Friday, July 30, 2010

tips on joining hexagons

When I held my hexie giveaway, I asked readers to leave their hexagon-assembling tips in the comments.  In particular, I was looking for advice on preventing/remedying that little gap where the corners join.   

Here is what you all had to say about piecing:

"...I like to put an extra stitch through each point where all 3 corners of the hexagons meet and pull it tight before moving on, this usually works for me." -Jill

"...I try to eliminate that gap by grabbing just a thread or two of my corners with the needle, right where they fold over and create all the extra layers. I do a ladder stitch for connecting them, and I sometimes go back a stitch or two back the other direction to be sure I've caught those corners well." -Holly

"If you have issues when you come to a Y seam -I'm assuming this is what you're talking about- is to first stitch two corners together, and then stitch the third corner in a V shape..." -Amber

"Having sewn together over 900 1" hexies for my charm quilt I've had lots of practice on the point bit. But explaining it may just confuse more...I'll have a go though. Once you've got two hexies sewn together you'll get a 'point' when you add a third or more. I lightly crease the third addition along it's centre then when I'm getting towards the point bit then draw the needle through the very end of the first two and back through the third. I sometimes do this a couple of times. If you continue in this manner you keep the points but you also get strong stitching where all the hexies join." -Isisjem

"When I sew 2 hexies together- I get to the end and make a little pseudo knot there by running the needle thru the loop of thread as I pull it. It seems to make it stronger there-- so when I add the 3rd hexagon it just comes all together." -Karen

" I work slowly with small stitches on my hexies watching where I place my stitches so it's consistent and the spacing keeps them close." -SewLindaAnn

"I print the hexes onto freezer paper then iron them into the fabric. To join those little corner, I sew each corner to both of the others if that makes sense." -Lynne

"...To get the points of the hexies to come together i usually take some stitches around all the points...sorta do a running stitch like you do with a yoyo,give it a small tug to bring the points together. don't tug to much cause you dont want to cause then to gather like a yoyo." -lej619

"I put in an extra stitch or two to close up the gap when I'm joining hexies. It works just fine for me." -Stacey

"My tip for the corners is that i put 2 tightly pulled stitches in the very corner point at the beginning and end of sewing a side..." -miesmama

General hexagon advice:

"Don't clip the thread between hexies! Make a "hexie chain!" It stays together on the subway that way, and then just snip threads after." -Shelli

"I do hexies the traditional way. I find having a bit more that a quarter inch seam allowance is nice and I iron them a lot before and after removing the papers." -Christine

"I found out that appliqué stitch worked great with hexagons." -Sylvie

"...I've made a little 2.5" cardboard square template & have cut a 1" hexagon shape out of the middle of it so it doubles as a fancy cutting guide."-Roseyposey

 More hexie resources from readers:

"I don't have any hexie tips unfortunately - everything I know I learned from texas freckles' video tutorials." [found here]  -Angelina S.

"A neat tutorial I found is by Lady Harvatine and she shows you how to machine sew them together: [here @ ladyharvatine]" -Artisania

Thanks for the advice, everyone!  Please leave a comment if you have more to share.  Also, big thanks to those who granted me permission to use their lovely photos.  They really make the post!

I am going a little crazy because all of my sewing stuff is packed up right now, hexagons included--not a smart move, I now realize.  A girl needs her handwork!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HOW TO: make a rolled pillowcase

Hi all!  Last Christmas, I made a very, very magenta pillowcase for my younger brother.  He is 19 and thinks pink is somewhere between funny and cool, as I understand.

 [pillowcases I made for my parents, to match my mom's latest quilt... more on that next month!]

The point is, I spent a stupid amount of time zig-zagging all of the raw seams so they wouldn't fray.  At the time, I didn't have a serger; I also had not learned how to make a rolled pillowcase, a technique which completely encloses the seam where the cuff/accent band/body fabric meet.  Like this:

Generally when sewing, I look at the diagram and read the instructions if need be.  I couldn't figure this one out on my own, and didn't understand the instructions as my boss at the quilt shop had written them.  Someone finally gave me a demonstration and it all made sense!

These instructions are written for a home sewing machine and serger, although the side and bottom seam can be sewn without a serger.  You can use a French seam, or just zig-zag your edges to overcast.  I linked to French seam instructions, but can post a tutorial if anyone is interested!

Materials needed:
  • 3/4 yd by width of fabric (WOF) for body of pillowcase
  • 1/3 yd by WOF for cuff
  • 1/8 yd by WOF for accent band (3" will do if that's all you have on hand!)

There is no need to trim your selvages before sewing.  This is part of the assembly process later.

