Saturday, October 27, 2012


Since many of us are making hexagon projects, I have been asked several times to show someone how I make mine.  Let me just say up front - - There are many ways to make the hexagons for Grandmother's Flower Garden style projects.  If you have a way that you love, just keep on using it.  This is for those of you who have wanted to do hexies, but were a little intimidated or simply could not figure out how to start.

I like to use a method that requires the least amount of time and gives me the best results.  I am not fond of cutting paper templates, or sewing with paper templates.  I have done some of those in the past.  Once I discovered mylar templates I was off and running to use those for my projects.  I discovered these by reading some one's blog and finding out where she ordered her templates.

When I read about The ScrappyAppleyard Quilt Shoppe and noticed they were located in my home state, I placed my order immediately.  The templates I use are 1" size.  They come packaged with about 80 plates to a package.  Since these are re-usable I only needed 2 packages to give me all the templates I would need to do my Hexagon Star Quilt.  As soon as all six sides were connected to another side, I would remove my template.  This made handling the project easier as it became larger.

I will show you how I make each hexie for this quilt.  I still have a few rounds to go before this is complete.

This is the packaging of the 1" mylar templates that I ordered from The Scrappy Appleyard Quilt Shoppe.

I cut 2.5" squares of the fabrics I am using for the project.  Then I trim off the corners.

Drawing lines and cutting exact shapes of the hexies was not "my cup of tea".

I place the mylar template in the center and secure it with a small applique pin.  The punched hole in the center of the template makes it so easy to pin these on.

I begin folding down at each point around the template and tacking it with a couple stitches.  These stitches are only in the fabric, not going through the mylar.  A couple of stitches at each intersection is sufficient to hold it securely.  At the last intersection I make a finishing knot.

Here is the finish.
After they are completely tacked at all intersections, I remove the little pins from the center of the template.

I will note here that I use any thread that I have because it will never be seen.  It is a good place to use up those spools of thread that have been around for a long time or that are of questionable content.  These are basting stitches that will stay in the quilt.  At least, I don't remove the basting stitches.  So, if you have used rotten thread and in 5 or 10 years it rots out, it will not create a problem because the hexies have been sewn to each other.

Sorry about the quality of this picture.  What I have done is put two hexies together with right sides facing and then I have used a very tiny whip stitch. 
This is the place that the type of thread you use really matters.
I use a very fine thread.  Many quilters use silk thread for this step and so do I sometimes.  However, most of the time I am using a poly thread made by Wonderfil called Invisifil.  It is very fine like silk but not quite as costly.

Most of the time I use a cream or a white thread.  Since it is so fine and my stitches are very small and close together it gives an invisible join from the right side.  The exception to this would be if I were doing something with very dark colors then I would change to a grey or dark taupe.
My needle of choice is a very small sharp in size 11 or 12.  This is the same size needle that I use for hand quilting. 

Notice the very short tail coming off the needle.  I choose to tie a knot at the top of my needle after I thread it so that the thread will not slip out of the needle as I am sewing.
Using very fine thread allows you to tie that knot and it will slide right through the cotton fabric just fine.

Once I have put together several of these hexies and they are attached on all six sides to another hexie.  I use my small scissors and pop the template out of the fabric by putting the point of the scissors in the little hole in the center.

It does not bother me that the fold over isn't exactly the same on all six sides.  As long as it is enough to hold it securely until I can attach the other hexies, I am a happy camper or "hexer".

I hope this has been helpful.  Please send me any question you might have and I will attempt to get you an answer that will keep you "hexing" or that will get you started on this fun technique.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I spent today cutting about 500 three inch squares in lights and darks.

Then I cut some 3.5" strips to make about 200 Half-Square Triangles.

I used my EZ Angle Ruler to cut the half-square triangles.

Here is my basket full of HSTs ready to be pressed.

Tomorrow I will make Split 9-Patch blocks and get started on another Friendship Star Quilt.

This is what Lil Bit did!

She sat in her bed chewing on her Chew Bone with her little "doggy"  toy.

Our day was busy and productive.



