Finish it up friday: hexagon quilt

Just kidding, it’s not really finished. I wish!

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But I have (bravely) done the math to see just how long it will actually be until it IS finished. I thought you guys might find this math helpful in case you are considering a 1-inch hexi quilt.

As I mentioned in my hexagon tutorial, hexagons are measured by the length of one side. A 1-inch hexagon is 1 inch per side, but actually measures 2 inches across the long side and 1 3/4 inch across the short side.

I want my quilt to be a throw size so it can live on the back of the couch and be enjoyed by all. I started with an approximate goal of something like 50 x 70. Since I have a pack of 1,200 papers from paperpieces.com I started my math by trying to figure out if that is enough or if I’ll need to reuse some.  After some trial and error I discovered that if I make 38 rows of 32 hexagons that will yield a 56 x 76 finished quilt. I’ll need 1216 papers, so I will need to reuse some. In fact, I’ll need to reuse a fair amount because I’ve given some papers away and I’m sorting out any fabric that’s not low volume enough (you can read about that here).

So far I have a slab of 70 hexagons all sewn together. I also have a stack of 15 rows of 5 (that’s 75 hexagons). Then I have an additional 270 basted hexies. So I’m about 1/3 done with basting. And some very low percentage done with sewing them together.

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It’ll be well into 2014 until I even get close to a finish on this one.

But I’m not depressed by that and I’ll tell you why. I consider this a sort of “bonus quilt.” An extra. It has no deadline. The fabric is all either scraps or mini charm packs I’ve picked up here and there so it hasn’t been a big expense. I’ve mostly worked on it at times I would not have otherwise been sewing: outside watching the kids play, in front of the tv, in the car.

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Plus, who wouldn’t want these pretty little hexagons stacks all over their house?

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WIP: Modern flower garden

Ok, after a very nice date on Wednesday night I got right to work on Thursday!

This quilt is quite a bit of work, but I am really enjoying the process. Machine appliqué is a really different experience than the piecing I usually do. It’s fun to discover new tools and methods. I especially enjoy having preparatory steps that can be done away from the sewing machine. I’ve been doing a little here and there and this is what I’ve accomplished in just a couple of days.

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I did one test block to check everything first- always a good idea in case there is something you need to adjust or reconsider.

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I have about 20 (of 80) additional petals ready. I’ll probably continue to work on these a few more days and then take a break and start work on the first few blocks of the main Penny Sampler quilt.

Check out this sketch stitching:

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I just love the effect it creates. And on the practical side, this quilt will be very durable for machine washing.

So that’s what I’ve been working on! It’s been more of a sewing week than a blogging week, but I have an exciting post planned for tomorrow introducing a new series I’ll be featuring this fall. Talk to you then!

WIP: voile test

Some WIP eye candy for you today!

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This is my cotton/linen/voile test mini. My objective is to work with voile and a linen blend for the first time and see how they work together with regular quilting weight cotton.

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As you can see I don’t shy away from a challenge: I’m doing some pretty fussy piecing (y seams!). I thought about keeping it simple with square patchwork but I thought this would be a more helpful test.

I will tell you that so far I love working with the linen blend but I find the voile pretty challenging!

I’m hoping to have a full report in time for Finish it up Friday – including how everything behaves in the wash!

Linking up today with Work in Progress Wednesday.

WIP (sort of): shirt quilts

Remember when I said I don’t want to buy anything at Marshall’s because I’d rather buy fabric? (You can see that post about my stash here).

Well I found a solution: now I pass right by the rows of cute little tops and dresses and shoes and head straight for the men’s clearance rack. You see, I realized that Marshall’s sells fabric right there!

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Of course it’s not just Marshall’s: it’s the back of your husband’s closet, your parent’s basement, the local thrift store. Perfectly good 100% cotton fabric in every color of the rainbow.

I really must give some credit for this idea to Sarah Fielke. The quilt on the cover of her latest book, Hand Quilted with Love, is made with cast offs from a shirt maker who happens to be her neighbor. Yup, that’s right: her neighbor just stopped by with huge bags of free fabric. I spent some time feeling jealous but then I decided to take action.