 First, fold your accent band  in half the long way, wrong sides together, and press.

On the table in front of you, lay your cuff piece RIGHT SIDE UP.  Next, lay your folded accent strip on top of that, matching raw edges with the cuff.  Finally, lay your body piece WRONG SIDE UP, matching raw edges with the accent piece and cuff.  You now have four layers. 
Note: If your fabric was milled at slightly different widths (mine was), just align the selvages on one side.  See below.

Pin these layers together along the top raw edges.  Starting from the bottom, long, unpinned edge of the main fabric, begin rolling it toward the pinned edge until you are about an inch from that edge.

Now, bring the free raw edge of the cuff fabric up and over the main fabric roll.  You will have a right side and a wrong side together, which will look weird, but it's correct!  Pin in place.

Now you have a big fabric snake.

With a 3/8" to 1/2" seam, sew along the raw pinned edge of your fabrics.  It doesn't really matter what your seam is, so long as it's straight.  It's easier to keep your layers from shifting with a larger seam allowance.

Grab the main rolled fabric from the center and pull, turning your tube right side out.

Smooth out the cuff and press it flat.  The little accent band always seems to want to turn back onto the main fabric, so I press in that direction.  I find it easiest to press from the front first, making sure everything looks nice, then turn it over and press the back of the seam.

Trim off the selvages on either end, making sure your edges are straight.

Fold your pillowcase in half the long way, so that the raw side edges meet.  Pin together if desired and serge the long edge.  If you don't have a serger, make a French seam or just zig-zag your raw edges to prevent fraying.  (Anyone want a French seam tutorial?)

Serge, French seam or zig-zag the bottom of your pillowcase.

Thread a chenille or tapestry needle with your thread chain and sew it back up through your stitching.

Trim the excess thread and you're done!  I didn't bother doing this with the thread chain at the bottom of the pillowcase--I just made a big knot.  It saved me about eight seconds, and might be breaking some big serger rule, but I think it'll be okay!  I just didn't want a knot at the cuff seam, because it would be visible when on the pillow.

Congratulations!  Your pillowcase has one magically enclosed seam, and the rest are nicely finished.  
A word on directionality: I intended for the acid landscape fabric to be facing the direction it is, but didn't notice that the main blue fabric was directional until I had assembled the whole thing.  If this sort of thing would bother you (it does me), choose true all-over prints.  Is that called multi-directional?  Four-way directional?  (I remember reading about it on True Up, but couldn't find it again.)

Please leave a comment or email me if you have any questions!  This is the first tutorial I've written so I hope it makes sense.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

hexie winners & other news!

Oh, wow!  I didn't realize so many of you are just as crazy about hexagons as I am.  Good ol' pulled five numbers for the giveaway:

So, congratulations to the winners:
#87, Gretchen; #123, Lisa; #22 Chilimango: fabric
#58, Andrea: needles and ruler
#34, Holly: hexagon papers

I emailed you all last night, so please get back to me with your mailing address if you haven't already!  Many thanks to everyone who took the time to comment, follow my blog, and blog about the giveaway.  I wasn't expecting such a great turnout!  You all had some wonderful hexie-joining tips.  I'll be compiling them into one post soon.

I'm about halfway to my 100th post, which will definitely call for another giveaway.  Hopefully that will happen before my blog's 2nd birthday...

Perhaps you read that I am moving soon?  I'll be fairly absent for the next couple of weeks during the transition, though I'm preparing a post or two that will auto-publish during my break from internet life.

Also, something kind of exciting happened today:

We made it to the front page of Etsy!  Wahoo!

Friday, July 16, 2010


It's kind of hard to believe that a year has elapsed since my first blog post.  To celebrate, I have a little giveaway for you all!  You have three chances to win, and five possible prizes.  Behold, our theme:

paper-pieced hexagons baby!

First up, a set of eight 2.5" strips from Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley!  These are all from the New Day colorway, and are great for 1" hexagon-making, as explained here:

Second, a package of 100 1" hexagons from Paper Pieces:

Third, a set of eight 2.5" Hope Valley strips in the Fiesta colorway:

Fourth, a 2.5" square Olfa ruler, perfect for fussy-cutting squares for 1" hexies AND a set of my favorite hexagon-making needles!  They are John James applique needles, which are super sharp and glide very easily through paper and fabric.

And finally, a set of eight 2.5" Hope Valley strips in the Piney Woods colorway:


Now for the nitty-gritty.  You may enter three ways:

1. Leave a comment, anything at all!  If you have any hexie tips to share, that would be lovely.  (Do any of you know how to remedy that little gap where the points join?  I can't quite get the hang of it.)

