Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hexagon / English Paper Piecing Tutorial

My first tutorial!! OK, I know it is pretty basic, this is (hopefully) a good start for someone who hasn't paper-pieced before. English paper piecing is a type of hand-piecing fabric shapes using paper templates. Fabric is basted to the paper templates and then sewn together. The paper can be removed after all of the pieces are attached to each other.

basting the hexagon to the paper piece

A note on sizing: These hexagons are measured along 1 side. So, a 1" hexagon will have a finished size of 1" along 1 side.

You can find these hexagon templates in my etsy shop on the sidebar, they have built-in seam allowances for perfect cutting. Tabslot is the name of the etsy shop.

STEP 1: Gather your materials. You'll need a rotary cutter and a template (if you don't have a plastic template, cut one out of paper, and use it as a guide to draw a hex on your fabric - then cut using your ruler as a guide).

STEP 2: Cut out your fabric. Make sure you have at least 1/4" seam allowance all around the hexagon. Some people cut squares from their fabric and baste those directly to the hex paper (this is totally fine, it's a matter of personal preference), but I like my backs neat and tidy, and I think you can get more out of your fabric if you cut a hexagon.

STEP 3: Grab a hex paper to use for basting. You can buy these precut, or cut your own. I use regular printer paper (use your junkmail to recycle). I re-use my papers many times, just iron them after you pull them out. TIP: You can use a hole-punch to make a hole in the paper to make it easier to get them out after you take out the basting stitches.

STEP 4: Place your fabric wrong side down on a hard surface, and place the paper centered on top of it. Finger press one side down using the paper as a guide.

STEP 5: Continue finger-pressing. I first press three opposite sides (not touching each other).

STEP 6: Finger press the remaining 3 sides. Prep your needle and thread.

Some notes on thread: I first tried using red thread, thinking it would make it easier for me to keep track of. I ironed it, and it bled. Don't use red thread. I then used my cheap 100% polyester thread, thinking it was a good way to use it up. I ironed it on hot and it melted to my hexagons. If you use poly thread, turn the heat on your iron down.

STEP 7: Start basting! I like to put my needle in through the back first, that way it's easy to find the knot to clip later.

STEP 8: Bring your needle back up through the paper and all near a corner.

STEP 9: Take a stitch over that corner and back down though the paper, then back up near the next corner.

STEP 10: Continue this pattern all the way around the hexagon until you come back to your first stitch. This will hold down the corners of the seam allowance, giving you that nice, crisp hexagon shape. Tie off to your first stitch (or how ever you are most comfortable tying off - keeping in mind that these stitches are made to come out).

STEP 11: Cut your thread and baste your next hexagon.

STEP 12: Admire your adorable new creation. This is what the front will look like. Now's a good time to give these guys a good hot press.

PART 2: joining your hexagons

STEP 1: Take 2 hexagons and place them right sides together, making sure you note where the sides to be sewn together are. Things can sometimes get all mixed up with these 6 sided guys.

STEP 2: Insert your needle under the seam allowance but on top of the paper, going directly through a corner. I am right handed, and I find it easiest to sewn the side from right to left.

STEP 3: I use a ladder stitch to connect my hexes. Follow the red arrows above to see the path that the thread will travel. I keep the hexes right-sides facing while I sew, but thought this view provided a clearer explanation of the stitch. After my needle exits at the end of the seam, I come back in for 1 more locking-stitch to really keep the corners together.

STEP 4: Tie off and admire your work! I find that the ladder stitch is pretty invisible, even for beginners. I like to piece columns first, then sew the columns together to make a field.

Giveaway at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild's Site!

Hey Everyone! Check out this great giveaway at the PMQG's website:

Sunday, June 27, 2010


That is what my sewing machine is feeling right now. I have a bunch of 'in-progress' projects, but they're all in the hand sewing stage.