I started collecting shirts from the men in my life as well as the local thrift stores. I check the labels carefully to be sure they are 100% cotton because many of them contain polyester. If it says “wrinkle free” you can skip it because those are all poly blends. Once I had a pretty big stack and a little more direction about color, I bought just 2 from the TJ Maxx clearance rack. These were a bit of a splurge ($12 and $15) compared to the others but worth it to round out my color scheme.

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You might be wondering how much fabric comes from one men’s shirt. Is it even a good deal? Here’s what an XL long sleeve shirt looks like all cut up and laid on a 36 by 44 inch area marked with blue painter’s tape. I removed the sleeve bands and collar but the buttons and pocket are still there.

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I think it’s fair to say that you can get at least a yard of usable fabric from this shirt. Obviously long sleeves are better than short sleeves and bigger is better. I found a XXXL shirt at TJ’s that would have been amazing if only it was the right color! Just the back of it alone looked like a full yard.

Now, personally I am keeping my shirt collection separate from my stash. I do not pre-wash my fabric but these are an exception since most of them are used. If I did want to work in some fabrics from my stash I would wash it first so that everything is equally pre-shrunk.

What quilts will I make with these beautiful shirt fabrics?

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The picture on the left is the Marcelle Medallion from Liberty Love. On the right is Sarah Fielke’s shirt quilt from Hand Quilted with Love.

I’ve been wanting to try both of these quilts for a while and I think the shirt fabric is perfect. Since these are both medallion-style quilts (one central block surrounded by multiple borders) and they’ll both be made with the same fabric I think they are likely to end up on my boys’ bunk beds.

It’ll be an epic challenge but I’m giving myself permission to take my time on this one.

I will warn you about one side effect of collecting shirts for fabric… You start to look at your husband’s wardrobe quite selfishly. “Um, honey, the next time you stain a shirt can it be this one?”

WIP Wednesday: Sarah Fielke applique update

Checking in quickly today to share this progress on my very 1st appliqué & hand quilting project.

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The applique is done! It went really well. Hand quilting? Harder. 🙂

You can read more about this project here!

I hope to have it done by Friday- in time to link up with Crazy Mom! And today I’m linking with Lee @ Freshly Pieced, kind host of Work in Progress Wednesday.

Thank you guys so much for your kind comments and support of my EPP tutorial! It’s been so fun to hear your thoughts. I’ve already updated it a bit due to a thoughtful question. Thank you!

WIP week: a break from quilts

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We’re wrapping up work in progress week today! I will admit that I conceived 2 new quilt ideas this weekend… but they’re not technically in progress yet so I think I can wait a bit to share them here. Tomorrow I’m going to debut my hide-the-basting-stitches EPP tutorial! Stay tuned it’s going to be exciting.

Today we’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled complete obsession with quilts to share a few non-quilt projects. One great thing about quilting is that it teaches general sewing skills. I honestly could barely thread my machine before I made my 1st quilt. By the time I was done with my 2nd quilt, I was much more comfortable with sewing in general. I also learned hand sewing from binding my quilts and that is another valuable tool. I have used those skills to make every curtain and decorative pillow in my house, not to mention 10 or 15 quilts (I really should count sometime).

I think sewing is a really useful skill and I hope to get more people excited about it!

Now of course I take every gift opportunity and turn it into a sewing opportunity! My church put on a casual baby shower for 2 friends of mine who recently had their 2nd and 4th babies. They asked for diapers and wipes but of course I’m a rebel so I sewed something cute instead.

I decorated these little onesies using a combination of english paper piecing (EPP) and machine appliqué.

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I also made these name buntings to hang behind the gift tables. I think these will be really fun hung in their nurseries or saved for future birthday parties.

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Here’s another non-quilt project that I’m in the middle of:

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I don’t know what possessed me to make my first bag such a challenging one! Well no, actually I do know. It was this picture on In Color Order. How cute is that?? I ordered the pattern and it hasn’t actually been too bad considering it was only my 1st ever bag and my 2nd ever zipper. I only have a few steps to go until I can use it… Assuming my husband and I can manage to get away from our kiddos for a weekend. So not likely. 🙂

Linking with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle & Thread Thursday!