out there) until the water was clear. Just for the record, I would never advise anyone else to wash their quilt in the machine, but I suspect that I am not the only one who has done it in the past. Despite the ink and the washing, this quilt will undoubtedly last as long as I will. Anyway, if this is something you think you are interested in, visit Inklingo and spend some time there.  They have some freebies and lots of information for printing on fabric.  Also, you can print onto freezer paper and go that route, if you chose. (This is not a method I have used, but some quilters like it.)  Be sure and download their free idea booklet for lots of  design info.
Well, that's about it for part one of Hexagons - Revisited.  More methods to come in future posts.  Let me know if you have questions.
Till next time............


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Anatomy of a Frame Quilt

The first part of this has been posted before.  Just bear with me and you will see the finished quilt.
Thought you might want to see a little of the process. Here we go:

Above is a photo of a piece of antique toile that I have. (Please ignore all the wrinkles, if you can!) It is a monochromatic pictorial cotton.  It was made at the Oberkampf  Factory in France in 1806, and
was designed by Jean-Baptist Huet.  In those days if you were rich and lived nearby in Versailles, you ordered all your toile from this factory.  The detail on this piece is incredible and the more you look, the more you see.  (You can see more of Huet's work on line at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)  These types of designs were printed in long panels and were used for bed curtains, window curtains, and other home (palace) decorating.  I have two pieces that someone had made into pillow covers.  My husband spotted them at an antique show in Nashville, TN.  Anyway, I am getting ready to cut into them to make a miniature and wanted you to see them first.  I am going to try to use only one panel and save the other one intact.  We will see how that goes.
You have to start somewhere, and here is the beginning of my Miniature Medallion Quilt:
My first border:
I chose to do an applique scallop for the first border.  The center toile piece was not the same height and width and squaring it up will make future borders easier and symmetrical.  The cardstock pattern is on the left, with one side cut off to use as a marking pattern.  I use a Pigma Micron no. 5 Pen for marking the turn line.  All the applique I do is needle turn. Also, the complete pattern is marked on the background fabric with a pencil, although you may not be able to see it.  The fabric diamond is from the late 1700's or early 1800's.  It is very old and I am lucky to have it.

There are still basting threads in all the motifs, so they may look a bit odd.  I thought the center needed more, plus I wanted to feature more of the toile.  It is not easy to incorporate large scale prints or pictorial motifs into a miniature.  It is a big challenge for a small quilt. The floral fabric is a stripe cut from a diamond that was used in the same quilt as the tan diamond that was used in the first border. (Note: this border actually disintegrated while I was quilting it.  The center was already quilted at that time, so I had to pick the quilting out of the border, remove the floral border, and applique another border in its place.  The fabric is plain and was disappointing after the tiny floral border, but it is all I had to use. People have asked me why I would try and use fragile fabrics.  There are a couple of reasons - 1. I don't have that much early 1800's fabrics laying around and 2. Sometimes you want the quilt to look not only antique, but used.)
Here it is with the third border added.  I introduced a sort of rust colored fabric that is consistent with the age of the others.  I used 3/8" squares of this fabric and put them on point. They need to be straightened up a bit, I see.

The next border is appliqued tear drops.  The one after that is hourglass blocks.  The next one is pieced diamonds that give a zig-zag look. This is followed by a larger hourglass border. What appears to be the last border is actually three: 1)a narrow plain border 2) squares on point and 3) another narrow border.  It gives the appearance of one large border. Whew.

O.k., let's just skip to the finished product.  Here is the finished quilt.  It is one of the hardest I have ever done. The backing is a late 1700's plain fabric that was saved from the backing on a disintegrating quilt. It is the same as the center background. Although I prefer a separate binding, this is finished with a knife edge (which is keeping with the time frame) and is due to the fact that I didn't have any appropriate fabric with which to bind it. It is 19.25" square.
It has been done for quite some time, but to tell the truth, I was so sick of it, I didn't post it!  I learned a lot during the making of this quilt.  I would like to go back and do a better job, but it is done.  It is what it is.
Till next time...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jill's Quilt for the 1825 Challenge

Here is a photo of Jill and her challenge quilt.  She was kind enough to email it to me. (People have requested pics.)  I have to say that both Jill and her quilt are prettier in person.  I love this quilt.  She used the fabrics to their best advantage, in my opinion. The small inner border next to the flying geese gives a real sense of movement to the quilt when you see it in person.  She can be proud of this piece.
Well, this is short and sweet.  We are getting ready to take another trip with our camper and today is pack the camper day.
Till next time......