I'm working on a second 'hexie' bag, using the same design I used for my Paris Hexagon Bag. I should probably photograph my progress in case i ever want to make a tutorial or pattern out of it. Anyhow, this new bag will be in aqua and red with a stone color canvas for the main bag, and it will be donated to a silent auction to benefit Intercambio de Comunidades. I still have alot of hand sewing of hexagons to do before I get back to my machine. I'm also sewing the binding on a baby quilt for a friend due with a little boy later this summer. I was able to do all the quilting at Modern Domestic on Friday evening, I really love working on those Bernina's - real work horses.

Also, I may have given in and dropped a chunk of change on a 1/2 yard set of the new Heather Ross Far Far Away II. Really, it's so cute, how could I not. I really have no idea what I'm going to use this for, but it has to be something special. I hope to update some time in the next week with a finished project, but who knows.... it's summer, and it gorgeous out and the kids don't want me to sew.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Yummy Kona Solids

On Saturday morning, I was lucky enough to be able to get out of the house with only 1 kid and head to fabric depot where they were having a huge sale. 35% off all fabric. I don't usually get a ton of stuff there, but they do have some nice sales and that's a great opportunity to stock up on some basics - like Kona solids for example. I picked up this yummy stack of solids and a couple of dots to add to my stash as well. The red dot is Amy Butler, and the green is a Michael Miller. I was also lucky enough to run into some awesome PMQG ladies: Lisa and Beverly. (Thanks for the Jam Lisa, I can't wait to break into it!) Lisa and I wandered around the huge store and saw some really cool stuff. She even picked up a few great remnants at 50% off. We talked about how we were both inspired by Joan's presentation about Amish quilts at the last PMQG meeting. Let's see what we can do with that inspiration! I'm looking forward to using some of these delicious solids in my next projects!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Paris Hexagon Bag

I really didn't have a plan for these hexagons when I started them, I just thought the fabrics were really cool. Some of the fabric is from Cool Cottons, and some is from here. Well here is what I came up with. It's a simple sling bag, perfect for a trip to the library or the farmers market. It has 1 open pocket inside and a little clasp for my keys. This is the first time I used my little labels, I think it looks cute.

It's almost cooler than a lot of my purses and my diaper bag. Maybe I will use it as a main bag for awhile - just to show it off. The hexagons are 1.25" quilting cotton, and the main body is an organic cotton canvas that I picked up at Cool Cottons, I love the weight and feel of it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Bag for Mom

I can't figure out why I keep starting new projects, but I'm going to just let that question ride and go with it. Mom and I walked over to Cool Cottons the other day, it's a few blocks away from my house (dangerous), and I just needed a half yard of a solid brown to mix in with my Paris hexies. Well, I don't think I could ever leave that shop with just a half yard of a solid. I picked up a couple half yard of tufted tweets, and my Mom fell in love with this bird fabric. They had an Amy Butler swing bag on display, and Mom really liked that too. I already had that pattern and had made one for me and one for my cousin. I offered to make one for Mom, and she bought the fabric. I brought the project to the PMQG sewcial at Modern Domestic last Saturday and was able to complete most of the bag. It turned out really cute, and will be a nice summer bag. I added a zippered pocket and 3 open pockets on the inside so it can be used more like a purse. Even though I haven't really started on my new bag, I feel like I accomplished something this week. Happy Birthday Mom! You're the best :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More hexagons??

Why did I make these? Really, I'm in the middle (ok the beginning) of another project and I have Mom flying in tonite and staying for a week - do I have time for yet another project? No, I don't, but I can't help it. I think I might be obsessed with these little things. I cut about 20 more too, it's just so easy to do with my template. Now I need to laser cut more papers to baste them up with. I think I'm envisioning these in a vertical stripe 3 hexes wide with a brown stripe on either side then pieced into a linen market bag. Any other ideas? My favorite one is the little Eiffel Tower, so cute. Cheers everyone, hope you're enjoying January, uh, I mean June...hard to tell