Saturday, December 17, 2011

Let There Be Tree...

And lo, the wife said 'Let there be tree' and there was tree.  Courtesy of DH, who set it up day before yesterday.  We decorated it today.  This year's theme is Star Wars, so all our Star Wars ornaments are on the tree, plus lights and some garland...

Of course if you look very carefully, the tree is not alone... Here's another view showing my fabric approval department encamped under the tree:
This is Pan (short for Pandora)... she has always loved fabric and has to approve all fabrics brought into the house.  She adopted our purple velvet tree skirt the very first year we got it - about 1995 or so... and still loves it to this day.  She obviously approves of the fact that we set up the tree this year.

Thank you to all who encouraged me to do this... it is so nice to see it twinkling over by the stairs while we sit here and sip tea and watch 'Philadelphia Story' tonight.  Gotta love these old movies on TCM.

Only thing missing is some hand sewing to make it complete... I think I'll get off the computer now and work on some more hexies while I watch!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hexagon Quilt Tutorial

First of all, I'd like to say that I didn't invent this technique - I was taught it by a friend in a group I belong to.  It is by no means original to me, and I'm sure there are other tutorials out there that describe this technique.  I have not read, nor in any way copied from anyone else's work in the following tutorial.  That said, here we go...

First you need templates.  Mine are 5 1/8" for the large hexagon and 3 1/2" for the smaller one.  You can draft these yourself if you want, but I can send you a .pdf file with the exact size templates.  Just email me at jafoquilt@gmail.com.  The templates will look like this
Paper templates

My husband was kind enough to cut me some templates from thick plastic, but even thin plastic templates or just the paper templates would work
My templates
Use the large template (5 1/8") to cut your backing fabric (remember, this will also be your binding fabric so it will show on the top as well). 
Use the small template to cut your focus fabric.  This can be anything.  I'm doing mine with fussy cut cats, but I've seen this done with Christmas fabrics (how timely), fall fabrics, florals and it is simply elegant done in Asian prints - pick your favorite or just whatever you have scraps of lying around - Scrappy works too!
You will also need to use the small template to cut a hexagon of batting.
Components of one hexagon block

Next you need to layer your components.  Start with the 5 1/8" hexagon, laying it right-side down.  Center the 3 1/2" hexagon of batting on the wrong side of the large backing hexagon.
Large hex and batting hex layered

Next, layer the 3 1/2" focus fabric on top of the batting.

At this point, I like to pin the three layers together by using a single pin in the center of the hexagons.  This keeps the small hexagons centered on the large one while you fold the binding edges over.  I start with a single fold bringing the edge of the large hexagon just to the edge of the small hexagon...
first fold
... followed by a second fold that comes up and over the small hexagon, overlapping it by about 3/8 of an inch or so - and a pin to secure the fold.
second fold
Then I just go around the hexagon in a circle, pinning each side.
three sides pinned
Eventually, all six sides will be pinned. 
All sides pinned, ready for hand stitching.
Once all six sides are pinned, I sew the binding with a blind stitch, just like I'd stitch any other binding.

Once the binding is sewn down all the way around, you can quilt as desired.  I know since it is, until now, all hand sewn, maybe it should be hand-quilted too.  But I'm a machine quilter.  I've tried hand-quilting and it's just not for me.  I have seen them done both ways and they look great no matter how you do them.  Whether by hand or machine, I would quilt about 1/4" inside the binding edge as show below:

Once they are quilted, you can whipstitch them together to make anything you'd like - They make great placemats, tablerunners, tabletoppers, lap quilts.  I'm working my way up to a king sized bed quilt.  Not sure if I'll ever get there... I may end up with a lapquilt myself.

30 hexes put together


What I really love about these is that they make a great take-along project - you can work on them anywhere.  They are small, easy to transport, and all you need to bring along is needle and thread, especially if you pin some in advance to bring along on a trip or anywhere you'd have to wait like the doctor's office.  Once they are done... they are quilted and bound!  When you have connected them, the quilt is done!  No sending out to a longarmer... no binding to do... it's DONE!  And they are fun to make!

