More Hexagons!

Yesterday, I promised that I would show you how to finish a quilt made with the hexagon blocks.

If anyone was brave enough to purchase equipment and start making their own hexagon block quilt after reading yesterday’s post – that brave soul now has a quilt that looks something like this:

And by the way, if anyone WAS that brave – I’m shocked – but congratulations!Laughing 8

Now, how to get from that admittedly interesting, but difficult to work with, pointed border to something a bit more traditional? Get out your rotary cutter! Using a straight edge ruler, trim the points from each side of the quilt (top and bottom won’t have points)

After you have straighted the sides, all you have to do is add a regular border to finish the quilt top!

This quilt is quite obviously not made of several different fabrics the way the “I Spy” quilt from yesterday was. Instead, the fabric in the hexagons is a young ballerina, with a coordinating pink fabric used for the points and as the border. Here’s a closer look. As you can see from the image below on the right, the ‘star’ effect of the triangles is more obvious in this quilt because the colors are all very complimentary instead of having as much contrast as you will naturally get in the much busier “I Spy” style.
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But, we aren’t done with this fabric yet! Take a look at this project, which uses all three sizes of hexagon rulers:

The jacket pattern is Butterick #5039.

This jacket took on a new look when the seamstress decided to embellish by using the Marti Michell hexagon rulers. Because there are three sizes of hexagons in the package – all were used. The bottom of the jacket has the largest hexagon or a border. The border going up and down on the front of the jacket uses the medium hexagon. And of course at the bottom of the sleeves is the smallest hexagon.

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As you can see, there are lots of things that can be done with the hexagon block. The jacket shows that it makes a great border, think of what a border like this would look like going around a quilt with a large focal block in the center….

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila

I Spy Quilt

I was asked recently to share some hints on a quilt commonly known as the “I Spy” quilt. These quilts are often made using squares or other shapes, but I like using a hexagon, and I was thrilled to find that the new Marti Michell rulers included a set of rulers perfect for this quilt – called “Hexagons and 60º Triangle”.

As I have said before – the right tool really does make all the difference. The 60º triangle ruler is designed to go with the hexagons perfectly (so I suggest making certain you store them together once they are out of the package). Depending on the size of hexagon ruler you choose, you will line your triangle up on the edge or the first or second lines on the inside of the triangle. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…

1. Select the fabric(s) you will use – if this is going to be a true “I Spy” quilt, you will want several very different images for the quilt. Then you will ask the child to find or match the horse blocks, or the two cars, or whatever.
2. Using your hexagon ruler, you will ‘fussy cut’ the image you want out of each of the fabrics. The term “fussy cut” is when you take a ruler and instead of just cutting straight across the fabric like in strip quilting, you move the ruler around on your fabric until you have centered a design on your fabric in the center of your ruler. As an example in this picture we have decided to center the horses in the center. (Seam allowance is included in the ruler proportions, see the dotted line on the ruler.)

For this quilt, I used the largest of the hexagons. It gives me more flexibility for centering the images I want on each block, and will be more fun for the child to use when the quilt is completed.
3. The next step is to use the triangle ruler to cut two blue corners to sew on your hexagon. Since this is the large hexagon you would use the 3” or largest triangle. For each hexagon you will need two triangles. The first triangle is sewn to the upper left hand corner, then you sew the next triangle to the opposite corner.

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4. After you have sewn the two triangles onto all of your blocks, you will begin to assemble the blocks together.

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5. As you are sewing the blocks together, you will create strips, and those strips will be sewn together. (More on how to finish this quilt type in tomorrow’s post).

As the strips are sewn together, you will see that a star effect is being created throughout the quilt top. Can you see the six-pointed star centered in this picture?

And below are pictures of the finished quilt – click on them for a closer view.

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Be sure to check back tomorrow – I’ll show you how to finish quilts of this type!
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila

Kaleidoscope Quilt Blocks

Yesterday, I teased you with this image, telling you that it was used in my recent seminar at the University of Kentucky. Probably some folks have already figured this out – either by looking at my Events Calendar, or because you recognized the elements of a Kaleidoscope block from your own work.

For those who don’t know what a Kaleidoscope block is – here’s a very simple explanation: It is a block that works just like the toys we’ve probably all played with at one point or another. One view of a piece of fabric is ‘mirrored’ 8 times to create an octagon of that pattern. And the repeated image gives you a completely different view of the fabric than you had when you looked at the full piece of fabric uncut.

Now, if that sounds frightening to you – don’t worry. As always I have some hints and tips that will make creating such a block MUCH easier for you. And those of you who have made such blocks in the past may want to consider trying these tricks, they will probably save you some serious frustration! And we all want quilting to be more about fun than frustration.

My first suggestion – use a quilt template that is designed for making Kaleidoscope blocks. Yes, there are many triangle templates on the market, and you can probably get away with using one of those – but there is a certain simplicity to the work when the tool you are using is designed for the job you want to do.

I use the Marti Michelle Quilt Sense ruler – called the Triangle Kaleidoscope ruler.

As you can see, it has markings on it for various size blocks and the 90º angle is perfectly designed for the corners of a traditional kaleidoscope.

It’s a bit hard to see in this image, but the lines tell you what size the BLOCK will be, not how tall each triangle will be, so you don’t have to stop and use your calculator (mental or physical) to determine what size triangle you need to cut to create the finished block size you want. This makes preparation so much easier. The blue lines on the bottom of the triangle (as it is facing in this picture) are designed for measuring the width of the strips you will be cutting before you start your triangle cuts that will be sewn on the corners of your block (burgandy fabric).

All in all – a great tool, and a wonderful time saver. As I said earlier, the right tool can make a big difference in your project.

Now, on to the basics of the cuts.

Step one, carefully cut eight strips of your fabric so you can line the design up on each piece of fabric so it lays directly over the one below it. (This way, when you cut your triangles, you will have eight triangles that have the exact same fabric repeat showing.) Lining the repeats up is probably the most time-consuming part of cutting the fabric, but the end results make it well worth the effort.

Step two, now that your fabric is aligned, pin the fabrics together using a flat quilting pin (such as the flat flower pins from Dritz that I mentioned in an earlier post). This will allow your ruler to lay right on top of the pin without rocking because of the pin head (thus making your cuts straight).

Step three, line the template ruler up so you get the proper repeat showing through the ruler, and trim away the excess. After this is done, with the template still in place, cut your triangles. You will now have eight triangles of the same image – just as in the teaser picture I showed you (see top of this post).

Step four, cut your corner blocks – there will be four of these for each kaleidoscope. After you have cut these, you can sew them to your triangles. On the end of for of the repeat triangles, add your corners.

Step five, begin to sew your block together, start by making one half of the block, sewing each triangle into place separately.

Once you have half of the block sewn together, sew another half block together, and then sew the two halves together to create a full block.

And here you see the completed block (not nearly so much yellow in the picture this time), and the paisley block that will be it’s companion in the quilt. I’m very pleased with the way these turned out!

See? It’s really not that difficult when you have a few hints to guide you. If any of you are thinking about purchasing the Kaleidoscope ruler by Marti Michell, I recommend that you take a look at this book as well, it was made as a companion to the ruler – and has some wonderful patterns and eye-candy of the quilt variety!

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila