Monday, April 25, 2022

Scrappy Hexagons

Have any of you been making hexagons? I finally made some progress on mine. This sew along has been ongoing for awhile as I've gotten distracted by so many other things. I know some of you can appreciate how slow I am. It's never too difficult to keep up with me while I  finish my projects! I AM making progress on my Dear Jane triangles (only 8 left!) and a few other large quilts that have been sitting around.  Little by little  . . . 

I decided to make my quilt a little different and more scrappy this time. These hexagon flowers were so much fun to make. The original quilt is from my old book The Civil War Sewing Circle.

All of my scrappy hexies were then hand appliqued onto light background squares and the squares sewn together last month. I have to say I struggled a bit with the border. More than usual. It always takes me awhile to decide. I go back and forth for days, trying all different fabrics until one really hits me. At first I leaned toward red . . . maybe with blue corners. But brown gave it more of an antique look . . . Decisions, decisions. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to make this little quilt.

Eventually, I listened to my gut and went with a soft brown for a more antique look. But I just couldn't let go of the red so I used it for the inner border to frame the blocks. This is a good lesson if you're making a quilt with scrappy or busy blocks such as these - use an inner border to frame and separate the blocks from the outer border so they don't get lost in the scrappiness. If I had used the red borders I brought out first they would have dominated the quilt more than the hexies. I put a lot of work into hand sewing those and wanted them to shine. The brown border sure helped with that, don't you think?

 Ready to go. I'll post a better photo after I quilt it. In case any of you are interested - I pin baste, do not use a hoop, use Quilter's Dream Request batting, YLI quilting thread in Light Brown and right now am using a Richard Hemming large eye needle, size 9.  But I've been known to use a sharper needle (or a Gold'n Glide needle by John James) if stitching through the layers is difficult or my hands are feeling a little stiff. Try various types of needles until you get a feel for the one that's right for you. Remember that sometimes a longer, sharper needle will work just fine if you can't use a small "between" needle. Or, if you're just starting out hand quilting. The sharper needle will be easier to push through some fabrics. (This is a good reason to not use starch on your blocks and try a very low-loft cotton batting. Polyester will make your quilt puffy.)

Always good to keep those needles organized! 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter

 "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

~Anne Bradstreet

Easter brings the spirit of hope and is a time of reflection and joy for me. 

"Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again." ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Have a happy and blessed Easter, my friends. 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Springtime Blues

Spring seems really late in coming to Chicagoland this year. It's beginning to seem like the winter that never ends. Right now it's cold and raining. Yesterday morning, I let the dog out and brushed a few snowflakes off her when she came in.  It's April, for goodness sake. I looked at pictures of my "garden" from last year around this same time and noticed we had much more greenery then than we do now.

Everything is still brown and dull around here, compared to this photo of our yard taken in April last year. Makes me feel a little blue . . . . 

Speaking of blue . . .  I took some time to play in my scraps. Last time I blogged I wrote about some of the Small & Simple projects we were making in my Facebook group. Here's one I made for the group that was sort of just what I needed to perk me up - 

This one truly is small & simple. And a fun one if you love antique-looking doll quilts. I used 1 1/2"  x  2 1/2" rectangles and set them in rows, alternating blues and lights.  

The fun part was picking through my old blue scraps and sewing them together into rows. I couldn't stop and so kept sewing rows until I realized I had enough for 3 quilts, LOL. I'll finish the other ones someday. . . .

I quilted it with simple stitches across each row. I typically pin baste my small quilts, do not use a hoop, start the quilting in the middle and work my way outward. Low-loft, all cotton batting (Quilters Dream Request is my favorite). I use YLI hand quilting thread in light brown. For this one I also used a Richard Hemming Large Eye quilting needle in size 9.   

However, because the backing fabric I picked out was a little too stiff or starched, I had a heck of a time pushing my needle through the layers. So I switched to a sharper needle (John James Gold 'n Glide sharp) in order to get it done without stressing my fingers and hands. I probably should have washed the backing first or chosen one that was softer. What was I thinking?? I usually know better. 

If you're having a difficult time with hand quilting, check that your batting is light (but not polyester, please!), your backing soft and your needle comfortable. You may have to try a sharper needle. We're told by the experts that we need to use "between" needles for quilting. Everyone is different and there is no rule that says we have to use a certain type of needle. Try a few and see how they feel in your fingers. Sometimes a longer, sharper needle will feel more comfortable in your hand than a sort, small between. Do what works for you! Needles are pretty cheap so don't hesitate to use a nice, new sharp one instead of an old one that's seen better days.  The Gold 'n Glides are easy to work with and take the strain off your hands. They can be a little difficult to thread with waxed quilting thread, however, so I use them more for applique or sewing bindings when I use finer thread (like my favorite Aurifil 50 wt.). 

You can find the full pattern in the Files section of my Facebook group. 

Have a good weekend!

NOTE: If you're interested in seeing some of my small quilts on display at the spring Quilter's Hall of Fame exhibit, I may be making my way to Indiana on Saturday, April 23. We're still working out the details. But I'd love to see some of you if you live nearby.  Read more about it here.