Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Playing Dress Up!

The crud seems to have passed, and it's a good thing! I got an email from Karen last evening reminding me that I had volunteered to help at Lewisville Elementary's "OLD TIMEY DAY" doing quilting demos, pioneer style!

I've been wanting to be more involved locally. It hit me recently that in February, I will be marking 3 years of living in North Carolina. Where does the time go? (GONE, obviously!) and you know, once you don't have school aged kids anymore, it's just dang hard to meet people and to develop friendships and build roots.

I know a handful of people....each one a gem, and that's really all I need, but I want to do more, to be part of this community. SO. VOLUNTEER!

And what is better to volunteer at than something I love doing so much?

I'll have to get pics when I'm there and post them later, but I'm typing this wearing a prairie dress, apron, petticoat, bloomers and bonnet! And yes, I'm having to drive down the road this way! *LOL* Karen said come already dressed, so I am!

This morning I put my hair up in a bun, though I doubt it will stay that way. But we will see how it goes!

The kids will get demos on how quilts are made, the layers that go into them, how the stitches are done. And there is a flannel board where they can arrange triangles and squares and other pieces and see how blocks are designed. It should be fun!

Yesterday afternoon I ventured out to Target to pick up some Color Catchers.....and found some other goodies!

I did find the Color Catchers, and you know how quilters are....at the meeting the other night I ended up with 20 different combinations of products for getting bleeds out of fabrics. So...let's buy them all! This is what ended up in my cart.....

Oh...and special thanks to Bonnie Minor for turning me on last summer to the Snapware ornament keepers! These will be great for retreats etc...they are 13" square, and snap to each other so you can have several projects and goodies all in one thing...I bought two. They were about $10. I also saw them at Joanns, and they were NOT on sale, and I didn't have a coupon (And the coupon would have put them down to target price) so I just bought them there....be on the look out for these, they look like they have awesome possibilities!

While walking through Target I came across the cosmetics aisle and all the cases/organizers there. I had some emails recently asking where I got my little project bag that I travel with....I've had it more than 10 years and haven't seen one exactly like it since..but there are some good things here!

Though there were many "pretty" ones of various fabrics, etc....THIS one seemed to be the most useable as a project bag to me. Price? About $16.00

Function is more important than beauty, right? This one had the 3 clear zippered pockets, and the bigger pocket at the bottom could hold thread, needles, etc...This is the size of bag that fits nicely in my lap while in an airport, a guild meeting, a plane, a car, without hanging over my legs too far to either side, keeping everything accessible!

And hey, it's pink inside!

I was going to go check the luggage aisle and the men's travel kits too...sometimes there are better things there, even if they aren't as pretty on the outside ((we've all discovered tackle boxes, haven't we?))but I got distracted by the snapware! LOL!

Okay..I'm off...time to run, don't want to be late...pics of Old Timey Day Later!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Tucked in and Laying Low....

I arrived home from Michigan last evening...I tell you what, this whole traveling on a day when time changes, and dealing with setting my watch back once in the hotel, back once again to put me on Chicago time and forward once again (back to Eastern time in NC) has me a bit loopy! It's only an hour! It shouldn't be that bad.

Either that, or I was just completely worn out because I couldn't believe it last night...I was looking at the clock, it said 8pm (Which was really 9pm body clock time) and yet I felt like it was 1am.....and I gave up! I crawled into bed, beneath three quilts, one cat on either side and went comatose until 6am this morning.

Maybe I needed it, maybe I didn't...but I still feel kinda crummy and I'm just taking a mental health jammie day.

Around here even jammie days don't mean "lie around and do nothing"....so a certain amount of puttering and unpacking has been going on. I did some hand quilting while sipping tea, hoping the crummy achy feeling would pass, and found myself watching "Notting Hill" on netflix streaming. ::::SOBBING::::: Why does this movie get to me so much?! I should have watched something funnier! Or something with zero-emotion-triggers like "Sell this house" or "Tabatha's Salon Take Over" :c/ OY! All in all, it's a good ache...and it has a happy ending :c)

The quilters of Oakland County were FABULOUS! (look at them waving their rotary cutters around!! LOL!!) I was a bit frazzled as I missed my connection at Washington/Dulles due to weather. This meant I had 4.5 hours until the next flight to Detroit and I was worried that I would be late for my own lecture Thursday night! But there is a reason I take the absolutely first flight out on my way.....even if it means getting up at 4am to be at the airport by 5:15 am for a 6:20 flight. I was able to get another later flight that got me into Detroit by 2pm!

