I mentioned in an earlier post that I had started a second quilt. I actually started it shortly after the first so that I would have a portable project, as well (Hubby and I were going to his parents' that weekend). Coincidentally, some good friends of our just found out they are expecting :) So, what better portable project than a baby quilt! Since we don't know if the baby is a boy or girl yet, I wanted to stay pretty neutral. Also, due to the fact that I was looking for portable it had to be hand piecing, which lead me to English Paper Piecing (tutorial at the end of this post), for which hexagons (or hexies) are the most common shape.
First, come the papers. I started with these templates in the 1" size. I didn't have much success cutting as she instructed, though. For me printing the template and gluing a stack across the top and then cutting along the lines in vertical strips gave me the most accurate hexies. Be sure not to cut into your glued area. It's important for keeping things aligned properly. Also, don't get in a hurry. These papers are the foundation for your entire quilt, so spending a little extra time on them in the beginning will result in less headache and a much more beautiful finished product later. I cut just over a thousand in a relatively short amount of time. I used just regular computer paper and have been happy with the results, but you could also use cardstock or freezer paper, too. Don't forget you can reuse your papers. I would recommend ironing them before another round as you can see they get folded a bit in the piecing process.
Next step is cutting your fabric hexies. I really liked the method in the tutorial at the end of the post. I used a little piece of tape on the back of a paper and then used a 4.5x4.5" grid ruler to add a 1/4" seam allowance on all sides. The picture to the left is what I currently have left from what I have cut. Again, since I was cutting multiple layers of fabric, this didn't take long once I got a rhythm.
Next comes basting, which means that you attach the fabric hexies to the papers with a temporary, contrasting stitch to create seam and provide stability. You can tape, glue, or pin the paper down if you like, but I found just firmly and carefully holding the paper was easiest for me - less time, hassle, and stuff involved. As the tutorial at the end states, you don't need a knot at the end of the basting since you're going to pull the stitches out. By the way, use the removal method in the tutorial because it works and has no headache involved. Can you tell I like this tutorial? lol
I couldn't wait to baste everything before I started to sew my little hexies together. I just couldn't stand it, I had to see my fabrics together and be able to show off to Hubby (he likes to see periodic progress, otherwise he doesn't believe when I say things are coming along lol). So, here is an unpressed snapshot of the WIP. What do you think?
I have found a few tools highly valuable in this process. One, Thread Heaven - a thread conditioner. DO NOT hand sew without it. It is cheap (I paid $3.99+tax for it) and it will save you immense amounts of time, headaches, and money in liquor. Two, a thimble for my thumb. I push with my thumb for the whip stitch and it was getting really sore. I really like this leather one, called Nimble Thimble (I think), because it fits my finger nicely, it has an opening for my fingernail (I tend to keep them long if you haven't noticed my Nail Art Tab), and most importantly I can still grip the needle really well. The last thing are these wonderful little snips that I picked up from Joann's for super cheap; they are perfect for getting close to the work, ergonomic, and travel well.
I am finding that I am truly enjoying the hand stitching, especially when I am not feeling well. I find it incredibly relaxing and rewarding. What do you tend to do for stress relief?