What a gorgeous fall morning it is!!  The sun is shining and the air is crisp.  The leaves are starting to turn here in southeast Tennessee and, occasionally, you can smell the aroma associated with leaves burning.  That always reminds me of my childhood.

It has been a week since I last posted because I was having difficulty with my camera settings.  I think I have solved it now with some help from my friend, Ava.  The pictures that follow may not be as crisp as some from earlier posts but, at least, I can now post them.

My sister asked me to make a quilt for her to give her son for a Christmas gift.  I wanted something that was masculine, but not just sports, motorcycles, and race cars.  I went into my stash and started pulling out fabrics to use.  I narrowed it down to a predominance of blues and browns.  Again this quilt will qualify for the category of "Making Do" that I pledged to try this year.  Using fabrics from my stash without making a significant fabric purchase is a real reward in itself.  After completing this quilt, I had hardly made a dent in my blues and browns.  The neutrals are showing some "denting"  so I may have to replenish those as I go along if I want to keep using neutrals for backgrounds.

The pattern I chose is the Friendship Star made from split 9-patch blocks. This layout is similar to the way you would lay out a Log Cabin quilt top.

The neutrals vary from very light to dark light and even some with an orange floral.  There are a couple of  other "ringers" thrown in for interest.  I think putting a few patches of red in the darks and a few patches with pale pink or yellow in the neutrals gives some spark and energy to the overall pattern.

Working scrappy is a challenge for some quilters.  I have tried to encourage my buddies to give it a try.  I firmly commit to the mantra "Value makes the statement in a quilt, but Color gets all the credit".  Scrappy quilts allow you to be free with a color palette and use anything/everything in a color family regardless of its theme or style.  My one hesitation is not to use Batiks and plaids with most other fabrics.  My reason for that is not that they would not work.  They certainly would.  I just like to keep my Batiks as a separate category because en masse they give such a unique look to a quilt.  The same is true for plaids in general.  My personal preference with plaids is to make them a focal fabric and have the background/neutrals play a supporting role.  Just my opinion, you see.

This particular layout has a little modern twist to it.  It is a variation from one of Karen Combs' layouts in her book, "Combing Through Scraps".

The center detail:

The quilt measures 63" x 81".  My sister asked me to make it for him to use on his sofa for TV watching with his girl friend.  I think it will be perfect for that.

I chose to leave it without a border --  this again lends itself to a little more modern approach.  It allows the design to drift off the edges of the quilt.

I am making three more of these quilts for gifts.  I will post more pictures as I finish each quilt.  Choice of fabric certainly changes the look.



Thursday, October 11, 2012


I admire Maya Angelou for many reasons.  Among those reasons is that she can say so much with so few words.

I am trying to internalize her quote above.  Often I find myself saying I don't think I am creative or artistic.  Instead I pride myself on good skills and workmanship.  I consider myself to be a strong teacher/mentor for others wanting to learn the art of quiltmaking.

At this place in my journey I am attempting to step out of my comfort zone and to try some "free wheeling".  It is simply not my nature to let something "just happen".  I would like to find the "creative muse" that lives inside me.  I want a personal relationship with her.

I have been reading a few new books and attempting to learn something about being more creative.  This is my way of getting out of my rut.

Art Quilt Workbook

This is the book that my art quilt guild will be using for its guide this year.  I found a quote that spoke to me  "You must find your personal inspiration and learn how to tap into it.  The most useful skill you can develop as an artist is observation.  Slow down and really look at the world around you.  Look again -- see the relationships between objects, colors, and shapes.  Learning to see is really important." 

I know that I "observe" in generalities and not in particulars.  This will be my challenge.  Observing with no other purpose than observing is difficult for me.  Looking without trying to come up with the method of producing a quilt requires me to stop myself and let the art "talk".

Art + Quilt
This author says  "I firmly believe that  everyone is creative in some way, and that if you have the desire and the willingness to learn, you can become an artist.  There are technical skills in the world of visual art that can be learned, just as we learn to read or do math."

I have the desire and I believe I am willing. 

Fearless Design for Every Quilter

The title of this book is a little daunting, but look at that cover picture.  Does that grab my color senses or what?