I was greeted at the airport by Ruth who came with her own luggage cart and we wound our way to the parking garage, two big canvas duffels of quilts, my luggage suitcase, my laptop bag, and both of us steering....trying to remember where Ruth parked her car!

It was raining in Dulles which was the reason for my delay....it also meant that my luggage spent 4.5 hours sitting on a wet cart. When we unpacked the quilts, we found a few of the quilts had bled. SO...we've air dried them, and I'm going today (as soon as I feel less ugh) to get some dye catchers and hopefully get the bleeding out. I don't care how many times you pre-wash something. If something else sits up against it wet....for hours....color can transfer. So I'm asking good wishes in getting these clean!

My classes were held in the same hotel I was staying in which meant there was nearly zero lugging around to be done. This helped so much! Quarters were close...we had two full classes, and only one mishap with overloading the circuits with one-too-many irons which put half the room in darkness for just a bit of time.

After that, we moved the ironing stations outside the room on a different circuit and we were good to go!

Friday's class was Star Struck...of course with the ultimate challenge of using ONLY stash fabrics in your quilt...you should have seen the variety, and some of the fun ones they really dug deep for! My favorite line lately has been: "If there is still MILLENIUM FABRIC in your stash, it's time to get it out of there!" And they really did bring some fungly-uglies to play with. And they are all going to be fabulous quilts!

Here is a cute little SmileBox that Judy sent me! ((Be sure to click PLAY to get it started)) Thanks Judy!

Saturday was the "My Blue Heaven" workshop, and of course we had Black/Orange heavens, and green heavens, and rainbow heavens and red heavens...and a whole lot of fun learning to use the Easy Angle Ruler and the Companion Angle Ruler as well. Great class, all from 2.5" strips.

My special thanks to Ruth for taking me not once, but TWICE....to indulge in my favorite Midwest Obsession: CULVERS! If you have a Culvers and haven't tried their pumpkin/pecan concrete mixer, GO NOW! It's fabulous! (and I'm sure CONCRETE is exactly what going-twice-in one-trip is going to be what my hiney turns into!)

I also had the pleasure of meeting Barb, who belongs to a terrific gym close by, and she offered to take me so I could work OFF the above concrete buns mixer by spending some time on the elliptical trainer, and using the floor area to do some stretching. MUCH NEEDED!! Thanks so much, Barb, for your thoughtfulness and your cheery smile and fun conversation, and for the ride back to the airport yesterday morning!

So...my return trip included MUCH of THIS! I've attached 2 of the smaller border sections to the quilt center already...and I found it easier to use a real section of the border as my MAP for the new section instead of relying on a small drawing on graph paper. I can actually lay my new pieces on there as it grows and see what color I need to add next and where. Three of the smaller sections are done, two are attached, the third done one is my map, I'm piecing on the 4th border section and it's coming along! There are two kinds of border sections, one uphill, one downhill, and I'm doing the downhill ones first so I don't have to constantly switch gears and re-think which one I'm supposed to be working on. Makes sense?

Oh! And this is an exciting week! Be sure to come back by on Thursday...it's my blog hop visit for Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks magazine! I'll have up close photos for my block in the magazine, and a give away of a copy of the magazine for those who leave a comment on the post! Exciting stuff!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Is it Wednesday already?

I'm tucked up in my basement studio wondering if it is too soon to start a fire in my wood stove! It's definitely chilly, but I know when I fire up the beast, I'll soon open the windows and doors and try not to cook. This is one powerful wood stove....and it HEATS.

I do love the coziness and crackle of a wood fire....and candles burning....and hot tea in a big mug! My favorite things about late fall/winter.

The 3rd quilt is on the bed, adding a delicious weight and keeping all the warmth in. I love sleeping all tucked up, surrounded in my little quilt cocoon, one cat on either side preventing me from rolling in either, or any, directon! I think the best sleep comes with a cold nose, don't you agree?

This morning I was pondering on the feeling of GRATITUDE. Here in the US, our Thanksgiving is approaching. And you know what? This past 10 days off has given me the opportunity to just slow down and be grateful for little things.

The change of season outdoors, the smell of autumn in the air, the beauty of the falling leaves, the adventure of making it from the backdoor to the hottub without being beaned by falling acorns!

