Thursday, 27 March 2014

Adventures in Hexi-Quilting: A Beginners Guide

Well, hello folks...

I know what you're all probably thinking. “Well, where the devil have you been?! I keep coming back on this ere blog and...not a sausage!”

I'm not gonna lie, I have been suffering the strains of a creative mental block..of the darnedest kind. And true to my news years resolution I have been learning to say no, and trying to take on new craft projects in order to kick start my brain into action.
But, fear not, dear readers because my absence has not been completely fruitless, for I have been busy hexi-quilting. Busy, what...?

Well, well, well...that's what I am here to share with you. Now by no means am I an expert at this quilting lark but, I thought what better way to learn a new skill than by trying to explain/teach it to others. So here goes.  

Please bear in mind that this is not a full tutorial, as I am currently in the process of piecing together this quilt as we speak, and with the intention of it covering our hefty bed, I predict it shall be finished around...oh...Christmas time?! Hmm hopefully not that late but, I would at least like to make my first steps into married life with one major craft project accomplished. I think I shall call this our wedding quilt. Yes, that sounds nice. (See how I managed to slip in a mention of the wedding even into a craft post. Sneaky, huh?)

Ok, onwards we go. Beware this is a picture and word heavy post. You know how I like to waffle...

Before we go anywhere, let me link you to this website. This has been a god send in terms of determining how many hexagon's I will need for my quilt. Simply enter in the size of the quilt you want i.e. size of your bed. I've found as a rule of thumb with a 3inch hexagon piece, 55” x 70” for a single bed means you will need 161 heaxgons, and 70” x70” inches means you will need 206 heaxgons. For my first time quilting, I've decided to stick to a single bed size.

I actually used a hexagon template from my Belle and Boo crafts book but, this template from Flickr is pretty good. Just make sure your template for cutting out the fabric is exactly 1” wider than the one you're going to use for the paper pieces. This will make your seam allowance much easier to work with.

I started off, by drawing around my paper template about 20 or so times, onto a piece of A4 paper and photocopied this loads. Then employed my handsome fiancé to assist me in cutting out all the paper hexagons as we sat watching endless episodes of Breaking Bad.

Now, let's talk fabric. You can literally use any fabric you like. That's the beauty of hexi-quilting. Years and years ago, it was a way of using up old scraps of fabric from worn out clothing and household textiles, and making them into bedding. Thrifty, eh?
I used a mixture of lengths of fabric I had in my stash, a couple of lovely fat quarters I'd been saving for a rainy day and a couple of old pairs of brushed cotton pyjamas which had gone a bit thread bare in places. Just make sure, you use a combination of fabrics which are roughly the same weight so it will all lie nicely flat when you press and sew them together.  

The next part is where the monotony sets in. This may sound like a bad thing but, to me it is absolute bliss. That's the joy of taking on a project like this. It's one of those nice projects that can live in your sewing bag at the side of the sofa, and you can dip into it whenever you like. If, like me, your a little bit impatient too, you can even start off with tacking a pile of hexagons and then beginning to sew them together. Then when you start to run out of different pattern options, tack a pile more, and so on. (I know a lot of keen quilters probably wouldn't recommend this but, come on folks, this is amateur home crafting, not V&A standard atelier.)

The only thing you need to remember about this project is that neatness will give you the best results but, this is easy to obtain when you've got a nice crisp paper pattern to fold your fabric around.
I also found that using little stitches to catch each corner of the hexagon, worked a lot better in terms of speed/neatness rather than using a good old fashioned running stitch.

To sew the hexagons together, you literally need to just choose your pattern combination, place right sides together and use tiny little whip stitches to sew them together. I decided to do mine in 3's and then 2's, making a long strip, the width of my finished quilt which makes the whole thing much easier to work with, and hopefully help me keep on top of my print combinations as I go along too.

And there you have it folks. That is literally how easy it is. Just a lot of cutting out, a little bit of drawing round templates, and lots of lovely mindless relaxing sewing. If, like me, you've never tried quilting before, or found the prospect of it quite intimidating, then I urge you to try this method. It gives great results and fast, whilst you can also stay in control of how big or small you want your finished quilt to be. If you want to start off on an even smaller scale by making a dolls quilt with less hexagons, then go ahead. Or if you want to go the whole hog, and make a double bed sized heirloom quilt then, the choice is all yours.

I hope you'll join me along the way with this latest sewing venture. But in the mean time, sit back and enjoy getting on with your own hexi-quilt, and I'll be back soon once I've tackled the next hurdle that is cotton batting and wadding. Ooer!

See you soon folks!
Hannah. x