2. Follow or subscribe to my blog!  Leave a comment letting me know you're a follower.  If you already follow, leave a comment too.

3. Link to this giveaway on your blog and comment with a link to your post!

The giveaway is open to anyone from any country.  You have until 9pm EST on Friday, July 23rd to enter, at which point the winners will be selected randomly.  Be sure I can email you via your Blogger profile, or leave an email in your comment.  I will post the results of the giveaway the weekend of the 23rd, so stay tuned!

Best of luck to everyone, and happy hexing!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

an anniversary and a beginning

Hello out there!  Do you find yourself enjoying the weather more than the company of your sewing machine these days?  I have been feeling that way, and that goes double for the company of my computer.  My monitor, purchased for less than $10 at a thrift store, is going out and causes me headaches after prolonged, um... computing.  So, apologies for my absence or brevity or delayed response time!  Okay!

Meet the vortex into which all of my spare time has disappeared:

[thanks Santana for the shop avatar and banner!]

I've been photographing, describing, and tagging and now our shop is partially up and running.  (Etsy requires a surprising amount of work!)  These are some of the items leftover from the spring Bloomington Handmade Market, which Jessica and I hope to attend again this winter.

A year ago yesterday, I wrote my blog's wee first post.  In celebration of this modest milestone, I will be hosting a giveaway with several prizes in my next post!  Stay tuned, I think you'll like it...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

recently hatched

I finished my gathered clutch!  It's been done for a couple weeks, actually, but I am not the swiftest photographer.  I used a cream-on-navy chickie linen for the body, a gold egg/oval print for the accent and lining, and a yellow ticking for the pockets and divider.  See:

I like how it turned out!  I added a loop with a D-ring so I could detach the wrist strap, rather than sewing it into the side seam.  When Steven and I visited Knoxville recently, I used it rather than lugging around my shoulder bag.  Do you notice that the bigger your bag is, the more stuff you need to carry along?  Ack!

This was my first experience with zipper tabs and with inserting a zipper between two layers like this.  Because I was sewing blind, I worried I wasn't catching the zipper tape or was too far from the teeth.  I didn't think about the fact that you want the tape to show, so your top boxes properly!

For accuracy, I pinned the heck out of my three layers, and with a water-soluble pen, marked the ditch right beside the zipper teeth so I had a straight line to follow.

You can find the easy-to-follow free pattern here, and an expanded version here, for $6.  Thanks, Anna, for such a lovely pattern!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July FQ swap

And now for this month's installment of Mother-Daughter Fabric Hoarding!  Each month, my mom and I swap a fat quarter or two of a specific theme.  Perhaps you recall last month's theme, chosen by my mom, was yellow.  For July, I decided on "things that fly".  This is what I sent her: 

[Ivy League Bees by Jay McCarroll; ducks from Lizzy House's Red Letter Day]

And this is what she sent:

[top: birds from Timeless Treasures' Mod collection; bottom: Amy Schimler's On a Whim collection for Kaufman]

A cheerful assortment, if I do say so!  No word yet on next month's theme, but it will probably be postponed due to the move.  Did I mention how excited I am to be moving closer to my family?  Because I really am.

Monday, July 5, 2010

going back to Dixie

Big news!  As of next month, I will once again call Tennessee home!  This time around, I'll be in Knoxville.

Steven will be working toward his Masters in Social Work at the University of Tennessee (Anna Maria Horner's alma mater), and I will be waiting it out for a year before attending the Appalachian Center for Craft to attain my BFA in Fibers.  Really!

This is a view of Center Hill Lake, a reservoir 64 miles in length, which is minutes from my future campus:

The Craft Center is located in Smithville, TN, which has a population of about 4,000 and an area of 5.9 square miles.  It is really tiny, really rural and absolutely gorgeous.

The fibers program itself is tiny but impressive, with about a dozen students on average.  I will be learning weaving, dyeing, surface design (screenprinting and block printing onto fabric), designing in repeats (and not!), how to weave enough fabric for a specific project, and so on.  Can you imagine?!

Have any of you been to Knoxville?  Growing up in Nashville, I had met folks from Knoxville but never visited.  All I knew of it was the Sunsphere, a charmingly gaudy souvenir of the 1982 World's Fair.  Last month Steven and I visited for the first time, and were immediately taken with the city.  It has more public parks, meeting spaces and neighborhood playgrounds than any city I've been to.

[an old mansion near UT, apparently being renovated, and beautiful in its half-ruin]

A few things we found in Knoxville that are quite exciting: