As you may know… I’m a hexie addict, and when Diane Gilleland of CraftyPod contacted me about participating in her Mug Rug Blog Hop, I couldn’t say no! She has recently published the book: All Points Patchwork that is chuck full of all sorts of tips and tricks for English Paper Piecing (EPP). She covers everything you can think of… and then some. It’s a great book to add to your quilting library!
In this post, I’m going to show part of my design process, as well as my stitching process for an EPP hexie placemat. In the near future, I will have a full pattern available for this project – check back soon.
When I have created hexie quilts in the past, they have been larger projects with more pieces, allowing a more detailed imagery. A small mug rug or placemat bears some difficulty in creating a unique design.
I am a very visual person, so the way I design is by trial and error with a physical layout. For this project, I used a card table covered in batting as my “hexie play station”, and really just arranged and re-arranged different hexies until I was happy with a design! For this design in particular, I wanted to incorporate many bright colors together… without a rainbow effect and without it getting too busy.
If you have many different colored hexies, this is a really fun way to realize ideas. For my larger quilts, I layed hexie graph paper over a picture of what I wanted to create and colored in the hexies accordingly to abstractly represent the underlying image. Once I have the basic solid-color layout – I physically lay out each hexie and arrange / re-arrange the individual pieces until I’m happy. That usually is the hardest part of the whole process and can take months to do.
Here is a video of me beginning to lay out my Jellyfish – this was 4 days of work, and the actual layout I used took over a month to finalize. Even then, I feel like I could have reworked it a million times over. Sometimes… part of the design process is knowing when to stop.
|Finished Hexie Top – 1/2″ hexies|
Once a design is all laid out and finalized, I start sewing my pieces together. Some people like to sew these as flowers and piece them that way, but I like to sew the hexies in rows, then sew the rows together.
I have recently been introduced to Kimono Silk thread – and it works amazingly for piecing without the stitches showing!
How do I stitch my hexies? I use both a ladder stitch and a whipstitch. I worked on some illustrations to show my process. This is just the way I do it – everyone has their own style. In All Points Patchwork on Page 48, Diane explains how she sews these together… and on page 200 she describes a ‘skimming whipstitch’ which I use a lot!
To baste hexies I personally use either 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch hexies, using paper templates from PaperPieces.com. I punch a hole in the center before covering with a square of fabric. This is a small size to some, and can be basted only on the back without going through the paper. With larger pieces, you may need to baste through paper. I love this size because it’s very easy to manipulate the fabric and hold it in place with one finger.
Once you have a bunch of hexies basted, you can lay them out as you like, creating a design that is pleasing to your eye. Then when you’re ready, you can start sewing the strips of hexies together. To sew the strips, I use a ladder stitch. I start in the center, stitch to one side, then the other, then back to the center. This keeps the knots from the edges and reinforces the stitch.