Are you too busy, too rushed, too hectic, so much on your plate that you don't even think about the joy of feeling grateful? I know I have been guilty of this. I'm not talking necessarily feeling grateful in any kind if "religious" way. We all have our own convictions, I am just talking about the little ordinary-every-day beauties that we can miss in our rush to get to the next "to-do" on our lists. There is joy in the mundane routine day-in-day-out doings. We just have to see them and acknowledge them with a smile and a nod to life for giving it to us so abundantly.

Okay, so this post isn't even quilt-related. It's just how I'm feeling this morning. But to put a bit of quilt-speak in here, I've been BUSY! The mystery quilt is now quilted, and I'm ready to start binding! HA! ((How's that for rubbing it in?!)) And I am loving the chatter I am reading on the quiltville friends page on facebook, and on the quiltvillechat@yahoogroups.com list about the colors that people are planning on and the excitement is building....and I am so grateful for all of this abundance too!

I'm busy quilting a baby quilt for a friend expecting her first grandchild. I'm sure she is feeling excitement and gratitude.....it's palpable! The expectation.....

Today is also a mundane chore kind of day, but I'm doing it with gratitude. I'm doing laundry! ((But I have a stacked hi-efficiency washer and dryer, I'm not pounding clothing on a rock down by the river!)) I've got book orders to mail out! ((I'm grateful for each and every one of those orders and the people they bring across my path!)) I've got to pack a suitcase, repack the trunk show, get all settled and sorted for a trip to Michigan in the morning. ((I'm grateful to be flying and to be there in a few short hours, vs DRIVING it like I did last October!))

Let's face it! If the worst thing that happens to me today is crawling groggily out of a warm bed and stepping barefootedly into dog puke on the way to the bathroom...I've got it pretty darned great!

I have my eyes to see, my ears to hear, my heart to love, my hands to sew. I have a roof over my head, a beyond-life-expectancy basement full of fabric and miscellaneous quilt-neccessities. I have family, terrific friends, and you.

For it all...I'm grateful!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Any "Virginia Bounders" Out There?

I need some help with some photographs!

If you have made Virginia Bound with fabrics OTHER than recycled plaids, I need you!

I'm looking for quilts in other colorways...batiks maybe? Brights? or a planned color scheme that uses other fabrics making the quilt look a bit different than what is in the book!

I'm teaching in Germany in February....spending time with the Black Forest Quilters in Stuttgart! I'm teaching Virginia Bound, but we wanted to show them what it looks like made from different fabrics, not just plaids. CAN YOU HELP!?

Even if you haven't finished your quilt, can you send pics of your blocks?

Send pics to me at quiltville@gmail.com and include your name and location! We will list you on their info as the maker!

Mail Box Bonus!

My mailbox has been full of goodies the past couple of days!

First off was a little box....and look what was inside! Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks Vol 2 is being released, and my block is in there! It's #174 on page 58...it's also in mini mini form right on this adorable mug!

I'm considering the HUGE PIN ((Did I say HUGE?!))as a coaster, or a wall ornament, not something I would wear on my person! But it reminds me of when I was in high school, and the popular thing going was to cover your purse with as many buttons ((FLAIR!!)) as possible! The goodies came just in time for Halloween!

The bundle of Magazines showed up on my door step on Saturday as Lisa and I were sewing away on her 13 gift quilts. I had to open the package right away and get my hands on these! There will be more fun with this issue, including a designer's blog tour and giveaway! and I'll tell you more about that as soon as I can verify what day I am supposed to post on it! ((>_< Yeah, I've been pretty pedal to the metal these days! I just need someone to tell me where to be and when, and what to do!))

Lisa and I had a great time power sewing on Friday and Saturday.

Friday night she surprised me with an invite to do a walking ghost tour in Old Salem ((It was a gorgeous night for it.))and have dinner at the Salem Tavern as well. We deserved it! We had worked hard all Friday!

Saturday was more of the same...we finished the 13th quilt, and she got binding machine sewn on all of them, sleeves started, while I manned the quilting machine.

My 10 days off is drawing to a close! I'm off to Rochester, Michigan on THURSDAY! It feels like coming home, it's my 3rd Michigan trip this year. Maybe those Michiganders will just adopt me :cD

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shipshewana Shenanigans!

I know I've taken my time to get to this post...it was such a wonderful trip and SO much went on that it takes a while for me to settle it into categories in my brain!