Please don't hesitate to email me for the .pdf of the templates - jafoquilt@gmail.com  (I would just put a link here to download the .pdf, but I can't figure out how to do that).

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial.  If there are any mistakes, please let me know so I can fix it asap.  Thanks, and thanks for dropping by.

Merry merry holiday season to you all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

To Tree or Not to Tree...

That is the question... I can't decide whether or not to put up our holiday tree this year.  My son moved out of the house... It's just me and Joe now... He put up the outside lights, but I just can't make up my mind if it's worth all the effort for just the two of us...

We bought this year's Star Trek and Star Wars ornaments from Hallmark - we have every year's ornaments except to the very first Star Trek one.  We have so many of them now that we alternate years between the franchises.  One year we do Star Wars, the next year we do Star Trek and then back again.

But this year it just seems so pointless to put up all the decorations without family to share them with.  The two of us can just put the presents on the top of the piano without a tree.  Somehow that seems kind of dull, but where to get the energy to set up the tree?

I think I need to consider this further.

On the quilting front, I made a bunch of new fabric postcards and mailed them out last week before the holidays.  And I have gotten back to work on my hexagon quilt.  

I make two hexagons of fabric - one 5" across, one 3.5" across, and a 3.5" hexagon cut from batting... layer them large hexagon wrong side up, center the batting on top of that, and then put the 3.5" piece of fabric on top of the batting right side up.  Then I double fold the large hexagon over the small one and hand sew the edge like binding.  This makes a small hexagon shaped layered quilt block.  (Want to see pictures of this process?  please drop me a comment if you'd like me to make a tutorial with pictures showing how to make these)

When I have enough of them, I will slip stitch them all together to make a quilt - so far I have about 300 of them.... haven't decided how many I want to do to make a finished quilt.

I figure it will take about 1225 of them to make a king sized quilt that will fit my bed... Do I actually want to make that many of these little gems?  I'm not sure... I am fussy cutting them all out of cat fabrics and I was hoping to make each one unique.  I AM sure I don't have 1225 different cat fabrics in my stash.  Now my stash of cat fabrics that I collect is pretty vast, but it's not that big.  I may have to reconsider my methodology or numbers.  Maybe a lap quilt would be better, LOL.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

WAYWO Sunday

It's been a while since I posted here... a little depression mostly has kept me away from doing much work.  I did take some pictures this week of quilts I have worked on recently.  I started this bento box quilt about 3 years ago, and finished sewing the interior of the quilt at the last retreat I went on.  It still needs borders... I think...

I also finished up the sashing on my horse quilt.  It is a Buggy Barn design, and the horses need buttons for eyes yet, but I have to finish up the border on this one too - but I ran out of grass fabric, I'll have to find something else for the border...

I also finished up Paris Cats - The applique is on, and the quilt is ready for quilting... I even made a back for it - just have to get in there and quilt it!

And another Buggy Barn design... this one based on their 'Crazy Rays' but done in RW&B.  I was hoping to donate it to quilts of valor, but I need to find someone who will quilt it for them, as I've kinda lost interest in finishing it.  We'll see... If I can't find someone, maybe I'll find the enthusiasm to do it myself sometime in the future.

And lastly, this weekend, I made 8 fabric postcards.  I made my first postcard snowglobes this weekend - It took a little work to make the snowglobe part - some vinyl, careful stitching and some seed beads for the 'snow'.  They actually came out kinda cute.  And I got so excited over the success with the snowglobes that I forgot to put fabric on the backs of 5 of the postcards before I did the edge-stitching on them.  Whoops!  So I added backs and just did a straight stitch about 1/8" in from the edge to hold the backs in place... Hope they hold up. 

At least I did something creative this weekend... otherwise it would have been a total waste - I spent most of the weekend watching movies on TCM and AMC... They were showing old westerns, romantic comedies and musicals... I couldn't resist.  I really need to turn off the TV and do more creative things with fiber... Maybe I have too many passions... sigh