The quote from this book that I am latching onto is  "Many people believe that creativity is a magical power limited to those who have a special talent.  Scientific evidence shows us that this is a myth.  Being creative is not a mysterious process understood by only a few.  Rather, it is a process in which anyone can engage and produce new ideas.  The secret is work, trial and error, and learning from mistakes."

I don't do a very good job of sketching and I have not been successful at keeping a sketchbook or a journal.  I am committing to truly trying to practice this technique of creativity.

I am looking forward to the next year of my quilting journey.  I want to practice some trial and error; some pausing and letting my mind rest and relax as I observe my surroundings; and then translating my findings to some form of art quilt.

Come along with me, won't you?



Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Another project in the Simply Needle and Thread group is my Quilter's Playhouse quilt.

This little piece started out as a carry along project for my bi-monthly hand stitching group called TGIF.  That stands for "Thank Goodness It's Finished".  We have such a good time together.  We meet in the afternoon for show and tell, stitching, laughing, and dessert.  I have been with this group for about 10 years now, I think.  There are 9 of us and we rotate our meetings to each other's homes.  Sometimes we are all in attendance and, at other times, some of us are missing because of travel or other commitments.

"Quilter's Playhouse" is a pre-printed panel that reminds me of the blocks from The Quiltmaker's Gift.  Do you remember that book that came out a few years ago?

This is a really cute story.  I bought the book to read to my grandchildren.  It has a good lesson about happiness.
An accompanying book of patterns was published a year or two later.  I do not have that one.  The blocks in this pre-print do not correspond exactly to the blocks in the story.

I think the reason my little quilt reminds me of this book is the primary colors.

I love to hand quilt, but I don't like to have to quilt through the layers of seams.  Maybe that makes me a lazy hand quilter. LOL

 My solution is to look for these cute pre-printed panels and then finish them off as lap or children's quilts.  Here are close up shots of some of the blocks.

My stitches are not the smallest stitches around but I love doing this.  I do not use a hoop or a frame. I am definitely a lap quilter.

Here are a couple of shots of the back of the quilt.

Of course, it must have a label!

This label was done on muslin written with a Pigma Pen.  I did heat set it before applying it to the quilt.  I used a blind hem stitch to attach it.

I guess by now you would like to see the completed quilt.  You thought I had forgotten, didn't you?

One of the drawbacks to using a piece like this is the way the patterns repeat.  In this one they repeat every three blocks.  I found this piece on the sale table and there was only this small amount.  It is still big enough for me to use to watch TV or do more hand work.



Monday, October 8, 2012


I was talking to my friend, Kara, who asked me if I had any tips on how to put together the half circles for the Modern Mystery Quilt.  I promised her I would share some pics on my blog of how I did it.

This is the "field" or background piece.   I folded it in half and creased it.  Then I brought each of the "wing" pieces to the center and creased them.  I have now marked the middle and the quarters of the piece.
Next came the half circles . . .

Take the half circle piece that will be inset into the field/background piece.  In this picture it is the colored dot fabric.
Then fold it in half as shown with the pink piece.  Then I took each edge of the folded piece and folded it back to the center as seen in the purple piece.

You have now marked the center and both quarters of the insert piece.

Here are the two components in their folded state.

When you open up each piece you are able now to match the center and the quarters for pinning.

An extra little tip here.  If you will fold the green piece right sides together and the bring the edges over to the center you will get a valley at the center and two mountains at the quarters.
When folding the field/background piece, make the first fold with WRONG sides together and then bring each edge to the center.
By doing this the center will be a mountain and the two quarters will be valleys.

This makes the two pieces "nest" together better when you start to pin.

See the "nesting" ?

I like to start by pinning the center point, then I go to the edges and pin those two and the last two places I pin are the quarters.

Gently work my way around the rest of the edge without stretching or pulling the edges.  If you are patient and take your time, it will go together with reasonable ease.  There is no need to force the two pieces to fit.

Take it to the sewing machine and sew with the field/background piece on top and stitch slowly and take each pin out as you come to it.

It helps to have a good supervisor on standby. . .

