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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Grandmother's Flower Garden - adding hexies in rows

I believe I have mentioned before that I am using Quilt Patis to make my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. They are plastic hexagons instead of paper. Because they are plastic, they hold up much longer than the average life of paper templates for English paper piecing.

While quilt patis are flexible, I can't really fold them when piecing, like one can do with paper. This makes it a little more difficult to piece them as flowers and then piece those flowers together. In fact, I believe Pati Shambaugh recommends piecing them in rows. It takes a little more forethought and planning, but it is still very rewarding.

I would like to take a moment to share exactly how I piece these in rows without folding / bending the Quilt Patis (for the most part - when I get to the edges of the quilt, a little bending is necessary where the seams meet, in order to keep the Patis in the edges).

The first picture shows my current row, adding to the previous row.  I've added some arrows to show the seams that I sew to add each hexagon in a row.  The important difference from what I've seen others do is that when a new hexagon is added, I do not sew every seam.  The right and left seams of the outermost row are left unsewn until the next row is added.

Now I will take you through each seam individually.  In the photo above, I had sewn through seam #5.  In the next photo, I am whipstitching seam #6 (outer solid yellow to row 2 solid yellow).

Seam #6 is sewn in the photo below, and I am ready to add another hexagon.  This time I am adding the flower center, another yellow, slightly different shade.

I begin whipstitching where I left off the previous seam.  I usually take two stitches, locking in the corner before stitching towards the next corner.

Here you can see I have finished the first seam that adds the new hexagon to the row.

Next, I folder over the two solid yellows in the row below.  I stitch toward the corner and take a couple of stitches to lock it in place.

Here you can see that the seam is finished, and in fact, all of the seams surrounding the left solid yellow hexagon are now stitched.  This hexie's template can now be removed so it can be used in another hexagon.

Here is the back of the quilt, showing all seams stitched around that hexagon.  I travel the thread under and over the fabric a couple of times, then bring the needle through the corner to get ready for the next stitch.  If I didn't remove the template in the hexagon that has all seams sewn, I would have to bend it in order to start the next stitch.  Time to remove it!

Basically, I just pull back one of the corners and it pops right out.

The hexagon will not lose its shape, because all the seams around it are sewn.

Now I can bend that fabric easily to sew the next seam.  This is the second seam on the most recently added hexagon.

Once I get to the end of that, I take another stitch in the corner to secure it, and now I can add another hexagon.  Lather, rinse, repeat. :)

I am almost at the end of another row, so I will be able to share a new picture soon of my progress.

I absolutely love this quilt, and hope to soon get my new Sizzix die for cutting the fabrics, which will make that part much easier.  I SO love piecing hexagons by hand that I could not resist another hexie quilt project.  Keepsake Quilting's latest catalog had some really GORGEOUS designs and kits, one of which is Tula Pink's Hex on the Beach.  A dear quilting friend and I recently gushed over it, and I got to see the kit in person when she brought it in to quilt guild.  I was on the fence until then, and really, knowing how long it takes to make these quilts by hand, I tried to resist.  But then I remembered how frustrated I have been when I realized that something (a kit, a tool, a scissors chatelaine) was no longer available or extremely difficult to find (not to mention more expensive), and I that had finally decided I really, really wanted it.  So even though I won't start it for a long time, it WILL be there when I am ready to start it.  Did I mention the fabrics are GORGEOUS? :)

I hope that this "tutorial" helps someone else out there decide to dive in to a hexagon quilt, or helps make it easier to piece one.  I have gotten so many hints, tips, and tricks - I have learned so much over the years both on- and offline, that I want to help others by passing along any helpful tips that I can.

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