This is the Farmstead Inn! And it is HUGE! I swear you could walk miles just inside the corridors which go from guest rooms to lounge areas with sofas and comfy chairs ((yes there are quilts on the walls everywhere)) and fireplaces, to another section, and another section, eventually finding your way past the pool and the breakfast area, all the way to the far end where our sewing room was.

I thought to myself it was a GOOD THING that our room was so far from the sewing room....because the treat table was right BEHIND us at the sewing room! LOL Something had to work off all those tempting munchies!

Here is my little baby surrounded by MESS! I know...that's the way I sew. Like a bomb went off! But whatever it takes, I tried to keep it all on MY side of the table! LOL!

And you know what? New machines take some getting used to. Don't put too much faith in any machine foot. Just because it says it is 1/4", don't believe it....do a test. Because I sewed a WHOLE mess of churn dashes only to find out they measured 5.25" instead of 5.5" by the time I was done. >_< I KNOW to do this..to test..I teach all of my classes this way. Run a seam test. But I didn't...and I was SO OFF! And this is after two days in Chicago, a long drive from Chicago to Shipshewana (Okay, and a stop off at Culvers on the way for my frozen custard fix!!)and an afternoon of gathering with friends and everything..I didn't do my seam test. I just sat down with my pieces and wanted to start SEWING. And PFFTT.

SO....never fear...it's not a wasted project. My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby, and they are going to get 4.75" finished churn dashes in their baby quilt! LOL! I'll finish it as soon as I know whether to emphasize the pink....or the blue.. :cD

But let that be a LESSON to everyone. AUUGH. I'm still so mad at myself.

Here's Randy and I working on our blocks! She is making a homespun quilt for her son's apartment....cozy yummy, it's going to be great! she got most of her blocks done, and I'm sure she'll have it completed in no time, right Randy?

Darlynn sat across from me and worked on her amazing quilt top with 2" finished bowties! Oh man....we were ALL drooling over these. This is the perfect quilt for ugly fabric! It's cut REALLY small! Just play with color! Lots of color...it was wonderful to see it come together. She is making it queen sized for her bed. I can't wait to see it finished! It also weighs a ton because of all the seams....a real Wisconsin Winter Quilt!

Hey Darlynn, have you thought of batting that beauty with WOOL!? It would be perfect!

Darlynn and Pat being their fun, goofy selves! I love these ladies! Of course, my natural born Minnesotan accent comes creeping thickly to the surface any time I am around them...it takes me weeks to get over it and get it back to "normal". :cD

Virginia had me sign her book, and we snapped this photo! I'm sure there are more photos floating out there, I only had my phone cam with me, and was telling everyone who took pics to send me some too! So there may be more shenanigans to come in future posts...Virginia, it was great seeing you!

So many of the retreaters seemed to spend more time shopping than they did sewing! But who am I to judge? I did some shopping of my own. Not a lot...but just enough!

This was it...minus one orange FQ That I already chopped up and put in a project! FQs in the boat at Lolly's were $1.75 if you got 12 or more, so we pooled our resources! Yardage was $5.99 in the basement, and I found a couple yards that had to come home with me....background neutrals are always a legal purchase! We need them! So the cream with red circles, and the purple stripe ((purple stripes are also a legal purchase! I Love stripes!)) came from the basement.

The shirting FQ's were a 1/2 yard collection that I split with Randy. I love the red on cream.....and I want to use some of these in my hexagon quilt. But you know what? I'd never use JUST these together. The ground is all the same shade of dirty beige...the red is all the same dye lot. I just need to mix it up a bit, add some brighter, some creamier, a bit of tan...and not make it look like the quilt came from a kit, from one fabric line. I love these shirtings...just not all in ONE project, you know? With antique quilts that I love so much.....fabrics from the scrap bag didn't all age the same, or start out the same. I think if I used "ONLY" these....that it would be a rather boring background.

My favorite "bring home" treat?

This baggie of scraps gifted to me by other quilters, and stuff I salvaged from the cutting trash bin! Look at this variety! All the colors, all the different pieces...THIS is what makes me giddy!

We'd go out for lunch, or to run to the bulk foods store, and come back...and there would be little scrappy piles on my machine bed just waiting for me. FUN! I can't wait to find ways to purpose these little memories of Shipshewana and a great weekend sewing with a room full of 54 fabulous quilters!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's snowing in Idaho!

According to my mom's cute post on her face book. SNOW?! It's not even Halloween yet! But I remember from my many years of living in Idaho....and having to bundle up kids with costumes OVER their coats ((this was a challenge)) to go trick or treating.

And I remember times in MAY...around Mother's Day...when it would throw us a nasty spring snow storm that would rival anything that came during January and February!

And here in NC? we've had wind, rain, more rain, thunder and lightning, blowing leaves...it LOOKS autumnal out there. It LOOKS like you should be able to grab a bulky sweat shirt and brave your way to the mail box, but once you go out? It's HOT! It's STICKY and HUMID...and it feels all kinds of weird! It was over 70 degrees at 7am this morning?

This pic was taken going UP my driveway...in bare feet and short sleeves because it is so weirdly WARM!

How can I justify a snow day when it is 75 degrees outside? LOL! I want a snow day! I want a reason to not have to leave the house, to put yummies in the crock pot and let them simmer all day while I work on this mystery quilt and other projects, while I just.....PUTTER....

No, I'm not complaining. It's gorgeous here. That blue sky, the sunshine after the storm, the leaves in glorious colors, living surrounded by the beauty...and oh! The smell of fall...it's wonderful. It's just not cold enough to justify staying in!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hexagons on the Brain!

Big Cities, Old Buildings, Tile Floors!

Three things that make me ooooohhh and ahhhhhhh! I just love old tile floors....This was in the ladie's restroom at Quartino's!

Yep.....can you see that as a border? I made SURE to catch the corner turn for future reference!

I've been so gung ho happy with these hexes that I even handed a stack of paper pieces and some scraps to Randy so she could start doing some too. It kits so easy...a few pieces of fabric, some thread, a needle, a pin, some paper pieces....and you are ready to go for hours! It was a 3 hour drive to Shipshewana from Chicago....and since we were being chauffeured by Darlynn who was driving, and Andrea, who rode shot gun....we stitched in the back seat and looked out the window and talked and gabbed and laughed...and stitched some more!

What about THIS one???

This was the floor at a little corner bakery where we got breakfast on Wednesday morning....the very beginning fuel up station for our 7.5+ miles power walk around Chicago day! I love the variations I see in tile floors....and there were LOTS of them. Some in entry ways of shops, some had designs in the tiles to spell out a name, a date. It was hexagons everywhere you look....when you open your eyes and start noticing them!

From here we went to a little hole in the wall nail place. Randy got a manicure...and since I was standing there, and they offered the service, I had my brows waxed! >_< It was a nice treat. She did such a good job that she actually used a little comb and scissors and trimmed the brow hairs to a better length. I guess in my old age, my brows are growing way out of control. I had no idea!! LOL!!

Happy Hour snacks were found at a place called "Rock Bottom" later in the evening while we were waiting for Ben, and this was the floor in THEIR restroom!

Yes. I admit it. I was taking pics of the floor while sitting in the stall..LOL! And it's also crazy, but i was wishing I had a floor like this at home, and a pack of dry erase markers so I could color them in any way I want....My Hexies have put a Hex on me!!

After posting this post...I got an email from Carla in Michigan, and she sent me THIS pic of a tile floor: ((of course I had to upload it and edit this post immediately...I was WOW over this one!))

She writes:

Love your post on hexagons and floor tiles. I found this floor in a Madison WI bar last month, old building with oak trim.
I thought the edging was a different treatment for a hexagon center.

Thanks for sharing Carla!

I took some time to lay out the progress to see how the border was going to fit...and after the time spent stitching at retreat, and the time in the Suburban all the way back to O'Hare yesterday morning....and the time spent stitching in between the time that Randy's flight left, and I still had 3 hours to wait for mine...and all the stitching I did on my flight home...I've finished another border section and have partly assembled another, so it's a bit farther than this now.

I'm still not counting how many hexagons there are, or how many there will be, or even how big will this be when I am done? All those kinds of questions I don't have an answer for, and of course they are questions that people want to know. I'll know when it's done. I know it will tell me. And I know I will probably move on to another!

Just give it a try....I know the little hexies will put a hex on you too!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Please Check Your Stash!!....

Teri from Indiana is on the look out for this striped fabric!

((the one in the center, used in the sashing))

Do you have it? Do you know someone who has it? Can you ask your quilty friends about it? Send them the link to this post so they can look please, we need to find it for her!