Take it to the iron and press the seam open.  Then the piece will lie flat and be ready to use in your quilt.

This does take a little extra time and effort, but I think it is well worth it.

One other thing that I do as I am chain piecing blocks is to use components from another quilt as a "Leader/Ender".  Bonnie Hunter coined this phrase meaning using components to lead a chain and end a chain.  In doing this you make lots of components for another quilt as you complete the current project.

In this project I was making half-square triangle units for a Split Nine-Patch quilt.

Hope you found this little tutorial helpful.



I am a little behind in my weeks on the Modern Mystery Quilt.  This week I have worked on Weeks 2 and 3 at the same time.  Here are the blocks that I have completed.

Week 2 blocks.  I have not put the small strip in the middle.  Still trying to decide what I want to use here.  This is about half of the needed 30 blocks.

This is a few of my blocks for Week 3.  I will continue working on Weeks 2 and 3 as I do Week 4.  Maybe I will be caught up by Wednesday when Week 5 blocks appear.

Of course, Lil Bit was a great supervisor.  She watched each stitch and every pin!


Friday, October 5, 2012


There are some things that one should acknowledge about one's self and then make the best of it and go on with day by day living.  I am not very good at interior decorating.  I could look at magazines for days on end and never could I duplicate what I see.  It is pathetic.  My sister is a whiz at this.  She has one of the prettiest homes I visit.  Each time I go she has done something different.  Oh well, she can sing too.  Me,  I make a mean quilt!!

Having said all of that I am going to invite you to "tour" my home with its fall/autumn/Halloween decorations in place.  I have collected some things that I like and I use them in different ways each year.  Some of these things I have made and others have been purchased at shops and some really pretty things were made by friends of mine. 

Mostly I am just going to show you things I have "stuck" around and about.

I love this piece.  Last year my hubby and I went to the Ketner's Mill Fall Craft Show and I came across this cute little ghost.  That is metal roofing.  I thought it was just so creative.  It hangs on my front porch and in the evening it picks up the reflection from the street light.

This is a sweet little whimsical door piece that makes me smile and invites everyone to come inside.  It came from a retail store.

We have many rainy days in the fall months.  We have lots of trees, and, with trees come fallen leaves, and with fallen leaves comes tracking in onto the floors.  So I made this rug.  The technique is called "ladder hooking" and it is a monochromatic study in browns.  It does a good job inside the front door.  It is completely washable. 

Just outside the dining room is this narrow wall and it calls for something to fill it.  I made this piece last year using some of the orphan blocks I found in "The Drawer" of lost and found partial projects.  It does a good job setting the tone for the place mats on the dining room table (also made from "orphan" blocks).

I do love leaves, even those that get tracked in.  I have made another "leaves" piece to use on the glass top table in the family room.

Aren't these the cutest little
pillows you have ever seen?

My artist friend, Chris Sandow, painted these

little birds on silk.  I loved them
as soon as I saw them!

Originally they were going to be gifts for others, but I simply could not part with them. *sigh*

Don't you think they really make a fine addition to this fall floral arrangement?  This is really poor lighting but it is so rainy and foggy today.  The indoor lighting in my family room is not set up for good photography. 

Another fun piece I made was this wall hanging of witches.  The lowly Snails' Trail block really shines in this project.

Voted "Best Use of Artificial Eyelashes", this hangs over my fireplace in the family room.

I chose Ornamental Kale for the planter boxes on the front porch. I am anxious for them to "fill out" and show their stunning color as the fall months go on.  In the background you can see the yellow mums blooming.  They were planted last year and are not as large as I hope they will become over the years.

The Asparagus Fern still looks good and will probably hold until first frost or some really cold temperatures.  I added some silk flowers to the fern and left it in the plant stand beside the front door.  It is rather "mood" setting making a nice transition from summer to fall.

One lone, smiling pumpkin will sport a candle for Halloween.  This will be the invitation to "Trick or Treat" at our house.

After Halloween, I will add some more fall decorations and use some things for Thanksgiving.  It seems a shame to only get one month out of some of these decorations, but that is the way it is.

Happy Fall!!   Happy Halloween!!!