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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wow!  A whole month since I posted last.  I really need to do better at this!  For those who know me personally, I hate to write and I hate to sit at my computer, so a blog is a double whammy!  My last post I mentioned some hints for English Paper Piecing with hexagons.  Please remember that I am also not a photographer, I would much rather be quilting!
Before I get started, let me tell you that not all these ideas are mine.  At the quilt show I was at last month, the wonderful lady in the booth next to me passed on some of these ideas and then some are ideas from the tutorial I found online when I taught myself to paper piece.  Their websites are:
The Scrappy Appleyard
and this CD designs was very helpful when I first started: 

Getting started:

 When I first started paper piecing I used posterboard hexagons.  Then it was suggested that I switch to template plastic.  Here is a better picture of the templete plastic hexagon:

The hole punch is for a pin, see the next picture.

When I first start a hexagon, I try to center the template in the middle of the fabric.  Some people mark the lines with pencil.  I'm OCD, but not with this. If you are, feel free to draw your lines. You know its centered pretty well if you fabric "matches" when you fold over both sides.  If you have more fabric on one side than the other, when you get around to the last side, you may not have enough. I take two stitches in the corner. It is important to hold your fabric really tight. The tutorial above mentioned securing it with tape.  This picture shows a pin.  I also like to use paperclips.  See the next picture:

You can also see in this picture how I just stitch all the way around the hexagon.  You can also see how all my sides of fabric folded over the template is fairly even.  This also comes with practice, so when you first start out, don't worry if your hexagon doesn't look quite this even!

Sewing the hexagons together:

When I first started sewing my hexagons I knew to use a neutral thread for best results (gray, white, or tan).  I also sewed them WRONG sides together with a whip stitch.  Big mistake.  As you can see from the picture above, my stitches were easily seen. My next method what to sew them RIGHT sides together, whip stitching from the back side. As you can see from the next picture, they aren't quite as visible, but still somewhat:
The next picture shows another tip I received from my neighbor at the quilt show. She suggested holding the hexagons NEXT to each other so that they lay flat while whip stitching them together.  As you can see, the thread does not show thru to the front. This is the ideal look!

Here is a picture of the back, where the stitching shows thru.  That's OK, its the back!

You can barely see the thread, in part, because I am such a bad photographer, but also because I used the neutral thread. If I'm going to do this much work, I do NOT want my stitches to show!  I will save that for my quilting, the stitching that is supposed to show!

A portable sewing kit:

I keep my kit at home to work on in front of the TV.  I do not keep scissors in my kit because I have two small children and I get cold chills thinking what could happen if one were to get my scissors!  Here is a picture of my kit:

I keep a small container with my needle, thread, thimble, paperclips, and threadcutter (the round pendant) in my kit.  The small container keeps all these loose items contained and keeps me from losing them. I also have a small ziploc bag that has my templates and a seperate ziploc for my fabric hexagons.  You can keep all of this in a makeup bag you aren't using, a small travel case or even a larger ziploc bag.  I happen to keep mine in a sample bag that formula came in when I had my second son.  I think it works perfectly.  My point is that you don't need anything fancy for this.  Use what you have on hand!

There are many places to buy the paper and template plastic hexagons.  A quick internet search would be able to guide you.  I also sell hexagon kits on my website.  I don't have any in my online store, yet, with the template plastic, but plan to add them soon.  I sell charm hexagon packs for $5.  For those who are not familiar with charm packs, that means all the fabrics are different.  My packages have 50 different fabrics in them, plus the templates.  I tell customers at my booth at quilt shows that they are the right size to see if you like English Paper Piecing.  For $5 you can try a new technique! If you don't like it, you don't have a big investment in time or money!

I also did a demonstration of English Paper Piecing at the Smoky Mtn. Quilt Show.  Cutting the hexaons with my die cut machine also make this technique much more enjoyable.  If I had to cut all this fabric by hand, I don't think I would get very far...

If you have specific fabric you would like cut into hexagons, please contact me.  I can cut them for 10 cents a piece.  I can also add the posterboard templates for free.  I would have to charge a little extra if you want the plastic templates, enough to cover my expense.  A few months ago I had a customer send me a shoe box of scraps and I transformed it into a nice package of hexagons for a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt!  What a great way to use your scraps!

Don't forget, my website is and my email is

I'm also on Facebook.  Search "Custom Quilt Kits" and "LIKE" me to enter a drawing for a free kit, 10% off a custom order, or a package or two of appliques.

Until next time, keep quilting!