She is hoping to find at least 1/2 yard of it. If you DO have it..she is willing to beg, barter or steal BUY it from you!

She writes:

It is a stripe and I no longer have
the selvage.

The colors in the stripe are red/orange/aqua/white/yellow.

I believe it is manufactured by P&B or Michael Miller, but I can't be certain.

Please contact her via email at tjfritch@mchsi.com if you have it, she might not see your comment if you reply in the comments section of this blog post.

((I will forward comments to her that do show up in my inbox via the comments section))

Ready? Set? SEARCH!

Hexagon Tutorial

I've had so many requests to post this, that I finally bit the bullet. There are several tutorials out there, each one a bit different, and I thought I might put a link to this in my tutorials tab since so many are finding themselves bit by the hexie bug as I continue to post my progress!

The most common of hexagon patterns is the "Grandmother's Flower Garden" But did you know that mosaic patchwork goes way back before that popular hexagon revival of the 1930s?

There is a great article found on WomenFolk.com about the history of this kind of work, with the earliest known American mosaic quilt dating to about 1807, and English quilts are even earlier. I read about a template for this kind of piecing that is dated to around 1770!

The Illinois State Museum has a nice collection of mosaic or honeycomb quilts in their collection.

Several years ago while living in South Carolina, I was down in Charleston for the Cobblestone Quilter's 2003 Quilt show...and there was a book on mosaic quilts in the museum gift shop, as well as many mosaic quilts on display in the museum itself. You can bet that book came home with me! One of my favorite quilts was just a top in progress...fussy cut little hexagons, papers still in place, and you could read the writing on them! FABULOUS!

Though you can buy pre-cut English paper piecing hexagons, I've been having a lot of fun with this:

It's from Creative Memories, and has 2 sizes of hexagon punches. The one I am using on the right is a 3/4" per side, or a 1 1/2" finished size hexagon. The one on the left is smaller. Each side measures 1/2", for a 1" finished hexagon.

**Note** I've since been told that the hex punch has been discontinued, so if you can find one on ebay or craigslist, snag it!

I'm having a great time repurposing greeting cards, business cards, advertisements that come in the mail, anything that has that "card stock" feel to it. All those political flyers? Oh yeah..they are all getting chopped up! Those subscription cards that are blown into magazines? Perfect! (I've even been guilty of picking them up off the floor in the grocery store and putting them in my purse!) I have enough junk paper coming my way that I don't feel the need to have to buy pre-cut paper shapes. I'd rather spend that money on fabric!

If you don't have a punch, or access to pre-cut paper shapes, you can cut your own. You just have to be very careful that they are all exact so that they fit each other when you join them together.

I pre-cut my fabric shapes a scant OVER 1/4" seam allowance all the way around. I feel like the hex papers stay in better when my seam allowance is a bit more generous. This is just something I've figured out for myself while working on this 10 year old Phd! ((Phd=Project Half Done!)) Yes, that's right..I started this quilt THAT long ago and it has moved with me from Idaho to two places in Texas, to a place in South Carolina, and on to North Carolina. It's come out of the cupboard now and again, ((Not as often as it should!)) for 2 trips to the Netherlands...it is so very portable! But I've got the push to really keep working on it now and see it DONE. It could be that 10 year anniversary GUILT!?....who knows....*LOL*

SO! Here we GO!

Center a paper hex on the wrong side of the fabric. Take a small pin and pin the fabric in place on the BACK (fabric) side. This keeps your thread from getting tangled up in the pin when you are basting your corners.

I use a size 10 applique sharp when working my hexagons, and yes, I do use a thimble!

My favorite thread for basting/stitching hexagons is aurifil. I love how I can use a good length and it doesn't shred back up against itself the way that some other cottons do. Some like silk, some like bottom line. Thread is a personal preference. I'm using a shade of grey/green because it blends through all the fabric colors I am using without standing out too much against any of them.

This is the paper side of the pinned hexagon. The pin might buckle the paper a bit, but not too much. Some like to use a hole punch to punch a hole in the card, and pin through the hole, but I don't have time to be bothered with that. ;c) Just pin it!

Start at one side, and fold the seam allowance over the edge of the paper hex. Keep that pinched with your finger, and fold over an adjacent side, creating a little miter at the corner. Run your needle through the fabric, under the fold, but not through the paper. We are just going to be back-tacking the corners. The stitches will NOT go through the paper.

Working the same corner, do another little back stitch so your thread anchors that corner. Pull snug but not tight.

Fold over the next adjacent seam allowance, and tack stitch at the next corner in the same manner. The basting thread will travel from corner to corner on the back of the hexes.

**Note** If you are doing hexes that finish more than 2"...you might need to stitch through the card at the center of each side, as a really long stitch on the back might not be sufficient to hold your seam allowance in place. That *Will* mean you have to remove your basting stitches at a later point. You won't be able to continuously baste AND attach your hexagon to the next one, you'll have to baste the hexes individually and start a new length of thread to join the basted hexes.

I've only used this continuous method for SMALL hexes. The quilt I did with large hexes I just hand pieced the "regular" hand piecing way with no papers needed.

Continue all the way around the hex until you have tacked each corner. Just tack that 6th corner, there is no need to carry your thread all the way back to the first point...the basting threads will be on 5 sides only on the back of your hexagon.

If this were a center of a flower, I would knot my thread and end it here. But I am using this green hexagon in the border segment I am working on. No matter what pattern you are doing with these, the steps are the same.

I like my stitching to be as continuous as possible, and because I am adding this to another unit, I'm not going to end my thread here. Instead, I'm bringing my needle out through the corner of the hex, and I'm going to join it with the same thread to the unit already in progress. If you were making flowers, you would add them in the same manner. This helps keep things more secure. Since these sides are only 3/4"...I don't want a new piece of thread and a new knot every 3/4". And this gives me a way to see instant progress, instead of just building up a baggie of miscellaneous basted pieces that have to be sewn into something later.

Place the hex where you want it to go to check placement, and then fold it right sides together with the one you are sewing it to. It's a *Y* seam process, but it is very easy to do by hand.

The secret about whip stitching these together is to have your needle catch only a few threads of each hexagon at the fold. If your stitches take too big of a bite your stitches will show. Stitch only through the fold, not through the paper.

I take two stitches at every corner to anchor the corners and to keep them snug so they won't gap. Each side takes me 8-10 stitches to get to the next corner on these 3/4" per side hexagons. Work carefully, work slowly. When you reach the next corner, take two stitches to anchor the corner securely.

After reaching the corner, flip out the little hex you just added, adjust to the next side you will be sewing, fold it back with right sides together to align those two sides, and start stitching again. I find it helps me to pinch the adjoining hexagon to give it a crease which allows me to really stitch into the corner. Two stitches in the corner to anchor it good to prevent gaps...little tight stitches just along the fold, not too big of a bite to keep stitches nearly invisible, working toward the next corner.

When you reach the corner, two more stitches to anchor...

And if this is far as you can go, there are no more sides of that hexagon to stitch down, work a few stitches back toward the center of that hexagon, away from the corner. This allows you to keep corner stitches tight, and makes it so there is never a knot in the corner of any hexagon that might work loose. Knot and end thread.

Here is my hexagon all sewn into place on this border unit!

If you are working flower units, the system is the same. Baste your center hex. End the thread. Baste your first petal, bring the needle up through one corner, and attach it to the center hex without breaking the thread. End thread and baste next petal. Continue to add petals around the center until you get to the last hex! Sometimes you get to connect only one side, sometimes two, but that last one will have you basting your hex, and sewing three sides to set it into place with one length of thread -- no stopping. When you get used to the process, you can find yourself piecing whole sections and joining them together with long seams, just working point to point to point. It's addictive! And FUN! And a great way to make use of found time!

These flowers are waiting to be sewn into the next border section in my quilt.

And just to show you when you can remove the papers:

When the hexagons are completely surrounded by another row on all sides, you can easily lift the papers out and reuse them! This is the backside of the 3 flowers, and I've already snagged the center hex from the green middles. You WILL want to remove them as your project grows because it keeps the center supple and easier to work with it in your hands. Only the outer-most row needs to have the paper pieces in place to keep them in shape!

Ahhhh! Progress!! I can hardly wait to go to my bee meeting tonight so I can stitch on it some more! :c)

PS...if you want to print some hexagon graph paper so you can design your own layout with markers or colored pencils, click HERE! It's a lot of fun to design your own the way I did.

And for those asking --- My quilt will finish at approx 79" X 90". My hexagons are 3/4" per side, or 1.5" across the center from point to point. I have not even begun to count the pieces in this quilt, nor will I until the piecing is done!