Hope Valley

I’m sure you mod quilters  and crafters are all over this already, but it’s been a while since I’ve just wandered the internet in search of crafty goodness. Did you know Denyse Schmidt had a new line of fabric coming out? Put me on the waiting list, Free Spirit! This will be worth a trip to the Purl warehouse. Here’s what Denyse has to say about it. I think I’ll need to see it in person…the style is kind of 40s reproduction with a really unique palette. I’m loving the Piney Woods color family – here’s one swatch:

Houston

I haven’t paid much attention to all the talk of the famed Houston trade-show, the International Quilt Market, I’m just patiently waiting for all the great new fabrics and patterns to be available for purchase from my favorite shops. One such shop though, Fat Quarters (awesome selection, reasonable prices, lightening fast shipping), had a ton of great pictures on their Jolly Jabber blog, and I can’t help but wish I was there.

I’m particularly intrigued by Sandy Henderson and Jay McCarroll. Sandy Henderson has some gorgeous fabrics and some fun tutorials on her blog – including one for shirring! Hooray. The picture of her booth on the Jolly Jabber really grabbed my eye – I LOVE those big fabric flowers around the top of the booth.

You may remember Jay McCarroll from Project Runway…well, in the picture on Jolly Jabber, he’s surrounded by really cool applique quilts. Are they his? He’s also wearing a cool 1970’s string-pieced vest. Is he a quilter? Nothing about quilting or quilts on his site, but you never know…I’m going to research it a little more. Looks like there is a line of fabric on the way…from none other than Free Spirit, my fav. These swatches are from the two lines – one line is called Woodland Wonderland, the other is Garden Friends. I love those trippy little deer and bugs.

Anyway, lots of eye-candy out there. I better start saving my pennies :)

more hex progress

I’ve been plugging away on my hexagons. I started out using the English paper-piecing method, and quickly went to just sewing the hexes together. My process is placing two hexagons right-sides together, and placing a straight pin through the points at one end of a side of the hexagon. Then I start sewing a running stitch at the other end of the line or segment, towards my pin. As I get close, I remove the pin. This has been working great. Here are some photos of my finished hexes. I like the big flower the best, but I’m making a small (24″x 24″) challenge quilt, so I couldn’t use all big flowers.

hex garden

The next photo is one that hasn’t been pressed, and one that was painstakingly pressed with a clover mini-iron. This is the definite downside to not using the paper pieces when sewing hexagons. The seams are a killer.

pressed and not pressed

Here’s the one I did use the paper-piecing method on. It came together pretty easy. Once you get the first round of petals on, take the middle paper out to sew their side seams together. I figured this out half-way through. Duh.

paper pieced

The front of the paper-pieced flower. Much neater than the others, but the stitches are a little too obvious for my taste. And it was TWICE the work – sewing the hexes around the paper, then sewing the hexes to each other. That alone is enough for me not to do it. But I wanted to use up the ones I already sewed the paper into.

freshcut is awesome!

All the fabrics except the white with the skinny yellow stripes in the big flower are from Heather Bailey’s Freshcut line from Free Spirit. I LOVE this fabric!

My big plan for this quilt is to appliqué the flowers onto a solid background and add embroidery to one corner. Pictures coming just as soon as I can make it happen :)

I’ve been hexed

So I’m still plugging away with my hexagons. I posted earlier about the girl that didn’t use paper-piecing – just pieced the hexes together. Well, I tried it, and I have to agree…it’s better. I started with some test fabric…tracing the template onto the back of my hex, pinning the corners, and hand piecing. Then I whip stitched a couple of my paper piece hexes. The end result is that the paper pieced ones look terrible. The stitching is awkward and REALLY shows. I think it has to do with the angle of stitches. Without the paper, I’m hand-piecing in line with the seam line. With the paper in there, I’m stitching perpendicular to the seam line. Make sense? Here are some visual aids…

no-paper hex

paperless piecing

english paper pieced

The main problem I found with the no-paper system is that now I have to plan out my design before I sew. So, I’ve started making flowers. Here’s my first one…

hex flower

hex flower back

I have no doubt that using the papers is more precise, but it’s also twice the work…we’ll see how it all works out. So far, I like my flower. If you need hexagon templates, you can download them from my download page above!